Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wholly, Holy

Holiness. It's something that we hear teachings on, it's something that we read about in scripture. It's something that we desire in our lives. Yet what is holiness? What do we mean when we say that God is Holy?
What does the scripture have to say about holiness?
I'd like to take some time and examine this very important subject, and hopefully we will learn more about what this is all about. Even more so, I hope this spurs us on to a greater yearning for holiness in each of our lives.
It's going to be a theme in my prayers for the church in this year, that the church here in the West (western civilization) obtains a new, and vital hunger for holiness.
The LORD Jesus said, "Blessed are you that thirst and hunger for righteousness, for you shall be filled." I suspect it is no less true for holiness, especially since 'righteousness' and 'holiness' are very much related!
Israel was in bondage in Egypt for 400 years after the time of Joseph, the son of Jacob; 'in the fullness of time' God responded to the cries of His people and met Moses in the Sinai.
Most of us remember Cecil B. Demill's epic film, The Ten Commandments, and can recall the image of Moses, played brilliantly by Charlton Heston, kneeling in the presence of God at the burning bush . . .

EXODUS 3:1-5

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Where God dwells, there is holiness, as in the ground where Moses stood before the presence of the LORD. Obviously there was nothing intrinsically holy about that particular piece of real estate; only the fact that God was present there made that ground holy, for where God dwells, there must be no defilement, no impurity, no unholy influences.

And THIS is why not all of us are God's children as is so commonly believed in the world! God cannot inhabit us, and dwell within us because of the sin nature of our heart! As much as He yearns to indwell us and have fellowship with us, the sin issue MUST be dealt with! The heart MUST be reborn (it can't be repaired, reformed, or reburbished) in order to be cleansed of sin, and made an appropriately holy home for the Holy Ghost!
He is called the Holy One of Israel in Isaiah 1:4
The Holy God in ISAIAH 5:16 and The Holy One in ISAIAH 40: 25.
His name is Holy: ISAIAH 57: 15.

The word used in above text from Exodus for 'holy' is "qodesh" which means a sacred place or thing. It comes from the word 'qadash' - to be (cause, make, pronounce, or observe as) clean; it means sanctify 108x, hallow 25x, dedicate 10x, holy 7x, prepare 7x, consecrate 5x, appointed 1x in the scriptures. Its to be set apart for the work of God.

You might have a tool, or a utensil that serves a specific purpose, but you use it for something that it was not intended for. The fact that its set apart for specific work, means that it's 'sanctified' for that special purpose, and to use it in any other fashion is objectionable.
A fly swatter for a spatula to flip burgers for example. Not a very pleasant idea, is it?

In EXODUS 19:6 God pronounces the entire nation of Israel as holy; He intended on them all being a "kingdom of priests." The word for 'holy' here is very similar to the previous two. The Hebrew word is 'qadosh', and as a noun it refers to God, by His eminence; it also can refer to angels, saints, sanctuary, and its translated as holy 65x, Holy One 39x, and saint 12x.

Israel was holy in accord to their relationship with God, Who is Holy.

LEV 20:26
And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

God would distinguish His people by their moral law, ceremonial law, dietary law, civil law; they would be different in their manner of dress, the food they ate, in the way that they worship YHWH, all of which would separate them from the Gentile nations around them. In this manner they would be sanctified, set apart for special relationship with the LORD.
The entire book of Leviticus is all about holiness; its a book to be studied in detail, rather than merely a book to be read.

Within the nation of Israel there would be even further distinguishments, as in the Levitical priesthood by means of their special vestments, ceremonial oil, living quarters and in their officiating in and dealings with the Tabernacle, and later the Temple.

DEUT 33:8

And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;

". . . thy holy one . . ." is in reference to a godly man, a saint, a true Hebrew who exhibited like faith as Abraham. The word for 'holy' here is 'chaciyd" meaning kind, pious (saint), holy, merciful, godly, God, godly man, the Holy One or a holy one. Its a word often used to describe the faithful Israelite;

See also PSALM 12:1;31:23

PSALM 68:35
God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.

'Holy places' in Hebrew is 'miqqdash' - a consecrated place or thing, palace, sanctuary, asylum; sanctuary 69x, holy place 3x, chapel 1x.

