The Hoax of “Standards”

:
Only God Makes Sinners Holy

 
 
To
the holy Women who survived Hebhzibah House, my thanks for a glimpse into true
holiness and faith.

 
The Hoax of
“Standards”: Only God Makes Sinners Holy© 2013 by Jeri Massi. All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or
by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission
from the publisher.  For information,
contact Jupiter Rising Books.

 
 
Contents
 
Introduction: Dirty Feet and
Tarnished Coins: Holiness is Outward
Chapter One: The Failure of the Christian Fundamentalist
Method of Holiness
Chapter Two: God’s First Provisions for Our Holiness
Chapter Three: God Decrees That His People Are Holy
Chapter Four: Our Holiness is Founded on Christ
Chapter Five: Cooperation is Essential
Appendix 1: The Myth About Trousers Being Exclusively
Masculine
Appendix 2: Hair on Men
Appendix 3: Standards Vs True Holiness

Introduction: Dirty Feet and Tarnished
Coins: Holiness is Outward
 
The Lord Jesus astounded and probably
outraged some of His listeners when He gave the following parable, a parable
that exactly describes the Christian Fundamentalist view of holiness, and why
it is offensive to God:

 
   
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who
called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
 
   
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one;
to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his
journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same,
and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he
also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the
earth, and hid his lord’s money.
 
   
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with
them.
 
   
And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five
talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have
gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou
good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will
make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
 
    He
also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto
me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord
said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful
over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the
joy of thy lord.
 
   
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew
thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering
where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in
the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
 
   
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant,
thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not
strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and
then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore
the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
 
   
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have
abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he
hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.
   
Matthew 25:14 – 30
 
The
Lord Jesus, remember, was speaking to people who lived more or less under the
Law of the Torah. So remember futures trading and lending for interest were
forbidden among the people of Israel, although they could conduct such
transactions with outsiders.
 
The
only way to make a lot of money in Christ's culture was to invest outside of Israel.
 
That’s
the first thing you should realize about this lesson: the Lord of the estate in
this story expected His servants to go out and conduct transactions with the
world: with strangers and aliens to Israel. So one servant goes out, and he
does business with the world for the sake of his Master’s estate. And comes
back with a tidy profit. But that money that he brings back has the tarnish of
the world on it. It was handled by the world. But it goes into the coffers of
his Master, and it becomes his Master’s treasure.
 
Likewise
with the second servant. He goes out, and with more limited means, he also
transacts business with the world and captures two more talents for his
Master’s coffers. Again, tarnished money touched by Gentiles, but it pleases
his Master.
 
It’s
the third servant to note: he wants to keep the money clean from the world. He
was given a nice, shiny talent of silver, and he knows the Law. Transacting
business with the world is worldly, even though it is exactly what his Master
has ordered him to do.
 
But
to the servant, the beauty of this one clean bestowal is enough. He feels no
compulsion to go out and increase it for his Master’s sake. Instead, he keeps
it where the world will never see it or handle it, by burying it. It does stay
shiny clean, wrapped up in its napkin, but it is entirely sterile and useless.
 
His
Master condemns him for sloth, but there’s also a parallel here that we should
note: Christ’s critics objected to His “tarnish.” That is, Christ went out to
sinners instead of staying among the religious elite. Like the harsh religious
elite, the wicked servant withdrew from the tarnish of the world. But his
distaste was not holiness. And it was not godliness.
 
Christ
was dealing with legalism just as those who love grace and mercy deal with
legalists. Legalists look at their rules and protocols and say, “Now I’ve got a
hedge between me and the world. Now everything that God has given to me will be
kept shiny clean.” So they live their lives separated from the world, buried
away from it, in order to keep their shine and never face risk or
contamination.
 
Christ
knew the nature of His analogy. Wealthy Jewish merchants did this: they traded
with the world in order to collect interest or profit from commodities. They
had to go outside the nation of God to get clients, and they did (although, of
course, foreigners also came to them). But a worthy Jewish investor knew his
clients, and all of his servants knew his clients, knew their customs, knew
their ways, sat and ate with them (outside of Israel), shook hands with them,
kept up with their accounts so that he could make a ready answer to them, knew
the commodities in which they liked to trade. To go and make money in this
fashion required a cosmopolitan, shrewd, intelligent, but honest man to get
clients to deal with him and to keep them.
 
This
is what the Lord Jesus is talking about: People who can go into the world and
be conversant with it in order to bring back the wealth that He wants for His
kingdom: the good works that engender praise for God, and souls saved converted
to righteousness in Christ.
 
But
the Master in the story entrusts a lot of money to each man. A talent of silver
was roughly 95 pounds of silver. It was enough, when broken into coinage, to
pay 200 rowers a month’s wages each. So each man in the parable is given a lot
of money to handle, though the greatest of the servants had five times the
amount of the least.
 
Like
their Master, the servants had to go into the world to get a profit.
The
first and second servants go out and both make 100 percent profit. The point
may simply be that though their master is gone, they work the same as if He is
there with them, and they can give back to Him what He gave to them. There is a
mutuality in the receiving and giving back. Armed with His treasure, they go
out and make a complete return to Him, treasure for treasure, down to the
shekel.
 
But
the third servant, to preserve the shining silver from the world, buries it.
And that’s not a habit he would have learned from his Master. The Master
Himself in the story is venturing way, far out into the world. He and the first
two servants are alike in that respect. They leave Israel, the place of the
righteous, and they go out into the tarnished and unclean world, and conduct
transactions in the world and bring back profit.
 
This
is Christ’s point: False faith buries its talent away from the world. It won’t
go where people drink wine with dinner. It won’t go to the movie theater. It
won’t hang out with long haired guys or cigarette smoking women, not even to
increase the treasuries of the Master. Obviously, we don’t want to be gluttons
and sloths, but it is a great sin to hide away the Master’s treasure just to
keep it that clean. After all, silver is silver. If it gets tarnished, you just
wash it off. It won’t stop being silver.
 
The
Lord Jesus directly addressed this when He washed the feet of His disciples. He
told them, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean
every whit: and ye are clean” (John 13:10). Yes, when we go out into the world
and sit where the music might be lewd, or people might toss around vulgar
words, or we might see some pushing and shoving and have to act as peacemakers,
we might get our feet a little dirty. But we are clean, essentially. He will
wash our feet after we have tracked through the world, but the removal of the
corruption of sin from us has been accomplished once and for all.
 
Christian
Fundamentalism makes holiness before God all about being that shining silver
coin buried where no one can defile it. But the Lord Jesus says the sweaty,
smoke-smelling servants who went out into the world and brought treasure back
to Him are the acceptable servants: those who truly are holy. The servant who
hid away the coin to keep it clean actually gets thrown out into the outer
darkness, derided and rejected. That servant was so proud of the talent of
silver that he refused to put it to work, and that is prideful, and it is
slothful. Love is greater, and better, and more powerful than Separation.

