A Common Regression in Holiness (part 2)

The voices calling for your holiness to be based on the same things as the prophets said are proof that attacks on the church are still happening, and the assaults come from entities that identify themselves as church. I love what Peter has to say about how we got it and how we certify it. Holiness is not stuff that puts the individual in better light with God than others. Make no excuses. Make no mistake! The tradition, no matter how grand, is inadequate.

I am confident that my holiness comes from Christ’s sacrifice. By that sacrifice alone – he by himself – removes my guilt, and he infuses life to the dead. That is primary holiness. It is a change of identity: new creation, redeemed and justified. It is the core of Christ’s mandate: to brings sons (children) to glory. The holiness we pursue is not identity. The holiness that is required – if we are expecting to see the Lord – is the cooperation we give to the avalanche of truth that the Holy Spirit makes available to us. We have infinitely many more days of journeying into the heart of God than those we spent coming to him. One has to have a low view of God to think that covering our bases with signs, symbols, festivals, prophecies and miracles can be the progress of Christian holiness.

18) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1 Peter 1:18-20

Our redemption and consequent holiness stand out in stark contrast to silver and gold and any other corruptible thing in anyone’s tradition.

Simply Faith, Hope, and Love

When either our identity or activity is shaped by how we treat people we can be certain our holiness (purity) does not need accusations or

21. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22. Seeing all of you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto sincere love of the brethren, see that all of you love one another with a pure heart fervently:

1 Peter 1:21-22

A Common Regression in Holiness

Ask a believer what his holiness is and you might get a denial. Even when one treasures the designation “saint” it is likely that the believer sees holiness in the same category as a lot of holy things. Since holiness is necessary for both identity and progress the believer ought to have a solid appreciation of the Lord himself. Holiness can have only one source and resource: Christ the Incarnate Word and the Sacred Texts related to him.

Being holy is not like being in therapy. Even miraculous healing does not move the patient closer to immortality. Becoming holy is not like stretching out a withered hand, or getting up from a bed of paralysis. It is literally the dead coming to life. We do not see a dead Lazarus cooperating to end his decay.

Holy flesh and holy veg

We should be able to quickly recognize the emptiness of the sacred items of the former and rudimentary things and the difference between saints and holy things. We are not consumables! We have been transformed by a personal connection with God; a genuine one-to-one. The assembly of the clans of Israel, the High Court of Israel, the Church in Synod, or the local elders in council do not transmit this holiness we partake of. We cannot invest male rams with efficacy, nor their blood with divinity. The slaughter of animals, the handling of their blood, the burning of their bodies and incense and animals are quite common features of human life. These activities may now glorify God but they provide no holiness.

And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket in the entrance of the tent of meeting. Exo. 29:32 They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. Exo. 29:33

And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy. Exo. 29:34

Exodus 29:32-34

Holy Call and Standard

The divine message “Y’all must be holy because I am” has become a weapon of terror. If Yeshua says it we have (a) his words to tell us what his holiness is (b) his actions for a practical guide and (c) the Holy Spirit’s practical help. As it comes from the previous arrangement with Israel (and Judah) the holiness is simple distinctiveness. Israel’s sanctification has little to do with cleansed consciences and likeness to God. What the priests and kings gave to the world is fables and a distorted story of Abraham’s faith, all the while disavowing his philanthropy and childlike trust in God.

Becoming Holy

“BE HOLY” is a command (a grammatical imperative). Like the Sinai Covenant commands the form is the future (Hebrew imperfect) tense which stands for incomplete actions. It is not a promise. The Sinai Covenant is not 10 promises. Imroperly interpreted we avoid blaming people for not complying. How does the unholy become holy? Do we want to propose that the life given to the repentant comes about by his or her will? Do we want to build our hope on the leopard changing his spots? No dead person can hear God’s command to live and take any credit for the trip from death to life.