Before we turn to the New Testament, let's consider some things we've observed so far:
The bush that was afire was an unusual sight to Moses, not because it appeared to be engulfed in flame. The achaicia bush or thorn bush of the desert contained a resinous sap that was combustible under heat, and so when the desert sun reached its zenith, bushes would spontaneously combust. What was unusual was that the bush didn't appear to burn up!
See here the grace of God, that in the midst of a thorny bush (remember that thorns speak of the curse: GEN 3:17-18) God made manifest His presence, and yet the bush was not destroyed.

God who is Holy would have been right in destroying rebellious man who defied the Holy King of the Universe, but instead He showed mercy, and chose a plan of redemption that would result in the dwelling of God with mankind.

As God transforms us, sanctifies us, touches and renews us, He is able to entrust to us His sacred things, just as He directed that the Urim and Thummim be given to that faithful Israelite.

As holiness is instilled in our lives we then find the power and strength of God present with us; we are overwhelmed with the awesomeness ("terribleness" in the KJV) of His majesty and glory and beauty, so much so that we find all opposition that may be set against us as paltry powers in comparison.
In the Gospel of Matthew we witness a wondrous sight:

MATT 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 

The HOLY Ghost, and here in the Greek that word is "hagios" - aweful, saved, Holy One, Holy, separated from sin, therefore consecrated to God.
That which is Holy is by necessity, separate from sin.
Now think this through with me:
God is the only source of life, from Him all life was made possible whether in the spiritual realm of angels, or the physical/spiritual realm of man, or the mere physical life of the animal and plant domains. He is transcendent of His creation surely; yet without God, no life could possibly exist.
Sin is rebellion against the Holy will of God, and it is the seed bed of evil. We know that the wages of sin is death, and now we might see clearly the dichotomy between the two:
Holiness is life, sin is death; evilness is indeed the utter absence of holiness, and being totally devoid of that, it is also devoid of life. It is no wonder then that God cannot partake of evil or even allow it to come into contact with His person.
Even the LORD Jesus while on this earth, ministered to, and ate with sinners, much to the disgust and offense of the Pharisees who wouldn't so much as allow their robes to brush up against the common sinner of the streets! And yet in a very real, spiritual way, He was quite separate from sinners.

HEB 7:26
For such an high priest became us, (that is, Jesus) who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Holiness is so intrinsic to the very nature of God, that each Member of the Trinity is referred to with the Greek word "Hagios"
It is used of the Father in LUKE 1:49; JOHN 17:11.
Of the Son in LUKE 1:35 and ACTS 3:14
And of the Spirit in MATT 1:18 and 2 TIM 1:14.
"Hagios" - predicated of God as the absolutely Holy One in His purity, majesty and glory. The hagios of God is related to His saints as well, that is "hagioi" of which He places special commands regarding conduct.
Sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in His grace calls us- yet we are to sanctify ourselves consistently with our calling.

2 TIM 1:9-10
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
See also: 1 PET 1:15; 2 PET 3:11.
"hagios" delves deeper than outward sacredness, than worthiness, than honorableness; more than purity, free from defilement - its more comprehensive - it is characteristically god-likeness.

ACTS 2:27
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

"hosios" - is right (by intrinsic or divine) character. It differs from a formal consecration and from purity from defilement. It is hallowed, undefiled by sin, free from wickedness; commonly associated with righteousness. Its an expression used of God (REV 15:4; 16:5)
Of the physical body of Christ Jesus (ACTS 2:27; 13:35)
And also of the character of Christians (ROM 12:1; 1 COR 3:17; EPH 1:4; COL 1:22; 1 TIM 2:8 and TITUS 1:8).

1 COR 9:13
Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

"holy things" here is, "hieros" - sacred, holy, consecrated to God, sacred scriptures, devoutly revering godly things. See also 2 TIM 3:15
Note that the partakers are in union with that which is on the altar, that is the sacrifice. This is a very important point for those who would be holy to recognize in their relationship to Christ as sacrifice on the cross.
Sanctify and saints of course come from the same root word (hagios and hagioi) and the very term "saint" means sanctified ones, that is, those set apart for special purpose and relationship to God.

And the means of sanctification is the Truth of God's Word from which we derive all spiritual enlightenment, beginning with the very Gospel of our salvation.

