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CHRIST'S CLEANSING OF THE BODY, #14

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body." (JOH 2:19-21)

Notice, in the chapter before us, that Jesus is speaking of how He came to His temple in Jerusalem and found it polluted. This temple is the type or the symbol of His body: the church, the believers (the body of believers is the body of Christ). "And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise." (JOH 2:14-16)

The Lord wants our hearts. He does not want a heart overcharged with the things of this life. If He loves you, He will take that "scourge of small cords," and He will drive these things out of your heart. He will make room for Himself in our hearts.

The central theme of JOH 2:12-25 is Christ’s coming unto the temple and His purging of His church as it was prophesied in Malachi. Notice that John the Baptist was sent before Him to prepare the way, but we do not see that John the Baptist came to the temple. John the Baptist was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? [Who will abide when the Lord comes and takes up His place in our hearts?] and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers’ soap [He comes like a refining furnace. He comes to cleanse. He comes as ‘fullers’ soap,’ a soap that cleans perfectly.]: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness." (MAL 3:1-3)

The Lord wants your heart. He wants an offering in righteousness. He does not want our hearts to be overcharged with the things of this life - all of this buying and selling, all of these oxen, sheep, and all of these money changers. He’s going to drive them out with a "scourge of small cords." The Lord wants the upper place in our hearts.

The temple was the type of the body of Christ, that is, the church as we see in JOH 2:21. "But he spake of the temple of his body." He came unto His temple, "the temple of his body." He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (JOH 2:19)

What is He speaking about? As we pointed out when He addressed His mother, ("Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come," JOH 2:4), He was talking about the day of His death. Now He’s coming with the symbol of the day of His resurrection. He is teaching you and me that we must write "death" upon everything that is of this life, and we must be raised unto newness of life. We must no longer walk after the things of this life. We must walk after the things that are above.

The body of Christ is used to symbolize the body of believers. When John says, "he spake of the temple of his body," He’s speaking of the body of believers. We see this from ROM 12:4-5. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

If you think of this in its context, Paul says that one may be as the hand, another as the foot, another as the head, another as the eye - all members of one body. The hand cannot say to the foot, "I have no need of you." The body is not complete without the foot any more than it is complete without the hand. You and I are all members of one body in Christ.

EPH 4:11-12 says, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

Every person does not hold the same office. He gives some to be pastors, some apostles, some teachers, some evangelists, and some in other lower offices.

He comes to purify the body - the temple. He comes to purify in the way of sanctification. It says, "For the perfecting of the saints…for the edifying of the body…": that is, the body of true believers.

This was the first work of Christ’s public ministry. When the Lord came unto His temple, He found it polluted, and so it is in every case when the Lord comes to a person that is outside of Christ. He comes to work the work of grace. He comes to us in our pollution: we are polluted by sin. The first work of the ministry of Christ is the purification of our polluted hearts, our polluted bodies.

"And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting [When He looks into our hearts, what does He see? Is our heart so taken up with the things of this life, with money, with the changers of money?]: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise." (JOH 2:14-16)

Our hearts are not to be overcharged with the things of this life. We can become the slaves of our possessions, serving our possessions instead of our possessions serving us. The first work of the ministry of Christ is to take our possessions and put them in the right perspective, to get our hearts cleansed and set on the things that are above.

This purging of the temple, which symbolizes the body of true believers, points to the separation of the true believers and the professing believers. We read of this in MAT 7:21-23. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

They have not repented: they still work iniquity, their hearts have not been cleansed, and they are professing to be believers, but they’re going on in the things of this world. The things of this life still possess their souls. He’s cautioning, "I never knew you." These are solemn truths. This is what the Lord Jesus is teaching us in this 2nd chapter of JOH. We have to see that the Lord Jesus is teaching us how He’s going to separate the true believers and the professed believers. On the Day of Judgment He’s going to say to the one group, "I never knew you," and to the other group, "Come ye blessed of my Father." (MAT 25:34)

"After this he went down to Capernaum [Take notice of who it is that went. It is so beautifully illustrated who went to Capernaum.], he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days." (JOH 2:12)

Nothing is recorded in Scripture that is insignificant. See the significance of this: how He went down to Capernaum and who it was that accompanied Him. His mother, His brothers, and His disciples, "and they continued there not many days."

This verse serves as a connecting link between the beginning of miracles at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, and the fulfilling of the prophesy in MAL 3:1-3 of Christ’s sudden appearance in the temple for its purification.

