|holiness||| Print ||
|Written by drk|
|Saturday, 21 March 2009 16:48|
After all, it’s supposed to be like Cinderella, Right? You’ve magically searched for the perfect ending, and when you finally got saved you expected to live happily ever after. Yes, every little wish will be God’s command… then comes the reality check! Actually getting born again is just the beginning. It’s the first step. This book concerns your inward journey from that point of new birth to your future. We’re not talking about a fairy tale, but your life.
Chances are, you’ve wondered how it is that some people “find” God, while others remain dysfunctional and can’t seem to stay on the right track. It’s because of their decisions -- and their commitment to them. This is a book about the unlimited decisions that make up the roadway of life. Some decisions are small (“Should I go to church today?”) and some are as large as the expanding universe. It has been said that every one of us is as close to God as we want to be. We’ll understand that statement better as we discover that our life becomes the sum total of our choices.
It’s difficult for me to know where to start. Years of unsuccessful living now prompt me to want to help others. I’m a product of doing everything the hard way. I thought about calling this book, “On Being Happy” because that’s what it’s all about. Even our Declaration of Independence declares that we have the unalienable right to happiness. But as believers, we eventually must realize that true happiness only comes through the pursuit of holiness (Heb. 12:14). Pursuit means that diligent effort is required if we really want to see the Lord.
I certainly don’t have all the answers. I’m your traveling companion, still discovering as well. But, I’ve logged my share of miles, and that’s why this journal encompasses many travel notes about my discoveries. So get ready, my friend. Together we’ll explore from the mountain to the valleys, from metropolis to burgeoning suburbs. As you read, realize that I can only help explain the scenery. You have to get in the car and come along.
Here’s a promise to entice you to finish this book: By following these easy guidelines, you can succeed! After all, if you’re going to spend your time professing to be a Christian, then why not let it work for you? I mean, why run into that brick wall if you don’t have to? Rather than being like those who live their whole life without being aware of it passing by, you can become one who actively participates in shaping your future.
In writing this, I talk directly to you in a conversational manner -- as if you were sitting in my living room. Hopefully you plan to relax and enjoy the trip. Don’t try to go too fast, thinking that you already know the Scriptures. This time, please reread the Word -- It really is new every morning. We’ll be trying to grasp some new insight, so you need to look again. Know too, that the emphasis within the Scriptures such as bold, Italics, and extra words (in parenthesis) are mine, put there to clarify.
Also remember that the flesh is lazy. So, I ask you for dedication to finish this study. The only way you can benefit is by doing the assignments. And please… here are some things that you need to make our times together profitable:
1. Give yourself an opportunity every day to work on these concepts; pick at a specific time and place.
2. Take your time and read thoughtfully.
3. Have your Bible handy. You’ll need to look up lots of scripture. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you personal illumination through the Scriptural context.
4. You’ll need a pen. This should be a study book; one to mark up and assimilate into the depths of your understanding.
5. Keep a journal.
Over the centuries, many have written about the familiar metaphor of life being a journey. It’s an age-old way of looking at the transition and meaning of life. You can think of your Christian life as a pilgrimage or an expedition to find the One True and Holy God. So far, you may have met with many one-way roads, disappointments from dead-end streets, frustration from detours, impatience from traffic jams, or bewilderment from getting lost. Going the wrong direction causes burn out, and rejection.
Sometimes perhaps, you’ve just gotten tired of the long, boring ride. Maybe you’re exhausted from feeling empty inside. Guess what? A lot of us have had our share of struggles. However, this time it can be different for you. This will be a chance to get going in a new direction. First we’ll talk about:
1. Where are we going?
2. What is holiness?
3. Why is it difficult to change our soul to holiness
4. How can we change?
5. What is the end result?
This pilgrimage of Holiness is a PREEMINENT topic that can forever change your Christian life. We won’t talk about legalism, so don’t turn away assuming that you’re already delivered from starchy and stiff holiness bondage. It isn’t about restrictions, but rather finding completion. I know one thing for sure: Life’s too short not to find contentment and live fully. That’s why we must uncover this momentous topic of holiness. It’s probably the most overlooked Biblical truth in the church today—but oh, how we need it! Right living brings satisfaction and completeness in our everyday lives.
