Beyond Holiness (Part 4 of 6) 

  1. Besetting Excuses 

We bother often about being holy but do not give as much attention to being blameless,  to say nothing of being righteous.  The Chosen of the Lord cannot carry the name of Wickedness.  In Hebrews 12:1, Paul makes a distinction between “the sin” which everybody knows is S-I-N; sin which “doth so easily beset,” and the “weight” which is no sin but slows down the runner on the heavenly highway.  The weight is no sin per se.  It could pass as that ‘little’ weakness of character for which we often find excuses.  To bother only about The Sin but ignore The Weight is risky on the way.

Moses was holy, but he had temper problems.  It made him often quick with his hands and rash with his words (Psalm 106:33).  In a brief altercation on one occasion, he gave an Egyptian a heavy knockout blow from which that opponent did not recover.  Soon after that, he confronted a group of shepherds to ensure that things went according to his sense of justice.  Those many rough shepherds quickly backed off, whatever they saw in that brute stammerer that scared the daylight out of them (Exodus 2:11-17).  One day, that temper had the better of him and he smote a rock that he had been instructed to speak to.  He broke none of the Ten Commandments by that act, but the act came with a great cost (Numbers 20:8-12).

God did not charge Moses with Sin for his temperamental rashness, but God was concerned that his rash act had portrayed his God in poor light in the eyes of beholders.  God was clear: “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me IN THE EYES of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12). Case closed.  Three consecutive appeals by Moses could not upturn the case in his favour.  God was concerned about how He had been portrayed by His chosen one in the eyes of mere mortals.  Moses’ entrance into Promised Land was terminated by a persisting blame of temperamental outbursts that had become a sin of disobedience.

In the first chapter of His first sermon, Jesus stated: “Let your light so shine before men, THAT THEY MAY SEE your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  Does God care about what men “see”?  Should He worry so much about how mere mortals see Him through the acts of His chosen ones?

There are acts of charity that the right hand might conceal from the left, but there are others that cannot be concealed from the eyes and lips of grateful partakers, and Jesus says, “that they may see.”  The world has eyes, and it can see.  Anyone who was served a kind cold drink on a loveless thirsty day knows what they received.  You cannot tell them not to see or say it.

Jesus healed a mad man long tormented by devils, then gave that happy, grateful man a hard instruction, to “Go home to thy friends” and tell them what God had done for him.  What home has a mad man got who has lived his life among the tombs?  How many friends does a raving mad man have who has lived his life with the dead in the graveyard?  Obeying that instruction apparently meant ungratefully telling no one of the mercies that he had received.  He couldn’t keep such a great thankful testimony to himself and to some inexistent ‘friends’ in a ‘home’ that he didn’t have.  He left “and began to publish in Decapolis [ten cities] how great things Jesus had done for him” (Mark 5:1-20).  Some gestures can’t be hidden, so are the boundless thanks that they inspire.  You can’t conceal a sunshine.

Men can see good works, they can see bad works, too.  In other words, the opposite side to Matthew 5:16 could be as dangerous, when men see your bad works and blaspheme your Father which is in Heaven, if He were the Father at all.

A blame is no SIN in itself before God, but it is cause for concern among men, and therefore before God.  A blame is not a scandal, but maybe just that sneaky question mark on the character of the otherwise great person; a tiny but conspicuous concern on the priestly garment of the chosen.  A blame is not something of which the devil can say, “Thou sinner,” but it is something of which troubled humans can say, “I wish it were better.”  A blame is that little ‘but’ on an otherwise beautiful garment: “He’s such an anointed man, but…”; “She’s a great singer, but…”; “He’s a very dedicated accountant, but …”  And you …?

The Greek word translated “blame” in Ephesians 1:4 is amomos, which means a blemish, a fault, a spot.  A blemish is no mighty abomination but just a small defect on an otherwise broad perfection; a little dot on a mighty reputation; a tiny stain that catches unfair attention despite the wider space in which it cleanly stands.  A fault is not often an intentional deviation, but just an unfortunate ‘mistake’ that might not have been.  On a clean white page, what people usually see is not the wider whiteness but the little red dot sitting in the clear space.  A blame, a fault, a spot; sometimes these catch quicker attention than our elaborate virtues, very unkind attention than conceals all our glamour.

Little stains ignored can cause a mighty shame.  The Father has “chosen us” not only to be holy in our vertical service to Him, but also to be “without blame” in the horizontal matters of our priesthood before men, so that, of us also it can be said as of Daniel even by his haters, that they found no blame in him.

4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 

5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel … (Daniel 6:4-5).

One of the problems that God had with David in the Bathsheba episode was not just the adultery and the murder of that woman’s husband, terrible as those acts were, but “because” by his deed, he gave “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14).  God was concerned about the names that David’s blame had brought upon Him. When that dedicated psalmist cried to the Lord, his sin was cleansed, according to Psalm 51, but he had brought such blame by his shame that God cared, and a child had to die, partly to erase the memory of the shame.

When Aaron the high priest joined lips with Miriam his sister to speak against Moses their pastor, Aaron was still a holy man, but he had attracted a blame.  God came upon that scene of gossip and Miriam became a leper for seven days (Numbers 12:1-12).  Moses was at that time the meekest man on the earth, according to God’s assessment, yet some very close folks still found fault with him.  In other words, you cannot please everyone, and some blame names might be baseless.  All the same, you could not be so clean with blames from every lip.  That takes me to my next point…

From The Preacher’s diary,
November 23, 2023.
continued in Part 5 of 6)

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James Agwular
James Agwular
7 months ago

This is awesome, has inspired me greatly. May God bless you sir.

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