Intentionally bound to holiness from the heart

Everyone serves a master, whether sin or righteousness.

Core of the Bible podcast #47 – Intentionally bound to holiness from the heart

Today we will be exploring the topic of holiness, and how achieving and maintaining holiness, or being set apart, is an intentional and voluntary result of doing what is right from the heart.

The apostle Paul spoke about it in this way:

Romans 6:16-19 – Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you have been entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing lawlessness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

There is so much in this passage I would like to take some time to isolate a few different aspects for closer inspection.

First we see how Paul uses the imagery of slavery: he says they were slaves to sin, but now have been set free from sin, only to now be slaves of righteousness.

This idea of slavery may seem harsh to our modern sensitivities, but Paul says he is using an example from “everyday life.” Slaves were common in Paul’s day and in the Roman realm. When we think of slaves today, we typically think of the unwilling souls who were kidnapped and sold against their will into a life of hard labor and physical abuse. While that was certainly a reality in Paul’s day, there was also another type of slavery that was much less severe, yet just as binding on the individual: indentured servitude. In this type of slavery, it was not uncommon for someone to intentionally and voluntarily bind or sell themselves to an estate as a way of working off debt. While they were in servitude, the master provided for their needs while they worked off their debt. Once the debt was paid or their obligation honored, they could go free. Many times, at least among the Jews, they were treated well and sometimes desired to stay on with the family because they had become attached to that familial group.

To give you an idea of this type of servitude, here is just a brief excerpt from the Law regarding slaves:

Exodus 21:2-6 – When you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for six years; then in the seventh he is to leave as a free man without paying anything. “If he arrives alone, he is to leave alone; if he arrives with a wife, his wife is to leave with him. “If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children belong to her master, and the man must leave alone. “But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I do not want to leave as a free man,’ “his master is to bring him to the judges and then bring him to the door or doorpost. His master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he will serve his master for life.

So we can see that this type of slavery, sometimes listed as a bond-servant, was a formal contract that bound the individual to the master or the estate until the obligation was fulfilled, and sometimes the servant would want to stay with the family permanently.

In the biblical sense, a slave is someone who does not have any ownership rights of their own for the time they are in bondage; they belong to another. Paul takes this common understanding and then applies it to believers in the context of obedience. Everyone serves a master, he says, whether sin or righteousness. As believers in Messiah they were encouraged to follow righteousness that would ultimately set them apart, or make them holy.


Secondly, notice the type of terms that Paul repeatedly emphasizes in this passage besides the concept of slavery. His overall premise is that sin leads to death, but obedience leads to righteousness, and then righteousness leads to holiness. So the contrast he is drawing is between sin and obedience.

If sin is the opposite of obedience, then it can be said that sin is simply disobedience. But disobedience to what?

In relation to obedience, he says the obedience is based in “the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.” This is an interesting word here that is used for a specific type of teaching. Paul calls it a pattern of teaching, but the underlying language expands on that meaning. The word typon can mean an example, pattern, or model. But it also includes the idea of an imprint, as in a die that is stamped into something, revealing as consistent a pattern as the original.

Obedience to this “stamp of teaching,” he says, is considered righteousness, which then leads to holiness. Therefore disobedience to the pattern of teaching is sin, which leads to impurity and ever-increasing lawlessness.

What is this pattern or “stamp”of teaching?

In one sense, we learn from the apostle John that sin is disobedience to the law:

1 John 3:4 – Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Lawlessness is anything that is against the law. In relation to the type of law that is used throughout the writings of Paul and the apostles, the law, nomos, is typically associated with the law of Moses, summarized in the Ten Commandments.

Paul says to the Roman believers, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you have been entrusted.” The pattern of teaching that the Jews had been entrusted to was the Law of Moses. When it is obeyed from the heart, that is an indication of the New Covenant:

Jeremiah 31:33 – “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” ​– ​the Yahweh’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Notice the prophet says God’s teaching would be “within them, on their hearts.” The teaching he is speaking of here is the torah, the law of God. I believe this is the same teaching that Paul is speaking of in Romans 6. But he doesn’t simply call it the law, because the law is a static thing that is written in stone and has no power to make anyone comply with its demands. However, using the New Covenant imagery, when the law is upon the heart, it has the ability to transform actions from the inside out. Obedience is therefore voluntary and desired. This leads to righteous actions and ultimately to holiness.

2 Corinthians 3:6-9 – He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones [could this be an allusion to the “imprint” or the “stamp” language Paul used earlier], came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory which was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory.

Paul writing to the congregation in Corinth expands on this idea a little further by saying the letter of the law kills, because it is an unflinching and permanent standard that cannot be abrogated. However, when the Spirit applies the law to the heart (through the teaching of the anointed Yeshua), the law chiseled in stone can no longer condemn because the actions that would bring death have been changed into actions of righteousness! Therefore the “ministry of the Spirit” is more glorious than the stone law because the ministry or law of the Spirit actually produces the desired result in those who are obedient to it!