First, the beginning of miracles: the work of the new birth, being filled with the Word, being filled to the brim. Do you know what that means? There is no room for anything but the Word. As they became filled with the Word, and filled to the brim, the miracle was performed. What was the miracle? The miracle was that the water became wine: the perfect Word of God became the joy and the rejoicing of the soul. It became the fruit upon which they lived. It became everything to their souls.

Now we watch this connecting link, the trip to Capernaum, between the work of the new birth and the work of sanctification, which is the purification of the body. What do we see now at Capernaum? We see the sorting out of the true believers and the professed believers. We see that they are separated, and they are identified.

The expression, "After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples," clearly establishes that they were all present at the beginning of miracles. His disciples, when they saw the miracles, believed. JOH 2:11 says, "and his disciples believed on him," but Jesus’ brothers and sisters did not! Those who were born of the same mother, those who were His natural brothers and sisters, were there: they saw the miracle, and they believed not.

See these two groups in JOH 7:5. "For neither did his brethren believe in him." Who was it that went to Capernaum? He, His mother, His brethren, and His disciples were all there. They all saw the same miracle. His disciples believed, but His brethren did not.

As is evident from the expression, "But he spake of the temple of his body" in verse 21, the teachings in this chapter are symbolic. He’s using the temple as the symbol of the body of believers.

Jesus’ mother, whom He called "Woman" (we see in JOH 2:4, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"), is the symbol of the body of believers. We see that in EPH 5. The woman is the type of the church. So who went with Him? It was the "woman" (His mother), which is the body of believers; His disciples, who are the symbol of the true believers; and His brethren, who are the symbol of the unbelieving professors (they made a profession of believing, but they believed not).

Where’s the difference? The one obeyed the gospel and the other obeyed not. The one was filled with the Word and the water turned to wine (they rejoiced in doing the will of God) and the other did not. They were all following Jesus. They were all believers in an outward sense, but they were not the true believers. All "went down to Capernaum" after this beginning of miracles, after they had seen the working of regeneration. They had seen the miracle that Jesus had performed, which was the symbol of the new birth.

It’s important that we understand how apparent it is that in the body of professing believers there are those who truly believe and those who believe not. "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. [His miracles were to gain their confidence so that they would believe.] But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." (JOH 2:23-24)

The Lord Jesus knew their hearts. He knew that they believed: that is, they saw with what authority He commanded and the miracles were performed.

The word name in verse 23 comes from the Greek word onoma, which means a name of authority. They saw with what authority He spoke. They believed in His name when they saw the miracles, but the Lord Jesus did not commit Himself unto them because He knew their hearts. He knew that the heart was not changed.

Verses 23-25 tell us that "many believed in his name" (that is, they saw with what authority He spoke), but they did not obey the gospel. Did you know that the gospel is a law, a command? They did not obey. They believed not even though they believed His authority. They saw with their own eyes, and they saw with what authority He spoke, but they did not obey the gospel which He preached at Cana of Galilee.

He began at Cana of Galilee – that’s where the chapter begins. What was it that He preached there? He had not only attended a wedding, but He had been preaching in Galilee. "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (MAR 1:14-15)

Do you know what the word gospel means? It means good news. He preached "the gospel of the kingdom." The word kingdom means sitting as a sovereign upon the throne. So what is the good news of the sovereign sitting upon the throne? God created you and me to serve Him, but because of the fall we are no longer able to do so. Our hearts have become polluted, and we cannot serve the Lord acceptably. The good news of the gospel is that the Lord Jesus Christ came to be our substitute and to make it so that you and I can again enter into His service and serve Him acceptably. That is the good news of the gospel, of the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom: that you and I now, by the Lord Jesus Christ, can again serve Him acceptably.

He came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying…." What was the first thing He said? "Repent." This is what is missing in those that do not believe. They do not obey. They do not repent. They hear the gospel, but they do not do. They do not obey the gospel. This is what we see now as a sorting out at Capernaum. This was the purpose of coming to Capernaum.

"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." It means you enter the kingdom today. You don’t wait until eternity or the Judgment Day. Today you enter into His service and come back in the way of serving the Lord. That’s the good news of the gospel. The door has been opened whereby we can come into His service today. We can serve Him acceptably because the Father will look upon us in Christ, in that perfect obedience of Christ. He says, "repent ye, and believe the gospel."

"…And believe the gospel." What does it mean to believe? Obey. Can you say that you believe and don’t obey? Or can you say that you don’t believe when you are coming under that authority and you have submitted yourself? To believe the authority of Christ and the authority of His Word is to become subject to it.

The Jews were the professing church ; they professed to believe– but they had no change of attitude. When our rebellion is broken, we are brought into subjection. That word repent means a change of mind, a change of attitude. The Israelites, especially the brothers and sisters of Christ, were the professing church whose rebellion was never broken, so that they never entered His service from the heart, and this was known unto our Lord.