Unless your rod has budded and the year of Jubilee has restored everything that was lost, you still need to grow. Truth is, unless you have decided to come inside the veil of the sanctuary, you’ll continue to watch through a window. Unless your life and ministry is acceptable to God, it still has no meaning. You and I both need to learn more about holiness. This will be a journey into maturity -- until you enjoy eating strong meat and solid food.[i] Moreover, because life’s a journey that you make only once – you need to go as far as possible. Soon you’ll find God’s certain direction for your personal pilgrimage is charted by His unerring and unspeakable Love. Get ready. Resurrection morning is waiting to arise in your heart.
You need a map:
Now, going on a long motor trip without a map can be like driving after dark without lights: Total confusion! Have you ever gotten lost in a big city? Well, if you’re looking at a map of the wrong city... then it won’t work. You know, if you’re in Chicago and you have a lapful of unfolded, outdated maps of Miami -- it’s not a big help. You could wander around Chicago for a long time, falling off a world that’s flat...and that’s the same way with your life. The Bible is our only map; illuminating our way into the Promised Land. It steers true.
The chapters of the book correspond to the map’s zoom-in inserts. These details add dimension to the specific outcome of wholeness. The trick is not to master one concept and then go on to another – but to continue working on all of them throughout life’s journey. My goal is to equip you to enjoy a verifiably distinct and measurable benefit of knowing how to better apply the Word of God to your daily life. Hopefully, you’ll also develop a more useful frame of reference and a more clear way of looking at your life as a Christian.
How to start the trip: Our journey begins with a single step. You can’t skip this part. Just in case you’re not born again, you must understand that no promise in the Bible will work for you. The first thing that must happen is for your spirit to be changed by accepting Jesus as your Savior. Then, as a spirit-being, you’ll be instantaneously infused with new life and able to have relationship and fellowship with God. Receive this by saying out loud:
“Lord, I believe that you sacrificed your life and died for me. Your death was payment for my sins. Please forgive me of my sins and make me a new creation. I ask you to become the Lord of my life, and help me. In Jesus’ name.”
For He says, ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Cor. 6:2 NKJ).
Now, by this simple confession, you’ve turned the key -- it doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive, a Volkswagen or a Porsche, the ignition switch must be turned “on” in order to run. This day it’s time to get in first gear and embark on the gratifying pursuit of finding full awareness and the precious wealth of the Kingdom.
Most of us don’t travel more than a block or so without an emotional struggle. Some of my most difficult times are about silly things, like upcoming visits to the doctor. Once not too long ago, I began to imagine a bad news verdict – maybe some deep scars. Inside my consciousness, I heard the gentle nudging, “Is that the truth? Think only about truth.” The fact was, I had no reason to fear bad news. It was like the two trees in the garden – choosing God’s life or the world’s ways. I’m given a choice in my reactions -- between staying in a no-man’s land or decisively moving into the place truth.
“I’m going to learn about truth,” I said to myself.
“What you’ll learn, is pie in the sky denial,” my doubting heart replied, knowing well that the world no longer values truth. Besides, many philosophers say there’s no such thing.
Pontius Pilate asked the same question, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38). His words sent endless sound waves throughout the universe, still reverberating to this day. Is truth only an evasive goal of our productive imagination? So how can anyone find Truth? Pilate’s question continues to demand an answer. Jesus said that He was Truth, and that He spoke truth.
Protests from His own people ultimately crucified Him. Caiaphas the high priest over the Jewish people led the jealous multitudes that ruled that day. Betrayal came from a kiss. Accusations flared. The incessant and unruly mob clamored for Him to die, while Pilot washed his hands of guilt (Mt. 27:24). Truth died unjustly. But Truth won that day, and emerged from the dead in victory over our sin. The Truth can be embraced. We can behold the Man (Jn. 19: 5) who is the Truth (Jn. 14:6). So, I choose to believe in this Jesus and the things that He says. And oh, the peace that spreads its blanket when my racing fears aligned with the Word of God.
