I Thessalonians 4:4: FOR GOD HAS NOT CALLED US TO UNCLEANNESS BUT UNTO HOLINESS.
Leviticue 11:44a For I am the LORD your God; you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy….
In Chapters 21 and 22 of Exodus, God was giving His instructions to the people on how to live, how to conduct themselves, how they were to relate to their family, their friends, their community, their entire nation… how they were to conduct themselves in the presence of other nations and peoples, and then in Exodus 22:31, He tells them: YOU SHALL BE HOLY…!
Were they little goody-two-shoes? Hardly!
Were they Teacher’s pet (God was ready to wipe them out on several occasions).
Were they the ones who always did the right thing at all times? Not exactly!
BUT GOD CALLED THEM HOLY!
We have concocted some cockamamie definition of HOLY so that it doesn’t mean anything near to what God had in mind when He gave the instructions to the children of Israel that they were a people set apart from all other peoples on the earth!
I Peter 2:9-10: “… But you are chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show for the the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
I Peter 2:9-10 (Amplified Bible): But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood; a dedicated nation [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy.”
We are a chosen generation… we are a royal priesthood… we are a HOLY nation, a peculiar people.
Now, we are not ‘peculiar’ in the sense of weird… well, maybe to some we are a little weird… to the world’s standards, we are REALLY weird. But according to the Greek word rendered “peculiar” it means a purchased possession. And that we are! We were purchased, we were redeemed… we were bought back, not with corruptible things as silver or gold, but with the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, as of a Lamb, without blemish and without spot! Hallelujah!
We re a HOLY NATION.
We hear a lot being preached today about holiness. We are admonished to ‘be holy….’ We re told that God is looking for a Holy People! In Hebrews 12:14, we are told to ‘follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’
We seem to labor under the delusion that Holiness is somehow unobtainable in our present state and condition as human beings… that holiness is something reserved for Heaven. Preachers yell and entreat us: O People… BE HOLY! Some people crawl on their hands and knees for miles…trying to be ‘holy.’ Some people say ritualistic prayers over and over and over and over and over… all day, thinking that somehow makes them ‘holy.’ Some people adopt some sort of pious expression… hands folded prayerfully, head bowed… oyezahman… But no one ever tells us HOW we are supposed to assume that pious condition. We expect waves of God’s radiance to emanate from our very being… we expect to walk into a room and an audible hush falls over the audience because we are sooooo holy! We want to walk down the street and have everyone bow in our presence because of the holiness that oozes from our very being.
Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it?!?!
In 1 Peter 1:13-17, God tells us to BE HOLY because HE IS HOLY!
You see, He wants us to be like Him. He is our Father… so we as His children will naturally have his attribute of Holiness. He cannot be a Father to unholiness. He cannot be a Father to rebellion.
God is NOT some old fuddy-duddy, sitting in some palatial Throne Room in the heavenlies trying to think up ways to ‘get us.’ He said: Be holy because I am holy. He didn’t say: Try to be as holy as you can and if you get good enough, I’ll love you. God did not give us some unattainable goal and then judge us for not attaining it. That would make Him an unjust Judge…a respecter of persons.
I have known people that I would have described as ‘holy’… that is before I studied out HOLY. One of the pastors at my church in another city was a man I would say was a ‘holy man of God. He LOVED the Lord with all his heart…and he just seemed always to be so spiritual… until one day, I was with my Dad who stopped by the church for something (the pastor lived right across the street from the church) and my Dad had forgotten his keys, so we went across the street to have the pastor let us in. Well… all I’ll say is the pastor and his wife were have a really doozy of a domestic dual… the hollering that was going on… so much for ‘holiness.’
But, you see, that was NOT God’s definition of HOLINESS. Looking ‘spiritual’ and talking in spiritual platitudes all the time do not holiness make!
God’s definition of HOLINESS is really quite simple: it is BEING SEPARATED.
If you go back in Exodus and read Chapters 21 & 22, in their entirety you will see that God is giving the Israelites statutes, judgments and commands that are to govern their living. He is dealing with legal matters; He is dealing with relationships within the family and the nation. He is giving them moral laws that are to govern their day-to-day living. The laws against stealing; the laws of servanthood; the laws governing their work ethic; the laws of restitution; the laws of sexual purity; morality; laws protecting women, children, widows, workers; laws to ensure fair judgment in all cases, etc. Everything that should govern their day-to-day relationships that would ensure their success in every area of their lives. God gave us these relational laws so as to eliminate greed, injustice, poverty, sickness, barrenness, to eliminate every type of failure!
