For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Paul’s Look in Three Directions • Down to the grave. Paul knows that his life will come to an end. He sees himself as the drink offering that is poured on the sacrificial animal right before it is burned. He is a passenger aboard a ship that is ready to make its departure. Yet there is no sense of fear in these words. There is purpose and meaning and a clear direction. There is a sense of anticipation and confidence in knowing that this was expected. • Backward to his ministerial life. Paul describes his work as a soldier. He fought hard and did not run from the battle. He stayed in the fight until it was done. He was like a marathon runner who finished the many miles that were before him. He was like a steward that kept the faith. He watched over it and protected it from being stolen or destroyed and he distributed it to those in need. • Forward to judgment. Paul sees in the future a crown of righteousness for him that Jesus himself will reward him with on that day. The crown is laid up, it is already waiting for him. Notice how Paul speaks with such confidence about what awaits him in the future. He knows the glory that will be bestowed on him is waiting for him. There is no hint of distrust or doubting in this statement. It is a sure thing. But he is not just confident in this for himself only but also to all those that love Jesus. This is assurance and this is what this lesson is all about. 1. ASSURANCE IS A REAL AND BIBLICAL TEACHING a. Assurance of what? A believer may have assured confidence in their salvation. A Christian may get to a place where they feel entirely confident in the pardon of their sin and the safety of their souls. They seldom have doubts, fears, and anxieties. They view death with and the final judgment without hesitation or fear. b. Some Christians oppose this doctrine. The most notable group that does not believe in assurance is Roman Catholics. The Council of Trent states, “Believer’s assurance of the pardon of his sins is a vain and ungodly confidence.” Many do not want others to feel confident in their faith because they are not confident of their salvation. c. Some true believers reject or shrink from assurance. They believe it is a dangerous doctrine and presumptuous. It is more humble to always be doubtful and to live in fear concerning their souls. d. Some people presume assurance. They believe they will be in heaven when Scripture and their lives give no warrant for them to believe so. JC Ryle said, “There never yet a scriptural truth without abuses and counterfeits.” e. What does the Bible say? Can we find the doctrine of assurance? Are there examples? i. Job 19:25-26 ii. Psalm 23:4 iii. Isaiah 26:3, 32:17 iv. Romans 8:38-39 v. 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6 vi. 2 Timothy 1:12 vii. Colossians 2:2 viii. Hebrews 6:11, 10:22 ix. 2 Peter 1:10 x. 1 John 3:14, 5:13, 5:19
The Importance of “Counting the Cost” We could begin and end the discussion with the fact that Jesus commanded people to consider the cost. 1. Those Who Need to Be Exhorted to “Count the Cost” – There are a large group of people that are religious and think a lot about it. They are not ignorant of religion and know the basic tenets well. But they are not rooted and grounded in their faith. They have picked up their beliefs from family or friends or from attending services, but they have never had an inward experience. They have made a quick profession of faith. They walked an aisle or signed a card or raised a hand but have not had any grace work in their hearts. These are those that need to be encouraged to count the cost. They are like those in Israel that had seen all that God had done to release them from Egypt but when they did not have meat cursed Moses and God. They are like all those at the feeding of the five thousand that enjoyed the miracles but when told to feed on the flesh and blood of Christ, they left. They are like King Herod who liked to hear John the Baptist preach and treated him as a holy man. He did some good things but when it came to giving up his brother’s wife, he would not. They are like Demas who was a fellow worker with Paul but forsake him because he loved this present world. “They begin with a sadly mistaken notion of what is true Christianity. They fancy it consists in nothing more than a so-called “coming to Christ,” and having strong inward feelings of joy and peace. And so, when they find after a time, that there is a cross to be carried, that our hearts are deceitful, and return to their old sins…they had never learned that we must ‘count the cost’” 2. The Practice of Counting the Cost – Luke 14:25-27 says, “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” In this section, we are pointed to some of the great preachers of the past and their practice. They understood that the heart was deceitful and that outward appearance did not always correspond with an inward change. When they preached they always called people to consider the cost. It is compared to a military recruiter that promises a crisp, clean uniform, three meals a day, decent pay, and glory but does not mention the battle, the drills, the watching, the marching, the months away from loved ones, and the potential for death. When we share the gospel we must share all the gospel; eternal life and eternal joy but also carrying one’s cross and self-denial. How To “Count the Cost” Rightly In this section, we have some hints on how to count the cost biblically. These will help us to have the right perspective on what we lose and gain as Christians. 1. The Profit and the Loss – Mark 8:36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Though you might gain everything here on earth what is that to eternal death? 2. The Praise and the Blame – Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” You might have some people that will insult you or even launch an all-out verbal attack, but you will gain the praise of the triune God. The praise of men matters little compared to the praise of God. 3. The Friends and the Enemies – On one side you have the devil and the wicked on the other you have your friend Jesus Christ. The enemy may hurt you but you have Jesus who can save to the uttermost. Luke 12:4-5 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him!” 4. The Life That Now Is and the Life to Come – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” In following Christ, you may have a life of trouble and fighting that you might avoid otherwise but the things we have now only last a short time compared to the glory that will be given.