In His urgent High Priestly prayer, Jesus intercedes (Jn. 17:16-17), “For they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them (make them holy) by your truth. Your word is truth.” No longer is it what we think. Truth, we rediscover, is in Jesus, who is the Word. As we travel beyond our self-deception, we find the Truth that transcends our doctrines. We no longer belong to ourselves, but have learned that loving the truth is an essential process of sanctification. WE are made holy by truth. Truth and mercy purge our rebellious ways (Pr. 16:6). Truth is not just a word, it’s not a formula, but a Person and a Force that changes us.
You’ll find the desire for sanctification when you incorporate truth into your actions. Like the discerning Psalmist said, “The sum of Thy word is truth” (Ps. 119:160). It’s not enough to know what the Bible says (mental assent), you have to fit it together, put it inside, and then act upon it. That you might be one who comes to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7). Nothing in your past prepares you for the unlimited exploration ahead. Like we said, initial salvation isn’t the end of the road, only the great beginning of finding Truth. Keep these principles in mind:
1. God has already made His choice about eternal life for you. “He gave His only begotten Son.”
2. The remaining choices are yours.
3. God’s choice was not based on your merit, but on the fact that He loves you.
4. Your choosing to believe in His love is the deciding factor in your eternal life.
5. Right choices result in you causing that eternal life to operate in this lifetime.
6. If you should choose to respond to His love, then the Holy Spirit comes to teach you.
#1. YOU GET A NEW NAME.
“My name is Judy, J U D Y!” I told my new kindergarten teacher while snickering behind my missing front teeth, and so that’s what they called me. Nobody ever questioned it. Judy was my favorite name from my mostest special childhood book, “Judy and Jiggers.” That book went along everywhere with me -- it was about a cute little girl who lost her dog.
Soon, my first dog was “Jiggers.” And I was Judy. Anyway –
Months later, my mom came to pick me up after school. She asked for her little four-year-old, and no one knew whom she was talking about... because Mommy didn’t know that I had changed my name, and everyone at school accepted it. I became a different person with that different name, and it was thirteen years before going back to my real name. Far more impacting than our earthly name, the Lord gives us His covenant name. We become Christians or “little Christs.” The word Christian is derived from the word Christ that means the Anointed One. It’s our Christ-like name that changes our concept of who we are – little anointed ones – like Him! Our new identity reveals our legacy. Right now ask the Lord to give you the revelation of what being a Christian really means.
Our new name stands above all names. Incredibly, He gives to those who bear His name, the right to use it when approaching the Father. We don’t keep our maiden name, or our carnal name in this union with Jesus. No, this interchange presupposes that we’ve given up our old autonomous life. In finality, we exchange our old identity with His -- Christ-ian. Our partner is the Person who opens the heavens.
There’s unlimited power in that most precious name. Jesus said that whatever we ask the Father in His name, He’ll give it to us (Jn. 14-26). In honor of this exchange, we promise to represent Him here on this earth. His name opens the treasuries of heaven for this dying world. You see, there’s more to this intimate relationship than a church service once in awhile.
ó Teach us Lord, to respect this privilege of bearing Your awesome name.
#2. YOU STILL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN.
Your new birth gives you a new set of spiritual senses. Now you can relate to spiritual things. Soon you’ll discover that there’s much for a new Christian to learn.
1. You must now discover why you are alive, and know where you are going.
2. You must not be ignorant about how Satan intends to attack you and neutralize your progress.
3. You must realize what you are battling -- (the old nature, more on this later).
4. You must know how to build yourself up and transform your mind.
#3. ONLY YOUR SPIRIT IS BORN AGAIN AT FIRST.
Whether you’ve been saved one day or for decades, you still must eventually realize that at the time of new birth only the spirit person is made alive and energized. Your spirit is born again (in the likeness of God) immediately -- but not the rest of you.