Chapter One: The Failure of the Christian Fundamentalist Method of Holiness
 
A few years ago, a contributor to the
Fundamental Forums wrote the following formula for “victorious Christian
living:”
 
1.       Read
Your Bible
2.      Pray

3.      Confess
your sins frequently
4.      Witness
to others
5.      Go
to church

I
pointed out to him that scores, even hundreds, of people have tried the formula
approach to Christian living and eventually ended up burned out, frustrated by
their own continuing sin, and even disillusioned.
 
His
answer was one I have heard at least a dozen times before: Try Harder. 
 
I
told him that I have seen all this before. It is the rallying cry of men of the
likes of Dave Hyles, who ruined dozens of lives in his rapacious ministries but
was always willing to jump back into the saddle as a preacher with the promise that
he would try harder.
 
Trying
harder doesn’t work.  For human beings,
it never did work.
 
This
young man, fresh out of some unaccredited Fundamental Baptist college, even
remarked after much debate, “Most Christians would do so well if they could
just get down the basics.”
 
But
that’s the problem in a nutshell. We never do get the basics down.  We certainly know the basics well enough, but
we never perfect the performance of them.
 
I
finally helped this young man out and told him the five behaviors he had listed
are actually outcomes of victorious
living, or holiness. But they do not cause holiness.  We cannot create holiness in ourselves by our
own works, even after we are saved.  The
Bible is very clear that the way to live the Christian life is by faith. And
when we live by faith, it is not a faith that we place in good works themselves
that we do, but faith in Jesus Christ and His goodness that He gives us.
 
I’m sorry to say that he didn’t seem to
understand what I was talking about, and he again advised me to try harder and
not to give up.  But the blessed truth is
that I have given up.  It is actually a
great relief to give up on ever making yourself holy.  The Lord Jesus is the Person Who makes His
people holy. I told him that the Bible clearly teaches that we live by faith.
 
Just as I was realizing that this poor young
man has been very badly taught, he confirmed my thoughts by brushing aside my
reply and explaining that the advantage of his five-step method was that it is practical.
 
Ah, the practical
truths of Christian Fundamentalism.  I
recognized the term at once, for it’s another word you never see in Scripture: practical. The Bible does not create a
distinction of practical Truth vs. impractical Truth.  All Truth is one Truth.  All Truth is essential Truth.
 
One of the great deceptions of Christian
Fundamentalism is that “doctrine is deadening” and practical truths are more
essential than doctrine.  You see no such
teaching in the Bible.  We must know what
we believe in order to live in terms of what we believe.
 
I reminded him of the actual points of his
list and observed that theses behaviors are not practical at all:
1.       Read
Your Bible
2.      Pray

3.      Keep
your sins confessed
4.      Witness
to others
5.      Go
to church
 
They
don't shoe the horses or plow the fields. And every one of them can be faked or
done insincerely, merely to reassure the self or to impress others.
 
But
I am not criticizing the behaviors themselves. In fact, I agree that these
behaviors are vital in the Christian life, but not because they are practical.
When they proceed from faith in Christ as an outcome, a result of the life of
Christ in us, they are an expression of that spiritual life that the world does
not comprehend.
 
But
if you try to perform these actions as a means to build up your righteousness,
then they are a burden and an unbearable weight. For without faith it is
impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). And the center of faith is Jesus
Christ.
 
I’m
sorry to say that this young man never did get the drift of what I was
saying.  In much of Fundamentalism,
Holiness is the series of actions that you perform to measure up.  And Fundamentalist churches have their lists
of do’s and don’ts that are requirements for being holy. I don’t mean things
like “Don’t commit adultery” or “Do give to the poor.”  Those are universally understood (and not emphasized
enough). Rather, Fundamentalist preachers often list things like “Don’t go to
movies” or “Don’t listen to popular music,” and in some churches the lists get
quite long and exacting.  And yet, some
of the grossest abominations ever done under the sun have been committed in
those very churches that have such exceedingly long and exacting lists.  You can read more about those horrible
churches and their horrible deeds in my first book, Schizophrenic Christianity. 
 
In this book, I want to address the
misconceptions and errors about holy living. For one of the biggest errors in
Fundamentalism is the entire question of holy living. Many Fundamentalists make
the following two mistakes in the premises of holiness:
 

By will, by choice, by effort, a Christian person can live a life
that is holy.
Holy living is attained by adhering to and rigorously following
certain "standards" of life expressed in dress and conduct.

 
Error number one is undercut by the simple
fact that the flesh cannot attain to holiness. And that means that the human
will, although the mind can perceive holiness and can even want it, cannot
drive us to holiness.  The human will is
part of our flesh. Every time we sin, we sin because we will to sin.  That corrupt will that wills us to sin cannot
will us to lives of holiness.
 
Let’s look at the Christian mind as a factory
with several departments that communicate with each other.  The Input Department gets all the signals
from the outside world: sight, sound, taste, smells, tactile impressions.
 
The Input department sends out its messages
across an entire network: the Security Department, the Intelligence Department,
even the Shipping and Receiving Department. 
The information gets filtered down to Imagination, Calculation, and also
to Will, and to Conscience.
 
And all of these departments interact with
each other.  Somebody hurls an insult at
us.  Input sends the information on.
Security determines that there is no real danger, and yet Security goes on High
Alert until Will says to stand down.  But
Will doesn’t want to stand down.  Will
wants to answer back.  Conscience quibbles
with itself but then concedes to Will and pushes the OK button.  To assure itself, Conscience pulls up
Self-Deception Protocol 543:  “The Other
Guy Deserves What He Gets,” and Self-Deception Protocol 25: “He started it.”
 
Security runs the emergency protocols to
inflame the adrenal glands, and Will sends the desired message, “You stink!”
over to Output, and Output generates the words, at the High Alert decibel
level. 
 
So every part of the human mind and body
participates in that sin. Somebody hurls an insult at us, and we react by
sending an insult back. That’s sin.
 
But wait, there’s more.  Consider this scenario:
 
The human in question is studying for a
Trigonometry test.  Input is busy
delivering messages from the textbook and calculator to all the other
departments.  Security is snoozing at its
desk.  After all, nothing is going on
with Trigonometry, except the Lumbar sub-department is advising a stretch
soon.  But Lumbar always advises a
stretch soon.
 
The Calculation Department is busy and fully
engaged. Even the Ego Center is happy, because Calculation is performing well
on the review questions.
 
And then, suddenly, Conscience gets a warning
about unclean thoughts.  There has been
no message from Input. Nothing was seen or heard to trigger unclean thoughts.
But there they are! 
 
All the protocols kick in.  But now the Pleasure area is asking for
more.  The Memory Department has no
record of the person now in view in Imagination. And Imagination confirms that
this is pure fantasy.  This temptation
has come from within the person.
 
The Will hesitates and then directs
Conscience to be put on Hold.  Conscience
fires back a memo stating that Conscience should never be put on Hold.  Will decrees that Conscience must accommodate
to Imagination in this matter. And so Conscience pulls up Self Deception
Protocol 103: It’s Just Make Believe So I Am Not Hurting Anybody.
 
And Will and Pleasure go have a conference in
the Imagination Theater Room, with all the shades drawn down.
 
