Bride Without Blemish (Acts 4:36-5:11) | Jared Betts

His Desire for His Bride

May we open considering a question that everyone of us undoubtedly ponder, but not one everyone gets right. In fact, I believe few people do, or they have learned it at some point in their walk with Christ but forgotten it soon after.

The question is this: What is God’s greatest desire for us as believers? Is it that we live lives without trouble? No. Is it that we be wealthy and prosperous? No. Is it that we be healthy and happy? No. His greatest desire for us as believers is that we share in His holiness.[1] That we become partakers of His nature, because without holiness, no one can see Him.[2]

Jesus Christ’s greatest desires for His bride is that she be without blemish. He wants her to be conformed to His image. Colossians says that we are to put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge of the image of the One who created us.[3] Ephesians tells us that we are to put on the new self:

“Which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”[4]

According to Romans, our spiritual service of worship is for us to present ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is done by not being conformed to this world, by being transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we “may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable, and perfect.”[5]

            God’s greatest concern for us is that we be sanctified into the image of Christ. The Apostle Paul could not be more clear when he said in Romans 8:28-30:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

This is what God the Father had purposed to do before eternity past, and this is what He will accomplish with His people. Christ is the vine, the Father is the vinedresser, and any branch in Christ that bears fruit the Father prunes.[6] He seeks to purge His people of everything that does not reflect Him.

            Progressive sanctification is also what God the Son has purposed to do with those who are His. Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-27 that Jesus:

“Loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”

Ephesians 1:4 says that Jesus:

“Chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”

Colossians tells us that He has reconciled us in His fleshly body through death, in order to present us before Him “holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”[7] Philippians 1:9-11 records Paul’s prayer for the church in Philippi. He says:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

He will go on to tell them in chapter two verses fifteen through sixteen to:

“Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life.”[8]

Holiness of life is the purpose of God the Spirit in us. The Spirit works in us to mortify the members of our flesh.[9] He empowers us to dominate our sin before it dominates us. He works in us to deprive sin of its life before it deprives us of ours. Romans 8:13 says:

“If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

The sanctifying work of the Spirit in a professing believer is the evidence of salvation. It is the proof that they know Christ, and He knows them, because the Spirit of Christ is working in them to conform them to His image, and He is light and in Him there is no darkness.[10]

The Scripture teaches that the Church, “Being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.”[11] We are being built together into a dwelling of the living and holy God in the Spirit.[12] According to Peter, we are as living stones, which:

“Are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”[13]

We, as the church, are:

“a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”[14]

As the Scripture teaches, God:

“Has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”[15]

Titus 2:11-14 says:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

We are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called in Christ.[16] Peter says:

15 Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”[17]

God desires us to share in His holiness. Not only are we to be holy as He is holy, but we are to treat Him as such. As He says in Leviticus 10:3:

“By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.”

The Demise of Ananias and Saphira

All of this is emphasized and seen in the account of Ananias and Sapphira who did not honor God and treat Him as holy. The seriousness and ugliness of their sin stands out after Luke describes for us a body of believers who “were of one heart and soul.” They were a mass of people united in love and purpose. God’s love for them in Christ produced within them a sincere love for one another which manifested itself in genuine generosity.

They understood that Christ freely gave of Himself for their benefit, so they freely gave of themselves for the benefit of one another. As Luke accurately records:

“Not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them…abundant grace was upon them all.For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”[18]

They exemplified for us what Paul said to the church in Philippi:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”[19]

They sacrificially gave in accordance with what they had.

            Luke takes the time to highlight one person in particular who demonstrated such generosity:

36 Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”[20]

Barnabas did not do this under compulsion or obligation. He did not do this grudgingly. He also was not offering eye-service, so as to be seen and honored by men.[21] His left hand did not know what His right hand was doing.[22] His love was not forced, falsified or feigned. He freely and cheerfully gave of himself from the heart for his brothers and sisters in Christ to the glory of God, understanding that it is more blessed to give than to receive.[23] His love, as well as that of the other believers, was sincere, therefore, their generosity was genuine. It was free from all pretense and deceit.