Millions have made the first step and then abandoned their quest, deciding that it didn’t work. They quit because they didn’t understand this concept of soul-realm salvation. Multitudes have made a confession with their mouth and then not stayed around to see what was next. Maybe you’re like me, I went up to the altar to “get saved” hundreds of times – but, I never “felt” saved. Even after confessing to be a Christian for years, I kept going up to the altar over and over, and over and over. Every time a new speaker came to church, I’d get saved again, “Just in case.”
As a fledging Christian, I thought all my believer friends had mastered their emotions and I was left alone fighting my rotten attitudes and my filthy mind. Later, I began to notice a critical similarity with my problems and those of my friends. Although we all had different backgrounds, everyone was barely hanging on to the tightrope. As a matter of fact, they later admitted to experiencing the same miserable defeats. We had expected to have an immediate change.
Finally after many years, I discovered that inside of every new believer are two divergent sides of life -- a God-fearing reverent side, and a secular fleshly (carnal) side. So far, my attitude hadn’t changed much. And my mind continuously reminded me of an ongoing process of salvation that needed to continue. I didn’t know that this new creation would start out like a child who must grow up.
How could I have missed that? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Suddenly I have an overview of the action necessary to complete my journey. Now instead of being a victim of circumstance, I can participate in setting my course.
The Lord allows us to reject Him forever – if we want to. Our choices have permanent costs and permanent consequences. If we choose life, be assured that the Holiness of God won’t accept our “don’t-tell-me-what-to-think-or-censor-my-behavior” point of view. He will never tolerate a permissive church. And remember, God loves us too much to leave us the way we are! He continues to woo us towards right living.
There’s more to the story. It’s not over after our first trip down to the altar. There follows a process of salvation within the body and soul. This single discovery could impact the rest of our life. It’s not over. Now, you make the choice to begin to act like a new creation.
#4. YOU MAKE THE CHOICE TO CHOOSE TRUTH OR NON-TRUTH.
Here’s what you’ll need to know In order to turn this arduous trip into an exciting excursion:
1. You choose where you’re going.
2. Where you are today is the result of your own choices.
3. You can choose to change direction and travel toward your holy destination.
4. You can know where you are going, what you should accomplish, what is your responsibility, your vision, and purpose – and why.
5. You’re given this lifetime to spiritually grow up. By faith, God can get you “there.”
6. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to change without the grace of God.
First, before we can come to that place, we must understand that knowledge about holiness is learned. Agur says in Proverbs 30:2, “Surely I am more stupid than any man ...and I neither learned with them, nor have I any knowledge of the holy one.” What a tragic place to be, stupid because of not knowing God’s Holy character. Agur-type people say, “I never learned about this Holy One. I’m not prepared, life isn’t fair, nobody told me!” There’s a solemn indictment against those who crave excitement without substance. You must learn to draw near as the hart panteth after the waterbrook (Ps.42:1); choosing to learn, longing to become absorbed by His attributes. It’s time to come apart unto Him or come apart.
What is holiness anyway? To tell you that most churches don’t generally teach their congregation how to be holy, is stating the obvious. You know that already. They usually educate believers on prayer, giving, authority, and many important subjects. But not holiness. That’s a downer. And, if they do try to teach about holiness, they usually hand out some helpful hints that are almost always the same. There’s column A— the activities you should never do. That was obviously copied verbatim from your personal list of favorite pastimes. Then, there’s column B – the stuff that you can still do. Basically, that second list sounds more like what a caged snail might enjoy doing.
Man has such a strange concept of what constitutes holiness. Religious people invent rules that make us “appear” holy, while others sit with pursed lips and a “holier than thou” demeanor, piously judging the rest of us. They tell women not to wear earrings or pants. Boys can’t have long hair – girls can’t cut it short, etc.
One day I took a new church member down to the park to play volleyball at our church picnic. She wore a little pink dress and little pink high heels, because she sincerely wanted to be “holy.” When she finally wore slacks one day, the church stood up and cheered.
