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Rejoicing in the Lord

Join us for an introduction to Saint Paul’s letters to Rome and Philippi and a look at how the Gospel spread in the earliest church.  This episode is dedicated, with thanks to God, to the faithful proclaimer of Paul’s message of grace, the late Dr. Walter A. Maier II.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz

Episode: 80

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Paul the Pastor


Was Paul serious when he said that pastors should be ‘above reproach’? What does it mean to lead God’s people, and if the church is a family, does household have a head as the family does? Listen to find out how the Christian pastor is a steward of God’s mysteries, the overseer of God’s household, and a good father to his people.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 13

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Send us a message: [email protected]
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Fourth Sunday in Lent: Galatians 4:21-31

Requiring Christians to be circumcised meant submitting to a false understanding of the Law.  Those who demanded it had the appearance of following the Law, because God certainly commanded circumcision, but they had misunderstood its purpose.  They sought a justification with the Law as mediator, so that the same Law which condemned them would also somehow justify them in the sight of God.  Yet this did not annul the promise given to Abraham.  The righteous shall live by faith.

Paul’s intense, mother-like concern for the Galatians meant that he sought to bring them back to a proper understanding of the Law and of the Gospel.  “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?”  The Law itself testified to its own proper understanding.  Those who misunderstood it did so precisely because they failed to listen to it in the first place!  Had they listened, they would have known that the righteous shall live by faith, but because they sought to be the cause of their own salvation, they had shut their ears and closed their eyes.

Paul employs an allegory to explain what he means.  Scripture is full of devices like this, such as the parables in general, allegories like 2 Samuel 12:1-15, even fable-like stories like Judges 9:8-15.  Their purpose is always to illustrate.  Here in Galatians, Paul is not revealing the secret, hidden, “actual” meaning of Genesis 16, as if the history itself were of secondary importance.  Rather, the history of Abraham himself, the one to whom the promise was made, provides an apt metaphor that illuminates what Paul means.

Sarai, in an attempt to seemingly jump start the promise of a son made to Abraham in Genesis 15, offers her Egyptian servant Hagar to Abraham as a wife, thinking that “it may be that I shall obtain children by her” (Genesis 16:2).  Hagar, a headstrong woman by nature, uses her pregnancy as an opportunity for gloating over her mistress, a move which cause Sarai to have her expelled.  After Hagar is humbled and returns, she gives birth to Ishmael (Genesis 16:15).  Ishmael, however, similar in temperament to his mother, mocked Isaac (Genesis 21:9).  Thus, Sarah brings the same judgment upon the pair, saying “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac” (Genesis 21:10).  Whatever may be said of Sarah’s motives, the Lord confirms her words, though he promises that he will also increase Ishmael for Abraham’s sake.

Paul note that Ishmael was born “according to the flesh,” because he was not the promised son.  Not even Abraham could fulfill the promise on his own terms!  The Lord gave Isaac according to His promise in His own time and in His own way.  Hagar corresponds to “Mount Sinai, bearing children from slavery,” “corresponding to the present Jerusalem” (Galatians 4:25).  Those who would be justified by the Law, having the Law as a mediator, are indeed the fleshly offspring of Abraham, just as Ishmael was!  But the flesh is of no account before the Lord.  The just shall live by faith, not by the flesh.  Sarah, for all her faults, stands for the “Jerusalem above,” the barren one whose children exceed the fruitful.  The inheritance of God does not belong to the sons of Ishmael, the fleshly sons of Abraham, but to the sons of Isaac, his spiritual sons.

Ishmael himself “was a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he [dwelt] over against all his kinsmen” (Genesis 16:12).  Coupled with his mockery of Isaac which caused him to be expelled, he stands for those who persecute those born of the Spirit (Galatians 4:29).  This has always been true, since the days of Cain, who murdered Abel “because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).  All the righteous blood shed on earth, “from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,” shall come upon those who seek a righteousness apart from faith, for they are the sons of those who murdered the prophets (Matthew 23:29-36).