Can this Will, which over rides Conscience,
be trusted to choose Holiness in any meaningful and consistent way?  Can this Conscience, which will deceive
itself in order to continue in peace with Will, be trusted to be a worthy
sentinel of this corruptible Will?
 
The answer, of course, is No.  The Will is corrupt. It will choose sin. And
even a well trained Conscience is corrupt. It will permit sin.
 
Paul writes, 
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good
thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good
I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil
which I would not, that I do” Romans
7:18-19.
 
Paul faced our exact same dilemma: for though
he chooses goodness, he still sins. He consciously and knowingly engages in
sin, even though he has chosen to do good.
 
He synopsizes his problem in Romans 7:21: “I
find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
 
Paul had the same problem that we have: evil
indwells his flesh.  No matter how much
he wants to do good, evil is present with him. 
And yet holiness includes all that is righteous and meritorious. And
Holiness excludes all that is evil.
 
If Holiness excludes all evil, then what we
are, innately, must be excluded from Holiness. The Will cannot overcome what it
is to become sinless. The Conscience cannot overcome what it is and be
faultless.
 
Paul reached this very conclusion and
lamented his estate: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me
from the body of this death?” (7:24)
 
Paul then shows a sharp division in the
Christian: two natures. In the next passage, he calls one of these natures “the
mind” (nous), but he is using the
term in a particularly Aristotelian way, familiar to his readers at the time.
It is the word for the divinely enlightened aspect of a person: the part of him
that perceives spiritual truth.  We would
call it by the more familiar term used elsewhere in Scripture: the Second
Nature, the New Man, or the Spiritual Nature.
 
The other nature in us that Paul identifies
is the flesh.  And this flesh, which
includes will and conscience as we understand them, is evil.  It cannot please God.
 
Now, Paul asserts that Christ has delivered
him from the reigning power of the flesh (7:25a), but he concludes that these
two natures still dwell within him: “So then with the mind [nous – the spiritual nature] I myself
serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (7:25b).  
 
In the entire next chapter of Romans, Paul
demonstrates that all who are in Christ are forever free from all
condemnation.  And we will return to that
precious and sacred chapter, but first let’s talk about the very basics of
Holiness itself.
 
And the first point is that you cannot will yourself to successfully
overcome sin and live a holy life. No human being can.  Our path to holiness is Jesus Christ.

Chapter Two: God’s First Provisions for Our
Holiness
 
God Ordained Enlightenment for Mankind to Know Him
as No Other Creatures Have Known Him.
 
“And God
said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
 
One of the most
understated story openers in history is the story of God creating the earth and
the race of man. Without fanfare or high prose, the book of Genesis begins with
an astounding declaration of grace and mercy. God says, “Let there be light.”

This command, simple and straightforward, carries with it an unbelievable
wealth of kindness and good will extended to God’s new creation. For all the
angels in heaven, who worship before His throne and adore Him with eyes
covered, God did not have to command this new thing.

The heavens were filled with life. A host of heavenly citizens sang His praise.
Yet God began to craft something new. And His first command, a command on
behalf of the creatures that would come, is “Let there be light.” It is God’s
will that His people should dwell in the light, that we should be enlightened
to know Him, that we should see Him, face to face. All of our hope for union
with Him is implicit in that first command: “Let there be light.”

The race of man, so unlike angels, would stand before Him with eyes uncovered,
beholding His face and speaking to God as sons and daughters. This is Holiness:
an appointment to belong exclusively to God and know Him.

The Lord Jesus combined the idea of unforgiven sin and damnation with darkness
and blindness. The Gospel of John begins with reference to salvation as the
Light of God’s Son, who is the Light of the world. Light, in the way that God
uses the term and the concept, implies knowledge of Truth, union with Him,
understanding of His mind, and agreement with His will. All this was to be
ours, the first pillar of the graces that God bestowed upon the race of man
when He undertook creation.

The concept of light as the transforming agent of salvation is as old as
Isaiah, who wrote, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light
shined” (9:2).

And Paul expressed the same idea when he wrote, “For God, who commanded the
light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians
4:6).

God began the creation by separating things and making them distinct from each
other, but light and all that it implied was the first separation. The light of
knowing God would dawn upon man. Mankind was chosen by God to be holy, to be
His, to enjoy a union with Him that the angels had never imagined.

This is holiness: to be
separated unto God by the will of God. No angel could make himself holy by
willing light onto himself. No angel could profane the court of heaven by
brazenly drawing too close to that source of Light unbidden. Lucifer, the
bright Son of the Morning, had attempted by force to ascend to that Light and
subdue it. But he was thrown into darkness in an instant.

God makes things, and angels, and people, holy. This has always been true, even
before the fall of man. Holiness,
by definition, is that which has been set apart for Him by His will. He is the
center of all, and it is by His decree that some creatures are placed in
distant orbits around Him. And it is by His decree that some creatures are
placed in close proximity to behold and understand His glory.

Holiness is the boundary set by
the Lord, the separation that occurs because He has spoken His will. And as
directly as His first command in Scripture was fulfilled, "and there was
light," even so His command to us, His People, that we should be separated
out and made His People is fulfilled upon the instant. The Holy People of God
belong to God because His will triumphs over their sin.
 

God establishes boundaries and transcends
boundaries
 
“And God
saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness”
(Genesis 1:4).
 
Genesis begins with
a depiction of God as the separator of all things: the Creator who divides out
what does not belong and regroups things: light from dark, night from day, sea
from land, etc. Within this separating out is a concept of holiness. God establishes boundaries
and fixes the purposes of everything.

Yet in the midst of this separating out, God declares “Let us make man in our
image.” He makes a join between Himself and man. Such a grace has never before
been bestowed, as far as we know. In some ways, God and man are separated out
from every other living being, unique from them but not entirely unique from
each other, for man is in the image of God, destined for fellowship with God.
And when God considers that man is alone, God creates woman from man and brings
her to him. So within God’s method there is separation,
but there is also union.

These two great concepts are foundational for understanding holiness, but let’s consider the
boundaries first. God is Holy; in Hebrew, “kadosh”. He commands holiness: “kadusha". The two
words are related.

One Hebrew word for prostitute is “zanah,” a word that directly describes one
who engages in fornication or who departs from God’s ways. Yet, another word
often translated into English as “harlot” or “prostitute” is
“"kadasha", a word extremely close to the words for “holy” (“kadosh”)
and “holiness” (“kadusha"). Rabbi Avi Lazarson supplies an excellent
explanation for how these similar words, with seemingly opposite meanings, are
related. He writes that when Judah made inquiry after a woman that he thought
was a harlot in Genesis 38:21, he called her a nicer name than was usual: kadasha rather than zanah. “Kadasha” was a word used for a woman who lived outside the
standard boundaries for that culture: an unmarried woman, adult, living on her
own.

The word is translated as “harlot” in the KJV, and doubtless Judah thought she
was a harlot, but in asking the respectable men of the area about her, he kept
his language polite. He asked for the woman who lived beyond the boundaries of
the law, the woman outside marriage.

