THE HOLY ONES AND GOD'S LAW
All people must make decisions concerning their personal attitude, behavior, and life, but only the Sovereign Father's earthly children must make daily decisions that affect their eternal existence. These everyday decisions concern their personal attitude and behavior toward other people, their heavenly Father, and their Savior.
Every choice, thought, and action of each child of God is being weighed against the empirical laws and standards that the Father has set in place to govern the
attitudes and behaviors of those who are a part of his sacred realm.
There is no dispute among historians that the Father's elect of the first century closely followed the worship system that the Jews followed and conducted their lives in compliance with most of the laws contained in the Torah. However, as the centuries passed and the teachings of the early church faded and then disappeared, there arose many differences of opinion among those whom the Father called to worship and serve him in regard to what was expected of them in attitude, behavior, and physical and spiritual compliance to his laws, precepts, and principles.
Today, there is much controversy and confusion over how to worship and serve the Sovereign Father and his son and how to live a holy lifestyle; therefore, many of the elect resort to emotion to determine their individual beliefs on the subject.
Will the Father accept worship and service to him as long as one is sincerely trying to please him or does he expect his people to worship and serve him and conduct their lives in a very specific manner?
The answers to these basic questions are easily found and are not confusing if a person is willing to search the scriptures and allow the holy spirit to guide them
into all truth. See Jn.16:13.
Although the edict of Acts 15 shows us that the method for being justified is different under the gospel age agreement from what it is under the agreement with national Israel, many of the rules concerning how to live a holy lifestyle today are the same as they were in ancient Israel. Moreover, each member in the Father's holy family and nation of kings and priests is an ambassador who represents the Kingdom of God on earth.
God's law sets forth very strict guidelines for human behavior along with a promise of peace, happiness, and prosperity for those who follow it. But, exactly what
God's law is and how it should be followed has been greatly argued since the days of Christ.
Today, the world is filled with hatred, murder, violence, wars, lying, cheating, and sexual perversion and promiscuity, yet most professing Christians claim that they are not required to practice God's law. Moreover, many theologians proclaim that Christians no longer need to practice the laws that were given to ancient Israel, because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the end of the law and has released Christians from any obligation to practice it.
Is this true? Did the laws of God cease to exist with the death and resurrection of Christ? What if anything do the laws that were given to ancient Israel have to do with being holy or the practice of a pious life? What does the Bible say about these vitally important subjects? This study shows what the Bible teaches about the importance of God's law in regard to being holy and practicing a pious life.
While instructing the nation of Israel concerning how they should live their lives as his kingdom of priests and his holy nation, the Creator God told them to be holy because he was holy (Lev.11:44-45). The apostle Peter repeated this same instruction to the Sovereign Father's holy nation of kings, priests, and ambassadors (1.Pet.1:13-16).
The word "holy" sounds very spiritual and for most people it is an undefinable concept. Most people probably believe that this word means "to be sacred", "good", or "godly". These definitions may be true but they do not give a detailed explanation of what it means to be holy or what it means to practice a holy lifestyle.
Because the instruction to be holy as God is holy is given to all who serve God, it is important to understand what it means to be holy and practice a holy
lifestyle. Being holy and practicing holiness are not just abstract thoughts; they are something tangible that can be understood if one is willing to search the
scriptures. Otherwise, the instruction "to be holy as God is holy" would not have been given.
Being holy as God is holy not only requires one to clearly understand what the condition of being holy is but also to understand and practice the laws that govern being holy.
In order to fully explain this vitally important subject, this study answers the following important questions concerning being holy and practicing holiness:
This study explains the reasons God gave his law to humanity and it differentiates being holy under the Creator God's covenant with national Israel from being
holy under God the Father's agreement with those he calls to participate in the first resurrection under the gospel age agreement.
HEBREW AND GREEK WORDS
In order to understand exactly what it means to be holy and what the practice of holiness is and is not under the gospel age agreement, it is important to have a basic understanding of the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Old and New testaments to define this sacred state of existence. The following are summary definitions of Hebrew and Greek words that express a state of holy existence before and after the advent of the Messiah.
The following are Hebrew words for the various states of being sanctified and being holy:
Qadash means 'to be hallowed', 'holy', 'sanctified', 'to consecrate', 'sanctify', 'prepare', and 'dedicate'. Qadash is a denominative verb, which connotes a state of
being that belongs to the realm of the sacred. The word 'qadash' is derived from the root 'qdsh' which itself is derived from 'qd', which means 'cut'. Although it is
difficult to support from the limited use of 'qdsh' in its singular form, the use of the word 'qadash' in many scriptures seems to have the sense of something being
separate, divided or apart from in order to delineate the realm of the sacred from that which is common or profane. Thus, 'qadash' is a state of being that is
separate and distinct from the common or profane.
Qodesh means 'a condition of being apart' or 'being separate from', 'holiness', 'sacredness', 'hallowed', 'holy'. The noun 'qodesh' connotes the concept of a condition of holiness (i.e., the basic nature of that which belongs to the realm of the sacred and is distinct from the common or profane).
Qadosh means 'holy', 'holy one', or 'saint'. The adjective 'qadosh' suggests something that is intrinsically sacred or something that has been admitted to the realm of the sacred by divine decree, lawful ritual, or dedication to God. Qadosh connotes that which is distinct from the common or profane.
Hasid means 'holy one' 'godly', or 'saint'. It is derived from the word 'hesed', which means 'kindness', 'mercy', 'love', and 'loyalty'; these are all characteristic of God. The Hebrew word 'hasid' connotes someone who has the characteristics of God and is loyal to God.
The following are Greek words for the various states of being sanctified and being holy:
Hagios means 'sacred', 'physically pure', 'morally blameless', 'consecrated', 'holy', or 'saint'. The word 'hagios' suggests that which is intrinsically sacred in the
same sense as the Hebrew word 'qadash' connotes a state of being that belongs to the realm of the sacred (i.e., something that is separate and distinct from the
common or profane).
Hagiasmos denotes a state of purity in the physical sense.
Dikaiosune in its simplest definition means 'justification' and pertains to being in compliance with God's law (i.e., being blameless). However, the definition of dikaiosune is much more complex when used in combination with holiness.
Hagiosune means 'the quality of holiness'.
Aletheia hosiotes means 'to be living a truly pious life' (i.e., holiness, a life in compliance with God's law).
The words 'holy', 'holy one', and 'holiness' as used before and after the advent of the Messiah are different ways of expressing a condition of existence that is separate from the natural world and is in harmony with the attitude, behavior, and character of God and the dimension of existence that God inhabits.
DEGREES OF BEING HOLY
There are many different Hebrew and Greek words used in the scriptures to describe the condition of being sanctified and being holy. The meanings of these words are tied to the context in which they are used. When these words are understood in context it is clear that there are different degrees of being holy.
All people and things set apart to serve God are considered holy. However, not all people and things are equal in their holy status (i.e., some people and things
are more holy or less holy than others). Moreover, the holy status of people and things is shown throughout the Bible to fall into the two following categories:
• There is the degree to which someone or something is more holy or less holy having the spirit-power of God expressed on or within it, which demands that one show reverence and respect for that which is holy (e.g., The Temple, the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, and the High Priest).
• There is the degree to which someone or something is more holy or less holy in the cultic sense (i.e., formal religious veneration, worship as a system of religious beliefs and ritual, great devotion to a person, idea, or thing), which demands that one show reverence and respect for that which is holy (e.g., God's name, God's law, the Sabbath and the office of the High Priest).
Without understanding that there are different degrees of being sanctified
and being holy one cannot understand the instructions given in both the Old
and New Testaments concerning these physical and spiritual conditions or why
these conditions are dependent on and inseparable from obedience to God's physical
and spiritual laws. The following are examples of the varying degrees of being
sanctified and being holy:
When Moses first encountered God at the burning bush, he was told to remove his shoes because the ground he was standing on was holy and that he was not to come any closer to God's presence in the bush (Ex.3:1-6):
"And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy [qodesh] ground" (Ex.3:3-5 KJV). See also Josh.5:13-15.
The English word 'holy' in verse 5 is translated from the Hebrew word 'qodesh', which means 'a condition of being apart or being separate from', 'holiness', 'sacredness', 'hallowed', 'holy'. The noun 'qodesh' connotes the concept of a condition of holiness ( i.e., the basic nature of that which belongs to the realm of the sacred and is distinct from the common or profane).
The very earth surrounding the burning bush was holy, but what was it that made this place different from any other place on earth? This place was different
because it had been set aside for holy use. Although the ground where Moses stood was holy, the ground was not as holy as the burning bush where God's
spirit-presence resided while he spoke to Moses.
In the account of the Moses and the burning bush, there are two distinct expressions of being holy. Although both the ground and the burning bush were considered holy, one place was more holy than the other. The ground where Moses stood was holy to a lesser degree, because it could be stood on if respected as holy (Moses took off his shoes as a sign of respect). The burning bush was holy to a higher degree; Moses could not approach it because of God's spirit-presence residing there while he spoke to Moses.
Our God is Holy
"Exalt you the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy ['qadosh']. Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call on his name; they called on the Lord, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them. You answered them, O Lord our God: you were a God that forgave them, though you took vengeance of their inventions. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy [qodesh]" (Psa. 99:5-9 KJV).
We know that God is holy because he says he is (Lev.11:44-45) and we know that no one can look upon the face of God in his glorified form and live (Ex.33:20). We also know that Jacob wrestled with God and saw his face (Gen.32:24-30) and that Abraham not only talked with God but ate a meal with him (Gen.18:1-33), as did Moses and seventy of the elders of Israel (Ex.24:9-11). But, how could these men interact with the Creator God whose very presence in his glorified state destroys the physical existence? How can these seemingly contradictory events be reconciled?
God was still holy when he walked on earth among men; however, the degree to which his holy-presence (i.e., the spirit-power of his presence) expressed itself in the physical world was dramatically reduced in order to protect the physical existence from destruction. The condition of being holy; the degree to which something is holy and the degree of spirit-power (energy from the sacred realm) that a holy being expresses at a given time is apparently controlled to fit a particular set of circumstances.
The power of the Creator God's presence was controlled when Jacob wrestled with him, when Abraham shared a meal with him, and when Moses and the seventy elders met with him and ate with him on the mountain. These events are evidence that God who is holy can and does control the energy produced by his holy state of existence.
The power of God's holy presence can be expressed to different degrees in objects depending on the object's function. The deaths of Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu, which was caused by their bringing an unholy thing into the tabernacle (Lev.10:1-2), and the deaths of 50,070 men of Beth-shemesh, which was caused by their looking into the ark of the covenant (1.Sam.6:19), show that these holy objects had a high degree of spirit-energy residing on and within them.
Holy objects such as the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant must be shown a high degree of respect and honor because of their most holy condition and high degree of God's spirit-power and presence. To defile or show disrespect for these types of holy objects in a physical way results in death. See Lev.22:1-3.
The establishing of boundaries around Mount Sinai to protect the people and their animals while God's presence was there (Ex.19:23) is an example of something being set apart for a holy use without having divine energy imparted to it.
