“Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1)
Being perfected in holiness is a high mark of every son of God. In the above-mentioned verse the word filthiness indicates defilement. Defilement is that which pollutes, stains, and contaminates.
We are all too familiar with defilements of the flesh. But Paul reminds us that there are also defilements of the spirit. Consequently, it is the cleansing of both our flesh and spirit that brings us to perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
I believe to every spirit that is of God we encounter an antagonist or opposing spirit. To the spirit of truth there is a spirit of error. To the spirit of love, the spirit of fear. To the spirit of understanding, the spirit of slumber. To the spirit of sonship, the spirit of bondage. And to the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of Antichrist. We can attest from experience that we have wavered and vacillated between the influence of these contrary spirits.
It is out of those negative spirits that the evil disposition, will, mind, ways, attitudes find expression in the carnal mind. Those who possess such spirit are influenced by the consciousness which that spirit bears. These negative spirits are inherent – deeply rooted in man. Defilements so deep that they are unknown even to the person. It is out of the depth of this bottomless pit that wickedness arises (Rev. 9:1-3). For that which comes out of the man is what defiles the man (Mar. 7:21).
God desires to do a deep cleansing of this inward condition of heart and spirit in every son of God. For this reason David prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psa. 51:10).
Today we bear witness to the spirit that works in those in the religious system causing spiritual darkness, spiritual perversion, spiritual fornication, spiritual slumber. And behind these are the spirit of the world, the Jezebel spirit, the Nicolaitane spirit, and the spirits and ways of Balaam, Cain, the Galatians and Laodicea. Of such, the testimony holds that they were “a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God” (Psal. 78:8).
And yet, have not the spirits of our fellow brothers and sisters been quickened and made alive unto God by the Holy Spirit dwelling in them? Surely! Can we not see then that there is yet a process of perfection? For had their spirit been fully joined to the Lord, would they have been entrapped with these defilements of spirit? For what harmony has Christ with Belial? Can he who is made one Spirit with the Lord also partake of a wrong spirit?
There must then be a work the God desires to yet do in the area of their spirit in the process of their perfection and union with His Spirit. This is what Paul relays to us in our opening text. A cleansing by renewal is needed.
However, is not the same true of us pressing into sonship? For which of us have been thoroughly cleansed of pride, of fear, resentment, worry, doubt, bitterness, compromise, frustration, etc?
For this cause Paul instructs us to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23).
The renewal of which Paul speaks here is not just of mind but of spirit. This demands a deep inworking of both the word and the Spirit. For we cannot renew the spirit of men’s mind by appealing to their intellect.
True ministry does not impart knowledge but the spirit of knowledge. Its mandate is not to replace one doctrine with another. Rather it is to brings men into union with the living Word, that they may move and live and have their being in the One who energizes from within. Only the last Adam can impart this spirit, for He alone is a quickening Spirit. In joining and experientially walking in union with His Spirit, a deep and radical transformation takes effect in the lives of His sons.
Therefore, when we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, not only is our thinking and understanding renewed by the putting on of His mind, but the renewal of spirit also takes effect where we put on a new spirit. “You shall be clean from all your filthiness… a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezek. 36:25, 26).
We can understand then that to be renewed in the spirit of our mind is to put on the new man, who is a LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT and who after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Those who identify with Him and move always by His animating Spirit are a people who possess a new heart and a new spirit cleansed from the stain, pollution and contamination of all defiling spirits.
It was said of Caleb that he had a different spirit. Caleb was so filled with the spirit of God that he was equipped to follow the Lord “fully” (Num. 14:24). Thus, he was an overcomer, fit to possess the land. Such singleness of heart and spirit is what the Lord desires for His sons.
Caleb is a type of those who have the spirit of sonship, who are filled with the seven spirits of God, who follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes and who go on to possess the Kingdom. These sons of God possess a different spirit because they are renewed in the spirit of their mind, are made one Spirit with His, and through their ministry impart to others the same spirit of sonship.
Father, continue to sanctify us that they may be the embodiment of your holiness on the earth. Cleanse us from all the defilements of flesh and spirit that we press into the fullness of Your perfection.