Kadasha is related to the words kadosh and kadusha. Kadasha is not
specifically about fornication, but about being outside of normal
boundaries.  It can be used when a man is
talking about a harlot, for in that culture, a harlot lived outside of the
boundaries of society.  But Kadasha can also translate to mean a
consecrated woman.  For a woman in that
culture, to be consecrated to anything other than being a wife and mother, was
also to be a woman who lived outside the boundaries of the culture.
 
All these related
words have to do with boundaries, but they also have to do with not being
reduced to mere boundaries. They are words that are defined by recognition of
boundaries and yet they include a meaning of transcending normal boundaries.

This idea of holiness makes
sense if you consider God’s nature. He is everywhere, and His presence is
immediate in the creation He has made (a boundary). And yet God is not changed
by His creation, not limited, not able to be manipulated or driven. He Himself
declared that His creation is good, yet if it all passed away, He would not be
diminished. God made the Law for us, but never for Himself. He is entirely
Lawful, yet not under the Law.

Consider also what God said to His people: “Be ye holy for I am holy.” This
statement occurs in at least five passages in Scripture, always preceded or
followed by explicit commands of behavior. Yet none of these commands entirely
fulfills holiness. They are
subsets of it: pieces of it, manifestations of it, but not the sum total of
what holiness is. The Law could
manifest the holiness in a godly
person but the Law could not make him holy, because all people are sinners.

The Lord Jesus correctly assessed this difference between mere Lawfulness and
real Holiness when He rebuked
the Pharisees: “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all
manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to
have done, and not to leave the other undone” Luke 11:42.

They kept the letter of the Law, the boundary itself, but had never transcended
the letter to the spirit of the Law, and they were condemned: unholy in God’s
eyes. The greater part of holiness
is that total that is greater than the sum of its parts: justice, mercy, and
love of God. Whoever has these qualities has been made holy. Whoever does not
manifest justice, mercy, and the love of God, no matter how he keeps to the
letter of the Law, is not holy.

 
God establishes union
to make us holy.
 
“And the
rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her
unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my
flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore
shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:22-24).

God separated out the elements of light and dark, night and day, sea from land.
Then, after all was separated into its ordained parts, God separated out the
form of man from the dust of the earth and breathed into it. Thus, He made man,
a striking example of union as God
breathed into man from His own eternal life and gave man life, a life distinct
from the beasts.

God had spoken everything else into existence with His voice, but man was
created by God breathing into the dust that He formed. And man breathed because
God had breathed into Him, a distinction not shared by any other creature. Man
was thus separated from the brute beasts beneath him, elevated above them. Yet
he dwelt on land and existed in a world of sensory perception and physical
matter that differed from the existence of the angels above.

Man was Holy and sacred because God had graced Him with the station of having
fellowship with God. He was made distinctively in God’s image, in a way that
the angels did not share: ordained to see God face to face and to keep the
garden of God: a craftsman much like God is a creator. Unlike angels, man would
build and engineer and explore His world, occupying it in a position of
authority to turn the creation of God to beauty and plenty and wonderful
architecture.

God had drawn the line around His creation, and He defined the role of man as a
creature in His image. But when God declared that it was not good for man to be
alone, God had Adam fulfill his role as earthly lord of the creation. Adam
appointed to every creature its role and function. But in his tour of his
domain, he did not find a creature suitable as his companion. So God put Adam
to sleep; and from Adam, God created Eve. From Adam, God separated out a new
person, making her entirely distinct from him, in order to bring them into
union.

We see in Genesis 2:22-24 that God brought Eve to Adam in accord with Adam’s
role. Adam had the right to name and ordain the function of every creature. But
when he saw Eve, whom God had created from him, possessing human expression,
intelligence, and the refinement of Adam’s own sensibilities: his glory, Adam
at once made a gracious declaration regarding Eve. He cited her lineage as
being of the stock of mankind, an intimate part of his being, bone of his bone
and flesh of his flesh. He declared her dignity.

And Adam ordained for Eve what he understood from God about holiness. Adam
declared that a man and woman would separate from their families in order to
live in sacred union with each other, coming together as one flesh. Adam
ordained marriage, with God’s blessing, and the first command of Adam was for
separation of betrothed couples from everybody else in order to live in sacred
union. Eve, God’s gift for Adam, provided for mankind a mirror of loving and
gracious union together, a model of God’s union with man.

God established and Adam imitated the pattern of holiness. That which is chosen
is separated out from the rest: light from dark, day from night, the Sabbath
from the work days, man from the animals, Eve from Adam.

And that which is chosen is ordained for union with God: light as His truth and
wisdom, the Sabbath for His rest, Adam as His glory, Eve as the glory of Adam.

Holiness rests upon the gracious decisions of God: generous and merciful, able
to perceive the needs of His people and provide for them. He draws the boundary
of separation, and He provides the basis of sacred union. Holiness, always and
in every manifestation, is founded on God and is provided by God.

God establishes rest
to make us holy.
 
“And on
the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the
seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh
day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work
which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).
 
We have already seen
how abundantly the first two chapters of the Bible show us that God’s holiness works by separating out that
item or person which God has chosen, and bringing that separated item or person
into union with God. Separation and union are vital components of holiness.

And now, a third component is introduced: rest.
God was not tired when He chose to rest. Rather, He chose to rest because, as
verse one tells us, He had finished His work of creation. God chose to review
His completed work and take satisfaction in it, for, as the Bible tells us, God
saw that it was good. And so God stopped and surveyed all His wonderful
handiwork. He expressed his satisfaction in His creation by ordaining a seventh
day just for His rest.

Likewise, He ordained right then the holiness
of the Sabbath. He blessed and sanctified the Sabbath day. Thus, of all the days of Creation, God separated out
one day, the seventh. And He made it holy. Because it was the day He rested in
satisfaction over His creation, He ordained that mankind shall rest on that
day: the creation shall rest in the Creator. This, again, is union, a union of
reciprocity. God has rested in His handiwork, and His handiwork are called upon
to rest in Him on this holy day.

The question of whether or not Christians should keep a day as a Sabbath now is
beyond the scope of this devotional. Some argue that, because the Sabbath came
before the Law, it is a universal moral command. Others say that because Christ
is our Sabbath, we no longer keep a day. 
It is not the purpose of this book to explore which argument is correct.
But it is important in the study of holiness
to see that the concept of the Sabbath, the sacred rest in God, is vital to us
and our concept of holiness.

First, as the ages passed, the Sabbath came into the Law of Moses. But it is
important to note that the Sabbath existed before the Law was handed down, even
as marriage existed before the Law was given at Mt. Sinai.

Taking rest in God, delighting in Him as He delighted in His completed work, is
a part of the separation and union that make up holiness. In Isaiah 58, the Lord associated the Sabbath with the holiness of doing good to the
oppressed, caring for the needy, and delighting in His name. The Lord Jesus
warned the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the
Sabbath, a holy day meant to benefit man, a joy.

Over and over again in the New Testament, the Pharisees and lawyers murmured
against Christ because He healed on the Sabbath. They kept the letter of the
Law, but they violated God’s command to be holy as He is holy. That is, they
refused to transcend the boundaries of the Law to the Spirit of the Law and the
true love of goodness and of God. Christ did great wonders of grace and mercy
to the frail and needy on the Sabbath that caused men to praise God, but the
Pharisees merely complained and accused Him. They kept the day itself yet they
were not holy.