We knew a couple who wouldn’t eat catsup, raisins, mustard, or anything with vinegar in it -- all because they wanted to be holy. Others won’t eat lard so God will accept them. Imagine thinking that if you don’t eat that soda cracker or that piece of bacon, then God will love you more... Others think that if they don’t watch TV they’re better than everyone else. Lots of people decide that dressing in the styles of the past generation means looking holy. Anything old, out of date, baggy, unbecoming, and undesirable must be what God wants!
While legalistic religion may have previously occupied our time and attention, the Lord waits for us to discover that it neither satisfies nor changes us. Surely we know that true holiness doesn’t make life uncomfortable or ugly -- but it adds to life. All these external ideas only hinder and never change the inside disposition. An internal change takes time. Fortunately, God measures our success (progress) differently than we do. It’s not about the outward changes of adornment; but the character in our heart, and that’s a far more difficult transition. While we just want to “arrive,” God relates with the process (the trip) and what happens within our attitudes during that journey.
Anyway, most of us don’t like our lives changed, at all. Change is often like a kidney transplant, where the body tries to reject the foreign object. We immediately attempt to get back to “normal.” If anything intrudes into what has been our steadfast routine, we unknowingly struggle against it. Arriving at maturity becomes a deliberate step-by-step process for those willing to persist and not give up. Our destination becomes not just achievement of a short-term goal, but obtaining the wisdom of God within.
è Holiness is not another doctrine but a way of thinking and acting.
Meanwhile, Jesus lingers near -- waiting to be wanted and expecting us to end our vain pursuits and indifferent prayer life. He brings us to the place of craving after intense relationships. Once we find Him, there must be a persistent moving toward His presence and pressing toward His mark (Phil. 3:13, 14). Paul’s success came from his ability to concentrate on his goal of being like Christ, forgetting the past and pressing to lay hold of what God wanted him to gain. The Living Bible explains this verse, “I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing.” This same ability to press ahead on the road to His likeness becomes our daily responsibility.
After we’re born again the Lord intends to change our character -- to cause a yearning for the crucial quality of holiness. Peter tells us that God’s instructions are, “Be holy yourselves also in your behavior, because it is written, You shall be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NAS). We’ll soon learn that only to the degree we die to the spirit of the age and the vanity of our mind, can we develop the character of Holiness within our lives. (Notice that as these themes are repeated they are marked in italics.)
Holiness is the character and name of God. It isn’t a systematized dress code, nor a contrived method to take away all our fun. Holiness isn’t a superior level of spiritual achievement, or cloistered in a convent for years. It isn’t negative piety, syrupy sweetness, nor the insincere pretense of being good. No! Holiness duplicates the moral wholeness of Godlike character. It means that we come into a place of conforming our will to His. Humans can never live in absolute holiness, but Jesus died to give us His.
Holiness is the path we’ve trod
To find ourselves revealed in God ~
No one to blame
Never the same.
Abraham looked for the city built by God. He journeyed hundreds of miles until he finally arrived at the place where the Lord wanted Him to live. “This is absolutely ridiculous,” Abraham must have said as he looked around and saw nothing special about this new desert place. You know, another wilderness wasn’t exactly what Abraham expected... but the purpose of his journey, the reason he had to leave his land and people, was to know the Holy God.
Have you ever considered that the Lord also prepared a wilderness place for you? Try doing a word study on “a place” in the Old Testament. When you search for that place, you’ll find that sometimes the Promised Land is a desert too! Joshua crossed over and found out the Promised Land was a place of war. The greatest battles happened after crossing the Jordan. God’s place is always one of change and holiness.
Where are you going? The answer is to obtain His holy image and likeness. This concept of holiness -- it has always been there -- a concept so huge you miss it while looking for the “secret and mysterious things.” You say, “God I want more of you,” yet often you mean any other way except conforming to His character. Truth is, He wants all of you -- wholly holy.