JOH 2:24-25 we read, "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." He knew that their hearts were still rebellious. He knew that they were not in subjection to His will. He knew they had not been filled with the Word of God and that the water (the Word) had not turned into wine: they had not come to where their hearts rejoiced to do His will. They were strangers to this meaning of the miracle.

We read in JOH 2:12 "After this [after this beginning of miracles, after this preaching of the gospel of the kingdom in Galilee, saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel,’ MAR 1:15] he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days."

He went there with the true believers, the professing believers, and His mother, who was the symbol of the church. He went to Capernaum. What do we see at Capernaum? What is significant about Capernaum?

Capernaum was the place where Jesus so clearly taught how we discern between the true believers and the mere professors, between those who have repented and those who have repented not.

See what we learn about Capernaum in MAT 11:20-24. Jesus was upbraiding the cities for their absolute refusal to repent. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not…." Do you see what happened at Capernaum? It’s where He sorts out those who repented from those who repented not. He "began…to upbraid the cities…because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you."

What He’s pointing out is that absolute, obstinate refusal to repent. He said, "It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon," than for those who knew the way and refused to repent.

Verse 23 continues, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

Mighty works had been done at Capernaum. They saw His miracles and believed. He brought His own brethren, His mother, and His disciples to Capernaum to hear that sermon that He had just preached. To those who have seen His mighty works and have refused to repent: it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for you. Why? Because you have known the way and have not walked in it. He’s showing the distinction between the true believers and those who believe not: those who were just the professing church but absolutely did not repent; they professed to believe but had no change of attitude.

He refers to Capernaum as "thou…which art exalted unto heaven." In His expression, "...which art exalted unto heaven," Jesus refers to those who have become authorities in their own right. They have been to the schools of learning. They have become figures of authority. They are the teachers, yet they are not willing to hear the plain, simple message of the gospel. They are able to barter the Word of God. They are able to gainsay the Word of God. They are authorities in their own right, and they do not come under the authority of the Word. They were to be filled to the brim with the Word of God, but they missed that beginning of miracles, in which the Word of God would become their highest joy. To know and do the will of God would have become their greatest pleasure, but they have missed that. They are "exalted unto heaven."

MAT 11:25 says, "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." These who had been so exalted unto heaven, these wise and prudent, these were the authorities in the church.

See how Jesus characterizes these babes. Notice the following verses: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (MAT 11:28-30)

When we know the sinfulness of sin, then we learn to see the horrible nature of rebellion, and how that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Do you know what witchcraft is? Many people have different interpretations for the word witchcraft, but I’m going to tell you what witchcraft really is - control. Do you know where we see witchcraft in the churches today? The churches are in control instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. King Saul refused to obey, and when he was the king, he was going to decide. Then Samuel said unto him, "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." (1SA 15:23) Instead of being submissive to the will of God and walking according to the will of God, we want to be in control.

The Lord Jesus is saying here, you that are laboring and are "heavy laden," have a desire to serve under His yoke: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Why is His yoke so easy and His burden so light? For one reason: if you understand that perfect miracle where the Word of God fills us to the brim, and is transferred into wine (into joy and rejoicing), it becomes our greatest delight to do the will of God. Nothing can please us more than to know that we’ve done what is pleasing to the Lord. That’s what makes His yoke so easy. We serve under the yoke of Christ because it is our chief delight. "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light," but these that were unrepentant, exalted themselves unto heaven. They sat in the seat of God saying that they were gods.

Jesus, His mother, His disciples, and His brethren were at Capernaum, but verse 12 says, "and they continued there not many days." Jesus was moving on to the purification and the sanctification of those who believed.

Watch what we see in JOH 2:13. "And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." That’s why He didn’t stay in Capernaum long, because the Jews’ passover was at hand.

The Lord’s passover, as it is called in EXO 12:11, had degenerated into the Jews’ passover, because they were "exalted unto heaven." They sat in the seat of God. It was their passover; it was not the Lord’s passover. The Lord’s passover was not to be held without first cleansing the temple. When the Lord Jesus came to celebrate the passover, first was to cleanse the temple, the body, and the home before a passover could take place.

In preparation for the passover, the Lord had expressly commanded in EXO 12:19, "Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses, for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land."

In the preparation for the Passover, they had to have seven days of cleansing. The word seven means full or perfect. There had to be a perfect cleansing to make sure all leaven was removed before they had the Passover. Every house was the subject of rigorous examination, lest ceremonial defilement, in the form of leaven, would be found in their house. The Lord Jesus came to cleanse the temple.