In Hebrews chapter four, the writer solemnly warns us that there remains a
Sabbath (a rest) to the people of God, even now that the Law is done away in
Christ. “For he that is entered into his Sabbath (rest), he also hath ceased
from his own works, as God [did] from his” (4:10). The writer says in verse
three that those who have believed in Christ have entered that sacred rest.

Christ is the rest, the Sabbath of God’s people. And the writer of Hebrews
shows in chapter four that the labor of the Christian is towards faith: belief.
The people who do not enter His rest are kept out by unbelief.

But we who have Christ participate in Christ our rest. We rest in what He has
accomplished. As God finished the creation, Christ has finished redemption. He
rests in the salvation He has procured for us, and we rest in Him. We find that
rest by faith in Him.

God gives us revelation
of Himself to make us holy.
 
“And he
said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place
whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy
father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses
hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:5-6).
 
God called Moses,
separating him from his life as a shepherd, removing him from the small
community in which he lived after his flight from Egypt.

In the narrative of the burning bush in Exodus three, we see that God drew
Moses onto holy ground, bringing him into the presence of God right in the
scrub of the desert grazing lands. God graciously appeared to Moses, enticing
him to draw closer with curiosity and then announcing His presence, so that
Moses suddenly understood that he had been called into a sacred event.

God draws the boundary around Moses, and God brings Moses into a union with
Himself.

Yet there is no equality in this union, for God is divine, and Moses is still a
sinful man. God permits him to draw closer, but He warns him not to come too
close or come too fast. And, as the servants of that era stood barefoot before
their masters, God tells him to remove his shoes. Moses is the creature, the
servant.

Until that point in Moses’ life, we see a certain dedication to his own people,
as well as a certain disdain for the luxuries of Egyptian noble life. Yet there
is no compelling evidence that Moses was a man devoted to God, except as his
countrymen were. They knew that long ago God had made a covenant with their
forefathers. They called upon Him for help in their suffering under Egypt. And
surely, they wondered if He had left them.

So God introduces Himself first to Moses as the God of his forefathers. In a
moment, it is revealed to Moses that the God who has been silent has known of
the sufferings of His people and is now acting on their behalf.

As the account continues, God gives Moses several promises that bind Him to
Moses. His union with Moses is based on Him and His gracious promises. He also
tells Moses of a token that will prove out all He says. There is an element of
“rest” in all that God decrees to Moses. For God does not tell Moses what Moses
will do, but what God will do on behalf of His people, through Moses.

And then, the account provides another facet of Holiness for our understanding: Revelation of God. God was using
wondrous and gracious but familiar terms when He told Moses that He was
“elohiym” (the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”). Even
the Egyptians had this title for the God of the Israelites, and as the
Egyptians worshipped many gods, they had probably consigned the God of the
Israelites to some minor deity in their own pantheon.

But the Egyptian gods were part of a cosmology of creation. These gods were
interlinked with each other and with natural events and the stars. God gives
Moses a startling revelation of true Godhood when He gives Moses, not a mere
title, but His name: “I AM” (3:14). He is self-existent and is not tied to
natural events or natural revelation. He does not wax and wane as the sun,
moon, or seasons like the Egyptian gods. He is not found in the rivers. He
simply Is.

We are familiar with this concept of God, but in Moses’ day, it was a startling
revelation: that God exists within His creation but not as a part of it, not
even the most important part. He transcends it and also exists outside of it,
for He made it. He is self-existent, and He is the boundless God who is not
contained.

Moses became holy unto the Lord that day, brought in by God, united to Him with
new understanding, resting in His promises, enlightened by His revelation.

God establishes acceptable worship to make us holy.
 
“And the
LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name
of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The
LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and
truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the
fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and
to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the
earth, and worshipped” (Exodus 34:6-8).
In this passage, we see the
principles of
1) Separation, as God separated
Moses from the people to speak with Him;
2) Union, as God descended in the
cloud to grace Moses with His immediate presence;
3) Revelation, as God revealed His
graciousness and mercy to Moses in loud proclamation;
4) Rest, in declaring that He will
support His righteous Law beyond the ability of the lawgivers on earth.
 
And then, the Holiness of God
evoked another aspect of holiness in a human being: worship.  We could also call
it Proclamation. God proclaims all
truth and is worthy of all praise, and we see in this passage that He declares
Himself.  He causes His righteousness and
perfection to be known.  The human component
of this is worship of Him.  We say back
to God the glories we find in Him.
 
When I attended college, a student
asked our Bible teacher why David spent so much time in the Psalms telling God
what God already knew: that God is holy, that God is righteous, that God is
merciful, and so on.  The teacher smiled
and said, yes, God knew those things about Himself, but it was important for
David to know them, and worship of God was part of that process.  Worship involves sharing our understanding of
God with God as part of our intimate relationship with Him. It also includes the
open proclamation of Who He Is as part of our lives. 
 
Worship is an aspect of holiness
that transmits itself into other aspects in our lives.  When we worship God with knowledge and Truth,
we are changed. Including reference to God in our thoughts and in our
conversations becomes more normal for us when we worship Him according to what
we learn of Him.
 
But even worship is founded on God
and not on us.  The Lord Jesus warned us
not to pray with many words in order to be heard. The action of worshiping God
has to do with His increase in our thoughts and our decrease, not a multitude
of words.  Moses worshiped because He saw
the glory of God.  He knew the
condescension that the Lord showed when God descended to stand alongside His
servant.
 
All of holiness is founded on God.
We are holy because God has separated us out from the condemnation of this
world. We are holy because through the offices of Christ, we have union with
God.  We are holy because by the offices
of the Holy Spirit, we can come to know God through His Word and through
prayer; we have the revelation of God in His Word and in Christ. We are holy
because God has granted us rest in Christ from the heavy yoke of trying to
fulfill the Law.  We are holy because God
has ordained through the mediation of Christ to accept our worship.
 
God is the only person who can
ordain what is holy and what is not holy. And He has called us out of our sin
to be His children, adopted in Christ to everlasting Sonship.  Holiness is about boundaries, and God has
drawn a boundary around His Holy People, drawing them out of condemnation and
sanctifying them for Himself, making them acceptable by virtue of the atoning
Blood of Jesus Christ.

Chapter Three: God Decrees That His People
Are Holy
 

God’s Authority gives the estate of Holiness to the
Elect, and only to the Elect.
 
Election is such a controversial
topic in Christendom today that some people forget that, no matter where you
draw the line on God’s role and man’s role in salvation, the Bible does clearly
teach election.  We believers are called the Elect of God. In Romans
chapter eight, verse 29, Paul writes that God foreknew His people and
predestined them to be conformed to the image of Christ.
 
Some dishonest preachers try to get
around this clear claim of election by saying that God foreknew the choice that
people would make, to accept Christ or reject Him. But that is NOT what Romans
8:29 says.  The group that is foreknown
is the group who is predestined to be conformed to Christ.  The text of Scripture makes no reference to
God foreknowing a choice that people would make.  The text is saying that God foreknew His people and predestined them to be
conformed to the image of Christ.
 
