Weekly devotional 9-24-18 A Chaste Virgin
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed many issues but none more important than spiritual impurity. The Corinthians were living extremely carnal lives and Paul tied their conduct of life to spiritual impurities. Hence, he wrote; “1Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly–and indeed you do bear with me. 2For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:1-3). False teachers had gained positions of authority in the church and were presenting a different gospel, a different Christ, and a different attitude concerning spiritual matters (2nd Corinthians 11:4). In addressing this issue, Paul got their attention by using terminology they were all familiar with, that of physical virginity, or the lack thereof. He used the term Chasity also known as a chaste person or persons.
The Corinthians were as sexually active and perverse as any culture in history, but Paul says that his goal was to present them “as a chaste virgin.” Certainly he couldn’t go back and undo what had occurred in the physical sense. So his meaning in the usage of the word “chaste” was in the spiritual sense. Metaphors for the word chaste in Scripture are: clean from defilement and/or pure. Paul’s desire for the Corinthians was that he might present them to Christ as pure undefiled virgins. How could he possibly accomplish that if they were spiritually defiled by their own spiritual immorality and the defilement of false teachers? We find the answer in another of Paul’s letters, his letter to the Ephesians. In an excerpt from that letter we read; “25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The Corinthians and all Christians have been made positionally clean. That is, because of Christ’s sacrifice we stand righteous before Holy God. We have been set apart (sanctified) by the blood of Christ, but in our walk we are a work in progress and this is what Paul referenced.
By his work among them, Paul hoped to present them as chaste virgins, unblemished, undefiled and clean. Which in truth is the work of God. This he knew could only be accomplished by “the washing of water by the word.” This washing was not baptismal regeneration for that would be contrary to Paul’s teaching in this book as well as all his other writings and the rest of the New Testament. “Washing” was a word Paul used as a Metaphor. Being regenerated is pictured as being cleansed by water (cf. “the washing of rebirth” in Titus 3:5). The “Word” is the “preached Word” that unbelievers hear i.e., Ephesians 6:17; Romans. 10:8, 17; and 1 Peter 1:25 in their salvation. The ultimate purpose of Christ’s death is to present to Himself the church holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4), the purpose of God’s election. As human brides prepare themselves for their husbands Christ prepares His own bride for Himself.
Becoming a chaste virgin is not accomplished by one’s self. Although he or she has their part in it, it is the work of God. It is His ongoing work in the life of those He calls to Himself. It begins with their spiritual rebirthing and continues throughout their life. We read from Romans 8:29-30; “29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Paul writes that those who are called are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. “Being conformed” is a progressive work. And note, it is God who is doing the conforming.
We as Christians do have a part in this conforming. We are to commit ourselves to the authority of the Holy Spirit. We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We are not to confound His work in our lives, but allow Him to do His work. Paul writes; “17This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But you have not so learned Christ, 21if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:17-32).
The Holy Spirit births in us new Spiritual life; He seals us in God making us permanently His; He continually witnesses to us of God’s glory and our continual need of His cleansing; He blesses us when we please God and He lets us know when we are displeasing to Him. However, if we want to be presented to God as a chaste virgin we must do our part. We will be brought to Christ as a virtuous church, as virtuous persons, even if we grieve the Holy Spirit in that bringing. But in all that He blesses us with, why grieve Him?
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
All Scripture usage is from the NKJB