The spiritual significance of this is that leaven is symbolic. Notice the symbols. See what the New Testament teaches us about leaven. Turn with me to 1CO 5:6-8. In the previous verses, we have a man who has been living in sin, and the people are being so generous and forgiving that they’re glorying in their forgiving spirit, allowing that man to continue to live in sin. "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [Do you know what leaven is? It’s yeast. You put leaven in a batch of dough and it makes it rise – it puffs up.] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Are we starting to understand what it takes to prepare for the feast of the Lord? The Lord has come to prepare His temple for the Passover and to cleanse His temple: the leaven of malice and wickedness must be removed. Before the Lord takes up His abode upon the throne of your heart, there must be a cleansing. He takes that scourge of fine cords and He drives sin out.

We see that, "ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Do you see how leaven is symbolic? We have an attitude that is not clean: we have malice, we’re angry, we’re revengeful, and we’re spiteful. He says to clean up our act, clean up our attitude, and repent. The malice and wickedness has to be taken out. He wants repentance. He wants a change of attitude before He takes up His place upon the throne of our heart.

"Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

It was the leaven of covetousness which Jesus was driving out to purge the temple in preparation for the passover feast. MAT 21:12-13 says, "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."

The Lord wants that covetous spirit driven out: in which our hearts are so set on the things of this life that it becomes spiritual adultery. He said, you have made my Father’s house a den of thieves. You are stealing God’s honor and God’s cleanliness. The Lord wants His bride to be cleansed, and here we are in spiritual adultery, with hearts filled with malice and all these sins that we have by nature. Now, immediately upon the work of regeneration, the first thing the Lord does is to come in and start driving out this malice and covetousness.

As Jesus was going from Cana of Galilee unto Capernaum, he had a mixed company: His disciples had believed on Him, but His brethren had not.

See the lesson taught in this purification for the Passover in 1CO 5:9-11. See how leaven is symbolic. "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. [you couldn’t associate with anybody.] But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one, no, not to eat."

Do you know what He’s saying? Jesus and company are on the way to Capernaum. His disciples, who have believed, and those who are living in spiritual blindness and did not believe, are all traveling together. Don’t keep company with those who profess to be believers. Their walk does not correspond with what they say. They’re only professing to be believers, yet you are mingling with them, walking together to Capernaum. If you are not to eat with a fornicator of this world, then you have to come out of the world. However, if they call themselves brothers, if they profess to be Christians and are not, don’t eat with them, don’t associate with them, because it brings reproach upon the body.

One of the most dangerous forms of leaven - which Jesus spoke of in His day, and it is by far the most dangerous in our day - is the leaven of the scribes and the Pharisees. We read in MAT 16:11-12: "How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."

What was wrong with the doctrine of the Pharisees? They build you up, make a "Christian" out of you, puff you up, but there’s no repenting, there’s no foundation. It’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the gospel of the devil because it’s self-deception for eternity, to believe that you’re saved, when you are not. He was warning them, "beware of the leaven…of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." They were teaching a salvation outside of Christ. They were teaching a salvation without repentance because they themselves believed not. Yet they were professing "Christians." They were professing to be the church.

The leaven "of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" is the gospel of Satan. It is a gospel of salvation through the blood of Christ, but a gospel without repentance. How many people today preach that all you have to do is accept Christ, and you’re saved for eternity? They believe in eternal security. If you fall into sin and are there the rest of your life, you might not enjoy the presence of the Lord, but you’re still saved. So they comfort those souls to go on without repentance. The doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, this leaven, must be purged out.

"Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2CO 11:15) It says that if Satan goes out as an angel of light, don’t marvel, then, that his ministers are also transformed into ministers of righteousness. They go forth and profess to be ministers of Jesus Christ preaching righteousness, but their end will be according to their works. They didn’t repent, they will fail, and so will their followers.

Our Saviour’s cleansing of the temple (that is, the body of true believers) in the way of sanctification brings to a close what was taught before. Put these things together and see the gospel of the kingdom ushered into the place of a failed Judaism. Judaism was preaching a salvation outside of repentance.

They had a blinded priesthood. First, they never saw the dove, who descended upon our Saviour at His baptism as the symbol of holiness. They didn’t realize that when you and I claim the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it should be seen by the world. They should be able to see that Spirit of holiness resting upon us. If it’s not there, we have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In JOH 1:36 we read, "And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" John the Baptist was looking upon Jesus as He walked. He could see that the Spirit had descended upon Him as a dove, and that dove is the symbol of holiness. He said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"

Second, they never saw the joy of Christ’s espousal. They never understood the wedding at Cana of Galilee. They never saw the joy there is in believing in the authority of the Word of God or in repentance.