You could still argue that
foreknowledge is based on God knowing a choice, but this particular text of
Scripture  is not saying that.  
 
I used to be a Calvinist, and now
I’m not. I think that the Bible doesn’t really tell us the mechanics of
election the way that Calvinists insist that it does. My reasons would make a
whole book in and of itself, so I will go no further. But even though I do not
find the Calvinist version of election valid, I must meekly recognize that the
Bible clearly calls the people of God His Elect. 
 
I mean, ultimately, if you say that
“Jesus Saves,” you have to concede that, in the end, our salvation rests with
Jesus and not ourselves. We may participate, cooperate (and certainly do), but
in the end, as the Bible tells us: Salvation is of the Lord.
 
And I do not write this to create
discord, but only to point out that the emphasis of the text is not on our
choice, but on God’s choice and God’s authority to make that choice.  The only Person who can make us holy is God.  And Paul is arguing in Romans that our
acceptance with God is completely assured because ultimately, our acceptance
rests entirely with God.
 
I agree that man is not utterly
passive in salvation and has a role of cooperation. In fact, cooperation is
discussed very fully later in this book. 
At the same time, let us be humble and recognize that the term “elect”
is used in the New Testament, and election is clearly taught.
 
Consider
the example of Jacob, and his conversion by the authority of God:
 
“And he
dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to
heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.  And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and
said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land
whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed” (Genesis
28:12-13).
 
At this point in
Jacob's life, he was in narrow straits. Having tricked his brother Esau, he now
had Esau's murderous wrath to contend with. And so he was fleeing, on pretense
of finding a wife.

Many a man has angered others and been made to flee for his life. But they have
never had the visitation that Jacob had. God drew the line of holiness around
Jacob, providing him with a revelation of God and the immediate consolation of
knowing that God's ministering angels had a way to travel between earth and
heaven, where God stood waiting to receive their reports and send them to do
His will among the sons of men.

Jacob could not have made himself favored of God by his works or the power of
his choice. God favored Jacob, giving to him a revelation that others did not
receive.

God separated Jacob out, and God showed Jacob a type of union that He had
granted Jacob, this sacred ladder that opened the way for God's mercy to come
to earth. Further, God revealed His identity as the God of Jacob's forefathers,
and He announced His favor to Jacob.

Jacob would never have known these things if God had not revealed them. So in
this account we see that God made Jacob holy unto Himself, separating him out
from his brother, providing a means of union to Him and guaranteeing him favor,
giving him a revelation of Christ that would be fulfilled thousands of years
later.

God’s revelation to the patriarchs always included an emblem of Christ: For
Abram the ram caught in the thicket, when God would provide Himself a
sacrifice. For Moses, the burning bush that was not consumed: material and
earthly substance infused by God but not consumed (Christ incarnate). And to
Jacob: the ladder, the emblem of the Cross, which is a type of scaffolding, or
ladder, and is man’s only means of approaching to God, and God’s mean of coming
to man. In the day that they were received, the patriarchs did not necessarily
comprehend the entire import of these emblematic revelations. Yet the student
of the Scripture sees through the text a thread that unifies all Scripture: the
revelation of Christ from beginning to end.

God called Jacob into union with Himself by giving Jacob a revelation of God
and declaring His gracious goodwill to Jacob.

Jacob could not have done any of this. He could not have caused God to choose
him for blessing. He could not have induced such a fearsome and wondrous
revelation of God into His dreams. He could not make himself holy unto the
Lord. God made Jacob holy. God drew the boundary around Jacob and gave him
sacred promises. God's work was what made Jacob holy.

Jacob responded with fear and awe, as we see in verses 17-18. As an act of
worship he consecrates the place as holy ground. In future chapters, Jacob is
still not above a certain amount of trickery, and he shows his imperfections,
especially in a lack of wisdom towards his sons. Yet the Lord remains with him,
having made Jacob holy unto Himself.

Holiness is always founded on God. He makes His people holy. What God accepts
is accepted. What God rejects is rejected. In Christ, we have acceptance with
God. He has drawn the boundary around us, and by the work of Christ, we are
drawn into union with God, to know Him and worship Him with understanding.
 
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a
throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the
seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with
twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy,
holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:1-3).
 
Initially a simple and
straightforward account, Isaiah's vision speaks on so many levels of holiness in Christ that it is impossible
to give justice to every detail in this short space. First, John's Gospel
associates this vision of God with Jesus Christ, the divine Son. Isaiah could
not have seen the Person of God the Father directly, or he would have perished.
God the Father is declared through Christ the Son (John 1:18). The Lord Jesus
identified Himself as the object of Isaiah's vision when He referred to it in
John 12:41.

Isaiah was already a prophet and had already uttered sacred words. Yet here in
chapter six, the Lord, appearing in the place separated out for His worship,
grants to Isaiah a fearsome and glorious experience of His presence. God is
attended by seraphim, heavenly creatures that cover their "lower
bodies" (translated as "feet" in the KJV, but the Hebrew word is
used for the legs as well, and the word can mean the entire body below the
waist). They also cover their faces before God.

Think back to Genesis, when Adam and Even were naked and not ashamed before
God. Here is another startling insight into God's original design of man. The
highest angels in heaven cover up in humility before the Lord God Almighty. But
mankind, in his and her innocence, did not cover up and had no idea that they
should. They were as free before God as little children before their parents.
They did not cry out "holy, holy holy" to the angels above, though
certainly they knew God was holy. Instead, they conversed with God. Adam took
walks with God in the cool of the day and they had fellowship.

Truly, when we see the seraphim, we see their great and lofty estate. But at
the same time, we can appreciate the friendship and happy fellowship God
originally designed for mankind: God's gardeners and builders who would make
plans and share ideas with God. What an incredible union He bestowed on us. It
makes the tragedy of sin that much greater.

Holiness involves separation,
union, rest, and revelation. It also involves worship or Proclamation. The
angels cry a threefold exclamation of praise: "Holy, Holy, Holy is the
Lord of Hosts!" Their outcry is read by some commentators as an indication
of their recognition of the Trinity. Isaiah, seeing this grand and terrifying
sight: seeing Christ enthroned, repeating God's proclamation by the Holy Spirit
(as Paul writes in Acts 28) had a revelation of the Trinity, though it is not
clear how much he understood. But he knew that the Lord condescended to come
among His people and dwell with them.

And this was another subtlety of the revelation. Whether or not Isaiah
understood that he was seeing the triune God, He saw "God with us" in
the temple. God was descended to earth, and through the altar of atonement, a
way was made for Isaiah to stand before Him and live. This is a revelation of
the Christ that was still to come: God would dwell among men, making them
acceptable, providing the Atonement for them.

In the words of the seraphim there is a promise, a sacred hope of rest for
mankind: "The whole earth is full of his glory". In a better
translation we would say, "The fullness of the earth is his glory."
God condescends to take delight in the earth and bless it. He is glorified in
granting blessing and bounty. Isaiah had mourned over the sins of the people
for five chapters. But now, in the sixth chapter, God brings to Isaiah a
declaration of mercy: He delights and is glorified by the fullness with which
He blesses His creation. There is still mercy awaiting for the creation. It is
Isaiah's task to write it out, blessed to author the book many call "The
Gospel according to Isaiah."

