2. The Bride - Purity: This follows on in some sense from the Body illustration. Here we must consider the divine institution of marriage. Family life is a design from heaven. Father Mother and children is a pattern in all creation such as Sun Moon and Stars in the heavens; and if you check out Genesis ch 1 all the natural animal and vegetable world is designed with two big ones and a lot of little ones. All are an expression of Father Holy Spirit and Son(s) A man is joined to a woman and they become one flesh (or body) Paul speaks of this and calls it the mystery of the church, Eph 5:32: This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church Paul here is surely inferring to the amazing fact that we shall one day be joined with God as closely as a man and woman in marriage. We shall become one. When you consider the sinfulness of man and the Holiness of God, could two be more unequally yoked. But the wonder and miracle of the gospel is that God’s way of salvation ensures that we are fit and ready to be joined to God. In Ephesians we read that the church is being cleansed by the word of God- just as a bride would be washed and beautified before her wedding like on no other day. If you ever wonder why the book of Esther is in the scriptures then you can be sure that one reason is that like Ruth, Esther represents the church. Check these verses out spiritually. When the King saw Esther we read; Esth 2:9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women. Esth 2:12. Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) Esth 2:17. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, ... I don't think one needs to be a bible expositor to see some parable there. But as we link that with Eph 5:27 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. What a motivation this should be to all the saints. Not to respond to the Holy Spirit surely is to frustrate his work, just as continuing in sin is to frustrate the Grace of God. Our attention to the minor details of the word will ensure that every spot and blemish are removed. Nothing less could be acceptable when the Bride of the Lamb, are joined in matrimony to God's own son- the spotless lamb of God without blemish Hebrews ch 10: I think this calls for another extract from one of my writings from my exposition of Hebrews ch 10 v. 21, which explains how we have had a double cleansing. Please read it before moving on.
Ch 10 v. 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 1. Hearts sprinkled with blood 2. Bodies washed in pure water. When doing their service in the Tabernacle, the Priest under the Law, first offered a sacrifice of blood at the Brazen Altar. Then he would go to the Lava, a bowl made of ladies brass mirrors, where he could see himself and then he washed his body with water. TWO WASHINGS: Inner- The Blood Outer -The Water What God sees What Man sees Work of Christ Work of Holy spirit. Justification Sanctification Blood sprinkled Body Washed with water Brazen Altar Lava- Mirror: We rest in faith Active in faith The water which the Spirit uses to wash us outwardly is the Word of God; Cf: Water: Eph 5 24, Psalm 119:9. John 15:3 1. John 5. The word is also like a mirror to the soul Note the significance of the link between The BODY, THE WILL, and SANCTIFICATION in this chapter. This is consistent throughout scripture. 2 Tim 2:21. “If a man purge himself from these - he shall be a vessel unto honour, fit for the master’s use” Sanctification deals with the BODY & WILL Salvation is never fully complete until Mind Heart AND Will are committed. The Will is usually the final and most difficult part to commit In the Christian life there is a cleansing in the blood of Jesus that causes us to be justified; (Romans Ch 3 v 24-25.) and there is an outer cleansing, not in blood but in water that brings about our Sanctification. This water that washes us, is the Word of God and the Spirit. In many scriptures we see the word of God referred to directly and by inference as water; Eph. ch. 5 v 24 tells us that the bride of Christ, his church) is being prepared for His coming, by the Holy Spirit ‘’by the washing of water through the word.’’ Jesus said to His disciples in John ch. 15 ‘’Now you are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you; In Psalm 119 we read that a young man can ‘’cleanse his way’’ by taking heed to the word of God. In 1 John ch. 5 we read that there are three that bear witness in heaven The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They have three counterparts on earth. The blood- which has an obvious association with the Son, The Spirit that has an obvious association with the Spirit and finally the Water; Though this is a concept that makes some believe it is referring to baptism, of necessity it must be linked with God the Father. We do not say the “Water of God” rather do we say the “Word of God”. Also from the rest of scripture we can surmise that the three witnesses on earth are the Blood, the Spirit and the Word. Therefore without question we should conclude this passage as another example of the word being referred to as water. There is a divine cleansing quality for those who walk in its light. In this respect we could regard it as a washing that we promote ourselves- we choose to be washed as opposed to the blood which is sprinkled over us. This cleansing has to do with behaviour. The word tells us how to live and when we walk in the light of its instruction then