Holy among the unholy

“for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:11

To be blessed by God is to be holy, or set apart. Just as the Sabbath day is unique among the “unholy” days of the week, so is the one whom God calls to himself.

The characteristics of holiness are exhibited by those who are blessed. In the passage in Matthew 5:3-12 known as the Beatitudes, we see the qualities of those who are called and set apart by God.

Humble
Grieving over unrighteousness
Gentle
Desperate for righteousness
Merciful
Pure in heart
Peacemakers
Unjustly persecuted for Messiah

These are not qualities for the faint of heart, or for those who is faith is shallow and temporary. These are qualities that are forged in the fires of affliction and struggle. They are only apparent amidst their counterparts.

Pride
Flaunting sin
Harshness
Rebelliousness
Cruelty
Corruption
Agitation
Persecution

It is only within the conditions of these negative and hostile qualities that holiness shines, just as the Sabbath is only apparent as set apart from the mundane days of the week. If it seems that we can’t escape these oppressive environments, it’s because this is the very reason we are put here: as counter-balances to, and overcomers of, the darkness of this world.

This is why it’s necessary for God’s people to maintain their qualities of holiness at all costs, so that God’s kingdom becomes manifest.  When we exhibit the qualities which God blesses, we are then set apart for the very purpose that God designed us for, and he is honored and magnified.

Matthew 5:16: “Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The intentional practice of holiness

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

This verse has been often quoted, but what is this holiness that is being discussed here? Other versions will sometimes render this word differently than holiness, and use instead the word separation or sanctification:

Young’s Literal Translation
peace pursue with all, and the separation, apart from which no one shall see the Lord,
Literal Standard Version
pursue peace with all, and the separation, apart from which no one will see the LORD,
World English Bible
Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord,
English Revised Version
Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord:
NASB 1995
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

The context of this verse is tucked in amidst many admonitions alluding to passages from Isaiah, Deuteronomy, Proverbs and Genesis to do what’s right even if being disciplined by God. The believers were encouraged to:

12 …strengthen your limp hands and weak knees. (Isaiah 35:3)
13 Make straight paths for your feet, (Proverbs 4:26) so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God, and that no root of bitterness (Deuteronomy 29:18) springs up to cause trouble and defile many.
16 See to it that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his birthright (Genesis 25:34).

To seek peace with all men and pursue holiness is what these things are all about. Pursuing holiness involves a separation or sanctification from the things of this world (sexual immorality, godlessness) and being a peacemaker (ensuring there is no root of bitterness, strengthening the weak).

Sometimes we can gain additional insight by finding where else the same form of a word in the text is used in other places in the Bible. In this case, this specific form of this word for holiness is used twice, but in only one other passage.

Romans 6:15-23 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reviewing all of these admonitions from the letters to Rome and the Hebrews, we see a picture emerging of a holiness that is the fruit or result of conscious and intentional effort at removing sinful practices. Holiness is not some mystical status that is conferred upon believers, but is the result of the believer choosing to become a slave to righteousness, eliminating everything that is unrighteous in their lives. The writer of Hebrews says without this effort, without this separation or sanctification, no one will see the Lord.

As we consider ways in which we can build others up and eliminate unrighteous behavior in our own lives, we then have the promise of being separated out from the rest of the world. Only then can we truly begin to see, understand, and know the Lord.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The separation of the righteous is holiness

See that you walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and men of integrity will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Proverbs 2:20-22

God is a god of distinction; everything in his creation is set against its opposite: light and darkness, high and low, near and far, good and bad. In Hebrew thought, this duality is what actually defines the created world; everything stands in contrast with something else.

In a similar way, holiness is a process of being set apart. A contrast is created; a distinction between one thing or person and something or someone else. The vessels of the tabernacle were holy because they served a unique and special purpose in the tabernacle. The priests were holy because they served a unique and special purpose in the work and operation of the tabernacle. In a similar fashion, God’s people are holy because they are set apart for a unique and special purpose.

Yeshua alluded to this principle as he shared the dynamic of the kingdom of God, and how the good and bad would be distinguished from one another.

Matthew 13:47-48 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad.

Proverbs 2:20-22 above (as many of the proverbs do) also makes this distinction between the good and the bad, the righteous and the wicked. In the language of the law of God, only the obedient and faithful individuals were guaranteed to remain in the land that God gave them. They would be set apart as holy and distinct from all other nations. However, if they became disobedient and pursued other gods, they would be removed from the land.

