Beyond Holiness  (Part 2 of 6) 

  1. Holy and Blameless 

Writing to the Ephesians, Paul noted that we were “chosen … before the foundation of the world” for two purposes: to “be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).  According to Paul in that passage, two important qualities should mark the life of the Christian, especially the chosen: holiness and blamelessness.  Holiness is something that every godly person seeks, but not so has everyone also pursued blamelessness.  But what do those words mean?

  1. The Holiness of Persons  

There is a holiness of persons and a holiness of things.  Holiness describes cleanliness in relation to God.  It refers to the consecration or dedication of a person or thing to God and for God’s strict purpose; a dedication that sets that thing or person apart from all others.  In that sense, the priest is holy because he is devoted or ‘given’ to God; secondly, he also stays holy in his cleanliness from pollutions in his devotion to God.  So, holiness would mean two things to a person: devotion and cleanliness.  Either way, holiness is essentially a vertical transaction, between God and a person, and also, by extension, between God and the articles that persons have set aside for His worship.   One passage in the Torah well captures this:

And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine (Leviticus 20:26).

Notice the following expressions in that verse: “holy unto me,” “severed from other people,” “be mine.”  The verse highlights holiness that is a dedication, a devotion, a consecration of the self, a separation unto God.  In verse 7 of the same chapter, it is said, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, AND be ye holy.”  Why?  The second half of the verse provides the answer: “for I am the LORD your God.”

That verse shows that holiness is a state of being (“be ye…”); a state of being in relation to God.  The verse also says two more things:

No. 1) “sanctify [or separate] yourselves” – from something(s) unto Someone, “and” (that is, in addition to No. 1),

No. 2), “be ye holy” (or be clean in a religious sense).

In the New Testament, Saint Peter in 1 Peter 1:15-16 addresses the holiness of persons, in terms of the cleanliness of the dedicated one who approaches to the Holy One.  In the process, he also reveals the vertical (or God-human) structure of holiness; holiness that connects someone as well as their entire lifestyle (or “conversation”) to he which hath called you: He – You.  Peter notes,

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 

16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

  1. The Holiness of Things

The holiness of things is basically in the devotion of an object to the service of God.  Unlike in the holiness of a person, the continuing holiness of a thing rests not in itself but on humans.  The vessels of the temple are holy vessels because they are dedicated especially to God’s purpose.  Those vessels cannot sin. They cannot lie or steal or commit adultery and so pollute themselves.  Only persons can pollute them.  Holy things cannot pollute themselves, but humans can pollute themselves.

No matter how broke a true church might be, for instance, they are very unlikely to hire out their church microphone for a million dollars to witches and wizards who want it for a bloody and depraved initiation orgy at their midnight coven.  Yet that church can lend that microphone to another church for free.  Unlike every other microphone in the open market; unlike the far superior mic at the radio studio, the church microphone is dedicated to God.  It is holy.  It has holiness endowed upon it.

The holiness of a person, on the other hand, is both holiness that is endowed or received, and holiness that is lived and served back to God through a life consistently kept free from spiritual pollutions.  In all, the holiness of a thing is also a vertical transaction between God and the object set aside for His worship, and often located in His temple.

The Holy Bible speaks in 1 Kings 8:4 about “all the holy vessels” – where? “in the tabernacle”; and in 1 Chronicles 22:19 about “the holy vessels” – whose? “of God” – where? in the house of the Lord.  In other words, an object’s location also sometimes defines its dedication, just as that dedication might also be told from the service that the object does.  If you found a microphone in the church, being used for worship in that place; or a pot in the shrine, being used for worship in that place, there will be little worry as to its status of dedication.  Location would have defined dedication.  If you found them using that object for the worship in that place or anywhere, use or service would also have defined its dedication to the supervising Spirit or spirit(s) of that place or that religion.

Once upon a time, a famous foolish king in Babylon, intoxicated with wine, called for the holy articles of God, with which to serve his impetuous guests as they praised his gods of gold and silver and brass and stone and iron and wood.  The Almighty was angry at the trespass and promptly terminated his reign.  That monarch had profanely crossed a holy line (Daniel 5:1-31).  Whom he crossed in that act was not humans but God.   His sacrilege was a vertical trespass.  It was holiness in reverse.

God is holy, and all who connect to Him do so vertically on the ladder of holiness (Isaiah 6:3, 5).  That is well illustrated by the ladder in Jacob’s dream connecting Heaven to Earth, on which angels were seen ascending and descending; a ladder at the top of which stood God, and at the bottom of which was man – Jacob (Genesis 32:12-13).  That vertical structure is also implied in Hebrews 12:14 which speaks of holiness without which one would have missed their upward access or connection to God.

Jesus is described even by devils as “the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34).  In other words, again, holiness describing a connection between God and earthlings and earth-things.  Accordingly, Hebrews 12:10 speaks of saved and pure souls on the earth being vertically “partakers of his holiness.” 

From The Preacher’s diary,
November 23, 2023. 
(continued in Part 3 of 6)

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Nnah ukeme
Nnah ukeme
4 months ago

Commendable

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