Proverbs 9:10 says, “… the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This penetrating awareness marks the holy beginning of finding true purpose and direction. Holiness: the quality of being unlike, distinct or unique from that which is common and ordinary, separated from the average, set apart from the common, and linked to Him in likeness. Holy means to be sanctified, and single-eyeyed (your eye fastened on Him alone). Sanctification sets you free to find true happiness – which is of course, one of the major reasons why we’re traveling on this journey.
I have a friend, whose love of big words would have defined Holiness as, “A predetermined place that manifests an abstract quality which may be paraphrased thus: that vindication which is established within each believer as distinguished from his irreverent past.” Whew… unless you understand how these words fit together that’s not going to make much sense. Now we’ll spend the rest of this book trying to say it another way.
Let’s take a look at some of the 650 uses of the word holiness in the Bible.[ii] The Scripture says that God’s throne is holy, and so is heaven. His tabernacle, the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, the mount of Zion, and the church all are holy. All through the day and night, creatures in heaven say that God is holy. Day and night, day and night—Holy, Holy, Holy. They don’t get tired or bored from proclaiming this revelation. The worship in heaven continuously resounds God’s holiness. What God owns He calls holy. His covenants and His people are holy. His power is holy, His mercy is holy, His wisdom is holy. Every bell and pot will be called holy. His prophets are holy. The tithe is holy. Jesus is holy. His name is holy, and Christian lives are holy. Even the Bible is called the Holy Bible.
Finding this Holy God releases us from the bondage of our uninteresting landscape of carnality, and enables us to live in quickened awareness of the Almighty.
Let’s review God’s holy plan. From the beginning God said, “Light be.” He spoke about the Light of Himself saturating the wasteland of the earth. He worked a new order of things, calling forth life. Then, on the sixth day! All creation watched the Supreme sovereign of the universe shape a human creature in His image. God wanted to share His most valuable gift of all that He was, and to create a family that lived in His very life and nature. The Lord said that everything He had made was VERY GOOD (Gen. 1:31).
Even the angels asked, “What is a man…” (Psalm 8:3-4), why is there a new order in creation? Why is he crowned with glory? This glory of the Creator Himself, encircled Adam as his covering.[iii]
Briefly, let’s say that humans (both male and female) were completely under God’s authority. They were not created to be independent and lawless, but totally dependent upon the Word of the Lord God. Adam and Eve were placed in the middle of His creation and commanded to take authority and dominion over the earth. These people were given one of the greatest gifts ever given – the power of choice. As we all know, they misused their choices and consequently relinquished their rule and control to the devil who became the “prince of this world.”
The Lord originally intended that a human never be sick, have lack, or be fearful. And God’s will doesn’t change (Mal. 3:6). However, Adam and Eve lost the nature of God when they fell, didn’t they? The intention at creation was for Adam and Eve to dwell with God and rule the earth, but they chose to forfeit their own holy nature, glory, self-esteem, dignity, and worth.
The fall caused humans to become dominated by the carnal nature (also called the self nature, the vanity of their minds, or the flesh). God said, “My Spirit shall not rule in man… in their going astray they are flesh” (Gen. 6:3). The self-life began to rule. Because of the fall, Adam and Eve both lost:
1. Character. God intended that humans be like Him in image and likeness.
2. Dominion. God designed humans to rule in authority.
3. Relationship. God expected humans to relate to Him in intimate fellowship.
4. Eternal life with God. God proposed that humans live in eternal life now.
Adam lived for several generations after being expelled from Paradise. He was a contemporary with Methuselah for 243 years, and he probably repeated the oral history of the creation story until the time of the Flood. Just imagine Adam sitting around for the next 900 years of his life, telling his family what it was like living in Eden and what it felt like to be clothed with God’s glory.[iv] How did he explain giving away all that authority and dominion? For what?