Deuteronomy 28:58, 64 – If you are not careful to obey all the words of this law, which are written in this scroll, by fearing this glorious and awe-inspiring name ​– ​the LORD, your God ​– ​ … Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.

Yeshua prophesied the same thing to the Israelites as he ministered among them, sharing the news of the kingdom.

Luke 21:22-24, 32 – …these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will be killed by the sword and be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled by the nations until the times of the nations are fulfilled. … Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place.

As this prophecy came to pass in the fiery destruction of Jerusalem in the first century, we can see that God is consistent in his view of separation; the good are rewarded the wicked are removed. Since he has demonstrated how seriously he takes this principle of holiness, we would do well to heed the admonition of Moses to “fear the awe-inspiring name of Yahweh our God,” along with abiding by the advice of Solomon:

Proverbs 2:20 – See that you walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

God is holiness

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Matthew 6:9 

This very famous verse of Scripture has been undergoing changes in recent English versions and translations. Some parallel editions try various renderings to try to convey the depth of this simple statement by Yeshua, such as:

  • Let your name be kept holy
  • Let your name be treated with reverence.
  • Let your name be honored as holy
  • help us to honor your name
  • may your holy name be honored

But far and away, the most common English rendering is “hallowed by your (or Thy) name.”

Hallowed is a word that has generally fallen out of use in English, unless we are speaking of hallowed ground (as a uniquely special place) or Halloween (a derivative of All Hallow’s Eve, meaning a day to honor Roman Catholic saints, or those individuals who were considered holy).

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hallowed as, “sanctified; consecrated; highly venerated; sacrosanct,” like the hallowed halls of a great university. To hallow is “to make or set apart as holy.”

The Collins Dictionary says: “Hallowed is used to describe something that is respected and admired, usually because it is old, important, or has a good reputation.”

The Bible Dictionary has this definition: “Hallow. to render sacred, to consecrate ( Exodus 28:38; 29:1). This word is from the Saxon, and properly means ‘to make holy.’ The name of God is ‘hallowed,’ i.e., is reverenced as holy ( Matthew 6:9).”

However, it may be worth keeping or reviving that word hallowed in English as uniquely special to this quality and nature of God.

The word hallowed means, to render or pronounce holy. God’s name is essentially holy; and the meaning of this petition is, “Let thy name be celebrated, and venerated, and esteemed as holy everywhere, and receive of all men proper honours.” It is thus the expression of a wish or desire, on the part of the worshipper, that the name of God, or God himself, should be held everywhere in proper veneration.

Albert Barnes

“Hallowed” is not a word frequently used in the contemporary English language, and so it’s meaning is not immediately apparent. Hallowed means to consecrate, to be made set apart as holy. So when we pray “hallowed be thy name” we are asking that His name may be recognised as sacred. This flows out of the first line of the prayer “Our Father, who is in heaven”, who is distinct from us and lives in eternity. However, there is another element to this. The Good News Translation puts it this way “May your holy name be honored” (Matthew 6:9). For God’s name to be kept as revered on Earth, this will necessitate a response on our part. We can not fully pray this line unless our lives desire to reflect this wonderful holiness. Honouring God as holy will lead us into a closer walk with our Creator and the development of holiness in ourselves.

https://www.lords-prayer-words.com/commentary/hallowed_be_thy_name.html

“According to Hebrew notions, a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs, i.e. it is something of his essence. Therefore, in the case of the God, it is specially sacred.”

Alexander Souter

This Hebrew understanding, that the name of God is wrapped up in his character and his essence, conveys a deep sense of wonder and connectedness. This isn’t so much about what name we should label him with as much as it is about who he is. While we as believers strive to be holy, God IS holy; that’s not just what he is, but who he is. In like fashion, if we are to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15), then it should also not just be what we become, but who we become.

If, as Yeshua suggests, this is the God whom we pray to every day, a Father who is in heaven, the Creator of the universe who is in his very essence and nature set apart from his Creation, then we should step lightly and respectfully in his courts. We should be ever mindful that this is the God who will be recognized by all and honored as he deserves when we faithfully abide by his precepts and his kingdom is indeed come over all the earth.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Holiness above the twin sins of adultery and idolatry

Core of the Bible podcast #26 – Holiness above the twin sins of adultery and idolatry

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of holiness, and how our commitment to God, first and foremost, needs to be absolute. But this relational commitment needs also to be reflected within our spousal relationships; the two types of relationships are equivocated in the Bible.