we can be sure that we are living clean lives. For this purpose we were ordained. In reading the opening lines of many epistles we are told that we have been destined unto holiness and sanctification, and most of the epistles are addressed to the ‘’saints’’ which means ‘’holy men’’. There can be no question that to know only an inner cleansing, is to know only part of the salvation in Christ. There was once a man who was pondering in prayer this question of outer cleansing. After seeking God in the early hours of one spring morning, he decided to wash out a few peanut butter jars, in which he used to store various sizes of nails. As he washed it out, a little divine voice spoke in his mind “And they are only to keep nails in.” In that moment the Spirit revealed the necessity for full cleansing, in the body. For the body is the temple or vessel of the Holy Ghost; Scripture declares ‘’if a man cleanse himself from these (sinful things) he will be a vessel unto honour, fit for the Master’s use’’ So if we believe and accept that there must be a cleansing unto sanctification, beside the cleansing unto justification, then we might be tempted to believe that the first cleansing God does and the second cleansing is left to us. To see sanctification as our own personal fight against sin, is not really the whole truth. Note especially verse 10 and verse 14; Verse 10 tells us we have been sanctified and verse 14 tells us we are being sanctified. This tells us that Christ did a work on the cross that is both past and present in its effect. We have already seen that the word ‘’saved,’’ sometimes means we have been saved and sometimes means we are being saved. We should by now understand the truth of these two statements. If we understand concerning the word ‘’saved’’ then perhaps we can conceive the meaning of the word ‘’Sanctified,’’ as something done in the past and also being done in the present. We have been made Holy and we are being made Holy; but however way we look at it we must recognise that we are not doing it ourselves, we are ‘’being made’’ holy. The Spirit uses the Word to cleanse us. We merely fall in line with what the word says. This double times pattern is seen in the doctrine of Glorification in Romans ch 8. we read there also that we have been glorified and that we are being glorified. The work of Christ becomes effective in our lives as we exercise our faith. For example when we believe He paid for our sins by His blood we have peace with God because we are justified. Similarly the sanctifying work of Christ accomplished on the cross, is carried out by the Holy Spirit as we obey him though the word. When we recognise that we have already been sanctified and are being sanctified by Christ it should alter our behaviour. If when we believe we are justified we have peace, then if we really believe we are sanctified we will turn from sin. If you really believe you are wearing a white suit you will hardly be unconcerned if there is dirt around. Indeed you will take special precautions to keep away from the dirt. So any one who fully believes that he or she is sanctified, and is being sanctified by the word and the Spirit will live a holy life. Just as the faith in the blood of Christ produces peace so the faith in the sanctifying work of the body of Christ (verse 10) will produce in our bodies the motive, desire and practice to be holy. The power comes by faith. It therefore is a work of God on two counts. He sanctifies us and if it is of faith then it cannot be of works. Those who daily respond to the Spirit in this way recognise that they are set apart for God, like the priest, in the Old Testament. The word devoted in scripture also means accursed. So when we are devoted to God, many things we were once devoted to become accursed. One final point concerning the law and the spirit should seal our understanding of the need and experience of Sanctification. Notice that once again the writer refers to the quotation concerning God’s promise to ‘’write His laws on their hearts’’ ( v 16) under this new covenant. In earlier notes we spoke of the link between the Law and the Spirit. In fact we emphasised that what the Law was to the Old Testament or covenant, the Spirit is to the New Covenant. The word Spirit means life. So we conclude that under this new covenant God gives us the life or power to be his Holy Children. If we respond to the Spirit, we will live according to God’s laws, not forcibly but because we have a preference of will within us to do so. This is all God’s work. Whether he accomplishes this in five minutes or fifty years, if you are His child He will accomplish it. Believe Him to do it and he will. So then, here in Hebrews, having seen the mighty effect of the work of Christ, in that we as guilty sinners are so cleansed by the blood that we have access into the presence and fellowship with God, we are moved on by the Spirit to appreciate the sanctifying work of Christ, as opposed to the justifying work of Christ. We spoke earlier of learning to accept what God has done within by faith before even seeing the signs of a changed life without. The Christian life is a matter of belief and behaviour, but it is strictly in that order. So now we move on from being justified by faith, and knowing peace with God, to being sanctified and being a fit vessel for God’s service. In chapter ten of Hebrews we begin to read of the ‘’body’’. v 5; ‘’a body you have prepared for me’’ v 10. We have been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.’’ v 22. ‘’having our bodies washed with pure water’’ The inner faith as spoken of in verses 19-22, must have an outlet in practice, and verses 23-35 speak of such things. We must love the other members of the church (or body of Christ). We must do good works for one another. We must not neglect each other by missing the meetings in the church. We can easily be tempted to stay at home, simply because we don’t feel the need to be receiving. But scripture is not so written. We gather to give to one another, as indeed we do, just by our very presence; When there are forty folk present, the people are much more encouraged than when there are only four. We are warned that the ‘’Day ‘’ is approaching. We must all appear before our master one day and give account of the talents, time and privileges he invested with us. How important it is that we wake up to the reality of that day. It is in fact the only REAL DAY. It needs no explanation by the Holy Spirit, nor any qualification, for to the believer, there can only be one important day. We should live our lives expressly in relationship to that coming day. This brings into question the whole concept of ‘’what manner of persons ought we to be’’. For example we could be minded that the Lord is coming back in a few years time so it is not really worth planning for the future, even in the Lord’s work. Had those of us who built churches in the sixties believed that the coming of the Lord was imminent we would not have built those churches which are an asset today to the Lord’s work. Also if we down tools, so to speak, because we are confident that the Lord will return within the near future, then who told us so? Does not the scripture expressly tell us that ‘’no man knows the day nor the hour’’ of His return?. Should we not plan for our children’s future spiritual needs. Should the work of God lack an overall long distance plan. Would it be good stewardship to neglect it ? Is it not an act of faith to believe in the future? I trust you can see both sides of the argument. However there should be no dilemma. We should plan for both. The important thing is that whatever we do, we must do it in Faith. (end of Hebrews quote) When Jesus comes he will be coming as bridegroom for his bride. Jesus told parables about this great event, and they were told as a warning for his people to be ready, with oil not only in their lamps but also in their vessel. May be this means something along the lines that it is easy to shine in front of other Christians every Sunday but have not much inner fullness throughout the week. In the Old Testament God desired to have a husband and wife relationship with his people Israel but it never happened. Israel prostituted herself to every kind of idol and false God around. God in fact told Hosea to marry a prostitute so he would have a clear parable to preach in his message to Israel about God’s feelings. Remaining faithful in marriage is almost always accomplished through love. We have seen the emphasis in Ephesians upon God's love for us. The reason that Jesus condemned divorce is because marriage is a parable of the real spiritual relationship between man and God. God will never divorce his people. God will ever remain faithful, because of his great love for us. The story of the prodigal son illuminates the feelings of God as he greeted his returning son. The grief was over. Separation was a painful thing for the prodigal’s father, just as it is with God and his children. Love causes suffering. There is a programme on TV about young people who go missing from home and you can see the sorrow etched upon the faces of the mothers who are waiting to hear from their son or daughter. This is the pain of Love. C.S. Lewis wrote a great piece about such things; THE DANGERS OF LOVE. To love is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it in tact you must give your heart to no-one, not even to an animal Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safely in the casket or coffin of your selfishness; But in that casket, safe dark motionless, airless, it will change; it will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell. (C. S. Lewis) The song says “How great the fathers love for us, How vast beyond all measure”. John in his epistle writes “Behold what manner of love the father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God.” To be completely faithful to God, may take a few backslidings and returns but if God’s LOVE doesn’t break one’s associations with worldly things then nothing will. 1 John 2:15 “If any man love the world the love of the father is not in him. So the bottom line is; Sanctification is the reason we have been elected. Note the following; 1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied 1Thes 4:3: For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 1Thes 4:4: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
The true teaching of the bible is that God HAS sanctified us. We cannot do it ourselves. He has MADE US HOLY like himself. If you don't like the word "holy" try "different" If we believe this we will live it. You believe you are justified, so live with a light heart and a smile on your face. Believe that you are Holy and you will make the right choices. Be who you are, Be what you are- God’s Holy Child, - Part of the Bride, being prepared for the marriage of all marriages.