A Holiness Standard or Behavior Modification

In Apologetics on July 29, 2013 at 7:19 am

Class logoLuke 13:10-17 ESV Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. (11) And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. (12) When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” (13) And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. (14) But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” (15) Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? (16) And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (17) As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

Luke described the woman as one who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years and “bound” by “Satan” (v. 16). Without denying the historicity of the event, it must be pointed out that there is obvious symbolic value in Luke’s placing this miracle at this point in the narrative. It was Jesus’ mission among the people of the nation to loose them from crippling influences and bring them to uprightness. Here was a graphic example of Jesus’ touch, bringing the woman to a position of uprightness. Jesus healed her by His words (Woman, you are set free from your infirmity) and by touching her. Immediately she straightened up and praised God. This act of praising God was the proper response to the work of Jesus (cf. 2:20; 5:25–26; 7:16; 17:15; 18:43; 23:47). It showed that people were understanding His mission.
13:14. In contrast to the proper response which the woman evidenced, the synagogue ruler was indignant because Jesus had not followed the Law as that ruler interpreted it. He appealed to the crowd to reject Jesus’ miracle. This attitude supports what Jesus had already said about religious leaders keeping others from entering the kingdom (11:52).

How does the modern church try to restrain believers by setting up rules that are extra-biblical or worse a culture that attempts “behavior modification? The Scriptures are clear regarding how Christians should behave in our daily walk. Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of that day. This miracle has the primary message Israel is in bondage note the woman was bent over and bound by Satan. Israel was bound by rebellion not in an irreligious way but in a religion that focused on ceremonial observance of the law and outward appearance. Satan had taken God’s children of promise and used their religious and governmental leaders to keep them from being that light on a hill; the witness of the true God to the world. Instead they focused on a closed society, restraining culture to their own selfish demands and gaining the admiration of men. They had rules for every possible situation from proper dress to temple behavior. If you as a practicing Jew lifted anything that weighed more than a feather on the Sabot you had violated the 4th commandment.
Jesus in preforming the miracle of healing on the Sabbath in the temple violated their supposed control and misunderstanding concerning the law and Jesus mission. With their ritual and rules rather than glorifying God and his message of redemption they were interested in adoration of themselves while controlling the masses. This behavior kept people from entering the kingdom!
Luke 11:52 ESV Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

Luk 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Today the message is clear from scripture don’t hinder but live a spirit filled life. The modern protestant movement in rejecting the works based merit inspired Roman communion pointed to the promise of “justification by faith” not a formula for prescribed behaviors that the church established to help identify the Christians. Many rational arguments are used to justify extra biblical regulations to make people conform to the image of an acceptable church member! The idea of perfection in the flesh was born in the late 1800’s. It first identified as the perfection movement, the ability to live a sinless life by adhering to a set of guidelines that were supposedly born from Leviticus.

The wife of a Methodist preacher and trying to inspire those around her to live a Godly life Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807-1874) was an evangelist and religious writer involved with the “Holiness” movement. Raised as a Methodist, Palmer became one of the most influential female religious leaders in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Palmer endured a protracted spiritual struggle as she wrestled with the Methodist belief that an individual’s spiritual conversion should be a highly emotional and powerful experience. Such a conversion would lead to an individual’s “Christian Perfection,” a Methodist tenet that referred to purity of heart resulting from a cleansing by the blood of Christ. Yet Palmer felt her own conversion had been more low-key and gradual. In fact, she could point to no single defining moment of conversion, and this caused her to question her standing in the eyes of God and the promise of her salvation. In other words, she feared she was unworthy of heaven. Palmer became a regular contributor to the Guide to Holiness, the leading publication of the perfectionist movement. She also wrote several books including The Way of Holiness (1843), her best-known book and the one that established her as a leader of the perfectionist movement. She also wrote Entire Devotion to God (1845) and Faith and its Effects (1848).

In 1847, she refined and further developed the concept of “altar theology,” which explained the idea of the “second blessing,” or immediate sanctification. As a basis for this concept, she drew on the Apostle Paul, who had advanced the idea of placing oneself as a “living sacrifice” on the altar of God to represent complete consecration. This “altar theology” simplified sanctification into a three-step process that included consecration, faith, and testimony. This concept, as well as her central theme of holiness of heart and life, gained popularity with Methodists, but it was not widely accepted in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Opponents challenged her, finding her theology less sound than that of church founder John Wesley. Even Bangs, who taught Palmer her catechism when she was a child, disagreed with her. He complained that she was turning sanctification into a simplistic and mechanical process.

Paul preached on freedom and the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer who is to bring the flesh into subjection.

Galatians 5:1-18 ESV For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (2) Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. (3) I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. (4) You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (5) For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (6) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (7) You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (8) This persuasion is not from him who calls you. (9) A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (10) I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. (11) But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (12) I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! (13) For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (14) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (15) But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 6:1-10 ESV Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (2) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (3) For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (4) But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. (5) For each will have to bear his own load. (6) Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. (7) Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows that will he also reap. (8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (9) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (10) So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The reason Paul spent so much time in my opinion talking about freedom and law, flesh and spirit is to remind us of our freedom in Christ. We as chosen believers are free! No buts, no ands, no ifs we are sons of the Living God through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We as sons of God live in a constant battle between our nature or flesh and our Spirit that is new because of Jesus work and redemption. This battle will rage till we are called home, and no amount of rules and regulations will change that. We are justified by faith!
Romans 3:28 ESV For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Romans 1:1 ESV Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

Galatians 2:16 ESV yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 3:11 ESV Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:24 ESV So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Our faith gives us the freedom to do the positive because of the work of salvation.

Matthew 22:37-40 ESV And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (38) This is the great and first commandment. (39) And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (40) On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Because of our redemption we are free to Love God with all that we are, this gives us the strength in our daily battle with our nature with the promise of overcoming when we are done on this earth. No church or set of rules will replace the power of the Holy Spirit working the process of sanctification in this life. Typically the next argument that is so we as believers can disobey God with no restrictions or consequences? Paul speaks to that pretty directly.

Romans 6:1-4 ESV What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (2) By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (3) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:15-23 ESV What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (16) Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (17) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (18) and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (19) I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (20) For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (21) But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (22) But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. (23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Where in the Scripture are believers set back under bondage? In scripture we are given something precious the Holy Spirit of God through Jesus Christ living in us! Yes there are rules governing behavior they come from scripture and the Holy Spirit keeps them before us. We have the moral law that is a teacher and friend to those under grace. We have Matthew 18 for guidance in proper church discipline. What purpose does a standard of Holiness serve? We are to be conformed to the image of Christ, not the rules of those who pose as religious police.

Romans 12:2 ESV Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Because of the transformation that Jesus has done in the life of the believer our desire is to honor God. If the life of the believer is in Christ then there is no need of arbitrary rules set by the local church in addition to the clear mandates in Holy Scripture. Especially if the rules in question regulate an outward appearance to accommodate the skeptics of the local congregation. The best examples are men are expected to wear suits and ties because God expects us to wear our best clothes. Really? Or worse the demands put on women regarding all types of social peer pressure in regards to hair, makeup, excreta and the condemnation they experience. The Bible is clear in regards to the Christian life.

John 15:1-2 ESV “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (2) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Galatians 5:1 ESV For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13-26 ESV For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (14) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (15) But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, (21) envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (26) Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

We live our life as slaves to Christ and free from condemnation avoiding the disgrace of living to the flesh or sin nature. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ keep you and bless you.


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