Holy Concepts and Principles
There are many scriptures that speak of holy concepts and principles; they are not tangible objects, but such concepts and principles are nonetheless holy. The scriptures contain laws that have concepts and principles that go beyond physical obedience; they speak to holy concepts and principles which must be considered along with their physical practice. These laws must be shown great respect and honor because they are a part of God's worship system.
"And he said to me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile . . ." (Ezk.43:7 KJV). See also Ex.20:7; Lev.20:3; 22:31-33.
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain" (Ex.20:7 KJV).
God's name is holy because his name defines his sacred being and character and must be respected and honored. Moreover, to not respect and honor his name shows contempt for God himself.
"And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout
all the land to all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee to you; and
you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man
to his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow,
neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of
your vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall
eat the increase thereof out of the field" (Lev.25:10-12 KJV).
This law pertains to a whole year that is holy. Not only must certain physical things be done during this year but also respect and honor must be given because this time is holy and set aside for a holy purpose.
The prophet Ezekiel recorded the following about the age after Christ's return when the Levitical priesthood would again teach God's ways:
"And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezk.44:23 KJV).
Ezekiel's prophecy about the priesthood teaching the difference between the holy and profane speaks to every aspect of the law. This includes teaching the concepts and principles about being holy.
The apostle Paul said, "The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Rom.7:12 KJV). We know that to violate God's holy law results in the death of the violator (Rom.6:23; 1.Jn.3:4). God's law is holy in both the physical and the cultic sense and therefore must be shown reverence and respect as a sacred thing.
The apostle Paul's encounter with the High Priest and his acknowledgment of the High Priest's person and office as being holy (Acts 23:1-5) shows the respect and honor due to a holy person and his office.
Sanctified for Holy Use
The verb 'qadash' is frequently used to describe the condition of sanctification that is caused through lawful ritual. Whether they be people, objects, or animals, all things that God directly sanctifies or allows to be sanctified (i.e., consecrated, set apart for his sacred use) are considered to be in a holy state of being and are governed by a specific law that applies to their function, responsibility, use, and degree of holiness.
Certain articles associated with the tabernacle and sacrificial system of worship were consecrated to God and were recognized as being most holy (Ex.29:21, 37; 30:29), and anything or anyone that touched these holy articles became holy through association (Ex.29:37; 30:29; Lev.6:18, 27); however, this does not necessarily mean that all sanctified people, objects, or animals are holy in the sense of having spirit-energy present on or within them.
There were many things that God considered holy in ancient Israel, such as the whole nation of Israel (Num.16:1-3), Aaron's priestly clothing (Ex.28:2-4; 29:29), the Levitical priests and their clothing (Lev.8:30), the tithe of the land (Lev.27:30), the sacrifices and offerings (Ex.29:34; Lev.6:15-18; Num.6:20), the Nazarite (Num.6:1-8), the water of jealously (Num.5:17-29), certain first-born animals (Num.18:17), and the holy prophets (Lk.1:70; Acts 3:21; 1.Pet.1:21). All of these were holy, but not all were holy to the same degree. All did not have the same degree of divine energy as the Creator God, the tabernacle, the holy of holies, and the ark of the covenant. Many things that are holy have no inherent spirit-energy present. Such things are holy from the aspect of belonging to the sphere of the sacred in the sense that they are part of worship and obedience to God.
Being sanctified for a holy purpose and being holy are in reality two completely different things, and the power of God's presence and his spirit-energy can be expressed to different degrees in people and in objects depending on the function, responsibility, or use of what is sanctified or what is holy. Being sanctified and being holy are not just physical or just spiritual status; both sacred conditions can be expressed to different degrees in both dimensions of existence.
THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL
The primary problem most people have in defining and understanding the sacred state of being holy and what constitutes the practice of holiness is understanding what kind of a being God is and what kind of character he has. Because the scripture say that God created man in his own image, most people think of mankind as having personality traits similar to God; this may be true in some small sense; however, the scriptures tell us that mankind in its present state does not resemble God in attitude, behavior, or character. In a lamentation and prophecy concerning the tribe of Ephraim God says, "I am God, and not man; the Holy One [the qadosh] in the midst of you" (Hos.11:9).
In Hosea 11:9 God is called 'the qadosh'. Unlike man, God is intrinsically holy; he is a superior being who lives in a superior dimension of existence. God is distinct from mankind in that God is a spirit-being with a value system that is intrinsically holy, but mankind's value system is intrinsically unholy. Notice what is recorded about the value system of mankind:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen.6:5 KJV).
Although the natural tendency of mankind is bent toward evil attitudes, behaviors, and character, it is God's fervent desire that mankind adopt his value system
and become holy as he is holy and receive the benefits of practicing his holy way of life:
"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (Deut.5:29 NIV).
The Creator God's title "The Holy One of Israel" is mentioned many times in the context of national Israel's failure to pay attention to his instructions concerning how to live a holy life. Israel's constant rebellion shows the stark contrast between holy thought, character, and behavior and the natural human condition.
"This is a rebellious people, deceitful sons, unwilling to listen to the Lord's law. They say to the seers, See no more visions! and to the prophets, Do not give us more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, turn from this path, and stop talking about the Holy One [the qadosh] of Israel! Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and perversity; this lawlessness will become like a high wall for you, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant" (Isa.30:9-13 NIV). See also 2.Kg.19:22; Isa.1:4; 17:1; 48:17.
This prophecy concerning the tribes of Israel shows that there is an absolute separation between the holy and unholy, the two are not comparable and are absolutely separate in action and outcome.
GOD'S COVENANT WITH ANCIENT ISRAEL
Israel was the nation God chose to begin his redemptive work to the world. They were to be an example of his way of life that brings, abundant happiness, prosperity, and eternal life to those who faithfully practice it. However, in order for national Israel to fulfill their purpose as God's representatives on earth, they had to become holy as he is holy and learn his way of life.
Chosen to be Holy
"For you are an holy [qadosh] people to the Lord your God: the Lord your God has chosen you to be a special people to himself, above all people that are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love on you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn to your fathers, has the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deut.7:6-8 KJV). See also Isa.43:1-3.
The Israelites were not offered the awesome privilege and opportunity to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation because of their numbers or physical or mental abilities. This great privilege and opportunity was bestowed on them because of a promise that God had made to the patriarch Abraham.
"Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy [qadosh] nation" (Ex.19:5-6 KJV).
The English word 'holy' in verse 6 is the Hebrew word 'qadosh', which means 'holy', 'holy one', or 'saint'. This shows that the Israelites are to be admitted to the realm of the sacred and become sacred by divine decree.
This shows that the Creator God's promise to make the Israelites a kingdom of priests and a holy nation has two conditions: Their obedience to whatever he tells them to do and their keeping of the agreement that he would make with them. Only then would they become his kingdom of priests and his nation of holy ones.
Be Holy, for I Am Holy
In Leviticus chapter 11, God told Moses and Aaron to speak to the whole nation of Israel and tell them which animals they could and could not eat. In the middle of this instruction, God said the following about why they had to follow these rules:
"You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps, neither shall you make yourselves unclean with them, that you should be defiled thereby. For I am the Lord your God: you shall therefore sanctify [qadash] yourselves, and you shall be holy [qadosh]; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (Lev.11:43-45).
In verse 44 the Israelites are told to sanctify themselves and be holy because God is holy. The English word sanctify is translated from the Hebrew word 'qadash', which means 'to be hallowed', 'holy', 'sanctified', 'to consecrate', 'sanctify', 'prepare', or 'dedicate'. Qadash is a denominative verb, which connotes a state of being that belongs to the realm of the sacred.
What seems clear from the use of the Hebrew word 'qadash', is that the Israelites
were to abandon their Egyptian lifestyle and enter God's sacred realm through
practicing the holy lifestyle that he set forth in his law.
In verse 44 and 45, the Hebrew word 'qadosh', is used to express what God is and what the Israelites were to become. God is 'qadosh'; he is intrinsically sacred and holy and is superior to mankind in quality of existence, but the Israelites were to become 'qadosh' (i.e., that which has been admitted to the realm of the sacred by divine decree or lawful ritual or dedication). The Israelites were to become as God is, but to a lesser degree, because mankind is physical but God is spirit. The Israelites were to be holy and distinct from the common or profane.
Not only would the Creator God make the Israelites a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex.19:5-6), he told them that they must be holy--they were commanded to practice holiness: "you shall be holy".
"And you shall be holy [qodesh] men to me: neither shall you eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; you shall cast it to the dogs" (Ex.22:31 KJV).
The Israelites were to be holy and refrain from eating that which was determined to be unholy (i.e., not fit for human consumption). They were to comply with this law so that their sacred nature of existence would not be contaminated, which would have caused them to be removed from the realm of the sacred.
Leviticus chapter 11, verses 45 and 47 show that eating certain animals will defile a holy person, which is the reason that God gave the laws concerning the animals that can and cannot be eaten:
"For I am the Lord that brought you out of Egypt, to be your God; therefore, you shall be holy [qadosh], for I am holy [qadosh]. This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth: To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten" (Lev.11:45-47 KJV) See also Lev.7:19-27.
The Israelites were to be a holy people because God had separated them from among the peoples of earth in order for them to be his kingdom of priests and his holy nation which would represent him and his way of life to all other people on earth:
"And you shall be holy [qadosh] to me: for I the Lord am holy [qadosh], and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine" (Lev.20:26 KJV).
The Sovereign God and the Creator God are revealed as the personification of all that is good. God is totally good in every aspect of being, which is the opposite of that which is evil. Just as the Creator God called national Israel to become a holy people, God the Father calls men and women today to become holy as he and his son are holy.
The Sovereign God had the Creator God make mankind appear similar in physical appearance to their own image: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen.1:26-27 KJV). Moreover, God intended for mankind to acquire a god-like attitude, behavior, and character, which is why a system of law and worship was developed for them to practice. God's law and system of worship made it possible for the Israelites to model their attitude, behavior, and character after his and to fellowship with him, learn his plan for the salvation of humanity, and practice a holy lifestyle.
The Sabbath is Holy
"And he said to them, This is that which the Lord has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy [qodesh] Sabbath to the Lord: bake that which you will bake today, and boil that you will boil; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning" (Ex.16:23 KJV).
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy [qadash]" (Ex.20:8 KJV).
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy [qodesh] convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy [qodesh] convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons" (Lev.23:1-4 KJV). See also Lev.23:5-37.
What is it that makes the Sabbath and the commanded convocations extremely holy? We are told in Genesis 2:1-3 that the Sabbath was created as holy time; therefore, it is God who makes the Sabbath and the commanded convocations holy:
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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" (Gen.2:1-3 KJV).
Here, we see the weekly cycle being established; the first six days are noted as work days, and the seventh day is defined s a day of cessation from labor i.e., Sabbath).
In verses 2 and 3, the words 'blessed' and 'sanctified' hold a vital key to understanding how God the Father and Jesus Christ view the Sabbath.
The English word 'blessed' is the Hebrew word 'barak', which means 'to kneel', 'to praise', or 'to salute.' This verb seems to connote "to confer abundant and effective life" (longevity). To bless, as used in Genesis 2:2-3, means to 'imbue with power for success, prosperity, and longevity'.