The chapter break unfortunately interferes with the flow of Luke’s intentions, because his recording of the selflessness of the believers among the church serves to elevates the pretentiousness and deceitfulness of a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira.

Now we should understand these two to be believers in Christ because Luke is specifically recording for us the life of the body. He has included them in his account of “the congregation of those who believed.”[24] We should also understand them to be believers because this entire account revolves around their relationship with the Holy Spirit and the seriousness of believers sinning against Him.

Like Barnabas, and others within the church, Ananias and Sapphira had sold a piece of property and laid the proceeds at the Apostle’s feet to “be distributed to each, as any had need.” Their sin begins to be seen as Luke describes for us that Ananias kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and brought only a portion of it.

The problem was not that Ananias only gave some and kept the rest. He was free to do that. In fact, Ananias and Sapphira were free to keep all the proceeds for themselves. They were under no obligation to give. Peter even acknowledges this by saying:

While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control?”

The problem was that they pretended that the proceeds they had placed at the Apostle’s feet were everything that they had received for the house. They lied to Peter and the Apostle’s.

First off, what does the Scripture say about how we should conduct ourselves with one another? Colossians 3:9-10 says:

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”

Ephesians 4:25, 30 says:

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another… 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

This really leads us into who Ananias and Sapphira truly sinned against. As Peter points out to them, they did not just lie to men but to God.

This text just further drives home the truth that the way we treat Christians is the way we treat Christ. He is in the Father, we are in Him, and He is in us. Our lives are bound up with His. We are inseparably joined with Jesus. Consequently, when we sin against one another we are sinning against God the Spirit who resides in us, thus putting Him to grief.

            This is why we should strive to purge sin within us as individuals, as well as among us as a corporate body. We are a dwelling of the living God in the Spirit.[25] Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:

16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”

He says in 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20:

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be… 19 do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

Purity for ourselves as well as the bride should be one of our greatest priorities. 1 John 3:1-3 says:

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

We see in our text that Satan was instrumental in introducing the thought to them. Peter says:

“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?”[26] 

Satan influenced Ananias’ heart with this deed. This is a reminder for us to be ever watching and praying that we not be led into temptation, for our adversary roams around seeking to devour us like a lion does its pray.[27]

We should, however, understand that Satan did not make them sin. We see this in the other statement Peter makes:

“Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?”

Satan merely introduced a thought that enticed a lust already residing within Ananias. The book of James tells us that “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”[28] What does the Scripture tells us, but that when lust has conceived, when lust becomes intimate with our will, “it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”[29]

            We should see that their sin was not greed for money, though a love for it plays a role in this. Remember, they were at liberty to have kept it all. The greatest thing they wanted was the prestige of being sacrificially loving. They wanted to be thought of by the church as Barnabas was thought of, but everything that Barnabas was, they were not. He gave cheerfully, but they gave out of compulsion to manipulate people’s perception of them. It was pretense. It was falsified. It was forced. It was feigned. It was all eye-service to receive honor from men.

They wanted to be thought of as noble, but they did not want to miss out on a profit. The only way they could have their cake and eat it too was through the art of deception, so they lied. This they did, not merely to men, but ultimately to God who indwells His people. They grieved the Holy Spirit, and He in turn killed them. Luke tells us that:

As he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.[30]

It was John MacArthur that said:

“None are so ugly in God’s sight as those who flaunt a spiritual beauty they do not possess. Ananias and Sapphira were nothing more than sinning saints feigning spirituality.”[31]

As the narrative goes:

Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”

Truly, everyone ought to think twice before feigning spirituality.

What did God say after He killed Aaron’s sons for their transgression against Him? He said:

“By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.”[32]

The death of Ananias and Sapphira acted as a deterrent to sin. It reminded everyone that God is holy, and all who call upon Him are to treat Him as such and be as such.