This is why Paul can confirm the same thing with the Roman believers when he writes:

Romans 8:13-15 – But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father! “

Beyond the spirit of slavery he mentioned in chapter six, Paul says to the believers that they don’t only have to be a slave for life in the house of God, they have become adopted into his family!


In one primary respect, the life of a believer is simply an honest recognition that the life they are living is not their own. Paul uses this type of illustration with the Corinthian congregation.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 –  Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

The life they were living should have been voluntarily offered back to the One who provided it to them in the first place. This is so simplistic, it is almost inconceivable that it has been lost among the masses of believers today. Unfortunately, we are so used to viewing our lives as belonging to ourselves that we easily fall back into old practices of doing whatever we want with them. We many times unwittingly go back to serving impurity and lawlessness simply out of habit.

However, a believer, once freed from sinfulness, must by default accept another intentional yoke upon themselves. But this is a yoke that is bearable and easy.

Matthew 11:29-30 – “Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This yoke is easy is because it is a life being lived as the Designer has created it to be: a life separated to Him according to his law obeyed from the heart. This is a life of holiness.

Holiness is not some sort of mystical state of existence, but a continual practice of doing what is right, or righteous actions. We can only know what is right or wrong in God’s eyes because of the revelation of his law.

Acts 10:34-35 – Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, “but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

So this is why God is holy, not just because he is magnificent and removed far above all he has created, but because he always, always does what is right. He can never be convicted of wrongdoing or injustice.

Isaiah 5:16 – But the Yahweh of Armies is exalted by his justice, and the holy God shows that he is holy through his righteousness.

Romans 9:14 – What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not!

As believers we recognize that all life flows from God and we are simply yielding ourselves to live righteously within the parameters of the life that he has given us.

Genesis 2:7 – Then the Yahweh God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

Job 33:4 – The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Paul cautions the Corinthian believers to purposely maintain their righteous lifestyle through the fear of God which leads to holiness.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1 – Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Messiah have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will dwell and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Yahweh; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me, says the Yahweh Almighty. So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

A life that is set apart in holiness is separated because it is constantly being renewed in the image of the One who made it.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.

Our mindfulness in remaining intentionally and purposefully bound to this life of righteousness, that is, doing what is right from the heart, is what causes us to become holy and set apart for use by God.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Are we only sharing half of the gospel?

God established his eternal kingdom, and the resurrected Yeshua as the Lord of that kingdom.

If you were to ask almost any preacher or believer in any congregation today what the gospel is, you will most likely receive the answer: “the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua.” Where does this basic understanding come from?

As the apostle Paul is wrapping up his first epistle to the Corinthians, he includes this passage.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you ​– ​unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.

So this isolated passage is the source of the death, burial and resurrection gospel of the Messiah. It’s not completely without reason, because Paul is obviously trying to “make clear” the gospel that was saving them and on which they have “taken their stand.” Messiah died for their sins, was buried, and raised, all in fulfillment of Scripture. What could be clearer than that?

Well, when we look at an isolated passage, even if it is in the context of the book it is in, we can sometimes draw incomplete conclusions. So if we want to really know what the gospel is, the simplest way is to see what Yeshua taught on the subject, since Paul’s teaching would obviously have to line up with Messiah’s. Did Yeshua go around preaching about his own death, burial, and resurrection?

In fact, he did prophetically reveal to his disciples what would happen to him, even if they didn’t fully understand.

Matthew 17:22-23 – And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Yeshua said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.
Mark 9:9-10 – As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.

He also did declare that his death, burial, and resurrection would be the “sign” to the non-believing Jews that he was indeed the Messiah:

Matthew 12:39-40 – But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Luke 11:29 – As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.

But this was all very cryptic to both his disciples and his detractors, especially since he had not yet died and been risen. However, we do find a gospel, or good news message, that Yeshua clearly preached throughout his public ministry.

Matthew 4:23 – Yeshua was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
Matthew 9:35 – Yeshua was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Matthew 24:14 – “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Luke 4:43 – But he said to them, “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.”
Luke 8:1 – Afterward he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,
Luke 16:16- “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is urgently invited to enter it.

The good news or gospel message that Yeshua taught was the message of the kingdom, the kingdom of God that would establish the Messiah upon the throne of his ancestor David. This good news of the kingdom arriving was the message of Yeshua’s gospel.

So was Paul’s gospel about Yeshua’s death and resurrection different than Yeshua’s gospel about the kingdom? Only if we think that the message of Yeshua’s death and resurrection is the WHOLE gospel. In reality, we find that this is only HALF of the gospel. Yeshua dying for sin and being resurrected only makes sense in the overall context of the good news about the kingdom of God. Messiah’s resurrection allowed him to assume the throne of his ancestor David in an eternal kingdom, just as had been covenanted with David and was prophesied in Scripture.

Psalm 132:11 – Yahweh swore an oath to David, a promise he will not abandon: “I will set one of your offspring on your throne.”