Remember that God didn’t give Satan any authority in the garden. No, Adam and Eve gave up theirs. In that single action, all humanity lost God’s inherent holy nature and could no longer fellowship with Him in the cool of the day. Since then, folks have tried everything on their own to regain this relationship. Some lie on beds of nails while others beat themselves with chains and chant long ritualistic prayers. Still, nothing alters the fact that this fallen nature passes from every parent to child bringing humankind to a crisis of identity, endlessly chasing after love, riches, and acceptance. Worthlessness still mars the core concept of the human personality.
Death came. Spiritual death was immediate, and physical death began a 900-year process. Humankind lost their authority. Sin became the inheritance of all their children.[v] Romans 3:23 tells us that because of the Fall, all have sinned and “come short of the glory of God.” That covering of splendor disappeared and humans were left knowing of their nakedness and hiding from the magnificent presence of the Lord (Gen. 3:10). Humanity received:
1. Flesh that lusts against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17).
2. The mind of the flesh at enmity against God (Romans 8:7).
3. Flesh unable to submit to the law of God (Rom. 8:7).
4. Flesh that cares about the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:5).
5. The mind of the flesh that is death (Rom. 8:6).
6. Starting out in the spirit and ending up in the flesh (Gal. 3:3).
7. Flesh that brings envying, strife, and division (1 Cor. 3:3,4).
8. Boasting in the spirit of the flesh (2 Cor. 11:18).
9. Flesh spotting their garments (Jude 23).
God in His mercy had plans (a process of covenants) to bring humankind back to this original paradise position. The Bible calls these wondrous plans, “mysteries” or “divine secrets.” Because the fall of humanity brought eternal death, only another human could get back, restore, redeem, and resurrect everything that was lost. Consequently, God stripped Himself of His deity and came to earth as a human being. In His humanity, the Lord Jesus Christ overcame the enemy and gave us back His authority. Only Jesus could redeem everything lost in the Fall.
Still up to the same old tricks of deception, the “god of this world” tries to influence us to give away our inheritance again. Except now, because of Jesus’ precious and Holy blood, you and I no longer have to be victims -- the devil no longer rules. Actualizing Christ’s redemptive sacrifice causes us to die to the inherited carnality and returns us to our pre-fall status of dominion and authority. The work of the cross gives birth to a new race of people equipped with His image and His anointing. Because of holy covenant, we - as ransomed people with human bodies - speak God’s will into the earth, and Jesus reveals Himself as omni-present through His body, the glorified church. That’s us, with faces shining.
Many of us have an inaccurate understanding of Who God is. We relate to the old paintings in museums where an unapproachable, naked old man randomly blows clouds here and there at will. Everyday he can change from a chubby little cherub, to a giant slot-machine-in-the-sky who gives us what we incessantly demand.
From the beginning, humans portrayed God as just a larger version of themselves – making Him react like we do, and feel like we feel. Then the bubble breaks, as we attempt to answer questions like, can I trust Him? Will He reject me? Can I know His will? What can I hope for? And yet, the more we study, the more we realize that God can’t be stuffed into our man-made compartments, He’s bigger than that. He’s not a God of convenience, but a Holy God of authority and supremacy to be treated with holy reverence.[vi]
The Godhead perfection infinitely surpasses anything that the human mind could comprehend, or what human nature can attain. Isaiah 57:15 says, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy...” Not only is everything that surrounds God holy, but more than 20 references tell you that His NAME is HOLY.
è You must know God in and through holiness in order to have fellowship with Him.
è The pursuit of holiness (Heb. 12:14) is a lifelong responsibility.
The first time the word holiness was used in the Bible occurs after the Red Sea opened and Israel was delivered from the Egyptian armies. They sang “Who is like unto thee, glorious (majestic) in holiness, fearful in praises” (Ex. 15:11). Nothing else can compare to the force of His holiness. You know:
1. God’s name is Holy.
2. You must relate to God by and through Holiness.
3. God demands holiness of those who bear His image.
4. God lives in Holiness and cannot abide sin. (Is.57:15).
5. Believers will eternally dwell with God in the Holy City (Is.4:3).
6. Without holiness no person shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).
The angel told Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”[vii] The angel also spoke the name, “Jesus (which means Jehovah is salvation) because He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus, God’s gift of redemption, is the part of God that dies for you -- to save you from your sin(s). Obtaining true salvation means that you no longer regard wickedness or iniquity in your heart (Ps. 66:18).