Looking first at our spousal relationships,  Yeshua stated it this way:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. … “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:27-28, 31-32

Believers are commanded to never forsake our commitment to our spouses. Yeshua emphasizes that we should not even think about others lustfully in our hearts.

The topic of marriage and divorce can be very complicated. As you may know, one of my primary goals with the Core of the Bible information that I present each week is to try to keep things stated as simply as possible, and to reduce complexity where possible.

While the Bible speaks very clearly about marriage and divorce, it is also very sparse with the information it provides.

Surprisingly, marriage as an institution is never explicitly commanded in the Bible. However the concept of spousal unity is present on the opening pages of the Bible.

Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.”

Now the word wife in this passage is actually the Hebrew isshah, which is the Hebrew designation for “woman.” This passage could therefore be more literally rendered as “the man will join with his woman and they will be one flesh.” This is the idea of one man and one woman being united together as a sacred relationship before God, in obedience to the laws of our creator. Beyond this meager description, we find no other definitions specified within the Bible regarding marriage.

We do know that historically and culturally marriage was a communal celebration that could last up to a week.

Genesis 29:22,27: “Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. … Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you will serve with me yet seven other years.””

This passage also indicates the ancient Near Eastern people practiced polygamy, but that is not necessarily God’s ideal, as is evidenced by the confusion and strife that such situations caused.

Yeshua clarified marriage and divorce for his audience when he explained about it in the following terms:

Matthew 19:3-9: “Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” They asked him, “Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery.””

This should also be understood in the context of the day, in which the men were garnering divorces for the slightest of infractions that a wife may have caused, such as not preparing a full meal, or working later in the field then she was expected to. The concession provided by Moses, just like the other commandments of God, had become corrupted and abused by the elite of the day.

According to Yeshua, the ideal of marriage is one man and one woman. Divorce is not a requirement, but a concession, and should be reserved only when unfaithfulness has occurred between the spouses.

The severity of this teaching which also revealed how rampant divorce had become, is illustrated by the response of the disciples:

Matthew 19:10: “His disciples said to him, “If this is the case of the man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.””

Even they had recognized that if marriage was this big of a commitment, that it should not be entered into lightly.

Now for anyone listening to this who may be divorced and possibly remarried, I’m certain there were any number of unique circumstances that have led to your current situation. And as your understanding of God‘s word grows and changes over time, you may feel differently about past decisions that were made that led to where you are now.

However, it’s important to remember that God is always willing to forgive and to provide strength and wisdom to assist those who are earnestly seeking him, right here and right now. We should all always be faithful to God‘s word as we understand it at any given time and whatever situation we are in, and allow God’s Spirit to mold us and shape us in ways that are appropriate to his purpose.

The most intimate of human relationships conveyed in what has become the institution of marriage is likened to our relationship with our Creator. Just as we should have no other intimate relationships except with our spouse, we should also have no other gods before God. These commands against idolatry and adultery are tied together; one is in our horizontal relationships with our spouses, and the other is in our vertical relationship with God.

In the Bible, adultery, while wrong in and of itself, is a metaphor for idolatry. Time and again, Israel’s unfaithfulness with the gods of the surrounding nations is compared to adultery with God. Just as the act of adultery is an affront to the spousal relationship, an act of spiritual adultery in pursuing idolatry is an affront to the holiness of God, and destroys that relationship.

As if to emphasize this point, both of these admonitions are contained within the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery,” and “you shall have no other gods before me.”

Yeshua carries these base commandments even further into the realm of their origin, in our thoughts. The wrong thoughts lead to wrong actions, and wrong actions are sin. Just like our straying eyes can cause marital unfaithfulness, when our eyes stray from the things of God to the things of this world, we can lose our perspective and make harmful choices.

Let’s gain some of that perspective by reviewing what Yeshua said, along with some historical commentary for insights.

Matthew 5:28: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, the focus is shown to be even stronger than in the English.

“To lust after her.—The intent is more strongly marked in the Greek than in the English. It is not the passing glance, not even the momentary impulse of desire, but the continued gaze by which the impulse is deliberately cherished till it becomes a passion.”