Through this allegory, therefore, Paul demonstrates what he clearly states in the following chapter.  “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).  You desire to be the sons of Hagar, sons of Abraham according only to the flesh!  But our righteousness does not come from the Law, for the Law condemns us as law-breakers.  Our righteousness is of Christ by faith.  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

Second Sunday in Lent: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7

Paul did not labor long in Thessalonica before he ran into serious opposition.  As he went on his second missionary journey (starting in Acts 16), he eventually left Philippi and went more or less along the coast of the Aegean sea until he came to the Macedonian capital city of Thessalonica (today Thessaloniki).  Luke tells us that Paul found a synagogue there and “on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2), proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ.  Within this three week period, the Lord brought many to faith, including some Israelites, many Greeks, one of whom was Jason based on his Greek name, and even prominent women of the city.  Out of jealousy, however, the Jews attacked Paul and Silas and coerced the government to drive them out of the city (Acts 17:4-9).  Even after they went southward to Berea, meeting a group of even more receptive hearers, the Thessalonican Jews agitated the mobs in that city as well, forcing Paul and Silas to flee yet again to Athens (Acts 17:10-15).  Paul, therefore, had spent about a month total in Thessalonica, probably late in the year 49 A.D.

A year or two later, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write 1 Thessalonians, one of the earliest of all his letters in the New Testament.  Though his labor among them was short and stormy, Paul did not write them off as a lost cause.  “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).  Paul had been “gentle” among them, like a mother with her children, speaking the Word of God boldly despite the harshness of those who opposed him (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8).  In sending Timothy to them from Athens, Paul also demonstrated his love for them, not desiring to leave them stranded, but also knowing that he could not personally return (1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5).  Satan–whom he names as working behind the Jews who opposed him!–worked against him, but Paul did not lament or bemoan his fate (1 Thessalonians 2:18).  Rather, the Thessalonians were his joy and crown of boasting before Christ Himself.

Thus, he exhorts this congregation he labored in for about a month and had not seen face to face for a year or two, to walk in the way of holiness.  Paul taught them, however briefly, the patterns of righteousness, and, encouraged by Timothy’s report of the congregation, urges them to follow them even more.  “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3), a verse especially worthy of engraving upon the memory.  Paul more or less defines what he means by sanctification by giving several rather specific examples:  abstaining from sexual immorality, exercising bodily (not just spiritual!) self-control, and to not sin against a fellow Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6).

Sanctification, therefore, is not an ill-defined state of being.  One cannot simply say, “I am sanctified,” and assume that all that needs to be said has been said.  Sanctification, simply put, is conformity to the Law of God, because one who is holy strives to do what is holy.  Sanctification, therefore, has degrees.  Paul says as much when he calls for the Thessalonians to do what they have been doing “more and more.”  Sexual immorality is a clear sign of a decreasing or even a dead holiness.  Abstaining from such immorality is conforming ever more to the standard the Lord has given us.  Of course, such growth never occurs alone.  It is God “who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:8).  Yet sanctification, unlike justification, is not an “all-or-nothing”; a Christian is called to become holier by imitating Christ.

Sanctification is also concerned with particulars.  Paul only gives three examples, but they are relatively specific in terms of content.  Paul exhorts them to imitate Christ, but also defines what it means to imitate Him.  The call to sanctification should not be vague and nondescript, as if the bare command to “be holy as I am holy” covers the whole.  We should not be afraid to descend into particulars, because sexual immorality can be determined on the basis of the Law.  In other words, the Law draws lines and defines the boundaries of what is and is not pleasing to the Lord.

Paul also reminds the Thessalonians that “the Lord is an avenger in all these things” (1 Thessalonians 4:6).  Failure to walk in the way of God is not a misdemeanor.  The one who walks the way of sin will reap the rewards of sin, both in this life and in the judgment to come.  Walking in the way of God does not happen purely through human will, of course.  Nor does walking in the way of God preclude sin, as if sinlessness were possible prior to death.  Yet it is the difference between the one who strives to do what is pleasing to the Lord and the one who does not believe that it is necessary to do so.  Forgiveness does not mean lawlessness, and keeping the Law does not mean sinlessness.