Notable Commands

A command is responsible for

  • the created world (sun, moon, stars, land, sea, animals and plants)
  • the flood and various judgments
  • The initiatives in preparation of the incarnation and the cross
  • The reversal of conditions (illness, death, guilt, imprisonment, persecution, and barren wombs)

By no stretch of the imagination can becoming holy be a matter of festivals, food, drink, or changed behaviours. Believe it or not, corrupt and malevolent people frequently find themselves in compliance with “You shall not lie”,  or “You shall not covet”, or “You shall not commit adultery”. Prostitution was Israel’s distint scandal. Her holiness stands in being God’s chosen vessel for unveiling the agenda for global salvation. This is a matter for which Jews have no Mosaic warrant.

Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.

John 17:17

Don’t even try telling anyone that you are living by every word of God because you probably have not read and the vast majority of Christians leaders have shown little stomach for reading and much less for interpreting the once-for-all-time gospel. Holiness never came from following all that is written.

Symbols out of Control

Symbols out of control include temple, the human heart, land, altars, censors body, will, and blood. They are dangerously close to tripping the vast majority of believers into a lake of deception. These are all mere idol potential essentials. God has a unique deal for created things and one thing of which we can be certain is that no creature naturally what it takes to please God. Hebrews 8:10 could not be clearer about the finality of Christ’s work and person.

There is no reason for even a Jew to think that any created entity can bring about God’s desire through their own reliability. At Sinai, there was no heart to receive God’s will. The temple proved to be inadequate and God’s riches towards the human race has abounded in Christ alone. No symbol is needed.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: Heb. 8:10

Insurrection, Intervention, Inscription

Even with the claim that we have hidden God’s word in our hearts as a hedge against sin and this promise (Heb. 8:10) of an inner inscription of divine laws our hope crumbles like a cookie without remedy. Rebellion is not only an edenic reality. It permeates God’s temple in effective saving process is not a human invention and there was no temple in Messianic truth-speaking, death or resurrection.

Who are our children and to what horrors we have condemned them with our deception about obedience?

Lost commandment-keepers are our examples of Christian holiness and divine intervention is the last thing on most minds. Many people cannot tell salvation’s story because they have rejected salvation by grace. All they have is a twisted tale of ancient symbols and condemnation. Temple, food, clothing, gold and silver utensils do not make it across the human-divine divide.

Grace stands first and alone

It is a manifest lie that our life is now, after Christ died and rose, is raised up on a failed covenant, a heartless interpersonal order, interpretation of symbols and types. This lying venture is the chosen path for most Christian groups, most of whose interests are grounded in symbols that hold no vitality and those interests lead to thoughts of self-help and a life of little divine control.

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. Hebrews 13:9

New Heart and Old Ways

One of the strange alleyways of Christian thought is the one that assigns priority to first or ancient things even when no evidence exists for a golden human age. Not even Eden’s pristine moments hold out any example of excellence. The gold and goldplated items in the sacred tent are themselves eyeopening realities. At Sinai, however, the people declined a one-to-one with Yahweh and Moses’ protest was met with Yahweh’s resignation that they did not have the heart. This does not mean that they were afraid. It means that they did not have (and could not get, since the Lord was not yet incarnate much less glorified) a heart to receive God’s will. So what does Ezekiel’s prediction of new heart mean for Israel?

We can ask Isaiah. He confirms (29:13) that the Israelite kept his heart at a distance from Yahweh. Jewish religion had become nice talk.

And the Lord said: Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

Jeremiah (13:10) tells a similar story.

This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.

Some people, including Christians, would like us to conduct our lives as if the events in the Gospels have no bearing on God’s will. They dress up for truth and salvation but put the one Way in a subsidiary position. They prefer the symbols to the Life.

Mark records (7:6-13) the same condition as Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

And he said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. But you say, If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.

When the world ruling power calls for allegiance and compliance with its actions and legislation the masses will think it is a good thing because they have not committed themselves to the truth of the gospel. We would be in great company if we accept the call for obedience to human institutions and secular powers – with their presumed new heart full of old lies – but we would be en route to the darkness ditch. The church is Christ’s body.

The new is not the old. Symbols and types are not saving realities. They never were.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. Hebrews 13:10