Sin is a serious matter. God does not wink at even the most minor of sins. His eyes are too pure to look upon it. He hates any and all sin. Every sin, therefore, which has ever been committed throughout all of human history, and is currently being committed, and will one day be committed, has either been judged already or will be judged. It has either been judged on Christ, or it will be judged upon the individual person when He returns.[33]

As believers, let us never forget that God did not simply forget about our sin. He did not merely turn a blind eye towards it. He dealt with it. If you want to see what God thinks of your sin, you do not have far to look but the cross. Upon it He credited our sin to the account of His only Son and crushed Him as if He had lived our lives. Jesus willingly gave of Himself to drink of the cup of the Father’s wrath for the sin of all who believe so that they might be saved and experience true forgiveness. After rendering Himself as an offering for sin, God raised Jesus back to life never to again so that all who believe in might live forever as He does. God is, therefore, just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.[34]

If God did not spare His only Son to save His people from their sin, what will He do with those who trample underfoot the Son of God, and insult the Spirit of Grace by treating His sacrifice as insignificant? He will crush them.

Truly, it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God, who is holy, good, and just. Mankind’s greatest duty, therefore, is to do homage to the Son and take refuge in Him through faith, so that they do not perish under His wrath.[35]

The Divine Design for Discipline

We understand that what God did with Ananias and Sapphira is not His normal mode of operation for dealing with sin His church today. One of the means through which Jesus purifies His bride today is through His people being obedient to His design of loving church discipline, which is a concept that many people do not understand.

Some people’s immediate response to such a practice is, “Jesus said, ‘Judge not lest you be judged.’”[36] Sadly many professing Christians say such foolishness. I have always appreciated Paul Washer’s response to such people, which is “Twist not Scripture lest you be Satan.”

Jesus never condemned addressing sin with people. The only thing He condemned was addressing sin with another hypocritically. Truly, if people would just read the Scripture in its correct context, they would neither say nor believer such ridiculous things. Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-5:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Contrary to what many think, church discipline that is done according to the biblical model is not punishment. There is a vast difference between the two, which I believe is best seen in the words of J. Carl Laney when he says:

“Punishment is designed to execute retribution for a wrong done. Discipline, on the other hand, is designed to encourage the restoration of one involved in wrongdoing. Punishment is designed primarily to avenge a wrong and assert justice. Discipline is designed primarily as a corrective for the one who has failed to live according to the standards of the church and/or society.”[37]

The purpose of church discipline is to see people turn from their sin, be healthy in the faith, seek spiritual healing and nourishment in Christ, and have their communion with God restored, as well as their fellowship with the body.

Some believe that church discipline deters church growth, so it is best to avoid it. There are two things I have to say to such thinking:

  1.  Read several verses down after Sapphira breathed her last.

Acts 5:14 says:

14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number.”

Seems to me that God’s dealing with sin among His people produced in the hearts of people a godly fear of Him, which drew people to Him. It is as if some have forgotten that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”[38]

  • Repent! Repent in sack cloth and ashes for such foolish and arrogant thinking.

What did Solomon say but that:

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid….

He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding….

Listen to counsel and accept discipline,
That you may be wise the rest of your days….

Cease listening, my son, to discipline,
And you will stray from the words of knowledge….

Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.”[39]

We must understand that to despise loving church discipline is to despise a clear teaching of Jesus. He is the One who says in Matthew 18:15-17:

15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

What I desire us to see is that this is a very simple and loving prescription for dealing with sin among one another. He says that if someone sins:

  1. Go to them and discuss the matter in private.

That is correct, the first step is not to go before the church. Sadly, this is where many churches go wrong. Rather then applying the simple prescription Christ set forth, they go to the final step and drag people through the mud. This does not produce an environment where people confess sins one to another, but rather conceal it from each other for fear of being unlovingly tarred and feathered; and when sin is not being confessed one to another, it is not being dealt with correctly and the church suffers for it.

If someone has sinned, go to the person confidentially to reason with them. If they confess their sin, and are truly repentant, and seek forgiveness, then forgive them just as Christ has forgiven you. What began privately ends privately. It does not need to go any further than that. As Jesus says, “You have one your brother.”

If, however, they do not listen to what you say:

  • Go with one or two witnesses

Now it must be stated that these witnesses are not there to represent you. They are there to confirm the truth by objectively listening to both parties. As Washer says:

“Maybe you are the one who is wrong. Maybe your brother is not in sin; maybe you are overcritical and legalistic.”[40]

Witnesses are there to ensure that people are not being held to someone else’s unrealistic expectations or subjective standards. They are there to make sure that actual sin has occurred, not just perceived sin. They are there to side with the truth, and to see that it triumphs.