Sexagesima: 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9

The authority of the preacher is derivative in nature. Men preach the Word, which is not their own, in season and out of season. For good reason, the men called to proclaim the Word of God are called stewards and not masters, because they are answerable to the Master in all that they do. Yet the great temptation of preachers is to center their authority in themselves, whether because of their knowledge, ability, or in comparison with other men. The false apostles who were plaguing the Corinthian congregation despised Paul out of pride. “For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account’” (2 Corinthians 10:10). Paul apparently was an unimpressive speaker, and his enemies exploited that to their own advantage.

These “super apostles” built each other up in a false confidence. As Paul says, “When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12). The pastor who boasts of his own ability has missed the point, because it is not personal ability that makes him what he is in the Lord. “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:18). Lest we misunderstand Paul’s point, he also writes to Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Seeking our commendation from the Lord and not from ourselves or from men is not an excuse to be lazy or immoral. Rather, “let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips,” because self-praise is a fruit of the flesh and not of the Spirit (Proverbs 27:2).

On the other hand, there is such a thing as false modesty. Paul explicitly says, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17). The men whom God has called into the ministry should not be ashamed of the authority which comes from the Lord. To be ashamed of what God has sent you to proclaim is tantamount to being ashamed of God. It is boasting in the flesh that Paul condemns. As he says to the Galatians, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Let the one who boasts boast in what the Lord has done, even to unprofitable servants like us.

Paul, in a fit of what he calls madness, proves his point yet further. It is foolishness, because Paul speaks like a madman in answering the fools according to their folly (Proverbs 26:5). If they have any ground for boasting in the flesh, Paul has more. These false apostles love the position of high honor, but do not suffer for it. They seek the rewards of speaking on behalf of God without recognizing the cross that must go with it (Matthew 23:1-12). Paul suffered much for the sake of the Gospel, a cross laid upon him by the Lord (Acts 9:16). These are not generic trials, as if one could apply them to any situation. Many of those who preach the Word have not suffered as Paul suffered for the Gospel. The crosses that the Lord sends to discipline his people are not the same, nor should we magnify them into meaninglessness.

However, the ultimate point that Paul makes is one that applies across the board. Whatever the cross may be, if we boast, let us boast of our weakness, for the Lord declares that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our actual weaknesses, not our imagined ones or our sins, testify to the mercy and the grace of the Lord. We are “jars of clay” bearing the treasure of the Word (2 Corinthians 4:7). Those who bear this office “have this ministry by the mercy of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1). “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1).

As a final note, Paul’s motivation for such foolish boasting to show his own weakness stems from a “divine jealousy” for the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:2). From fear that they were being led astray like Eve was deceived by the serpent, Paul speaks against those who were leading them away from their first love. “As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!” (2 Corinthians 11:10-11). The false teacher does not seek to build up the flock, but rather to exploit it. “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive” (Romans 16:18). Do we as pastors seek to instruct those entrusted to us as a father with his children, or out of a desire to appear orthodox? Is our jealousy divine or fleshly? Let us not compromise the Gospel out of a desire to seem fatherly, to be sure, but let us remember that we are called to be spiritual fathers. Those commended to our care for a time are not our enemies, but sinners for whom Christ died.

Septuagesima: 1 Corinthians 9:24–10:5

The congregation at Corinth struggled with the problem of meat offered to idols.  Some, knowing rightly that idols are in fact nothing in themselves, felt that they could partake of this food in good conscience.  Others, misinformed and therefore weak in their conscience, felt that it was a sin.  Unfortunately, the stronger Christians disparaged their weaker brothers, indulging in that meat without regard to their welfare.  Therefore, Paul clarifies that “food will not commend us to God” (1 Corinthians 8:8).  “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13).  This is not a relativistic “go with what you feel,” as if, to use a contemporary example, one should drink alcohol in order to avoid appear to be a legalist.  The stronger must bear with the failings of the genuinely weaker brother even by forsaking what is his by right so that his brother is built up and not torn down.