When we look at the larger perspective of what the apostles were actually preaching throughout the world as the gospel, it contained both the death and resurrection of Messiah AND the kingdom of God.

Acts 2:29-32 – “Brothers and sisters, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay. God has raised this Yeshua; we are all witnesses of this.

Peter here in his famous sermon spoke both about the throne of David and the resurrection of Messiah, which made attainment of that throne possible.

Acts 8:12 – But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua Messiah, both men and women were baptized.
Acts 28:23 – After arranging a day with him, many came to him at his lodging. From dawn to dusk he expounded and testified about the kingdom of God. He tried to persuade them about Yeshua from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.
Acts 28:30-31 – Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Yeshua Messiah with all boldness and without hindrance.

Notice Philip and Paul were both teaching about the kingdom of God AND about Yeshua as the Messiah, the Lord of that kingdom. The two narratives tie together in perfect harmony: God establishing his eternal kingdom, and the resurrected Yeshua as the Lord of that kingdom.

Even in the epistle to the Corinthians where the death/burial/resurrection gospel idea comes from, time after time Paul speaks about the kingdom:

1 Corinthians 4:20 – For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:24, 50 – then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. … Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

While Paul clarifies good news in the gospel passage of 1 Corinthians 15, he says, “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received…” The most significant aspect of the good news, or that which is of primary importance, is the death of Messiah for sin and his resurrection to eternal life, witnessed by hundreds of people. If this is not true, then the kingdom of God cannot be established, since the covenant with David requires an immortal descendant of his to sit on that eternal throne.

However, if we look only at the death/burial/resurrection as the totality of the gospel message, we are missing half of the story. The real reason that his death and resurrection is important is because now the kingdom of God is established with its rightful Lord, the immortal Messiah Yeshua. He rules until all of his enemies are made his footstool; i.e., until all come to recognize his lordship.

Psalm 110:1-2: “Yahweh said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. Yahweh shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: rule in the midst of your enemies.”

Messiah has been firmly established upon the throne of his ancestor David and is ruling from Zion, the New Jerusalem, until his enemies are no more. This is the motivation we have to continue to spread this good news, the gospel of the kingdom AND its Lord, the Messiah Yeshua, who died for sin and rose to live as the Lord of the eternal kingdom of God.

Let’s be sure that when we are sharing the gospel or good news, that it is the WHOLE gospel of the kingdom of God and its Lord, Yeshua the eternal Messiah.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Yahweh the King

Yahweh has always been, and always will be, the rightful king of his people.

Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.

1 Samuel 8:7

The political kingship of Israel began with a rejection of Yahweh as their king.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel to Ramah. They said to him, “Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” Samuel prayed to Yahweh. Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them.

1 Samuel 8:4-7

Even when presented with all of the tyrannous things a national king would do: the taxes, the conscription, the giving over of land, children, and slaves to the service of the king, the people would not relent.

Yahweh told Samuel that their desire for a political king, and their forsaking of Samuel as judge over them, was akin to their idolatry.

According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken me and served other gods, so they also do to you.

1 Samuel 8:8

Throughout their tumultuous political kingdom, Yahweh still had plans to use Israel’s national kingdom as an object lesson for all time. Although Saul had originally been God’s choice for ruler, Saul became corrupt and demonstrated he was not obedient whole-heartedly to the torah, or instruction, of God. So instead, God raised up David as a man after his own heart to firmly establish the kingdom.

While David was originally rejected by the people of Israel, through him and his son Solomon, the pinnacle of the earthly, political kingdom of God was reached. The corrupted initial kingdom was replaced with a king who was yielded to Yahweh and who ruled wisely as God’s faithful representative with the wisdom of God.

Just like the kingdom of David and Solomon, God always had plans to consummate his rulership over his people with a representative who would honor and represent him whole-heartedly. The coming of a Messiah, a son of David, an anointed one (i.e., a king), was foretold through the prophets and longed for by the Israelites who suffered under each rebellious king and through exile in foreign lands.

Yeshua arrived into a world of immense national and political corruption, just like the conditions of the kingdom of Saul. However, just like the house of David, Yeshua demonstrated through his faithfulness that he was truly anointed of God, and the rightful king of God’s people.

True to form and the cyclical pattern of torah, Israel rejected God’s anointed king (for that is what the word “Christ” means). But God’s plan to go full circle back to his own rulership over his people was not yet complete. Through the demonstration of his power and through the resurrection of Yeshua, Yahweh maintained a rightful ruler of his people, one who would oversee the affairs of his kingdom as if he himself were king. Through his Messiah, his anointed king, the rightful rulership and all honor would ultimately return to Yahweh himself.

Then the end comes, when he (Messiah) will deliver up the Kingdom to God the Father, when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. …When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:24, 28

Through the faithfulness of his Messiah, Yahweh remains as rightful king over his people for all time, and is worthy of all honor and praise.

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.