Thursday, November 1, 2007

Set Apart

I have been thinking a lot about something lately and since this blog is my outlet to voice my thoughts, of course, I feel the need to write about it. I haven't blogged about this particular subject because I was afraid that people who read this might think I am preaching or being holier than thou. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If I am preaching, it is to myself. So, if you read this please, do not think I am pointing fingers.

Everyone knows that the Bible says 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). That verse has always had me a little perplexed because I am such a complete and wretched sinner, I could never be holy. It seems kind of like the verses in Proverbs 31 -- unattainable. Yet, holy is exactly what we are called to be. God Himself says we are to be holy. Exodus 19:6 says, "You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." That means we are to be set apart - some versions say a "royal priesthood, a peculiar people, a holy nation". Some Christians are definitely peculiar, but holy? Do you know anyone who is truly holy? I don't think I do.

So why did God give us this unattainable goal? We know that God knows our hearts, we know He knows our ugly sins and thoughts, yet He said to be holy because He is holy. In order for us to be holy, we have to understand what being holy actually means. I think becoming holy (as holy as we can be) means that our every action, thought, word, etc. is filtered through the blood of Jesus. In other words, we run everything we say and do by Jesus (whether through prayer or through Biblical testing). Being holy means that God is truly the Master and we are literally His servant. Becoming holy is more than just 'getting by' in our Christian lives, but it is going above an beyond and doing everything 'as unto the Lord'.

When I hear 'Be holy because I am holy', my mind says 'there is no way I can do that'. God says for us to be holy, so it must be possible. My take on this is that God knows our sin nature. He expects us to be like Him, but He knows we cannot be perfect. So, for us to be holy is to keep a short account with Him and as I said earlier filter everything we say and do through the blood of Jesus. Keeping short accounts means that we are to take our sin so seriously that it grieves us if we are not in right standing and every sin is confessed and forgiven. After all Jesus didn't die for just some of our sins, He died for each and every one, so we should ask forgiveness for each and every one. Have you ever heard someone pray and say "Lord, forgive us of all our sins". I find that odd, because we know He does forgive us for all our sins, but we each must ask forgiveness for those sins. If we sin so much that we can't even remember what sins we have committed in order to ask forgiveness for particular sins, then we have a real problem. (Remember I am talking to me not you).

When I say everything should be filtered through the blood of Jesus or through Biblical testing, here is what I mean: If I am sitting at home and a show comes on that I know will probably have foul language, nudity, or just a general evil theme - I should immediately turn that channel. If you hear or see something often then you become desensitized to it and it becomes commonplace. God never meant for nudity, vulgarity, and gore to become commonplace for His people. I realize that limits my choices of what to watch, but it puts me one step closer to becoming holy like God has commanded. I am not an avid TV watcher, and I hate anything that has violence or death, so this isn't a real problem for me, but I know for some those shows are an every night 'must see'. Or how about, when I am with a bunch of women talking and the opportunity for gossip comes around - I should shut my big mouth because I know what it's like to be the object of that sort of talk. And who am I to judge a person's heart anyway - my heart has been known to offend God on many, many, many occasions. Then there are the songs we listen to, the movies we go to, the clothes we wear, food we eat, drinks we drink, etc., etc., etc.

I guess a great way to become holy is to always remember that God Himself is always with us in everything we do (and I mean really believe it - we don't always think of it that way or we would never do bad things). He sees all and knows all. A great test of determining whether something will put you two steps forward on the path to holiness or if it will send you three steps back is this: If the Lord Jesus were with you right now in physical form, would He TRULY approve of what you are about to do? Would you watch that show with Jesus sitting right beside you? Would you drink that or smoke that if Jesus were sitting with you (btw, I don't drink or smoke just so you dont think I am a crackhead or anything)? Would you listen to that music with Jesus? If you were talking to Jesus would you say that about that person? I plan on using this test from now on in my quest to become holy and I have to say, it is the most difficult test I have ever taken.


Alana said...

Good post, Bethanne. It is hard to ask ourselves those questions, isn't it? In fact, there are many times I DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE want to ask my self those questions. Why? Because I know the sad answer. Ugh!

By the way, thanks for telling me about the Milligan view you had. I wish I could see it in person. I bet the colors are gorgeous right now. Are they? You should post some pics of those gorgeous East Tennessee mountains on your blog ;-)

Renee said...

This is a great post, Bethanne.
It reminds me of something they're talking about my husband's work, since they're doing 'The Truth Project'.
There was a clip, I guess, of a guy asking another guy if he really believed that God is omnipresent. (This particular guy struggled with p-ography). The guy said that he DID believe in God's omnipresence. The man asking him the question said "No, you don't. Because if you DID believe in God's omnipresence. If you TRULY believe that God is everywhere, then you wouldn't look at p-ography. You wouldn't give in to the sins you struggle with, if you REALLY believed that God was with you."

Great thoughts. Challenging stuff. Thanks!

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

Hi Bethanne. Thanks for your comment on my blog. It's nice to "meet" you. :)

This was a very challenging post. I recently posted something similar in regards to t.v./movies. Several people commented to me in person that it was extreme to expect to not watch certain movies/t.v. shows. My comment back was that my Jesus' death on the cross was very extreme. If He asks me to limit what I watch, then I will!!
Your post today encouraged me. Thank you.

Your boys are just precious!!!


Fran said...

AWESOME!! You go girl!. We should have that mind set all the time. Do I? Nope. I become human at any given moment for any length of time and fall right into my "un-holy" attitude. BUT,

by knowing that I should pass all I do through Jesus, it makes a HUGE difference in what I SAY, THINK, or DO. So,

Thank you for the wonderful lesson and reminding us that we are set apart as His children and we should take that holiness seriously....not arrogantly. Humbly and graciously.

Have a wonderful weekend. Keep Jesus as the filter always.
Blessings for you,

Earen said...

What a great posting Bethanne. As you can probably tell by some of my postings lately, this very subject has been so passionately on my heart am I set apart & holy before a most Holy God? It really grabbed my heart about praying, "Lord forgive me of all my sins." How often have I been guilty of that because I was too lazy to really think about how I might have grieved God's heart that day. I, I know we'd be great friends. Your heart passions are much like mine...Thanks for a convicting posting.

Anonymous said...

Another think along these lines...

The law is a tutor, Paul says, to bring us to Christ. When Jesus preached the Beatitudes, for example, He set a far higher goal for us than simply ticking off a list, like the rich young ruler wanted to be able to do. (and if I'm honest, I would rather do that, too!) When confronted with the overwhelming, frankly impossible, task of "perfection," we are confronted with our NEED. That need goes much deeper than we are usually comfortable admitting. But that is right where God wants us to be - needy. Because it is only then that we will truly depend upon Christ and His work for us in His life and death. That is the definition of the Gospel! It's freedom, that's what it is...

Our sanctification is an ongoing process, but it starts right here, with our justification... the very Gospel that we all have to preach to ourselves every single day. I NEED CHRIST... because I can never do it all, or do it all right. And when I understand what He has done for me, then I am motivated, inspired, and willing to obey Him out of love and gratitude!

Talk about preaching! I think I just stepped off my soapbox. :) You touched here on something that is dear to my heart, and you got my blood pumpin'! Thanks for sharing!