The English word 'sanctified' comes from the Hebrew word 'qadash', which means 'to be hallowed' or 'holy', 'to consecrate', 'to prepare', or 'to dedicate.' The verb 'qadash' connotes the state of something belonging to the realm of the sacred. Thus, the Sabbath is different from and outside of that which is common or profane.
The divine act of blessing and sanctifying this day was not merely a pronouncement; it was the creation of a specific period of time for a divine purpose. This period of time has a divine attribute as a part of its existence--the Sabbath is holy; therefore, the Sabbath has a unique relationship with God.
Because the Sabbath is holy, God set rules for its observance. These rules not only serve as guides for Sabbath observance but also serve as reminders that the Sabbath must not be treated as an ordinary work day because it is holy time that must be respected. See Ex.16:23; 20:8-11; Isa.58:13-14.
"You shall keep the Sabbath because it is holy [qodesh] to you: everyone that defiles it shall surely be put to death: for whoever does any work on the Sabbath, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of cessation, holy [qodesh] to the Lord: whoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death" (Ex.31:14-15 Para.).
Under the law, the death penalty was only administered to those who had committed a capital crime for which there was no atoning sacrifice. The defilement of things that were considered most holy fell into the category of capital crimes and required that the violator be put to death. The Sabbath is considered most holy and carries the death penalty for willful violation.
It is apparent that the seventh day of the week is very different from the other six days. It is a holy span of time created and set apart from normal time for the benefit of humanity. See Mk.2:27.
Because God is supreme in authority and power and is Sovereign over all that exists, he has the authority and the power to make something holy. Although the Sabbath is the only space of time that was created holy, all of the commanded convocations are holy by divine decree (See Lev.23:1-44). Therefore, they belong to the realm of the sacred and must be honored as something holy.
The Holy Ones
The people whom God has chosen to be his are called holy ones because they belong to him and are holy by divine decree, lawful ritual, and dedication. These holy ones are to sing praise to him as a show of gratitude and an acknowledgment of who he is. They must also acknowledge that he is the essence and reflection of all that is holy and all that being holy represents:
"Sing to the Lord, O you saints [hasid] of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness" (Psa.30:4 KJV). See also Psa.97:12.
"For the Lord loves judgment, and forsakes not his saints [hasid]; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off" (Psa.37:28 KJV).
The English word 'saints' in Psalm 30:4 and 37:28 is translated from the Hebrew word 'hasid', which means 'holy one'. The Messiah is spoken of as 'hasid' (Psa.16:10); Aaron is call a 'hasid' (Deut.33:8); and King David spoke of himself as a 'hasid' (Psa.89:19).
For most Israelites, being holy was purely a physical condition, but for a few individuals being holy was both physical and spiritual; in that, these individuals not only observed the letter of the law with a willing heart but they also studied and meditated on the law and delighted in its goodness. These individuals were considered by God to be circumcised in their heart (Deut.10:14-16; 30:1-6; Jer.4:1-4). King David was a person who was circumcised in his heart, which is indicated in a number of his Psalms that applaud the greatness of God and his law:
"Blessed are you, O Lord: teach me your statutes. With my lips have I declared
all the judgments of your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of your testimonies,
as much as in all riches. I will meditate in your precepts, and have respect
to your ways. I will delight myself in your statutes: I will not forget your
word" (Psa.119:12-16 KJV).
"And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in your judgments. So shall I keep your law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek your precepts. I will speak of your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in your commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up to your commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in your statutes" (Psa. 119:43-48 KJV).
The hasid is not an ordinary person. A hasid is a person who is separated from the world of the common and profane and is set aside by God to fulfill his purpose for their existence. A hasid is a person who is practicing a pious life in conformity to God's laws, precepts, and principles.
The Priests Were Holy
"And the Lord said to Moses, Speak to the priests the sons of Aaron, and say to them . . . He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself. . . . They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy to his God. You shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offers the bread of your God: he shall be holy to you: for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy" (Lev 21:1,4, 6-8 KJV).
The priesthood were given additional instructions concerning their lifestyle because of their contact with the most holy things of the tabernacle. Because of their office and responsibilities the degree to which the priesthood were to be holy was higher than that of the general population. This requirement for the spiritual leaders of Israel to have and maintain a higher degree of holiness than the general population of God's people is also carried over to gospel age agreement between the Father and his elect children. See 1.Cor.4:1-2; 1.Tim.3:1-7; 2.Tim.2:24-25; Titus 1:7, 2:15.
Not only were the priests holy but also were to teach the Israelites proper attitudes and behaviors so that they would know what to do in order to practice a holy lifestyle. See Lev.10:9-11; Deut.33:7-10.
The Priests Garments Were Holy
In the Books of Exodus and Leviticus, there are several detailed instructions concerning the making, the wearing, and the care that must be given to the garments to be worn by the high priest and the rest of the priesthood. It is important to understand that these garment were sanctified as holy, were to be worn while serving God, and were not to be worn outside of the tabernacle. The following are two warnings given to Aaron and the priesthood concerning the wearing of these holy garments:
"Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die" (Ex.28:33-35 NIV).
"Make tunics, sashes and headbands for Aaron's sons, to give them dignity and honor. After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. "Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die. "This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants" (Ex.28:40-43 NIV). See also Ezk.44:18.
Notice that Aaron had to wear the garment with the bells on its hem when he entered and left the holy place. Aaron and his sons all had to wear the proper holy garments as they served in the tabernacle. If they failed to do this, they would die.
The Temple Is Holy
The temple where God's spirit resided and where he was to be worshiped were described as qodesh, (i.e., a place of special sacredness where God's presence could be found):
"Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy Place" (Ex.26:33-34 NIV).
The inner room of the temple is called the most holy place, because it was where the Creator God's holy presence was most intense. It was also where, once a year on the Day of Atonement, the Creator God would appear in his spirit-presence to speak with the high priest of Israel. Lev.16:2; Heb.9:6-8.
Although the tabernacle was extremely holy, within the most holy place (i.e., the holy of holies) there is even a higher degree of God's spirit-presence expressed. Here again we see different degrees of the condition of being holy expressed.
King David knew that God's presence resided in his sacred temple and that this was where he could be approached and spoken to:
"But as for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of your mercy: and in your fear will I worship toward your holy temple" (Psa.5:7 KJV).
The temple and all things that were used in it or came into it were holy having been made holy by divine decree or by lawful ritual:
"And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses" (Ex.39:1 KJV).
"Seven days you shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever touches the altar shall be holy" (Ex.29:37 KJV).
It is important to understand that all the things in the tabernacle were very holy and had to be treated with a high degree of respect. These holy things could only be touched by other holy things or by a priest who was also holy and authorized to touch them. The only exception to this rule was the ark of the covenant which could not be touched by anyone. Any infraction of this rule was punishable by death (See Lev.10:1-10). See also Lev.6:18, 25-29.
"And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation" (Num.4:15 KJV).
The instruction concerning the moving of the tabernacle shows that, because of the holy nature of its various elements, each was to be very carefully packaged by the priesthood and then transported by people who were specifically chosen and authorized for this task. Again, we see that some holy things are more holy than others.
The Holy Sacrifices
"Aaron shall take a handful, of the grain offering flour, and of the oil, and the frankincense which is on the meat offering, and burn it on the altar for a sweet smell with the memorial portion to the Lord. And the remainder shall Aaron and his sons eat with unleavened bread in the holy [qadosh] place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it. It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it to them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy [qodesh], as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering. All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the Lord made by fire: every one that touches them shall be holy [qadash]" (Lev.6:15-18 KJV).
Here, we see three different words used to define different degrees of the sacred holy state of existence (e.g., a place in the tabernacle, the offering, and the priest who may touch the offering).
Things Dedicated to God
In Numbers 16:6-39, the censers of the Korahites were regarded as holy because they had been devoted to God; the censers had entered the realm of the sacred through a lawful ritual (v17). The dedication of the censers created a condition of inviolable holiness that could not allow for their being treated as common. See also Lev.27:9-10.
"But nothing that a man owns and devotes to the Lord--whether man or animal or family land--may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the Lord" (Lev.27:28 NIV).
Once a thing, an animal, or a person is dedicated to God through lawful ritual. The deed is done; it can never return to the common or profane, because it is holy and forever belongs to God to do with as he chooses. See Lev.27:29;33; 1.Sam.1:1-28.
The Holy and the Common
The deaths of Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu, which were caused by their bringing an unholy thing into the tabernacle (Lev.10:1-2), the deaths of 50,070 men of Beth-shemesh, which were caused by their looking into the ark of the covenant (1.Sam.6:19), and the death of Uzzah, which occurred when he touched the ark of the covenant (2.Sam.6:1-7), are examples of what happens when people violate the strict laws concerning holiness.
The accounts concerning Nadab and Abihu and the ark of the covenant speak to the extreme danger of violating the laws of holiness and the need to recognize and maintain a difference between the holy and the common and the profane.
Aaron and his sons were prohibited from drinking any type of alcoholic beverage when they served in the temple. This prohibition was necessary so that they would not inadvertently pollute the holy nature of the temple and die. They were always to be keenly aware of the difference between the sacred, the common, and the profane. Moreover, they were to teach this difference to the Israelites:
"You [Aaron] and your sons [the priests] are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses" (Lev.10:9-11 NIV). See also Num.18:30-32.
GOD'S LAW AND BEING HOLY
Since the demise of the early church, the Father's children and many other people have wondered why the Creator God required the Israelites to practice many seemingly unnecessary and unimportant rituals and laws and what some of these physical laws have to do with one's salvation or the building of spiritual character. What benefit do these laws bestow on those who practice them? The answer is that these laws are the basis for being holy and practicing holiness. Moreover, these laws define the holy attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics that holy people must have in order to live and maintain a holy lifestyle.
Clearly, when the Creator God said to the Israelites, "You shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy" he did not expect them to become holy as he is holy in a spirit realm of existence (i.e., become a spirit-being and live on earth as a spirit-being). If the Israelites were to actually become as God, they would have to become totally spirit. Moreover, there were no instructions given to the Israelites concerning how to enter into the spirit realm of existence during their lifetime; therefore, becoming holy for the Israelites had to do with their physical existence and the way they were to conduct their lives in the physical world as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. See Ex.19:5-6.
The Key to understanding how the Israelites were to be holy in a physical sense is understanding that the law God gave to the Israelites set forth the rules and standards for being holy. The only concepts and principles in the entire Bible that explain the condition of being holy and the practice of holiness before and after the advent of the Messiah are contained in God's law. Therefore, being holy and being righteous are inexorably bound to God's law, because it is God's law that sets forth the rules and standards for being holy.
God has set the rules and standards by which all that is holy is to be measured. Any deviation or violation from these rules and standards is in opposition to the nature of God who is a holy spirit-being. Therefore, a thing or a person who is not in harmony with God's law cannot have an intimate interaction with God. See Lev.10:1-9; 16:1-2; Num.3:3-4; 26:61 and our studies about the Day of Atonement.