Paul then clarifies what he means throughout 1 Corinthians 9.  He has the right in Christ to eat and drink.  He has the right in Christ to marry a “believing wife.”  He has the right in Christ to gain his whole living by the Gospel.  The Lord does not prohibit him from doing any of these things.  Yet he forsakes all of them, because he would “endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12).  We would do well as Christians to heed Paul’s words.  Just because we have the right to do something does not mean that it is wise to do it.  Freedom in the Lord can be easily abused, to the detriment of the body.  Paul is not arguing for an unbridled license in all things.  Such is not the way of Christ.

Paul uses imagery common to his own day.  Because the ancients were fond of athletic competition, which frequently accompanied every major celebration, it provides an opportunity to explain what he means.  In a race, all of the runners seek after the prize, but only one obtains it.  He does not obtain it by doing whatever he pleases.  The athlete who has no self-control is either lazy or he plays for the crowd rather than focusing on the task at hand.  Such a man “runs aimlessly,” as if he was “boxing as one beating the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26).  Yet the glory which worldly runners seek is a perishable wreath, the fading crown of an earthly glory.  The one who exercises discipline in the heavenly race will receive a crow which will never fade away.  “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).  Therefore, we are called to discipline our bodies, forsaking even what is ours by right, just as an athlete must give up his freedom in order to train for winning the race.

His transition into 1 Corinthians 10 seems disjointed unless one considers the wider context.  For the sake of the weaker brother, Paul and every Christian must forsake his liberty.  Those who run the race discipline their bodies and “keep it under control,” or more literally, “enslave it,” so that they would not be disqualified.  Yet the sons of Israel were in fact disqualified from running because of their idolatry, the very same problem which the Corinthians now faced.  All of them had the same blessings from God.  God led them by the cloud and brought them through the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank from the same spiritual drink, which is Christ.  The sons of Israel had all the same blessings which we now share, and yet because of their lack of discipline, they were overthrown.  They thought they had freedom in the Lord, because they regarded themselves as stronger than Him.  Partaking in something which causes us to look down upon our weaker brothers is not walking according to the Spirit.  It is a dangerous occasion for idolatry.  Nothing, however lawful it is in itself, is worth the cost of our brother’s soul.

Epiphany: Ephesians 3:1-12

Ephesus, like so many of the newly formed congregations in the days of the apostles, struggled with the question of how the Gentiles and Jews, now both Christians, related to one another.  Peter himself received a vision before going to Cornelius that confirmed to him the will of God.  Seeing the Holy Spirit descend on the Gentiles, how could those  who heard his report say anything else other than “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18)?  But though God had clearly revealed his will, old rivalries still remained.

Paul addresses this question by pointing to the Gospel of Christ.  The Lord “predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5).  Being sons, He also chose us from the foundation of the world to be holy in His sight, not divided according to the fruits of sin, but as one in Christ.  He poured out the Holy Spirit as a “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14), so that we await the fullness of our redemption.  However, we are no longer divided in the way of the world, but alive and united in Christ.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  Predestination, therefore, is as much about being chosen to believe as it is being chosen to be holy in His sight.

Paul points to his ministry as a proof of all of this.  He is a steward of God’s grace to the Gentiles, that through Christ all who believe have access to the Father.  Jew and Gentile are no longer two, but one in Christ, so that the new man is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christian.  Yet Paul did not know this “mystery of Christ” except through revelation, much like Peter.  This mystery “was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5), a clear testimony that the Lord moves progressively throughout the history of salvation, to His glory.  “For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:17).

His ministry, therefore, is not a matter of right, but of grace.  Only through the “working of His power” could Paul, or any man whom the Lord chooses to be a minister, proclaim this great mystery.  “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1).  Paul regarded himself as the “very least of all the saints” since he had once persecuted the Church (1 Corinthians 15:9), yet the ministry of the Lord is not a matter of right, but of grace.  No man deserves to proclaim the Gospel.  Paul’s sin does not make him uniquely qualified or anything similar, as if greater sins made for greater preachers.  Paul’s sin magnifies his own inadequacy to make the grace of God all the clearer.

All of this “was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).  God chose Paul from before the foundation of the world, not only to believe and to be holy in His sight, but also to be one who “turns many to righteousness” (Daniel 12:3).  If faith is through God’s mercy, and the ministry is a matter of mercy, then, as Paul says, those who fulfill this ministry do so according to the will of God (2 Timothy 4:5).  Pastors therefore may be encouraged, knowing the Lord’s will for their lives.

