The prophet Haggai, in relating the Word of God to the recently returned captives from Babylon, questions the priests on a specific ruling in regard to holiness.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling: ‘If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?'” And the priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will become unclean.” Then Haggai said, ” ‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.Haggai 2:11-14
Through this, the prophet attempts to illustrate to the people that regardless of their presence back in the holy land and them going through the motions of sacrifices, their defilement was overshadowing the holiness that they were intending to bring about through their sacrifices. In fact, the prophet argues, the depths of their defilement was actually making all of the sacrifices unclean.
This illustrates for us that holiness is not something to be flippant about, as if it can be assumed or taken for granted. Holiness is directly related to our separation from defilement; it’s inherent in the word itself. We cannot remain in a state of holiness if we continue to choose ways that don’t please God.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.2 Corinthians 7:1
For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.Ephesians 5:5
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.Titus 2:11-14
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”1 Peter 1:14-16 A
If we have been purified from past sins, why would we continue to walk in them any longer? According to Haggai’s logic, doing so only continues to defile every holy thing we try to do.
Instead, we should seek to remain faithful and obedient in all things, being ever mindful and respectful of the fragility of holiness as we continue to live in a world of darkness.
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