Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Walking By Faith

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 7:1, set forth a two-step process which is integral to a Christian’s “Walk By Faith.” The process could be best described as 1) A subtraction; and 2) An addition. Notice the passage, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” This two step process, “cleanse (-ing) ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, (and) perfecting holiness in the fear of God”, will be explained momentarily. But first, it must be determined what the “promises” are which are alluded to in the verse.

To determine the nature of the promises, you must go back to chapter 6, and notice verses 14-18. (Please read them now). Paul exhorted the Corinthians to not be “…unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” The reason for his exhortation is clear. It is not appropriate for a Christian to have an accord with someone who is so obviously his opposite. The two are antithetical. This is born out by the parallels drawn in verses 14-16. A Christian being yoked to a non-Christian would be like righteousness fellowshipping lawlessness, light communing with darkness, Christ striking an accord with Belial, or the temple of God having an agreement with idols!

This is obviously inappropriate, and Paul emphasized the obvious by pointing out the promises we have, predicated upon our separation and purity. He quoted, in verse 16, “I will be their God, and they shall be My People” (cf. Lev. 26:12; Ezek. 37:27). In verse 17 and 18, it is recorded. “…I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.” BUT, the promises are predicated upon their acknowledgement and obedience to the command, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean” (cf. Isa. 52:11; Ezek. 20:34,41).

Paul’s statement in 7:1 merely builds upon this premise. He stated first that believers are not to be unequally yoked together with, or have a part with (6:15) unbelievers. Next, he gave the reason why a yoking would be inappropriate. It is so because reception by God (the promises) is predicated upon separateness. You can’t expect for God to “dwell” in you, to be your God, to “receive” you, and to be a “Father” unto you if you refuse come out from among the world, and be separate. Beginning chapter seven, Paul in essence stated the parameters of this separateness. Read it again, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” How do we “come out from among them, and be separate?” By “cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and by perfecting holiness in the fear of God!” (The aforementioned “two-step” process).

A wise man (an elder in the Lord’s church) once told me, “Before you go and yank the rug out from under someone, make sure there is something there to catch them.” Jesus stated the same in Matthew 12 when describing the cast out demon. The demon walks about looking for a home, and finding none, returns to his former abode. He finds it empty (the man not having replaced the evil with good), and inhabits it again with seven other demons more insidious than himself. The importance of this principle was not lost on Paul. He stated here that 1) evil must be banished, and 2) good must replace it.
Sin defiles. It defiles the flesh and the spirit. We are not to actively engage in sin. Immorality, idolatry, and unlawful behavior are to be expunged from our lives. We are not to be guilty of such sins as envy, hatred, jealousy, and lust. This evil is indeed filth of the flesh and spirit. Separateness demands purity. If we want the benefit of God as our Father, then we must “…cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit…”

When we remove the filthiness from our lives, we must replace it with that which is perfectly holy. In reverence and godly fear, we must seek to conform ourselves to Christ’s example. The easiest way to explain it may be in referring to Galatians 5. Paul there gave a list of the lusts of the flesh. These are the things we are to “cleanse” ourselves from. Then Paul gave the list of the “fruit of the Spirit”, which is, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (vs. 22-23). A man who incorporates into his character the “fruit of the Spirit” is one who is perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

One fact should be remembered by any individual who wishes to please God. Namely, God demands separateness. This separateness is necessary if we claim to be “walking by faith”, and it is defined as a purifying of flesh and spirit, and a perfecting of holiness in the fear of God. Are you “Walking by Faith”?