Grace and Holiness

Thank God we are under grace. But does this blessed fact weaken in any way the truth that “Holiness becometh God’s house forever?” Has it ceased to be true that “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints; and to be held in reverence of all those who are about Him?” Is the standard of holiness lower for the Church of God now than it was for Israel of old? Has it ceased to be true that “our God is a consuming fire.” Is evil to be tolerated because “we are not under law, but under grace?”  Why were many of the Corinthians weak and sickly? Why did many of them die? Why were Ananias and Sapphira struck dead in a moment? Did that solemn judgment touch the truth that the Church was under grace? Assuredly not. But neither did grace hinder the action of judgment. God can no more tolerate evil in His assembly now, than He could in the days of Achan.

You say, “we must not draw comparisons between God’s dealings with His earthly people and His dealings with His Church.” What is the meaning of the following words in 1 Corinthians 10? “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted….Now all these things happened unto them for examples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

Is not this drawing a comparison between God’s dealing with His earthly people and His Church now? Yes indeed; and well will it be for us all to ponder and be admonished by the comparison.  It would be sad indeed if we were to plead from the pure and precious grace in which we stand to lower the standard of holiness. We are called to purge out the old leaven on the blessed ground that “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” Is not this “drawing a comparison?”

The assembly at Corinth was commanded - woe be unto them if they refused -  to put away from among them the wicked person, to deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.

True, they were not called to stone him or to burn him; and here we have a contrast rather than a comparison. But thy had to put him out from among them if they would have the divine presence in the midst. “Thy testimonies are very sure; holiness becometh Thy house, O Lord, forever.” Can you not praise Him for the holiness as the grace? Can you not, as the standard of holiness rises before you, add your doxology, “blessed be His name forever and ever! Amen and amen?” We trust you can.

We must never forget that, while we stand in grace, we are to walk in holiness; and regards the assembly, if we refuse to judge bad doctrine and bad morals, we are not on the ground of the Assembly of God at all. People say we must not judge; God says we must. “Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” If the assembly at Corinth had refused to judge that wicked person, it would have forfeited all title to be regarded as the assembly of God, and all who feared the Lord would have had to leave it. It is a very solemn matter indeed to take the ground of the Assembly of God. All who do so have to bear in mind that it is not a question of whom we can receive or what we can tolerate, but what is worthy of God? We hear a great deal nowadays about the “broad” and the “narrow;” we have just to be as broad and as narrow as the Word of God.