JOHN 17:17,19 
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

See also EPH 5:26; PHIL 2: 12-13; 1 THESS 5:23; HEB 13:12; 1 PET 3:15
As I mentioned previously, righteousness and holiness are interrelated.
In the New Testament "righteousness" is the Greek word "dikaisune" that is, equity of character or act, justification - the character or quality of being right or just.

1) It denotes an attribute of God
2) Its found in the sayings of the LORD Jesus
3) Whatever i s right and just and conforms to the revealed will of God - Matt. 5:6, 10, 20; John 16: 8, 10.
4) All that is appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man - Matt. 3:15; 21: 32
5) The sum total of the requirements by God - Matt. 6:33
Used of that gracious gift of God to men, whereby all who believe in the LORD Jesus Christ are brought into a right relationship to God, UNATTAINABLE by human effort or merit or by any other means than that of faith in Christ, thus placing our trust in Christ, one becomes the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).
Righteousness positionally granted based on faith in Christ, thus imputed not by works but of the work of God. See Romans 4: 6, 11.
Bringing the human spirit into union with God via Jesus Christ will effectively bring practical righteousness into the believer's life. This is the process of sanctification, that is the practical working out of that which resides within, that being the righteousness of Christ.

PHIL 2:12

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

In these works of God in the life of the believer we see two of the three primary aspects of salvation: the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer, who upon receiving and trusting in Christ is declared as being as righteous as Christ Himself, without moral flaw, without sin marring the soul, with nothing that is blameworthy before the Holy Eyes of the Divine Judge. No saint will be more righteous in heaven than he is while still on Earth at the moment of salvation!

The second aspect is sanctification and here is where holiness is manifested in the life of a believer, and so manifested that it becomes visible to even the unredeemed; such holiness is like salt which was used for centuries as a preservative to counteract corruption, and can sting the conscience of the lost and bring conviction of sin.
It behooves the saint not to play the part of the Holy Ghost in the lives of the lost that are round about him, but simply himself be utterly surrendered to the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost and allow Him to operate with His vitality and holiness in conviction of precious souls who He yearns to draw to Christ!

To allow one's sinful self, and the nature we inherited through Adam to be nailed to the cross, ruthlessly piercing it to the cross of Christ, and allowing it to die, that the spiritual man can be renewed day by day in the divine nature of Christ, and so exhibit Christ-likeness is the very heart of holiness.

Holiness is Christ-likeness in the hearts of those who love and follow the precious Savior in this life and into the one to come!
How practically, is sanctification brought about in our lives? Well, essentially its not much different than what we all experienced when we were born again; its just about the same process.

Think about your born again experience: You were searching for meaning, for truth, for a means to reach out to God, etc. The Spirit of the LORD brought truth before you in revelation of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice made for you. You came into understanding and as a result you acknowledged the truth and grace of God, acted on it by faith, and received eternal life.

EPH 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

1 COR 2:10
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

As a Christian who is indwelt by the Spirit of God, we experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit when we sin, and we sense His influence when we are tempted to sin as well. The Spirit brings revelation and convicts us that to sucuumb to that temptation is a sin; we acknoledge the truth: that "x" is a sin, and that we must resist that temptation. That we are no longer servants of sin, but servants of righteousness. That we have been granted grace and the power of God's Spirit to ably resist that sin.

ROM 6:16,18

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

We then by faith receive grace as we have received the truth, to help us in our time of need, and then act on it by repelling that temptation from our view, from our heart, from our lives. We then ask God to fill us to the full of His Spirit that we may then WALK (live, conduct, behave) in the Spirit, thus following Christ in Christ-likeness.

Another aspect of sanctification is the mortification of the flesh; it's truly only when we allow ourselves to die to the sin nature which still resides in us, that the Holy Spirit has room to come and fill in that 'gap' and bring holiness into our lives. The more consistent we are in mortifying the flesh, the more consistent we are in walking in the Spirit, the less sin will have an influence over us!

ROM 8:13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

HEB 4:15-16
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 THESS 5:23-24
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

1 JOHN 3:24
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

ROM 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

GAL 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

May the LORD Jesus Christ bless you all, WAY TOO MUCH!!!

yours in the battle,
Nikaio Aionios A.V.R.A.S. !!!
brother James

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