Pursuing God

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2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)
1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Our memory verse this week calls us as Christians to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our transformation to be like Christ. As in other letters from Paul this is a call for us to be holy; to reflect the goodness of Christ. Through Christ, we are given access to the presence of God along with other believers. That presence was never realized by believers in the Old Testament but is one of the greatest benefits we have in the new covenant. The phrase “since we have these promises” identifies the Old Testament passages as promises from God that relate to the restoration of the people of God. We now have these promises in God’s new community. We are the people of God. The grounds for our obedience are God’s new covenant promises that are fulfilled in Christ by the Spirit. We should refuse to identify and partner with idols because “we are the temple of the living God” (6:16), not because we are meritoriously becoming the temple of the living God. Grace is what fuels our obedience. God expects us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. All sin makes us dirty, but there are certain sins that especially pollute our flesh and other sins that especially pollute our spirits. A glance at the list of sins in the following verses will clearly show this (Romans 1:29-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Galatians 5:3-7). Sins of the flesh would be such sins as immorality and drunkenness, and sins of the spirit would be such sins as hatred and jealousy. The believer is to practice holiness. We are to practice doing the things that will make us holy. But we are to do much more: we are to pursue holiness aggressively, seeking to perfect and complete holiness in our life. Of course, the believer can never become perfectly holy: we cannot become God. But we are to set our minds and hearts upon becoming holy. We do this out of our love for God and the “fear of God.” The word fear can be represented by the word respect. Our motivation is not legalistic, but motivated by love and respect for our God and the grace He has given us to join Him in eternity. Praise be to God.