Third, they never saw the pollution of the temple. The Pharisees and the Sadducees never saw, never understood, how unacceptable it was that they were selling cattle, doves, and sheep, and that there were money changers within the house of God. They never even realized how unacceptable this was. They never saw the pollution of the temple nor the leaven of hypocrisy that was in their hearts. They never saw the leaven of hypocrisy in the doctrine of self-exaltation.

On the other side of this same principle, we see the blessed revelation of our Saviour’s baptism in a visible form reflected in those who receive the baptism of the Spirit. To those on one side of the principle, He was an offense; those on the other side of the principle saw the miracle that brought about the work of regeneration.

"And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him" (JOH 1:32) in the form of a dove, in the spirit of holiness which now is visible in the lives of His people.

Those who enter His service see the beginning of miracles: that is, the new birth performed as they obey. See the beauty of that miracle. The Lord Jesus did not pronounce the water to be wine. He told the servants what to do, and as they obeyed, the miracle was performed. As you and I obey the gospel, the miracle of regeneration is performed. What is that miracle? The authority of God’s Word becomes our highest joy. It becomes our chief delight to do the will of God.

"Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it," and it was wine. (JOH 2:7-8) It was in the act of obeying that the miracle was performed. As we become filled to the brim with the Word of God we begin to see that miracle. We begin to see and to understand the joy of doing the will of God.

"Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth [That’s the performing of that miracle.] greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed." (PSA 112:1-2) The blessing is found in those who fear the Lord and delight in His will.

As we learn to delight to do the will of God, we see the miracle of sanctification performed as we are made ready for the Master’s use. When it becomes our chief delight to do His will, then we see that it is His will that all of these moneychangers be cast out, and the process of sanctification starts - the miracle of sanctification. Do you know why? We lose our delight in those things that are displeasing to the Lord. They become abominable to us because we delight in His will. We start to see that such things are against His will, and understand that we cannot do those things that displease Him because our chief and highest pleasure is to do what’s pleasing to Him. So many people misunderstand the law. They say the law has been abolished. No, the law has not been abolished; the law becomes my chief delight. I’m not serving under the letter of the law. I’m serving under the spirit of the law. It becomes my highest delight to do the will of God.

COL 1:10-11: "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God [It’s an ongoing, growing thing.]; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness."

That’s how sanctification – the miracle of sanctification – is effected, as we begin walking, and delighting to walk, in the ways of God. We learn patience, cleanliness, and the law of love; we start to learn these things as we delight in the law of God. In this way we see the miracle of sanctification being performed in our hearts. This is how the Lord drives out of our hearts all of the things that are displeasing to Him. The Lord gives us a new heart and a new desire to do what is pleasing to Him.

Now we see how the greatest joy and rejoicing is the fruit of this sanctification, and it all begins in the way of obedience as the instrument of our new birth. Our sanctification, our coming into fellowship and union with Christ, all begins by our obedience to His will. As we become filled to the brim with His Holy Word, we find such joy in doing His will, that in this way sanctification now takes place, by way of obedience, as I just read to you in COL 1:10-11.

See the fruit of this sanctification in COL 1:12-15: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [fit in character] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature."

As the work of sanctification is performed in our hearts, we are made fit in character. We start resembling the character of God. We see Christ formed in us. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. Do you see how it is in the way of sanctification that He makes us fit in character?

The Lord hates a selfish religion. If all you want is for your sins to be forgiven so that you can escape the consequences of sin, but you still love your sin, you are hell-bound. The Lord wants that it becomes our highest priority to know and do His will. That ushers in the work of sanctification, and it is through sanctification that we come unto the forgiveness of sin. The forgiveness of sin becomes our reward as the work of sanctification becomes perfected in our hearts. If all we have in mind is to escape hell, and we want our sins forgiven so that we can go to heaven, we have not found an escape of the consequences of sin. The work begins with obedience. In the way of obedience, the miracle of the new birth is performed. We come to delight in doing His will. As we learn to delight to do His will, the work of sanctification is performed. The Holy Spirit is the author of it all. He is the one who works it out and makes us willing to do His will.

We find this in PHI 2:13. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." This being willing and that doing are the instrument whereby the Lord does the work of regeneration and of sanctification.

As it becomes our highest delight to do His will, and as we are made fit in character to become inheritors of the saints in light, then we thank the Father, who has "translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature."

He is the image. He is the true reflection of the character of God. We have redemption in Him. We are redeemed from all iniquity, redeemed from the power of sin, and redeemed from hell and the grave. Amen


These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a  daily devotion. See also, our sermon notes.

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