That God places men into the ministry through His own will is not an opportunity for laziness.  The call to preach the Word in season and out of season is not a call to pride.  Such proud and lazy men are “enemies of the cross of Christ,” who “do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites” (Philippians 3:18-19; Romans 16:18).  It also follows that occupying the office of the ministry is no proof that it is the Lord’s will.  “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do” (Matthew 23:2-3).  “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2 Peter 2:1-3).  False prophets and false teachers, though they have all the outward appearance of the office of the ministry, are waterless clouds, swept along by winds (Jude 12-13).  You shall know them by their fruits!

But for the one whom the Lord has chosen and placed into the ministry by grace, Paul calls for him to struggle mightily for the sake of God.  The ministry is not a matter of words, but of power, the transformative power of the Holy Spirit which raises from death to life and sin to holiness.  “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:14-15).

Sanctification and Holiness

Because of sin, grace has a way of inviting abuse. Paul fights against this misunderstanding extensively in his letter to the Romans. Sin prompts the equally sinful idea that once God’s favor has been gained through Christ, sin no longer has the same consequence as before. “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:15)? Not at all!

To demonstrate his point, Paul uses the analogy of slavery, one which he fully recognizes has its shortcomings (Romans 6:19). However, no other image can suffice in explaining the all-encompassing nature of God’s grace in the life of a Christian, even if it is imperfect and should not be taken to extremes.

Paul asks: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16)? A Christian, therefore, always has a master, either sin or God. There is no neutrality, nor does being set free from sin imply a master-less existence. This does not mean that we will win favor with our new Master with such obedience. Paul makes it abundantly clear that no man will be justified by what he does in God’s sight (note especially Romans 3:28 among others). But it does mean that a transfer of ownership has occurred, using Paul’s imagery. “But having been set free from sin, you have been enslaved to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).

This leads to an important theological question: what is the nature of the Christian life? To put it another way, what is sanctification? In Romans 6:19, Paul uses the word hagiasmos. This Greek word comes from hagios, which means “holy.” Adding “mos” to the end changes the adjective holy into a noun. But how should it be translated? “Holiness” typically means a state, that is, a static way of being. But sanctification comes from the Latin sanctus, which also means “holy,” and ficio, which means “to make.” Sanctification strictly speaking means “to make holy,” which implies a process or a movement. Which one of these does Paul have in mind here?

After admitting the imperfection of the metaphor in Romans 6:19, Paul then sets up an important parallel. You were once slaves to uncleanness, while you walked in your former sins. Further, you were enslaved to lawlessness. But note especially the wording here. The word often translated as “to” has a directional force. The Greek reads most literally as “lawlessness to lawlessness,” but that direction in the word “to” implies increase, which is why many translations render it as “lawlessness leading to more lawlessness.” But Paul sets it in parallel to the rest of the sentence and states that we should present all our members as “slaves to righteousness to hagiasmon.” He uses the same wording as before, which implies the same kind of movement, or in other words, “slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” This is reemphasized in Romans 6:22, because the end or the goal of hagiasmos is everlasting life.

There is, of course, a great tendency to misunderstand Paul here. Paul is not saying that sanctification means that we become more acceptable in God’s sight. He explicitly states that what we do does not make God favorable toward us. Paul is also not saying that perfection is possible in this life. In the following chapter, he says “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Sin remains close at hand through this earthly life. Nor is Paul saying that this happens on our own, as if sanctification was something that man does all on his own. As he says at the very end of chapter 6, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

But we are being made holy in Christ, formed into Christ. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Many other such examples could be multiplied. But the point is clear: because Christians have a new Master in God, they are no longer subject to the old master of sin, and the Christian life is therefore a war.

However, this does not mean that translating hagiasmos as “holiness” is illegitimate. Holiness in the Biblical sense has to do with being “set apart” (such as in 2 Timothy 2:21). It is God who sets us apart (Galatians 1:15), and it is God who calls us in holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Holiness does not happen because we make it happen apart from God. Rather, “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).