What It Costs to Be a True Christian 1. It Costs Your Self Righteousness – You must give up on trusting in your morality, prayers, Bible-reading, church attendance, service projects, and mission trips. You must throw away all pride and high thoughts of your own goodness. You must trust in nothing but the free grace of God. You must trust in Jesus Christ alone. 2. It Costs Your Sins – You must be willing to give up every practice and habit which is wrong in God’s sight. You must count every sin as a deadly enemy and not make a truce with special sins. To part with some our sins is as hard as cutting off a hand or gouging out an eye. 3. It Costs Your Love of Ease – You must enter the fight and pick up the armor. You must run the race. You must stand guard and keep watch. The enemy never takes a day off therefore a Christian cannot either. When you come to Christ there are no days of vacation, there are no days off, not even a moment off. When a Christian takes a break is when they lose ground. 4. It Costs the Favor of the World – You must be content with be thought bad of by everyone. “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:20. This is not easy or natural to our desires. We prefer being thought well of others. But a Christian must be like their master who was despised and rejected of men. It costs much to be a true Christian. But it is like sailors on a sinking ship who cast everything overboard to save their life. What is of such great a worth in this life that you would save it at the expense of our eternal soul?
1. Are You Struggling For the Rewards of This World? Resolve to join Christ today. 2. Are You a Tried and Proven Soldier in the Christian Warfare? a. Never lay aside the armor of God. b. Fight to please who enlisted you. (2 Tim 2:24). c. Remember some have seemed good soldiers and have turned back. d. Don’t forget Balaam, Judas, Demas, and Lot’s wife. e. Remember Jesus always sees you. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. He has suffered in every way you have. f. Remember we are joined by multitudes of fellow soldiers that have overcome by the blood of the cross. g. Remember that time is short and the battles will soon end.
1. Faith in the Truth of God’s Written Word 2. Faith in the Person, Work, and Office of the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. Faith in Christ’s Presence and Readiness to Help 4. We Must Remember the Victories of Faithful Christian Soldiers. Pay attention to Hebrews 11. Learn about those in the early church who gave their lives in faith like Polycarp and Ignatius. Study the Protestant Reformation and people like Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Ridley, Latimer, and Hooper. After them came men like the Wesley brothers, Whitefield, Edwards, and Wilberforce. By faith, they lived, and walked, and stood and overcame. Do you want to be a Christian soldier? Pray for faith. Do you want to be a successful Christian soldier? Pray continually for more faith. True Christianity Is a Good Fight 1. Fought Under the Best of Generals – Jesus Christ is our commander and leads us with perfect wisdom, infinite love, and almighty power. 2. Fought With the Best of Helps – We have the Holy Spirit who daily teaches, leads, guides, and directs. The Father guards us by his power. The Son intercedes for us at every moment.
b. The world. The desire to have what the world has, to not to stand out, to fear ridicule and laughter from the world, or the desire to stay in the world are all things that must be resister. James 4:4 “friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Paul says in Galatians 6:14, “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” 1 John 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” c. The devil. We learn in Job that Satan walks, “to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it.” Job 1:7. He, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44). When the devil came to Peter he demanded him so that he might sift him like wheat (Luke 22:31). We are called to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph 6:11) 5. The Seriousness of Christian Warfare a. Some might think that this is a little extreme and that many people get to heaven without fighting. But let’s look at what Scripture says. b. 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. c. 2 Timothy 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. d. Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. e. Luke 13:24 Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. f. John 6:27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. g. Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. h. Luke 22:36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. i. 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. j. 1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare
Spiritual Warfare 1. This is a war that is of far greater importance than any other war and concerns everyone that exists. 2. This warfare has its consequences which, in the end, are unchangeable and eternal. 3. If you want to understand true holiness you must know about the Christian fight. True Christianity Is a Fight 1. There are many people in churches that have a Christianity that may look good to others and eases their conscience but it is not a real faith. Real Christianity is a fight. 2. According to the Bible, true Christians are soldiers. They cannot live a life of religious ease, habitual laziness, and security. 3. True Christians are not to fight with other Christians. Sometimes there is a need to fight for the right interpretation but often we waste our strength in quarreling with one another. 4. The main fight is against the flesh, the world, and the devil. a. The flesh. The disciples in the garden could not stay awake. Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body and keep it under control.” In Romans, he describes the struggle, “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” In Galatians 5:24, we are told, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” And finally, he puts it very clearly, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” (Colossians 3:5).