The law explains what is holy and what is unholy. It explains the attitude, behavior, and character that a holy person must have in order to remain holy. The law gives detailed instructions about how to acquire the divine attributes and behaviors of holiness and how to practice them. The command to be holy as God is holy is always given in the context with a list of God's laws or in an instruction urging compliance with God's law as noted in 1.Peter 1:13-16. It is very important to carefully consider the context in which the instruction to be holy as God is holy is always found, because it tells us that it is God's law that instructs us in how to be holy and how to maintain the holy state of existence.
The Law Is Perfect
"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving [i.e., restoring] the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward" (Psa.19:7-11 NIV).
When Adam and Eve were created, the original intent was for them and their descendants to live a holy life in harmony with God; however, this did not happen and humanity found themselves in opposition to God and the way that would ensure a happy productive life. With the giving of the law of sacrifice to Adam and Eve came the understanding of how to restore harmony between God and mankind, and with the giving of further understanding of God's law came the understanding of how to maintain a holy life.
King David understood that it was a combination of God's law and the presence of God's holy spirit that gave one the knowledge and strength to overcome the lusts and desires of the flesh. Moreover, David knew that it was God's holy spirit that restored him to a sacred holy state of existence:
"Hide your face from my sins; and blot out all mine lawlessness. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit" (Psa.51:9-17 KJV Para.).
Moses to Instruct Israel in the Law
In Leviticus chapter 19, Moses is told to speak to the whole nation of Israel and give them a list of instructions that they must follow. Notice that the first thing they must do is to become a holy people:
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy [qadosh]: for I the Lord your God am holy [qadosh]" (Lev.19:1-2 KJV).
Here, we see the Hebrew word 'qadosh', which means 'holy', 'holy one', or 'saint', applied to both the Israelites and to the Creator God. In order for the Israelites to be holy ( i.e., to be a part of the sacred realm of existence), they must have certain attitudes and characteristics and behave in a certain way.
Also in this list are the laws concerning respect for one's parents, the observance of the Sabbath, and the prohibition against worshiping idols. Clearly, it is the law that reveals what holy behavior is and it is the law that sets forth the rules and standards for being holy:
"Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves. I am the Lord your God" (Lev.19:3-4 NIV).
The Great Things of The Law
In the lamentation and prophecy concerning the tribe of Ephraim God says, "I will write the great things of my law for him . . ." (Hos.8:12 Para.).
What are the great things of God's law? These great things are the rules and instructions concerning how to enter into and maintain one's standing in God's sacred realm of existence through the practice of holiness. This is the same law that the apostle Paul was inspired to call holy, righteous, and good (Rom.7:12) and the same law that the Israelites were to practice as a holy people.
"Sanctify [qadash] yourselves therefore, and be you holy [qadosh]: for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify [qadash] you" (Lev.20:7-8 KJV). See also Num.15:40; Deut.26:18-19.
Because God chose the Israelites for his holy purpose, they were to separate themselves from the common and profane and be a holy people who practiced his law:
"The Lord shall establish you as a holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you shalt keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and walk in his ways" (Deut. 28:9 KJV).
It is through understanding and practicing these great things of the law that the Israelites would be blessed above all nations on earth. See Deut.26:16-19; 28:1-2.
God's Law of Holiness
In order to understand what the Creator God meant when he said to the Israelites "You shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy", one must study God's law. It is the law that shows the differences between a holy and an unholy state of existence and between holy and unholy attitudes, behaviors, and character. It is the law that sets the rules and standards for what is holy and unholy. Therefore, one must look to the law in order to know what is holy, how to become holy, and how to practice a holy lifestyle.
Clearly, God does not have to alter his attitude, behavior, or character to become holy, because he is intrinsically holy; God is holy because he is perfection in every aspect of his being. God's character is perfect, his knowledge and understanding is perfect, and his love is perfect. There is nothing imperfect about God. He is the standard of perfection for everything that exists and it is to this holy standard that everything that exists is measured against. Accordingly the Israelites were to conform their attitude, behavior, character, and lifestyle to God's holy standard that is defined and explained in the law that he gave them to live by.
In this dimension of time and space, there are laws that function automatically to regulate and maintain our physical existence. The violation of these physical laws result in death, disaster, and destruction. In exactly the same way, all of God's laws function automatically to regulate and maintain his spiritual realm of existence. These laws that determine who and what is holy or unholy and whether or not one's behavior is holy or unholy are empirical and function automatically. In order for one who has been made holy to maintain their holy condition of existence, these laws must be understood and practiced.
"You [Aaron] and your sons . . . .. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses" (Lev.10:9-11 NIV). See also Num.18:30-32.
The various laws that God gave to the Israelites were given in order to teach them how to recognize the difference between holy and unholy. Obedience to the law would teach them how to become established as a holy people through the practice of righteous concepts and principles and how to maintain their holy existence as human beings.
A Reminder of The Law
The Israelites were told to wear fringes on their clothes with a ribbon of blue in it and to affix God's law to the door frames of their houses and gateways as a reminder that in order to be and remain holy they must conform to these laws and practice them in their daily lives:
"Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them to make fringes on the borders of their clothes throughout their generations, and that they put on the fringe a ribbon of blue: And it shall be for you to look at and remember all the Lord's commandments and do them; so that you will not seek after the desires of your heart and your own eyes after which you usually go astray That you remember, to do all my commandments, and be holy ['qadosh'] to your God" (Num.15:38-40 Para.).
"And it shall come to pass, if you carefully pay attention to my law which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and being. Then I will send rain on your land in all the proper seasons, so that you have grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Pay attention, do not be deceived and turn aside and worship and serve other gods, because my anger will burn against you, and I will shut the heavens and it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will perish quickly from the good land I will give you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and let them be in the foremost part of your mind that you may always keep them in view. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deut.11:13-21 Para.).
The Law Has Benefits
"Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there." And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me, with his Spirit. This is what the Lord says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me" (Isa.48:16-19 NIV). See also Deut.30:15-20.
There is nothing bad, evil, or wrong about God's laws. His laws do not cause pain or suffering. Instead, they are designed to bring peace, happiness, and prosperity. For every effect there is a cause. All of the evil, pain, and suffering in this world is the effect of people breaking God's laws.
God created the law for our benefit. It was designed to bring us happiness, joy, and prosperity. The Israelites were not willing to accept these laws as an expression of God's love; instead, they rebelled in their hearts, minds, and attitudes:
"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (Deut.5:29 NIV).
Most people view God's law as archaic and of little value in today's world. Few people understand that, for the short time that God's laws were diligently practiced by the nation of Israel, the Israelites they were one of the world's greatest military and economic powers, possessing tremendous wealth and prosperity.
JESUS CHRIST AND THE LAW
Is it true that Jesus Christ's obedience to God's law did away with all the laws that were given to humanity after the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Is it true that Christians should no longer be concerned with the laws, precepts, and principles that were specifically given to national Israel?
Matthew 5:17 is the scripture that is most quoted when attempting to prove that Jesus did away with the Law. However, Jesus himself said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matt.5:17 NIV).
Many theologians and professing Christian leaders believe that, in fulfilling God's law, Jesus did away with it. Does this belief make any sense? How could Jesus not destroy God's Law and still destroy it? In order to prove that this scripture does not say that the law has been done away with, it is important to research the original language of the text.
The English word 'abolish' in verse 17 is translated from the Greek word 'kataluoo', which means 'tear down', 'demolish', 'do away with', 'abolish', 'annul', 'make invalid'. Jesus said that we should not even think that he would abolish or destroy the law! Yet, how many millions of professing Christians not only think he did destroy the law but also actually believe it?
The English word 'fulfill' in verse 17 is translated from the Greek word 'elaruoo', which means 'to fill to the full', 'to complete', 'to make full', 'to fulfill by doing'. It is impossible to fill something up and empty and destroy it at the same time.
When studying the Bible, it is necessary to read scriptures in context, which helps to give the complete meaning to whatever subject is being studied. The rest of what Jesus says about the law in Matthew 5:18-19 further demonstrates that he did not destroy or do away with the law:
"I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smaller letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (v18).
Is heaven and earth still here? Yes! Has everything in God's Word been fulfilled? No! Is the Law of God still in effect? Yes! Jesus says it is!
Notice what Jesus say about breaking God's law:
"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least [Greek: 'less than nothing'] in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (v19).
Jesus did not say that some who break the law will be in the kingdom of God in a lessor position, he said that those who break the law will be spoken of as worthless. The scriptures clearly show that no one who breaks God's law will enter God's heavenly kingdom. See Rom.6:23; Rev.21:10-27; 22:14-15.
Jesus Magnified the Law
What did Jesus mean when he said that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt.5:17)? The prophets spoke of the Messiah's coming to give his life for the salvation of humanity. Jesus clearly fulfilled these prophecies concerning the Messiah along with the prophecy concerning God's law recorded in the Book of Isaiah:
"The Lord [Jesus Christ] is well pleased for his righteousness sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable" (Isa.42:21).
The English word 'magnify' is translated from a Hebrew word that literally means 'to make great' or 'cause to be great'. This is exactly what Jesus Christ did to fill the law to its fullest. He magnified the law by showing how good and beneficial it is.
The Creator God who became the Messiah gave God's law (i.e., the Sovereign Father's law, which includes the Ten Commandments) to the patriarchs and national Israel. When he gave these laws, he fully intended for them to be kept in the 'letter of the law', and the spirit of the law as people came to understand the precepts and principles contained in them. In return, those who kept the law would be blessed with tremendous physical blessings. See Deut.28.
"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (Deut.5:29 NIV).
Although the Israelites understood the physical basis for keeping the law, few comprehend the spiritual intent and meaning of God's law because they failed to study it and meditate on it.
A part of the plan of God for the salvation of humanity called for Jesus Christ to come and explain the spiritual intent and meaning of God's law. This is precisely what he did and it is recorded in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, and Luke chapter 6. All of the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning God's law bring its full spiritual meaning and intent into focus.
The question of eternal life is on the minds of many people today, just as it was on the minds of people during Jesus' day. A young man asked Jesus about this very subject:
"Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments" (Matt.19:16-17 NIV).
If Jesus had come to abolish the law, why did he tell this young man to keep the law? Jesus told the young man in no uncertain terms that, if he expected to receive eternal life, he must keep the commandments.
Jesus was not the soft-spoken person that most people have imagined. Neither was he an insipid and feeble personality, which is falsely depicted in so many artist's depictions of Jesus (hanging pictures and setting up idols of Jesus actually violates the second commandment against idolatry). On the contrary, Jesus was a dynamic, powerful, personality who spoke the truth without reservation. Jesus spoke openly to the Pharisees and Scribes (the religious leaders of his day) who were in opposition to his teachings:
"Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" (Mk.7:6-9 NIV).
Jesus emphatically argued that people are hypocrites if they reject the law of God and claim to worship him! Jesus says that if we love him and his God (i.e., the Sovereign Father) we will keep his law:
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. . . Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me" (Jn.14:21, 23-24).
Consider also how Jesus says that we can remain in his love: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love [remain and live in], just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love" (Jn.15:10 NIV). This shows that we are commanded by Jesus Christ to follow his example. This was understood and taught by the apostle Peter: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1.Pet.2:21 NIV).