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible adds:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery…Our Saviour in these verses explains the seventh commandment. It is probable that the Pharisees had explained this commandment, as they had the sixth, as extending only to the external act; and that they regarded evil thoughts and a wanton imagination as of little consequence, or as not forbidden by the law. Our Saviour assures them that the commandment did not regard the external act merely, but the secrets of the heart, and the movements of the eye. He declares that they who indulge a wanton desire, that they who look on a woman to increase their lust, have already, in the sight of God, violated the commandment, and committed adultery in the heart. Such was the guilt of David, whose deep and awful crime fully shows the danger of indulging in evil desires, and in the rovings of a wanton eye.”

Additionally, Matthew Poole writes the following:

We must so interpret the commandments of God, as not to extend them only to forbid or command those acts which are plainly mentioned in them, but the inward pleasing of our hearts with such things as are forbidden, the desires of our hearts after them, or whatsoever is a probable means to give us that sinful pleasure of our thoughts, or further inflame such unlawful desires in our souls.

If we carry those same principles over to the parallel concept of idolatry, we can see how damaging and destructive our lustful imaginations toward things other than God can corrupt and destroy us.

Idolatry is more than just worshiping a statue or believing that an inanimate object has power beyond itself.

The prophet Samuel conveyed how stubbornness is a form of idolatry.

1  Samuel 15:23: “For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry….”

The apostle Paul considers greed and covetousness to be a form of idolatry.

Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”

Notice how Paul lumps in this idolatrous longing amidst characteristics of depraved passion and evil desire. These are the types of thinking that draw us away from the things of God and from staying true to the path of holiness to which we have been called.

We are urged to maintain our holiness, being set apart for the purpose of God, by keeping ourselves from being swept away by the lure of the created things that would distract us from our true purpose. Keeping our thoughts pure keeps us from these parallel sins, whether through adultery or idolatry.

The solution for both paths of sinfulness is to keep our eyes on God at all costs. Paul writes the following in one of my personally most-quoted passages of the Bible:

Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world,  but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

To avoid adulterous inclinations is to be transformed by focusing on the needs and desires of our spouse based on God’s word. To avoid the dangers of idolatry is to be transformed by maintaining focus on our relationship with our Creator. Both of these remedies involve a whole-hearted commitment to another, and not to our own selfish desires. Therein lies a powerful principle of ongoing holiness.

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If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

All music in todays episode: Brittle Rille by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3460-brittle-rille

License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Becoming more useful to the work of God

So if anyone cleanses himself of what is unfit, he will be a vessel for honor: sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.

2 Timothy 2:21

In his ongoing work of training up Timothy for his role as a leader among the early believers, Paul uses an analogy of different types of vessels that would have been present in the great households of the time. The larger context of the verse above is as follows:

2 Timothy 2:19-21 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must turn away from iniquity.” A large house contains not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. Some indeed are for honorable use, but others are for common use. So if anyone cleanses himself of what is unfit, he will be a vessel for honor: sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.

This saying also implies the great house, standing for the kingdom of God, would have a variety of “vessels” within it, all of varying degrees of usefulness to the work that God has planned for it.

Paul encourages Timothy to turn away from iniquity, and in so doing, to become a vessel of honor which is set apart for every noble work that God would have him do. This idea is one of ongoing sanctification, or setting apart, of those who are striving to honor God with everything in their lives.

This was not a new concept, but one that has been encouraged all throughout the sacred writings.

Job 36:7, 10 [God] withdraws not his eyes from the righteous: … He opens also their ear to instruction, And commands that they return from iniquity.

Job 28:28 And He [God] said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

These admonitions were especially relevant in the time of the early believers, as false teachers with corrupt doctrine were widespread, and cultural defilement within the general population was rampant. The congregations were in need of dedicated and worthy individuals who could withstand the onslaught of the societal tides that threatened to flood the tender shoots of the growing tree of the kingdom of God.

We are no less susceptible nor less exposed to wickedness in this current era, and we would do well to also heed these admonitions voiced by our early spiritual forebears.

2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, beloved, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that defiles body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

If we are faithfully doing so at every opportunity, we also can then become “useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The fragility of holiness in a world of darkness

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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If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A different Spirit

Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14

The context of Paul’s discussion to the Corinthian believers establishes that the apostles had received information from God’s Spirit that was not available to the Jewish leaders. The Scribes and the political leaders were blinded in a sense from receiving the truth of the work of Messiah in establishing the Kingdom of God.