The Question: Are You Holy? 1. Objections a. “I feel much, and think much about these things: far more than many suppose.” The question is not what you think or feel but what you do. b. “It was never meant that all Christians should be holy, and holiness is only for great saints and people of uncommon gifts.” I cannot see that in Scripture. “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” c. “It is impossible to be so holy and to do our duty in this life at the same time: It cannot be done.” People like Daniel and those in Caesar’s house did it. d. “If I were so holy I would be unlike other people.” That’s the point. We are a separate nation set apart by God for salvation. e. “At this rate very few will be saved.” Straight is the gate and narrow the path. Heaven is not “easy” to get in. f. “These are hard sayings: the way is very narrow.” “That which costs nothing is worth nothing.” 2. Do you think you feel the importance of holiness as much as you should? a. A person can go very far in a profession of faith without growth in holiness. When Jesus said that one would betray him they didn’t all just turn and point to Judas. b. We cannot replace the work of Christ with our personal holiness but God has linked them together. We cannot boast of Christ’s work for us if we cannot show the Spirit’s work in us. c. Samuel Rutherford said, “The way that crieth down duties and sanctification, is not the way of grace. Believing and doing are blood-friends.” d. John Owen spoke of people whose whole religion was complaining of their corruptions and telling everyone that they could do nothing of themselves. Ryle says that this is just a cover for spiritual laziness. Paul complained that he was a wretched man but he also said he was pressing toward the mark. e. We should not think of ourselves as better than others. But we should have a desire to see many believers become more spiritual, more holy, more heavenly-minded, and more wholehearted toward God. f. “Is it not true that we need a higher standard of personal holiness in this day? Where is the unmistakable tone which used to distinguish the saints of old, and shake the world? Oh, where is the spirit of him, who by the cross of Christ was crucified to the world, and the world to him!” Advice to All Who Desire to Be Holy 1. You must begin with Christ. You will make no progress until you feel your sin and weakness and flee to Him. You cannot make yourself holy and then come to Christ. It is like the woman who had the flow of blood who tried everything to be better but only got worse until she touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. 2. If you want holiness then begin with these words, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling; Naked, flee to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace.” 3. Say to Christ, “Lord, not only save me from the guilt of sin, but send the Spirit, whom you promised, and save me from sin’s power. Make me holy. Teach me to do your will.” 4. Do you want to continue to be holy? Then abide in Christ. John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” “Paul was a man of God indeed, a holy man, a growing, thriving Christ – and what was the secret of it all? He was one to whom Christ was “all in all”. He was ever “looking unto Jesus.” “I can do all things,” he says, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. The Definition of True, Practical Holiness 1. What a holy person is not. a. Not just knowledge b. Not just a great profession c. Not just doing a lot of things d. Not just morality and outward respectability e. Not just taking pleasure in listening to preachers f. Not just keeping company with godly people 2. What a holy person is. a. They have the habit of being of one mind with God as described in Scripture. Loving what God loves and hating what God hates. b. They endeavor to shun every known sin and to keep every known commandment. c. They strive to be like Jesus. 1 John 2:6 “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” d. They strive to be meek, longsuffering, gentle, patient, kind and control their tongue. e. They strive to be self-controlled and self-denying. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” f. They strive to be forgiving and to show brotherly kindness. They desire to practice the golden rule and to show the love toward the church mentioned 1 Corinthians 13. g. They strive to be merciful and benevolent towards others. They seek to do good to others not being content with doing no harm. Acts 9:36 “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.” h. They strive for purity of heart. They dread their sin and anything that would draw them into it. The heart is like tinder and a holy person keeps the sparks of temptation away. i. They desire the fear of God. Not the fear of a slave that fears punishment but that of a child who acts out of love toward their father. j. They will desire humility. They will see others better than themselves. Abraham said, “I am dust and ashes.” Jacob said, “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant.” Job said, “Behold, I am of small account.” Paul says out of sinners he was “the foremost.” k. They strive to be faithful in all duties and relationships. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Paul in his letters describes the duties and nature of relationships on many levels including social, economic, gender, familial, ethnic and church. l. They desire to be spiritually minded. They hold the things of this earth with a very loose hand. They understand that they are just pilgrims and strangers in this world. Ryle says, “To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people – these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments.” They will place a value on everything in relation to how it draws them closer to God.
If we want to have a right view of holiness we must start with a right view of sin. Wrong views of holiness usually begin with wrong views of sin. Right knowledge of sin is at the root of the doctrine of salvation and its parts such as justification, regeneration, and sanctification. If you don’t know the nature and severity of the disease of your soul you can’t apply the correct remedy.