The apostle John wrote a stinging rebuke to those who say that they know Jesus Christ and claim to follow him but do not keep the commandments: "The man who says, I know him [Jesus Christ] but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1.Jn.2:4 NIV). The Book of Revelation shows that liars will not be in the Kingdom of God, but they will be burned up in the Lake of Fire. See Rev.21:8, 27; 22:15.
Follow Christ's Example To Be Holy
What kind of lifestyle would God follow if he came to earth to live? What kind of example would he set for us to follow? What kind of attitudes and behaviors would he exhibit? These answers are found in a review of Jesus Christ's life and his practice of God's law. Jesus practiced all of God's laws that were applicable to his life. He practiced them because these laws define what is holy and unholy, reveal how to become holy, give instruction in how to practice a holy lifestyle, and explain how to maintain one's holiness.
Jesus the Christ was the Creator God before he came to earth to save humanity. In order to save himself from the second death and become the Savior of humanity, he had to be holy and perfectly practice a life of holiness.
Notice what the Sovereign Father had to say about Jesus at his baptism:
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt.3:16-17 KJV). See also Matt.12:18; Mk.1:11; Lk.3:32.
Why was God the Father pleased with Jesus? He was pleased with him because Jesus perfectly understood and practiced his law up to this point in his life.
During Christ's ministry, we again see the Sovereign Father voicing his further approval of Jesus' lifestyle and teachings:
"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matt.17:1-5 NIV). See also 2.Pet.1:15-18.
The Father was pleased with Jesus because he was living in compliance to the law of holiness and was fulfilling the purpose for which he was sent to earth, which was to reveal the existence of the Sovereign God, his plan for humanity, and to explain and magnify his holy law. See Isa.42:21; Matt.5:17.
The parable of the talents clearly shows that the Father will also be well pleased with people who practice the way of holiness and do as they are instructed:
"His Lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your Lord" (Matt 25:23 KJV).
After Christ's death and resurrection, he met with his disciples and gave them the following commission:
"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. You go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen" (Matt.28:18-20 KJV).
What did Jesus teach that must also be taught by those who follow him? Jesus taught about the Sovereign God, his plan for humanity, and his holy law, and this is what those who follow Christ must also be teaching.
Jesus conformed to and practiced God's law and his way of holiness in attitude, behavior, and character under the agreement that he had made with national Israel while he was the Creator God. The reason Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer is that he was found to comply in attitude, behavior, and character to God's law which is the standard for a holy, and a righteous lifestyle.
If the Sovereign Father were to come to live on earth as a physical being, he would practice all of the laws written in the Bible that define holiness in the flesh. We know that this is the lifestyle he would practice because the Creator God did come to earth to live as a human being and he did obey all of the laws written in the Bible that define and govern who and what is holy, as well as how to maintain a holy state of existence. See Heb.5:1-10.
The Savior of humanity is the perfect example of a holy person living in the flesh. Moreover, he is the perfect example of a person who practiced holiness because he practiced the law perfectly.
An honest look at the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles leaves no doubt that, if we want to follow God's way of life, we must practice and teach God's law!
It is beyond the scope of this study to detail all the various ways that people reject and disobey God's laws; however, it is clear from the biblical perspective that most of humanity is either unknowingly rejecting and disobeying God's laws or are knowingly rejecting and disobeying them:
"The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God" (Rom.8:7-8 NIV). See also Jer.17:9.
If we say that God's laws are no longer in effect, we disagree with God the Father and Jesus Christ, which means that we do not want them in our lives.
Should the Father's children practice his law? The answer found in the Bible is that you cannot be a child of God or be holy unless you practice God's laws.
THE FATHER'S HOLY NATION
Because of a promise that he had made to the patriarch Abraham, the Creator God chose national Israel and called them out of spiritual darkness to be his personal representatives on earth, a nation of priests, and examples and teachers of God's holy way to the rest of humanity.
Today, it is the Sovereign Father who chooses individuals from among all nations to become his personal representatives on earth. These individuals are to become members of his holy family as firstborn sons of his new creation and participate in his holy nation as kings, priests, and ambassadors. Each of these individuals is a temple through which they worship and serve the Father under the administration of his Son Jesus Christ. These individuals are spiritual Jews and comprise the spiritual Israel of God. See Rom.2:29; Gal.6:16.
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (1.Pet.2:9-10 KJV). See also 2.Cor.5:18-20; Rev.1:6;5:10.
The Sovereign Father's call of individuals to participate in his holy nation has similarities to the Creator God's call of national Israel, and there are many parallels that can be drawn between these two callings two. However, there are major differences between them and major differences in how a person becomes holy and practices holiness during the gospel age of salvation.
Chosen to Be Holy
Before the foundation of the earth, the Sovereign God determined that certain individuals would exist and be called to salvation at a particular time in his plan. And these people would become holy in attitude, behavior, character, and quality of existence:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Eph.1:3-5 KJV).
The English word 'holy' in verse 4 is translated from the Greek word 'hagios', which means 'sacred', 'physically pure', 'morally blameless', 'consecrated', 'holy' or 'saint'. The word 'hagios' connotes someone or something that is intrinsically sacred in the same sense as the Hebrew word 'qadash' connotes a state of being that belongs to the realm of the sacred (i.e., something that is separate and distinct from the common or profane).
The phrase 'without blame' is translated from the Greek word 'amomos', which means 'blameless', 'moral perfection' and connotes perfect piety.
Paul reveals to the Ephesians that God had predetermined and decreed that everyone who was to participate in his special calling would be holy in their state of being and express perfect piety in attitude, behavior, and character. The Father's holy people are to imitate his attitude, behavior, and character just as the Israelites were to imitate the Creator God's holiness. Today, during the gospel age of salvation, it is just as important for the Sovereign Father's children to be holy as it was for national Israel to be holy under their covenant with the Creator God.
"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not you therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be you partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who has saved us, and called us with an holy [hagios] calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2.Tim.1:7-9 KJV).
Called to Purity
In his instruction to the Thessalonians, Paul stresses the point that it is the Father's will that those he calls to become his children abstain from sexual sins. They should remain physically pure because they were called to a life of purity and they are rejecting the Father who has given them his spirit if they neglect to remain physically pure:
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his holy spirit" (1.Thes. 4:3-8 KJV).
The English words 'sanctification' in verse 4 and 'holiness' in verse 7 are both translated from the Greek word 'hagiasmos', which means a state of purity in the physical sense.
Under the gospel age agreement, spiritual purity replaces physical ritual and physical purity related to worship to a degree but not entirely; There are many physical rituals and laws related to worship that have been carried over from the covenant with ancient Israel. These rituals and laws either partially or totally apply to the elect. For example the law of marriage, the dietary laws, the Sabbath, the Festivals, and the Passover are all laws that must still be honored and practiced as they apply to one's pious lifestyle. See our studies concerning these and other laws of God.
Be Holy, Because I Am Holy
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope in the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not in ignorance fashioning yourselves after your former lusts, but according to the Holy One who has called you to also become holy in all conduct. Because it has been written, Be holy; because I am holy" (1.Pet.1:13-16 KJV Para.). See Lev.11:45; 19:1-2; 20:26.
Here we see that the Sovereign Father's holy nation of kings, priests, and ambassadors must also be holy just as the Israelites were to be holy. The Father's holy nation is also to practice godly attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics and separate themselves from the common and profane.
Purchased With Blood
The nation of Israel belonged to the Creator God by right of his covenant with them and the patriarchs; however, the Sovereign Father's children are his because he has purchased them with the sacrificial blood of his firstborn son. With the advent of the Messiah a new and superior method by which a person could be made holy and be maintained in a holy state of existence was established and introduced to humanity:
"Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1.Pet.1:18-19 KJV).
The Process of Becoming a Holy One
The nation of Israel was made holy through decree and ritual. But the Sons of the Father's new creation are made holy through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ and the ritual of baptism and the laying on of hands to receive the holy spirit.
On the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter revealed that Jesus whom the Jews had crucified was indeed the Messiah and there was now a way to have one's sins forgiven and to be saved from eternal death:
"When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the holy spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation" (Acts 2:37-40 NIV).
A person becomes holy through the redemptive process and is transformed from the realm of the common and profane to the realm of the holy by the Sovereign Father's decree and power. This redemptive process begins with the Father's call to salvation, and then it progresses through the following steps:
Notice that the first step toward being holy after the Father opens one's mind to his truth is repentance. The scriptures clearly show that repentance requires one to change one's lifestyle and begin to obey God's laws. This requirement is exactly the same today as it was for national Israel. One cannot become holy unless one is willing to obey and practice God's law.
Baptism is not only a symbolic representation of death, burial, and resurrection to a new life in Christ but also a physical and spiritual reality. Notice how Paul reminds the elect at Rome of their baptism and their sinless condition before God when he exhorts them to live a sinless life:
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Rom.6:1-3 KJV).
As a person descends beneath the baptismal water which symbolizes a grave, their old life symbolically dies and is buried:
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism to death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom.6:4 KJV).
When a person is raised out of the water, they are symbolically and literally raised to a new life. And upon receiving the spirit of God the transition is complete; a person is literally transformed from the original human creation into a new and different being. The old person with only the spirit of man ceases to exist, and a new person who has the spirit of God dwelling within them is born. See 2.Cor.5:17; Rom.6:1-18 and our study paper about the sons of the new creation.
The Father's Children Are Holy
Although a child of God still appears to be human, a transformation has taken place that makes a person who has received the holy spirit different from other humans. That person has been converted into a son of God with the genetic imprint of the God family. Although a child of God is not yet an immortal spirit-being, a person with God's spirit dwelling within them is certainly a member of the Father's spiritual family. Moreover, at some time in the future, all of the Father's earthly children will shed their bodies of flesh and receive an immortal spirit-body. See 1.Cor.15:51-54; 1.Thes.4;13-17; Rev.20:6.
The Father's children are not only physically holy as the Israelites were but also intrinsically holy as the Father and his first-born son Jesus Christ. Holiness is imparted during the gospel age of salvation by the Sovereign Father to those whom he calls to be holy and who obey his law of holiness. See 1.Pet.1:13-16; Eph.1:3-5; 2.Tim.1:7-9; 1.Thes.4:3-8.
God the Father is extremely interested in his children being holy. When mankind was created, they were created in God's image. Moreover, he intended that mankind be patterned after himself in attitude, behavior, and character, which is why a system of worship was developed that would make it possible for his people to be in constant contact with him in order to be taught holy attitude, behavior, and character. The Father's elect children are called to become examples of his holiness (i.e., to be holy as he is holy), which is accomplished through placing his spirit within them and instructing them in how to live and maintain a holy lifestyle.
Both the apostle Paul and the writer to the Hebrews said that people under the gospel age agreement with God the Father are indeed intrinsically holy as partakers of the heavenly calling. This calling offers the awesome privilege of being given the Father's holy spirit, being given immortal life as a spirit-being in the Father's divine family, and the opportunity to serve him as a king, priest, and ambassador on earth:
"I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy (hagios) brethren" (1.Thes.5:27 KJV).
"Wherefore, holy (hagios) brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus" (Heb.3:1 KJV).