But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds to our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

The “rulers of the world” here refers to the Jewish scribes and political leaders. They were the “natural” men who had not received the understanding of the kingdom from God’s Spirit; if they had, Paul argues, they would not have crucified their Messiah.

This distinction illustrates the division that occurs due to the cleansing and enlightening work of the Spirit among believers. As we strive to remain distinct from the world around us and to maintain purity based on the instruction, or torah, of God, we begin a journey of increasing discernment to the things of God. The very goal of yielding more and more to God’s Spirit causes a natural and understandable division between the “natural man” and those who are being instructed in the ways of God.

This results in the believer being “set apart” from the rest of the world. This is why believers look at the world around them in ways that differ from those who are relying on their own knowledge and understanding. We have a spiritual resource and perspective that relies not only on conventional wisdom, but on the sure foundation of the heritage of our spiritual forebears.

As we continue to grow and to remain receptive to God’s Spirit, we can be led to fulfill God’s purpose in every generation. This is how God has designed his kingdom to continue to grow throughout eternity.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Intentional consecration produces holiness

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘You shall be holy; for I Yahweh your God am holy.

Leviticus 19:1-2

The Hebrew word for holy is qodesh, and in use throughout the Bible, it is a term that is used of things that are designated as uniquely relating to God, or just for God’s use, or in connection with the worship of the one true God.

Here are some examples, in no specific order, of those things that are considered qodesh: God, his Name, the Sabbath, the Tabernacle, the ground around God’s presence, the firstborn, garments of the priests, food offered to the priests, the anointing oil, the altar, offerings, festival days, vessels and furnishings of the Tabernacle, Zion.

As these things were recognized as holy by the people of Israel, they themselves became set apart, a holy people dedicated to Yahweh. The word used in these instances varies slightly from qodesh to qadosh. It is more typically, though not exclusively, used of God and the people of Israel. In usage it appears to apply more to those who do holy actions, while qodesh seems to apply more to things that are intrinsically holy.

Because holiness has this component of action that produces more of itself, the apostle Peter used this understanding as a way of encouraging the early believers to remain set apart.

As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:14-16

We become holy by recognizing and honoring the holy God and his Word. As we are drawn further and further into actions that are based on his instruction, due to his holiness, we ourselves become more holy, more set apart, more consecrated for his use.

Peter quotes Moses’ relating of God’s Word from Leviticus 11: “Be holy, for I am holy.” This is an admonition for God’s people to continually strive for by overcoming their former ignorance and blind passions. And based on Moses perspective in Leviticus 19, we know that God’s people “shall be holy, because God is holy.”

For us today, we can know that by recognizing the holiness of God and doing holy things, we also shall continue to become holy.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Being set apart is both an appointment and a challenge

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Good News of God,”

Romans 1:1

This idea of being set apart is a recurring theme all throughout the Bible. The phrase here indicates something or someone that is set apart as distinct, or marked off by a boundary. This marking off or separation can be applied in a negative sense, or in a positive sense as a type of appointment.

“Blessed are you when men shall hate you, and when they shall exclude and mock you, and throw out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.”

Luke 6:22

This exclusion here demonstrates how the Jews were prophesied by Yeshua as separating the believers in Messiah from their own ranks.  Thinking they were doing something to honor God, they rejected the believers as essentially being heretics.

In a positive sense, the term could be used as a way of demonstrating a type of appointment, as mentioned in Romans 1 above with the apostle Paul, and also with Paul and Barnabas being appointed by the body of believers.

“As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.””

Acts 13:2

Paul carries this idea of separation over into the life of the collective congregation of believers as well.

“Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? … Therefore, “‘Come out from among them, and be separate,’ says the Lord.  ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you.  I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

2 Corinthians 6:14,17-18; 7:1

Paul equates this separation as being a form of holiness. This practice is a hallmark of believers everywhere, who are to be separating themselves from the unrighteousness and lawlessness of their respective cultures. Paul here encourages all believers to perfect holiness, that is to bring to fulfillment or bring to conclusion, this holiness, or separation from unrighteousness, in all that we do and say. All aspects of our life should be under constant scrutiny by us, to where we prune everything that is unfruitful or potentially harmful. Anything that does not conform to the Word of God in our lives needs to be carefully, yet ruthlessly, removed.

This is the life that we have been called to, and one that bears a legacy of honor and the everlasting promise of blessing from the One who calls us.

“I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.””

2 Corinthians 6:18

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here.Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.