On one occasion, He dared to ask the Pharisees, “Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin?” (Jn. 8:46). This passage shows that He came to earth as an example of how to live a flawless life of demonstrable holiness (1 Peter 2:21). This Perfect One gave His life to redeem the world from death and to give us His holiness.
He is the sole expression of the glory of God – the Light-being, the out-raying of the divine – and He is the perfect imprint and the very image of (God’s) nature…”
Hebrews 1:3 AMP
Paul informs us in Colossians 1, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation...” The word for “image” is eikon, which means prototype, the one who sets the standard, or the reflection of the sun on the water. As the prototype or reflection, Jesus depicts the exact image of the unseen, invisible Holy God. He is the manifested body of God. Jesus allows us to come unto, to know, and to see the Father (John 14:6-10). By Him all things, not just some things, all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, principalities or powers, all were created through Him and for Him.
Colossians continues, “...And He is before all things, and in Him, all things consist.” This verse tells you that Jesus is the logic and the glue that holds it all together. This book you’re reading would be flying bits of atoms scattered all over if it weren’t for Jesus Christ. In a quaking world of change and fragmentation, He brings substance. The next time you decide your problem is too big, just remember that His power keeps you here in the first place.
Collosians then says, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead that in all things He might have pre-eminence.” What does He want? Pre-eminence. First place! You don’t have to worry about anything else in your life if you make Him foremost. Continuing Col.1:19, “For it pleased God, the Father, that in Him, in Jesus, all the fullness should dwell.” The completeness and the fullness of God dwells in Jesus Christ. “...You who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled. In the death of His flesh, to present you holy, blameless and irreproachable in His sight.” The work of the cross sets you free from the influence of the enemies in your mind.
Ephesians 1:4 tells us that the purpose of your salvation is so that you might become “holy and blameless in His sight.” He, who never knew sin, became sin in order to accomplish holiness in you. Accepting this redemptive work places you “IN the Beloved.” This foundational work, theologians call “Positional Sanctification.” You’re holy because Jesus is holy. The first chapter of Colossians explains the massive impact that Christ accomplished for the believer:
1. Qualified you to share in His inheritance (v 12).
2. Rescued you from darkness (v 13).
3. Brought you into the kingdom of His son of love (v 13).
4. Gave you redemption and forgiveness of sin (v 14).
5. Made peace through His blood (v 20).
6. Reconciled you through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation (v 22).
1 Cor. 1:30 says, “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness (moral right relationships) and sanctification (holiness) and redemption...” You DO HAVE present holiness, because Jesus dwells in you and He is Holy (Positional Sanctification -- in spite of yourself, He makes you already holy).
Jesus atoned for your sin and satisfied the holiness of God. The Firstborn from the dead arose to restore humanity back to Himself. He purchased life for you – once and for all. That’s why you don’t have to carry crosses, or beat yourself. Jesus gave “life,” which is the way back to God. His Life changes your destiny, and now you exist as a new species with the capacity to have dominion over your mind.
[i] Hebrews 5:14
[ii] Not counting the usages of sanctified, set apart, etc. That would put the count into the thousands. Both the Hebrew (kadash) and Greek (hagiazo) words are translated interchangeably as sanctification and holiness.
[iii] Brim, Biiye “The Story of the Glory” Voice of Victory June 1994
[iv] Emigh, David, “Knowing the Father” Word of Life article, Sept. 1996 Sand Springs, OK.
[v] All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Adam and Eve lost their glory. Jesus in us is the hope of glory.
[vi] Glen Gray and Tim Woodroof, Walk through the Bible, Lincoln Church of Christ, 820 N. 56th St. Lincoln, NE 68504 pg. 14
[vii] Luke 1:35, see also Acts 4:30
|Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2012 12:12|