God drew the boundary of holiness
around Isaiah and brought him into union with God. He caused Isaiah to proclaim
truths about God that would ring for thousands of years. Isaiah had no power to
see God by his own efforts, nor to peek into the glorious mystery of the
trinity. God did all of it, ordaining Isaiah to write a holy book about the
holy visitation of God that was still to come.
 

Holiness is the Estate of All of God’s People
 
“I will
say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from
far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called
by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have
made him.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)
 
Every person who is
called by the name of God (by God, not necessarily by other people), has been
created for the glory of God in terms of a holy estate. God draws the line of Holiness around us and brings us into
union with Himself. As Matthew Henry notes, the Christian can take comfort in
four great designs that God has for his or her life:

1. We are God’s workmanship. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in
them” (Ephesians 2:10). God has designed every single person, and He has
designed us according to His purposes, not our own purposes or the purposes of
other people. His purpose for us is that we should walk in good works, a walk
that is possible only by living in terms of His purposes for us and not our
own.

2. We are the people He has purchased. God doesn’t pay for treasures only to
mar or destroy them. He has purchased us with the precious Blood of His Son, in
order to carry out His purpose of righteousness, mercy, and glory.

3. Individually, we are each a member of His peculiar people. In this passage
in Isaiah, God doesn’t refer to all of His redeemed in terms of a huge group.
Instead, the prophet writes in the singular, “I have created him for my glory”.
There is an intimacy of knowledge, an intricacy of design that God has put into
each person designed to glorify Him.

4. He has adopted His people by covenant. “Having predestinated us unto the
adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure
of his will” (Ephesians 1:5).

God has ordained that our ultimate purpose is to rejoice in His glory. In this
era of a Prosperity Gospel and among the boasting of church leaders who glorify
the church, its leaders, or their own works, the Christian must remember our
real purpose.

God has designed us, redeemed us, and granted us an everlasting covenant so
that we may glorify Him forever. He does not exist to glorify us. As John Piper
writes, you don’t visit the Grand Canyon to build your self esteem. You visit
it to see the grandeur and wide glory of such a marvelous work in nature.

And yet, many people resort to God expecting God to give them what they want,
expecting fellow Christians and God to stand in awe of them and their works.
And many who profess Christ today are mired down in the gross sins of
pornography, infidelity, materialism, and self-indulgence. People grasp after
self-fulfillment, self-esteem, and self-aggrandizement. But their flesh, which
can never stop craving its own carnal delights, evidences that its power is
growing and growing in their lives rather than being held in check or
conquered.

Yet deluded people still don’t realize that seeking self-gratification is a
sure way to despair.

Our joy is Christ and His righteousness (not our own righteousness). Our joy is
the vast wealth of God’s righteous and merciful glory. God has drawn the
boundary around us and brought us into acceptance with Him through the work of
Christ, and we glory in Christ, not ourselves. Paul calls God’s glory
“unsearchable riches” (Ephesians 3:8). And he exclaims in praise for “the riches
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33). Yet few who call
themselves Christians want to plumb those riches today. Instead, they look for
their own righteousness, their own good name. Some work for wealth, political
standing, or fame.

But we have been designed, purchased, known, and destined, to glorify God.

Holiness is Unto God, Not Men
 
“They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am [he].
And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.  As soon then as he had said unto them, I am
[he], they went backward, and fell to the ground” (John 18:5-6).
 
In the passage cited
above, the word "he" is added to both expressions of "I am"
by the translator in the KJV, an error in the text. What the Lord Jesus
actually said when the soldiers told Him they sought Jesus of Nazareth was
"I am," the name of God.

Not every revelation of God is spell-binding, and not everybody who is given a
revelation comes to believe. The soldiers came to arrest and bind their
prisoner. He answered them with a divine revelation of His identity: I AM. Note
what the text says: Even the man who had traveled with Christ, His betrayer,
stood with the soldiers, and the instant that Christ named Himself with His Godhood,
they all fell to the ground.

The Lord Jesus controlled the confrontation. They did not get up until He
questioned them, as was His prerogative. And He ordered them to spare His
disciples. Peter, not appreciating that this demonstration of power was not
pointed at escape, charged the soldiers with a sword as they got to their feet
and struck of the ear of one of the soldiers, Malchus. And he, in his turn, was
rebuked by Christ, and Christ healed Malchus. But there is no record that
Malchus converted to Christ.

So the soldiers, daunted by Christ's authority, saw the power in His
authoritative claim to Godhood. They could not stay on their feet when He
announced His name to them. He restored Malchus' ear. He ordered and maintained
peace so that the arrest did not turn into a slaughter.

Christ was separate from the wrath of the soldiers and the wrath of his own
disciples. Neither did He participate in the politics of the Council and their
manipulative and legal tactics. Nor was He a freedom fighter who struck a blow
against an evil government. He came to do God's Will, and as a Person Holy and
separated unto God, He fulfilled what God assigned of Him and was above the struggles
and politics of His day.

Yet seeing this, the soldiers still arrested Him and delivered Him to the
Council. They stood up and shook off the effects of His revelation and went
about their dirty job. Malchus did not dissent. Judas did not dissent.

It is possible to intellectually comprehend God, even to comprehend that Christ
is the Son of God, and still not have union with God. it is possible to stand
less than an arm's length from Him as He restores a suffering person to
wholeness, and still not have union with Him: to see, and to experience, and
even to understand, and yet not participate in the union that God's Holy People
have with Christ.

There are men who, seeing God declare Himself, will still put fetters on Him if
He so permits it. They would lead God to their own religious leaders and submit
to have their own corrupt religion condemn a just God to death, if such a thing
could be. It's all happened. Judas had as much of Christ in terms of earthly
fellowship as any apostle. Yet he never had that union with God that brought
him into the atoning work of Christ. He did the work of the apostles, asked the
same questions, prayed with them, suffered the hardships of the road with them.
But none of these things made Judas holy. In the end, he tried to force the
situation his way, to get what he wanted. He betrayed his Master and betrayed
the entire way of grace, handing the Son of God over to legalists and
apostates.

The anguish he felt afterwards was real, but it was not repentance. He named
his sin yet never turned to gracious forgiveness from God. Instead, he took his
own life, as though that would atone for the life he handed over to evil men.
Judas suffered, and he punished himself with greater suffering. All this, but
never holiness. He rejected
everything Christ accomplished, and offered instead a carnal version of
atoning. There was a lot of Cain in Judas.

Yet Holiness is no guarantee
against suffering. Quite the opposite. Isaiah was put into a hollow log and
sawn in half because he claimed to have seen God. The Lord Jesus, God Himself,
was crucified. Yet neither person lost the holiness God had imparted. God drew a boundary around them,
reserving them to Himself. He ordained union with them. Yet God willed that
they should suffer. And they maintained their integrity to the end, because God
was with them, united to them to keep them.