Make no mistake, those who have the holy spirit dwelling within them are different from other humans because they participate in the Father's divine realm of existence--they are holy-beings.
Maintaining One's Holiness
"Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness" (Rom.6:18-20 KJV). See also 1.Thes.4:2-4.
Here, Paul says that being free from sin means being free from the penalty imposed for the violation of God's law. Under the first agreement with national Israel, the only way to be free from the penalty of sin was to have the penalty temporarily set aside through an atoning sacrifice. Under the gospel age agreement, Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice that permanently removes the penalty for the violation of God's law.
The English word righteousness in Romans 6:18-20 is translated from the Greek word 'dikaiosune', which means justification. It pertains to being in compliance with God's law (i.e., being blameless). However, the definition of 'dikaiosune' is much more complex when used in combination with holiness.
The condition, the pursuit, and the practice of holiness cannot be completely separated from an atonement for the violation of God's law, because the result of atonement is righteousness (i.e., being in harmony with God's law): and the pursuit and practice of holiness requires one to be in harmony with God's law. Moreover, the condition, the pursuit, and the practice of holiness for the Father's children requires the indwelling of the Father's personal spirit, his holy spirit, and Christ's spirit and their application in one's life. See our studies about the indwelling of the God's spirit.
In a letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds them that they must not live sinful lives like people who are in spiritual darkness and separated from God, because they have been taught a different lifestyle through Christ:
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ; If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph.4:17-24).
It is important to remember that Paul was speaking to a people who have been transformed from human beings who had only the spirit of man into a new holy creation that had the spirit of God. The Ephesians were not human like other people. They were holy having the divine nature of God within them. Therefore, they had to totally put away their old corrupt ways and live the holy life that they were created to live. When Paul said that they were to live in true holiness (Greek: aletheia hosiotes) he meant that they were to be living a truly pious life--a life in compliance with God's law.
The Father's elect who are his holy nation of kings, priests, ambassadors and temples on earth are held to the highest standards of ethical, moral, and spiritual behavior. The elect must conform to the Father's standards which are holy, not to mankind's standards which are unholy.
"Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Be you angry, and sin not: Let not the sun go down on your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you" (Eph.4:25-32 KJV).
Notice that all of the things that Paul told the Ephesians to stop doing are violations of God's law, and all the things that they were to do are characteristics of godly behavior. Paul showed the Ephesians the difference between what is unlawful (unholy) and what is lawful (holy) in thought, attitude, and behavior. Moreover, he told them that, because they were holy creatures they were to pursue only that which is holy.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul expresses his desire for their continued spiritual growth so that they would be firmly established in the practice of holy behavior at the day of Christ's return.
"Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness (hagiosune) before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints" (1.Thes.3:11-13 KJV).
The English word 'holiness' in verse 13 is translated from the Greek word 'hagiosune', which means 'the quality of holiness'.
Titus also spoke of certain types of behavior as being holy or unholy, and that elder women and spiritual leaders among the elect must exhibit holy behavior:
"But speak you the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness (hagiasmos), not false accusers, not given to much wine, but teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:1-5 KJV).
The English word 'holiness' in verse 3 is translated from the Greek word, 'hagiasmos', which means 'the state of purity'.
"For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy (hosios) , temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:7-9 KJV).
The English word 'holy' in verse 8 is translated from the Greek word 'hosios', which means 'intrinsic' or 'divine character'. From this and other examples in this study, it is evident that a holy person has a state of being that is different from other humans on earth.
Just as the priesthood of Israel was held to a higher standard of holy behavior than the congregation of Israel, those who are the spiritual leaders among the Father's elect children are held to a higher standard of holy behavior. The teachers of God's law and way of life are held to the highest standard of holy behavior because they are to set the example of a pious lifestyle for others to follow.
Garments of the Holy Ones
The priests of ancient Israel were always to be properly clothed with holy garments when serving the Creator God in his temple. Any priest who failed to wear the proper garment when entering into the tabernacle and any priest who failed to remain properly clothed while serving in the tabernacle would die for their violation of the law regarding the holy state of existence within the tabernacle.
Why was it so important for God's priests to be properly clothed? It was important as a show of respect, reverence, and honor to God and as a continual reminder to them of who they were and whom they were serving.
The foundational elements of the law concerning being properly clothed while serving in the temple is a part of the gospel age agreement between God the Father and his royal priesthood who serve him in his temple today. His priests must always be properly clothed in the holy garments of their office that he has provided for them to wear in this life and in their lives after the resurrection to immortal life.
The major difference in the law concerning priestly clothing during the gospel age of salvation and under the covenant with national Israel, is that, under the gospel age agreement, it applies in a spiritual context instead of a physical context as it did under the covenant with national Israel.
Because the elect are in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil, Paul instructs the Ephesians to always wear the spiritual armor that has been given to them. Notice that a very important part of a warrior priest's armor is the breastplate of righteousness which protects the heart:
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph.6:10-17 KJV).
In Peter's instructions to the elders, he says to be clothed with humility, which is a godly attitude and a major part of practicing holiness:
"Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1.Pet.5:5 KJV). See also 2.Cor.6:1-9.
While speaking of those who are called to participate in the first resurrection, Jesus revealed that, when someone is invited to participate in this awesome opportunity they must heed the invitation and appear before the Sovereign God in the holy garments that he provides for this occasion:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' "But they paid no attention and went off, one to his field, another to his business.
"The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "For many are invited, but few are chosen." (Matt.22:2-14 NIV).
This parable along with the following scriptures concerning the garments of the saints reveal that it is extremely important to be properly dressed spiritually in holy garments in order to appear before God who is holy:
"You have a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy" (Rev.3:4 KJV).
"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame" (Rev.16:15 KJV). See also Zech.3:3-5; 1.Pet.5:5-9.
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Rev.19:7-8 KJV).
The Temple is Holy
"Don't you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, God shall destroy him; because God's temple is holy (hagios) and you are his temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 Para.). See Lev.10:1-10 and our studies concerning what it means to be God's temple today, and the temple worship system that will be established after Christ's return.
Here, Paul reprimands the elect at Corinth concerning their lack of understanding about the sanctity of their bodies which are the Sovereign Father's personal temples on earth where his spirit, his holy spirit, and Christ's spirit reside. See 1.Jn.3:24; Acts 5:32; Gal.4:4-6 and our studies concerning God's spirit.
Under the first agreement with national Israel, the Israelites were to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; therefore, all the people, the priesthood, the temple, the altar, and everything associated with them was to be holy, because God who is holy was to dwell among them:
"And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Ex.25:8 KJV). See also Ex.29:43-45; 26:11-16; Deut.23:10-14.
Within the temple, the priesthood practiced holy rituals and acts of holiness. Moreover, from the temple, the priesthood taught the people God's laws which are the rules and standards for being holy and maintaining a holy lifestyle. See Ex.29:36-46; Lev.10:10-11;19:2; Deut.23:14.
When The Messiah returns as King of kings and Lord of lords, he will dwell in Israel in order to teach the way of holiness from the temple:
"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains [above all governments], and it shall be exalted above the hills [above all nations]; and people shall flow to it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob [the Creator God, Jesus Christ]; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Mic.4:1-2 KJV). See also Isa.9:6-7.
Under the gospel age agreement that the Father has with his children, his personal spirit, his holy spirit, and the spirit of Christ dwell within them:
"But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that God's spirit dwells in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom.8:9 KJV).
"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2.Cor.6:16 KJV).
Today, a similar situation exists that existed when the Creator God dwelled in the sanctuary in national Israel. However, now it is the Father's priests who are his holy temples, who perform acts of holiness, and practice and teach his law, which contains the rules and standards for being holy and remaining holy.
The priests Nadab and Abihu and many others were killed because they violated the strict laws of holy behavior concerning the holy temple and the holy things pertaining to it. See Lev.10:1-2; 1.Sam.6:19; 2.Sam.6:1-7.
"Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LPB).
The great price paid to redeem humanity was the death of Jesus Christ who was the Creator God before he emptied himself of his immortality and became human.
Many people do not realize that God has not changed; he still requires all things and all people that he owns by divine decree and right of covenant to be and to remain holy (i.e., free of all sin and impurity). See Mal.3:6; Heb.9:22-28.
"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2.Cor.6:16-18 KJV).
Under the gospel age agreement, the defilement of the Father's temple occurs in the same way it did under the first covenant with national Israel. It occurs through willful disobedience of God's law or careless neglect of his law. See Isa.66:17-18; 1.Cor.3:16-17, 6:15-20; Tit.1:15-16.
The Father's holy spirit resides within his children who are also his personal temples on earth just like the Creator God's spirit-presence resided within the tabernacle and the temple in Israel. Because the Father will not allow his spirit to inhabit an impure place, a physical and a spiritual change occurs during the baptism. In the baptismal water, the Father purifies the physical body through his spirit-power so that his holy spirit (his spirit-presence) can dwell within the repentant believer's physical body. See 1.Tim.5:22; Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22, 1.Pet.1:22; 1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4.
In order to maintain a holy state of existence one must become separate from that which is by nature unholy, common, and profane. However this is not easy; it takes mental and physical effort to maintain a separation from the things that would contaminate one's holiness. One must make an effort to resist unholy (sinful) thoughts and unholy actions. In some instances, one must avoid an association with certain circumstances and individuals that could negatively impact one's holy lifestyle.
"For through Jesus we both have access by one spirit to the Father. Therefore, you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints [i.e., the hagios, the pure or the blameless ones], and of the household of God; And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone; In whom all the building fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord: In whom you also are built together into a dwelling-place of God in the spirit" (Eph.2:18-22 Para.).
The writings of the apostles leave no doubt that the physical body of a holy one is a temple where the spirit-presence of God dwells--a holy one is the Sovereign God's sacred temple on earth.
The Holy Sacrifices and Prayers
All lawful sacrifices to the Creator God under the first agreement with national Israel were considered holy and so are all lawful sacrifices offered to the Sovereign Father under the gospel age agreement. In fact, holy sacrifices are demanded by the Father from his children just as the Creator God demanded holy sacrifice from the Israelites.
Although the sacrifices under the gospel age agreement are spiritual in nature, they are still holy and are offered for the same primary reasons that they were required of ancient Israel. There are physical and spiritual lessons pertaining to holiness to be learned through sacrifice. The following are a number of instructions to the Father's elect that show the importance of making spiritual sacrifices:
"Therefore, lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speech As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy (hagios) priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1.Pet.2:1-5 KJV).
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy (hagios), acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom.12:1-2 KJV).
"Now you Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" (Phi.4:15-18 KJV).
The writer to the Hebrews confirms that the acknowledgment of the Father's awesome greatness to him by his children through the office of Jesus Christ as their high priest is considered by him to be a pleasing sacrifice:
"For here we do not have a continuing city [earthly Jerusalem], but we seek the city to come [heavenly Jerusalem]. Then through him [Jesus] let us always offer up a vocal sacrifice of praise to God the Father by confessing his name" (Heb.13:14-15 Para.).
The apostle Peter said, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1.Pet.2:9 KJV).