Such witnesses, therefore, should be people sanctified in the Scripture. They should be people who are not easily ruled by their emotions. They should be people without prejudice or bias. They should be people who exemplify wisdom, and reason, and humility. They should be people who are quick to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to anger, understanding that the anger of man is incapable of achieving the righteousness of God. Any fool will quarrel, so keeping away from strife is an honor for a person.[41] They should be people who have control of their tongue and their spirit knowing that “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is a folly and shame to him.”[42] They should be people who exude gentleness and patience toward others. They should be people who exemplify the love of Christ.

If, therefore, it is confirmed that the person that you, and several others have gone to, has indeed committed a sin, yet they refuse to listen, Jesus says:

  • Go before the church.

By this point the church is dealing with a person who has been approached privately about a known sin, but they have refused to listen. They have been approached again by two or three people and continue to refuse to listen to their brothers and sisters in Christ. By this point, the church is dealing with an unreasonable and unrepentant person who can cause serious damage among a body of believers. They are now brought before the church, so that the church might prayer for the person, and with them, and out of love reason with them to turn from their sin. If they do not even listen to the church, then according to Jesus, they must be removed from the fellowship of the church.

Sin separates us from God. It corrupts our communion with Him, and thus with one another. Excommunication seeks to convey the serious of sin

There truly is much that could be considered on the topic of church discipline but let us reflect on just a couple of reasons why loving church discipline is to be practiced, apart from the fact that Jesus tells us to do so. It should be done:

  1. For the benefit of the bride.

A little leaven leavens the hole lump. Just as a small amount of yeast has a significant effect on dough, so does a small amount of sin impact the body. For the health of the church in Corinth, Paul instructed them to remove a person from their midst.[43]

This is because sin that is allowed to flourished will corrupt the church, and cause it to corrode. It hurts the church as a whole and weakens it. Paul, therefore, instructed the church to remove him from among themselves, so that he might see the seriousness of his sin. Sin cuts us off from the life of God.

It is critical we understand that when the discipline served its purpose with the man in Corinth, and he came to his senses and was sorrowful over his sin and desired to be restored, Paul said this to the church in the second epistle:

“Forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”[44]

This is what true discipline seeks to do. The desire is not to tear down or destroy, but to awaken people to their sin, and to help them, and to see them healed, and to see them restored.

Loving church discipline is, therefore, done:

  • For the benefit of the believer who has sinned.

Sin destroys us. It is one of our greatest foes. Its desire is for us, and it is constantly crouching at the door ready to strike.[45] It wants to dominate us. It does not want to play. It wants to destroy. It is depicted in the Scripture as a beast craving its prey ready to devour it.

Sin does just as Peter describes it, “It wages war against our soul.”[46] It does not sleep. It does not take a break from attempting to achieve its desire. It is constantly looking for ways to express itself through us to our ruin. Sin is deceitful by nature.[47] Lust acts as novocaine upon the conscience. It numbs us to what is right and what is wrong and convinces us it has our best interest in mind while encouraging us not to consider the consequences of whatever provision of the flesh it is attempting to persuade us to make, which is always hostile to God and unpleasing to Him.[48] It is like a ravenous beast that is not satisfied until it is fed, and we are dead.

Sin wants to kill our communion with God. It longs to fracture our fellowship with others. It seeks to sap our souls of its life as it did with David, which drew him to say in the 38th Psalm, the song of a sin-sick soul:

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin.4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.5My wounds grow foul and fester because of my folly.6 I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.
7 For my loins are filled with burning, And there is no soundness in my flesh.8 I am benumbed (Feeble) and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You.10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me.”

Sin strives to deprive a genuine believer of their comfort and peace with God. As John Owen once said:

“Sin darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God’s love and favour. It takes away all sense of the privilege of our adoption; and if the soul begins to gather up thoughts of consolation, sin quickly scatters them.”[49]

Truly, the believer’s life and comfort depend upon the mortification of their sin.