Legalism is not
Holiness; Legalism Corrupts True Religion
 
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold
and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and
the seats of them that sold doves,  And
said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer;
but ye have made it a den of thieves. 
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed
them” (Matthew 21:12-14).
 
Isaiah had a vision of
God in His temple, surrounded by radiant glory and circled by seraphim who
called out praise to Him.  In the New
Testament, God came into His holy temple in the Person of Christ. And He
purified His temple, with the authority of the Law. Here was not the daunting
and terrifying vision of Isaiah but the gentle, restorative work of Christ, yet
Christ fulfilled all that Isaiah foresaw.

We have seen that holiness includes

1) Separation,
2) Union
3) Rest
4) Revelation
5) Worship.
 
The temple was meant to
be separated out from the commerce of life. People didn't go there to conduct
business or to enjoy games of recreation. Just as the Sabbath was a DAY removed
from the ordinary conduct of life, the temple was a PLACE removed from the
ordinary conduct of life.

For the temple, Solomon prayed for God's graciousness and reminded God that
this was the place where He had promised "My name shall be there" He
prayed that God would attend to the prayers of the repentant offered to Him
from the temple (or even those prayers directed towards the temple from a
distance), "and when thou hearest, forgive" (I Kings 8:29-30).

The Lord Jesus intended to fulfill these things, but first He drove out that
which was unholy. The carnality of man and the greed of corrupt religion had
crept into His Father's house. He drove them out. Any common man attempting to
overthrow the tables of the money changers would have been arrested by the
temple guard. But the Lord Jesus used the Law as His authority.

There is a difference between Lawfulness and legalism. The Pharisees, lawyers,
and Sadducees had many niggling rules and petty statutes that they had added to
God's Word. Money had to be exchanged for temple scrip, for this was approved
"holy" money. The purchase of sacrificial animals had to be conducted
only from "approved" flocks and herds that the Pharisees had
guaranteed were free from blemish. All of this was legalism, and it gave the
people who did business with the temple money. But it gave the Pharisees what
they wanted most: control. They added stipulations to make men work and pay and
fulfill extra obligations to make themselves holy. That is legalism.

But Christ drove out legalism with the Law: the foremost purpose of the temple
was to be the place where God had placed His name: a place of prayer. The
temple, built for the glory of God, was also the resting place for troubled and
sinful man. It was, as Solomon had asked, a place where the injured party of an
agreement could plead with God for justice and be heard. It was the place where
sinners could come and find atonement. God would make them holy; they could not
make themselves holy.

The temple was a place separated unto God, where people found union with God,
were given rest from their sinfulness, could hear the Law taught, and could
worship. Nobody dared lay a hand on Christ that day, for He was infallibly
correct when He drove out the money changers, and the Law of God supported Him.
The Pharisees did not repent. They hated Him all the more, but they could not
challenge the rightness of His actions.

Christ instituted the true work of the temple. Matthew writes, "And the
blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them." This is
God, present in His temple. This is the ideal that was set forth in the Old
Testament, evident in the prayer that Solomon prayed in II Kings chapter eight.
God meets sinners in His temple. He heals and restores. He forgives sins. He
imparts to men His truth.
 
Christ fulfilled this
ideal. He did not use seraphim or a long, visible train, or radiant and shining
glory, or a throne lifted high. Yet all the same, His glory filled the Temple
when He resided there, and as sinners came to seek Him there, His train also
filled the temple in the crowd of the repentant and hopeful that waited on Him
and were made whole.

We believers are the temple of Christ now. Our lives are holy because He has
drawn the boundary around us and made us His, giving us union with Him. We rest
in Christ, we know Him, and we worship Him.
 

Outward Pietism Cannot Create Inner Holiness.
 
“And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside
of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and
wickedness.  Ye fools, did not he that
made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms
of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.  But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe
mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of
God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Luke
11:39-42).
 
In this chapter of
Luke, a Pharisee has invited the Lord to dinner. As the ritual of hand washing
was observed, the Lord Jesus did not participate.  Though there were different washings and
observations of cleanliness taught in the Law, this particular instance was not
part of the Law.  It was a Pharisaical
add-on.  The Pharisees advocated hand
washing after contact in public to guard against accidental or unknown
uncleanness.  This is one more example of
the legalistic practice of “assuring a hedge” of safety by adding stricter
rules than the Law of God actually teaches.
 
It would have done no
harm for Christ to have washed His hands. 
It was an accepted practice, and water was probably offered to each
guest, so Christ would have declined the offer in order to refrain. His manner
was polite but his behavior was unusual. It did stand out in the house of his
refined and legalistic host.
 
So his host at the
table “marveled,” as the KJV says, because Christ did not wash His hands.  And Christ rebuked him. “Making a hedge” is
ridiculous in terms of hand washing. 
Christ makes this clear when He reminds his host that outer cleansing is
pointless if there is inner filth: “ravening and wickedness” within the heart.  The Pharisees who insisted on extra hand
washings were depriving widows of their portion and oppressing the poor.  No amount of hand washing could cleanse those
sins away.
 
The Pharisees had
fallen into the carnal trap of externalized religion:  how they dressed, how they ate, how they
behaved in public, the number of their religious observances was their tool to
convince themselves they were holy.  This
was their religion.  They looked on
appearances and ignored the way they plundered the poor  (“ravening,” literally “plundering”) and
schemed for more power and wealth (“wickedness,” literally, “malice”).
 
Christ turns to the
food at hand and declares that if the Pharisees would simply give to the poor
from the abundant food on their own tables, all things would be clean to them.
This is what He means by “give alms of such things as ye have.”  He is saying that if they gave of that which
was in their power to give, they would be clean before God.
 
Christ’s rebuke here is
a familiar one in the Bible.  The Old
Testament prophets repeatedly rebuked religious and political leaders for
oppressing the poor when true holiness is revealed in those who give to the
poor.  Caring for the poor and oppressed,
seeking justice for widows and orphans, opening the home to those in need, and
dealing justly with all men out of the fear of God, are the manifestations of
holiness.
 
Isaiah wrote, “seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the
fatherless, plead for the widow” (1:17b). 
God’s cornerstone of holy behavior is not that we groom ourselves to
look good and righteous, but that we groom the needy to receive the love of
God.  But this concept was not
significant to the Pharisees.
 
Christ does not treat the Law lightly in this passage.  He does observe that the tithe has value, but
the greater part of the Law is judgment (justice) and the love of God. Holy
behavior looks outward in love, not inward in fear. It cares for others more
than itself.
 
Legalism always operates on a premise that evil and sinfulness come to us
from without. It really presupposes a sort of neutrality of the soul that can
be contaminated by anything corrupt from outside the soul coming into contact
with the person to pollute the soul.  
Legalism denies the reality that sin comes from within us.  We are already corrupted.  We are depraved sinners by nature, not neutral.
 
Christ is our deliverance from the bondage of what we are.  Thus, Paul warns against the dangers of
external pietism, even though external pietism puts on a “show of wisdom”
(Colossians 2:20-23).  Such a show is
mere deception.

 
This is the end of the excerpt.
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