A parallel can easily be drawn between the necessity of offering the incense on the golden altar in the light of the seven lamps in the tabernacle and the necessity for the Father's elect to praise him in his temple (which they are ) after being called into the light of his truth and presence. See our studies concerning the sacrificial system of worship.
The Book of Revelation shows the prayers of the elect pictured as being accompanied by a musical instrument and as incense. It shows these prayers ascending to God with the smoke of incense from the golden altar in his heavenly temple:
"And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him [God the Father] that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four beasts and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb [Jesus Christ], having every one of them harps, and golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of saints" (Rev.5:7-8 KJV Para.).
"And another angel stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and he was given much incense, that he should add it to the prayers of all saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God out of the angel's hand" (Rev.8:3-4 KJV Para.). See also Rev.5:8.
Things Dedicated to God
Shortly after the beginning of the early church Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple, dedicated all the money that they had received from a land sale to God. Because this money was dedicated to God it was considered holy and it belonged to God. However, Ananias and Sapphira violated the law of holiness by first stealing a part of what they had dedicated to God and lying about the price of the land. This violation of the law resulted in their deaths:
"Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events" (Acts 5:1-11 NIV).
Understanding the concept of transferring something to God's use, whether it is an object or a person, through a divine decree, a lawful ritual, or a dedication is very important to the Father's elect children. It is important for God's children to know that, once God takes possession of an object or a person and that object or person enters into his divine sacred realm of the holy, the laws that govern all that is holy apply to it. Because the Father's elect are his holy possession, they can never return to the common or profane without forfeiting their salvation. See also Lk.9:62; 2.Pet.2:1-33.
Holy objects are not merely dedicated to a use; they are dedicated to serve a godly purpose instead of a common purpose. Therefore, they are symbolic of that which is good and pure as opposed to that which is common and profane. Holy objects are to remain holy.
The word of God cautions all who are holy to carefully consider the extreme importance of adhering to the laws of holiness and maintaining holy objects in a holy condition.
The Family and the Holy Condition
While giving instructions and guidelines concerning marriage, the apostle Paul addresses the situation where only one spouse in the marriage is a child of God. In these instructions, Paul reveals three basic understandings about the sacred status of unconverted individuals within a family where this condition exists. These understandings concern the unbelieving mate being sanctified, the children being made holy, and an opportunity for salvation being given to an unconverted mate:
"And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, let her not leave him. Because the unbelieving husband has been sanctified (hagiazo) because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified (hagiazo) because of her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy (hagios). But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, if you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, if you will save your wife?" (1.Cor.7:13-16 Para.).
The first clue to understanding what Paul said to the believing spouse is that being sanctified and being holy are two completely different things:
There is a clear difference between the unconverted mate and the unconverted children in the eyes of God. The unconverted mate is sanctified but not holy, and the children are holy but not sanctified. These scriptures show two different degrees of the sacred realm being administered. The unconverted mate is purified or consecrated to a sacred use, but the children are placed in a sacred state of existence.
Sanctified and Holy
The following are two important questions that need to be answered concerning a converted person's unconverted spouse and a converted person's unconverted children:
In order to answer these questions one must clearly understand that all unconverted people are sinners, which includes the unconverted spouse of an elect person and a converted parent's unconverted children. One must also understand that because the unconverted spouse and the unconverted children are sinners, they live outside the specific agreement for salvation that a converted person has with the Sovereign Father.
Under the first covenant with national Israel, sins were never removed or forgiven; sins were only covered from God's view. Each year on the Day of Atonement, all of the accumulated sins of Israel were symbolically placed on the head of a live goat and symbolically sent away from God's sight. Although the Israelites were a holy people, they were sinners and under the death penalty for their sins because they did not have a perfect sacrifice that could be given to pay for their sins. See our studies concerning the Day of Atonement, the sacrificial system, and the sacrifice of Christ.
The ancient nation of Israel was a nation of sinners who were under the death penalty for their sins; however, they were a sanctified (i.e., set apart for a holy purpose) and holy people through divine decree, lawful ritual, and dedication to God. The Israelites were a physical people who were physically sanctified and holy, whereas the Father's elect children have been transformed into a new creation unlike any other on earth and are both physically and spiritually sanctified and holy.
Under the gospel age agreement, the Father's elect children are purged of sin in order to become sanctified and holy and are kept in a sanctified and holy condition through the following process:
Because no justification (i.e., forgiveness of sin) is required for an unbelieving mate to be sanctified or the unconverted children to be made holy, it is clear that neither the unbelieving mate nor the unconverted children noted by Paul are of the Father's new creation. Yet, one is sanctified and the other made holy by divine decree. Neither are intrinsically holy like the believing mate, because neither the unconverted mate nor the unconverted children have been transformed into a new creature through the process of justification under the gospel age agreement. Therefore, the sanctification of the unconverted mate and the holy condition of the unconverted children are different in quality and degree from that of the converted spouse.
The Father has shown special favor to the unconverted spouse and unconverted children of a converted person and made an allowance in his plan for the unconverted spouse to be physically sanctified and unconverted children to be made physically holy as it was under the first covenant with national Israel.
The unconverted spouse's sanctified status and the unconverted children's holy status is only a physical condition and not a physical and spiritual condition as it is with the Father's elect children.
The Unconverted Mate
The only explanation Paul gives for the unconverted mate being sanctified is so that the children will not be unclean. Therefore, the meaning of the word unclean is the key to understanding the kind of holiness and the degree of holiness that the children possess.
The English word 'unclean' in verse 14 is translated from the Greek word 'akathartos', which is associated with a group of words that pertain to physical, moral, and cultic defilement and cleansing. 'Akathartos' has to do with physical, cultic, and moral impurity which are all closely interrelated.
The scriptures show that, under the gospel age agreement, spiritual impurity and defilement can only be removed through the process of conversion, which renders one totally sinless. Moreover, there is only one method by which the process of conversion into a sinless person can be performed under the gospel age agreement. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that, when Paul uses the word 'akathartos' in verse 14 to denote an unclean condition in reference to the children, he is referring to a physical state of existence, not a spiritual state of existence.
What Paul said about unconverted children being unclean in the physical state and the unbelieving mate being sanctified for the sake of the children becomes clear when viewed in the context of the temple system of worship that God prescribed for national Israel, the Father's heavenly temple system of worship, and the Father's temple system of worship on earth during the gospel age.
Remember that all things closely associated with the temple system of worship in ancient Israel were to be ceremonially purified and that nothing unclean was allowed to enter into the temple. Once a person or a thing was accepted for use in the temple, that person or thing was holy and had to be respected as such. Moreover, it seems logical that since the temple system of worship for ancient Israel was patterned after the heavenly temple system of worship (Heb.8:1-5; 9:19-23), the same logic concerning the clean and unclean applies today under the Father's temple system of worship on earth (2.Cor.6:17; Eph.5:5).
Because it is physical purity that is the issue in verse 14, it seems that one other reason for the purification or consecration of the unconverted spouse has to do with the physical relationship between the husband and wife. The scriptures tell us that a husband and wife are one flesh (Gen.2:24; Eph.5:31-33) and that the flesh can be contaminated by that which is physically impure (i.e., unclean); therefore, the physical relationship must be kept physically pure in order to keep the mate who is a holy temple of God from being defiled. See also Lev.7:19-21; 2.Cor.6:16-18; 17:1.
The Unconverted Children
The Greek word for children in verse 14 is 'teknon', which is taken from the Greek root 'tiko'. It means 'to produce' (from a seed, as a mother, a plant, the earth) 'to bear', 'be born', or 'bring forth'. Therefore, it seems that the unconverted children Paul refers to are the offspring produced from a union between a converted and an unconverted spouse. If this is the case, it would reinforce the logic behind the necessity to change the physical state of the unconverted spouse from unclean to clean in order to guarantee that the children from the union would be holy. The law of holiness shows that nothing unclean can enter into or issue forth from a temple of God and all things that issue forth from a holy being must be holy. See Lk.1:30-35.
Although no scriptural proof has been found so far, it may also be true that, if children exist before a parent is converted, children of such a parent are made holy by divine decree at the time of the parent's conversion.
The Children's Holy Status
Because children of the elect are considered holy, there are a number of things concerning this holy status that need to be considered in order to determine the kind and the degree of their holy condition:
Because unconverted children of a holy person do not have the holy spirit residing within them, they cannot have the holy status placed within them, they can only have the holy status placed upon them.
Although it is not a perfect analogy, the following review of how Israelite children initially received their holy status does serve to illustrate how children of the elect also receive their holy status.
It was God's original intent for the nation of Israel to be a holy sacred nation (Ex.19:5-6) comprised of holy individuals through which all nations would be blessed. When children were born into an Israelite family, they were also born into the national covenant; therefore, the children received their holy status and covenant relationship with the Creator God through birthright.
It is important at this point to note that the gospel age agreement between God the Father and his children is not a national agreement; it is an agreement between two individuals which can only be entered into and maintained through the performance of very specific terms and conditions on the part of the individual with whom the Father has chosen to enter into an agreement.
Paul said that children of a converted person are holy; therefore, it is probable that children of the elect receive their holy status as a birthright, just as the Israelite children received their holy status. However, because unconverted children do not have the spirit of God dwelling within them, they are not intrinsically holy as their converted parent(s). Therefore, it seems logical that the children's holy status is only physical as was the holy status of all Israelites under the national agreement with the Creator God.
Under the covenant with ancient Israel, foreigners living within the nation of Israel who gave themselves to the service and worship of the Creator God were to be treated with fairness and respect and were afforded many of the same benefits and privileges as the Israelites; thereby, also becoming beneficiaries of the blessings that were bestowed on Israel (Lev.19:33-34; Deut.10:17-19).
All citizens of national Israel received benefits from being a holy people, but not all citizens were allowed to participate in every aspect of its civil government or the sacrificial system of worship. Although all citizens of national Israel could participate in the sacrificial system of worship, only a few individuals were authorized specific functions and responsibilities for performing sacrifice and ritual at the temple and each of these individuals were limited by their function and responsibility in the degree of access they had to the temple and the Creator God.
Although children of the elect have holy status and are under the care and protection of the Father's holy nation and receive many benefits from having this sacred status; they are not intrinsically holy as their parent(s) nor are they temples wherein the spirit of God dwells, because they are not of the new creation. Moreover, they are not citizens of the Father's spiritual nation and are therefore limited in their ability to participate in things of a spiritual nature, because the degree and quality of their holy condition is different from that of their holy parent(s).
Children's Conditional Holy Status
The holy status of the unconverted children of the elect and it's maintenance is conditional and inexorably tied to their parents' holy status and it's maintenance. In order to understand why this is so, we need to review the foundational elements of the covenant relationship between the Creator God and national Israel and the gospel age agreement between God the Father and his elect children.
The Creator God offered to make national Israel a kingdom of priest and a holy nation if they would obey his voice and keep his covenant. The Israelites agreed to this arrangement (Ex.19:4-8). As long as the Israelites adhered to the terms and conditions of the agreement, the covenant remained in force and the Israelites and their children were holy. However, if they broke their agreement and did not move to restore a harmonious relationship between themselves and the Creator God as provided in the terms and conditions of the agreement, the agreement would be terminated and the Israelites and their children would no longer be a kingdom of priests or a holy nation.