Then, in Exodus 23:20, He says: “Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him (that word: beware … means to take heed; pay attention)… [Pay attention to him] and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. But (I love it when God says BUT because that usually separates the rewards of obedience from the judgment of rebellion)…BUT if you shall indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak, THEN I will be an enemy unto your enemies, and an adversary unto your adversaries. For My angel shall go before you and bring you in unto the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off….(these were the inhabitants of the Promised Land… the Land which God told the Israelites that He would give to them.
In other words, God is saying: I will bring you into your promised land, and whatever problems you may encounter on the way, I will cut them off! GLORY! No matter what problems you are going through today, God has already defeated them and overcome them. NO weapon formed against you shall prosper, He tells us in Isaiah 54:17! It cannot prosper because the LORD goes before you! SHOUT HALLELUJAH!
Why did He do this? His purpose was to have a Nation of people so supernaturally blessed that every heathen they encountered would want to be a part of their nation. He wanted all those nations to be jealous of His People – the Israelites were called out by God for greatness! Rehab, the little woman in Jericho, had heard about the Jews and she wanted to be a part of their mighty army… and she was (read Joshua 2).
In Exodus 23, God tells the Israelites that He will an enemy to their enemies; an adversary to their adversaries. And He goes on to declare more blessings that will come on them as they possess their Land in obedience to Him.
What He is saying, in effect, is this: You conduct yourselves as separated unto Me and you will not only be walking in the blessings of obedience, but He will be with you… He will lead you into ‘abundance’ (not necessarily of ‘things’ but of His wisdom, understanding, able to make the right decisions, bringing you before people to minister His great love, mercy and grace! He will see to it. You have ministering spirits that go before you to prepare the way. Everything you set your hand to will prosper; you will be like a tree planted by the waters: you will bring forth fruit!
We are not, as born again, Spirit-filled sons and daughters of the Most High God to serve Him on Sunday, maybe Wednesday night prayer meetings and any other day you might attend church services… we are to serve Him 24 hours a day/7 days a week. We don’t put our ‘holy’ life aside while we are at work, at school, at play. We are not to chase after the gods of this world: greed, an abundance of ‘things’; practice ‘situational ethics’ in our dealings with others; lust after riches and the limelight of celebrity. The Bible says that a man’s gift will make room for him and bring him before great men. GOD is the One who promotes you.
When I looked up the word for ‘holy’ and ‘holiness’ in the Greek and Hebrew I found it is the same word for sanctify, sanctified, and saint. They are all from the same root word meaning dedicated to God; set apart!
The moment we are born again, we are set apart unto God for His purposes…for his use. According to Vines Expositorty, “Sanctification is used of separation to God; the course of life befitting those so separated. Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ and to which their sole title is the death of Christ. Sanctification is also used in the New Testament of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer and His purpose in calling him by the Gospel; it must be learned from God as He teaches it by His Word; and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly. The Holy character is not vicarious; in other words, it cannot be transferred or imputed, but it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God and of following the example of Christ.”
It is the Word of God that is going to set you apart. In John 17, as Jesus was praying His great prayer to the Father for His followers, He said: “…sanctify (set them apart) through Your Truth; Your Word is Truth.”
In other words, you are set apart unto God at the New Birth; but in order for you to walk in that holiness your mind has to be renewed by the washing of the water of the Word!
So I encourage you today: take time to read the Bible every day. Purpose in your heart that you will follow the leading, guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. Attend to His Word! and rightly divide the Word of Truth!
In Proverbs 4:20-23, it says: “My son, attend to my words, incline your ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life unto those that find them n health to all their flesh. keep your heart with all diligence; for out of are the issues of life. “
God desires a Holy people – a people set apart for HIS purposes and plans. He will not require that you do something that you cannot do. He will not lead you where His Grace will not keep you. He calls us to be set apart… and He provides for those He calls. His Provision will sustain us no matter where we might find ourselves. And I, for one, can tell you: HE is my provision and He has NEVER failed me! But I had to do something – I had to leave my comfort zone… follow His leading and direction and I found that my old ‘comfort’ zone was a place where I was ‘deteriorating’ spiritually. I was not growing in the Word and in the knowledge of the Lord, but as soon as I stepped out in faith, I found new strength, joy, purpose and LIFE!
I encourage you – let HIM be your provision. Let HIM be your guide. Let HIM show you the path of the Just!