Needless to say, this is not an animal for us to trifle with, nor should we want to see others flirt with it and give in to it. When people do sin, however, we should want to see them turn from their sin, be healthy in the faith, seek spiritual healing and nourishment in Christ, and have their communion with God restored, as well as their fellowship with the body. This is the purpose of the loving discipline Jesus calls for.

People do not need feigned love. They need fervent love. As Peter says:

“Keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”[50]

Love and humility are what is required when coming along side one another in this fight with sin. Both of these can only come from hearts and minds fixed on God and His gospel, who first loved us and gave His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.[51] The gospel reminds us that we are who we are purely by His patience and grace towards us, and this should cause us to be patient and gracious with one another. It was Paul who said:

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”[52]

The Love of the Father

Let us remember that our Heavenly Father is a good and loving Father. His love for us is often demonstrated by His disinclining us for our sin. As the Proverb goes:

“He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

His discipline is always for our good. He loves us too much to allow us to be carried away and destroyed by sin. As the author of Hebrews says:

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”[53]

If this is what His love for us draws Him to do in us, ought we not have the same love for one another? Are we not called to love what Christ loves and hate what He hates? Are we not to desire for one another what Christ desires for us? Jesus:

“Loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”

Do we care about the purity of the bride as He does? We should. May we, therefore, hide His word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him.[54] May we seek to do this not only as people whom God is dealing with on an individual basis, but corporately as a body that is being built together with living stones into a holy temple of the Lord. A dwelling of God in the Spirit.

When sin does breakout in our lives, let us remember the wonderful promise for every person who is trusting in Jesus’ vicarious death on the cross for sin, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring them to God;[55] that:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[56]


“If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”[57]

In light of this, may glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever be given to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is able to keep us from stumbling, and to make us stand in the presences of His glory blameless with great joy. Amen.[58]

[1] Hebrews 12:10

[2] 2 Peter 1:4; Hebrews 12:14

[3] Colossians 3:10

[4] Ephesians 4:25

[5] Romans 12:1-2

[6] John 15:1-2

[7] Colossians 1:22

[8] Philippians 2:15-16

[9] Colossians 3:5

[10] 1 John 1:5

[11] Ephesians 2:21

[12] Ephesians 2:22

[13] 1 Peter 2:5

[14] 1 Peter 2:9

[15] 2 Timothy 1:9-10

[16] Ephesians 4:1

[17] 1 Peter 1:15-16

[18] Acts 4:32-35

[19] Philippians 2:3-5

[20] Acts 4:36-37

[21] Matthew 6:1-2

[22] Matthew 6:3

[23] Acts 20:35

[24] Acts 4:32

[25] 2 Corinthians 6:16

[26] Acts 5:3

[27] 1 Peter 5:8

[28] James 1:14

[29] James 1:15

[30] Acts 5:5-6

[31] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Acts 1-12, John MacArthur; Page 153

[32] Leviticus 10:3

[33] 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

[34] Romans 3:25-26

[35] Psalm 2:12

[36] Matthew 7:1

[37] A Guide to Church Discipline: God’s Loving Plan for Restoring Believers to Fellowship with Himself and with the Body of Christ, J. Carl Laney; Page 79

[38] Proverbs 12:1; 15:32; 19:20,27; 23:12

[39] Proverbs 12:1; 15:32; 19:20; 19:27; 23:12

[40] Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church, Paul Washer; Page 54

[41] Proverbs 20:3

[42] Proverbs 18:13

[43] 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

[44] 2 Corinthians 2:7-8

[45] Genesis 4:7

[46] 1 Peter 2:11

[47] Hebrews 3:12-13

[48] Romans 8:7-8

[49] The Mortification of Sin: Abridged, John Owen; Page 24

[50] 1 Peter 4:8

[51] 1 John 4:10

[52] Galatians 6:1-2

[53] Hebrews 12:4-14

[54] Psalm 119:11

[55] 1 Peter 3:18

[56] 1 John 1:9

[57] 1 John 2:1-2

[58] Jude 24-25

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