The Creator God used the covenant relationship between a husband and a wife as an analogy for the relationship between himself and national Israel (Isa.54:4-8; Jer.3:20, 1:31-32). Because of national Israel's (i.e., the Houses of Israel and Judah) adultery and whoredom with false religion and their flagrant violation of the terms and conditions of their covenant with God, he divorced Israel and terminated his agreement with them (Jer.3:8;11:10-11,17; 31:32).Today, Israel is not a kingdom of priests or a holy nation because there is no agreement in force between them and the Creator God. Moreover, at this time, national Israel has no means through which to acquire or maintain a holy status like they did under their first agreement with the Creator God.
During the gospel age of salvation, God the Father offers an opportunity to individuals to become kings and priests in his royal family and holy nation under certain terms and conditions. As long as individuals adhere to these terms and conditions their agreement with the Father remains in force; however, if the individual breaks their agreement with the Father and does not move to restore a harmonious relationship with him as provided under the terms and conditions of the agreement, the agreement and their holy status is terminated (Matt.12:32; Rom.6:23; Tit.3:10-11; Heb.10:26-31).
Because the holy status of the elect's children is predicated on the holy status of the parent(s), when the parent's holy status is terminated the unconverted children's holy status is also terminated and the children no longer receive the benefits which result from the parents' holy status. See Deut.5:9-10; Hos.4:6.
It seems that a unique opportunity for salvation under the gospel age agreement is granted to an unconverted individual married to one of the Father's elect children. It is beyond the scope of this study to analyze this opportunity in detail, but it does seem that this opportunity only exists for some individuals, during this age in this particular situation (this may also include the unconverted children. See Acts 2:39).
"But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, if you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, if you will save your wife?" (1.Cor.7:15-16 Para.).
The context of 1.Corinthians chapter 7 verses 1-16 shows that it is far better for a converted person to have peace of mind than to live in a situation that is antagonistic to one's pursuit of a holy lifestyle. This is why Paul says what he does about separation between the believing and unbelieving mates.
The Father's call to salvation during the gospel age is a personal call and both spouses may not be called to salvation at the same time or one spouse may not be called at all. Because, a positive response to the call to salvation requires a lifestyle change, one's spouse and close relatives may not be sympathetic to this change. Jesus warned that this could happen and that it was part of the price that one might have to pay for the accepting the call to salvation:
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me" (Matt.10:34-38 NIV). See also Lk.12:51-53.
HOLINESS: A RECOGNIZABLE QUALITY
Is there something that can be observed, heard, seen, or touched in this physical dimension that will reveal whether a person is holy or practices holiness, or is practicing holiness just an abstract religious concept with no real substance? The condition of being holy and the true practice of holiness are clearly recognizable. There are many ways to determine if a person is truly holy and is practicing holiness according to the Bible's definition of being holy and practicing holiness. The following scriptural examples show how the physical and spiritual condition of being holy and the practice of holiness can be recognized by people and by spirit-beings:
The New Covenant
The focal point of the new covenant with national Israel is the placing of God's law within the innermost parts of one's being. The reason that the law needs to be a part of a person's very being is because it is the law that teaches a person what holy attitudes, behaviors, and character are and how to practice the way of holiness:
"Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband to them, says the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer.31:31-33 KJV).
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people" (Heb.8:10 NIV).
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (Heb.10:16-18 KJV).
Because people who lived prior to and under the first covenant with national Israel did not have the law of God as a part of their mental and spiritual make-up, they found it very difficult to maintain their holy status and obey and worship God as he originally intended. It is for this reason that God formed a new agreement, which included a provision that would change what was wrong with people by placing his laws in their minds and spirits.
God has only one set of laws that show people how to be holy, how to behave toward each other, and how they should worship him. Therefore, the law being spoken of in Jeremiah chapter 31 and Hebrews chapter 10 is the same law that he gave to the nation of Israel as a part of the first agreement with them. This is the law that he will write in the hearts and minds of people under the new agreement with national Israel and that is a part of the agreement with the Father's earthly children during the gospel age of salvation. In other words, God will write these laws in the innermost part of one's mind; thereby, he will make the law a part of one's thinking process.
This is how we are truly reconciled to God the Father. There is a change of mind, which is called conversion. One is converted from a hostile, sinning, evil-minded person into a loving, law-abiding, person who does the will of God. After conversion, one becomes holy and is no longer an enemy of God! Therefore, one indication that a person is holy is the practice of God's law.
Known by Their Fruits
Both Jesus and Paul reveal how one holy person can recognize another holy person when they are given enough time to evaluate a person's attitude, behavior, and character:
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt.7:18-21 KJV). See also Matt.12:33; Lk.6:43-44.
Throughout the Bible, good trees and good fruit are associated with people who are in conformity with God's law and bad trees and bad fruit are associated with people who are living in opposition to God's law.
"When you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. What fruit resulted from doing those things that you are now ashamed of doing? The end result of doing those things is death. But you are free from sin, and become servants of God, now you have the fruit of your holiness, which will result is everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but God's gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.6:16-23 Para.).
Why is the fruit of righteousness eternal life and the wages of sin death? The reason is that, "The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good" (Rom.7:12) and "All your [God's] commandments are righteousness" (Psa.119:172), but sin is the violation of God's holy law. The sacred state of righteousness and the practice of holiness are inexorably tied to obedience to God's law which results in eternal life. See Matt.19:16-20.
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" and "The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth" (Gal.5:22-25; Eph.5:9).
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, haughty, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2.Tim.3:1-5).
Jesus Christ was just like the Sovereign Father and reflected his attitude, behavior, and character. A holy one is instructed to imitate these characteristics; therefore, an indication that a person is holy is if that person is following Jesus Christ's example and instructions concerning the practice of holiness and has godly characteristics--one fruit of the spirit is holiness.
Clearly, a person who is consistently out of step with God's way of life and refuses to conform to the basic laws of holiness is not a holy person.
Marked For Recognition
A holy individual who has the spirit of God dwelling within them and practices holiness is recognizable to beings who inhabit the spirit realm. The following accounts show that spirit-beings can easily recognize a person who is holy:
The prophet Ezekiel was given a vision showing that God's patience with national Israel will come to an end and that he will no longer sit quietly by while the houses of Israel and Judah and their civil and religious leaders commit their abominations and idolatry before him. In this vision, Ezekiel sees a spirit-being with an inkhorn being sent to mark for protection against God's wrath many of God's elect who inhabit Jerusalem:
"Cause them that have charge over the city [Jerusalem] to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came . . . and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side . . .. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man on whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary" (Ezk.9:1-6 KJV).
How does the spirit-being with the inkhorn know who is worthy to receive the mark of protection? He could have a list of these people, another spirit being could point them out to him, or perhaps there is something that emanates from a holy person that distinguishes them from other people. From the following accounts it seems that a spirit-being can distinguish a holy person from an unholy person by something emanating from a holy person that can only be perceived by a spirit-being.
The three following accounts show that spirit-beings can easily recognize the difference between a person who is holy and one who is not:
"And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with you, you Jesus of Nazareth? art you come to destroy us? I know you who you art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold your peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not" (Lk.4:33-35 KJV).
"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew to us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:16-17 KJV).
"Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took on them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded" (Acts 19:13-16 KJV).
Yes, a holy person can be recognized; however, it is obvious from what we find in the scriptures that the only ones who can truly recognize if someone is holy and is practicing holiness are people who themselves are holy and know and understand the rules and standards for being holy and spirit-beings who know the difference between the holy and the unholy.
The Creator God's covenant with national Israel required that all Israelites imitate his attitude, behavior, and character (You shall be holy, because I am holy) and maintain this sacred holy state of existence in order to receive benefits under the national covenant. Therefore, God revealed the laws to the Israelites that govern the holy state of existence and he instructed them in the practice of these laws in order for them to be holy and remain holy.
The laws of holiness given to the Israelites governed every aspect of their lives. Every circumstance was addressed either by a specific law, a concept, or a principle within the law. Therefore, when a holy state of existence was established through God's decree, lawful ritual, or dedication to God, the holy condition was to be maintained through adherence to the laws of holiness.
If a person violated the law of holiness and if the violation was serious, the violator was to be put to death. The death of those who polluted the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant and the failure of national Israel to maintain a holy state of existence even after repeated warnings for them to be holy clearly show the importance of understanding how to become holy and how to maintain a holy lifestyle. See Lev.10:10-11.
If a person or a thing was defiled and the law allowed for the holy state to be reestablished, it could be reestablished through one or more of the following: The repentance of the violator, the removal of the defiling element, the proper sacrifice, and a purification ritual.
Among the Israelites, certain objects and animals were transformed from the natural realm to a holy existence to varying degrees depending on function, responsibility, or use. This was done through God's decree, lawful ritual, or dedication to God. The mental transformation from the natural state to the holy state came about for national Israel through a desire and willingness to obey God's instructions. God defined this desire and willingness to obey him as being circumcised in the heart. See Deut.10:16; 30:6.
God's instructions to the Israelites concerning being holy shows us that being holy and being unholy are not compatible states of existence, and that the physical must be transformed into the holy in order to safely interact with God's sacred realm of existence. Moreover, there are tremendous benefits for those who maintain a holy state of existence.
Although those whom the Father calls to salvation during the gospel age have an agreement that is different from the one ancient Israel had with the Creator God, this agreement still requires the Sovereign Father's earthly children to be holy as he is holy:
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope in the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not in ignorance fashioning yourselves after your former lusts, but according to the Holy One who has called you also become holy in all conduct. Because it has been written, Be holy; because I am holy" (1.Pet.1:13-16 KJV Para.).
The Sovereign Father's earthly children are his holy nation of kings who are waiting to rule in his kingdom. They are his holy nation of priests who offer him
holy sacrifice through his holy temple in which the holy spirit resides. And they are his ambassadors who are to represent him and his way of life to humanity.
Although the Father's children are intrinsically holy because they have his spirit dwelling within them, they are still required to perfect and maintain their holiness through practicing a holy lifestyle:
"For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness" (1.Thes. 4:7 KJV).
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2.Cor.7:1 KJV).
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb.12:14 KJV).
"I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and unto iniquity to iniquity; even so now yield your members servants unto righteousness unto holiness" (Rom.6:19 KJV).
In order to live a holy life and imitate god-like attitudes and behaviors, a person must know and understand God's law, because it is the law that defines and governs the sacred holy state of existence. It is impossible to imitate god-like behavior unless one knows what it is and how to practice it. This is one of the reasons why the scriptures say to study the law and meditate on God's law. It is through the study of the law and meditation on it that one comes to understand God and why he is holy, righteous, and superior to all that he has caused to come into existence. Notice what King David and the apostle Paul said about the law and its importance in one's life:
"O how love I your law! it is my meditation all the day. You through your commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your precepts" (Psa.119:97-100 KJV).
"Study to shew thyself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2.Tim.2:15 KJV).
Those who truly follow God's laws, precepts, and principles during the gospel age of salvation will be blessed beyond comprehension, because they are among the first of humanity to be given the opportunity to be holy as God is holy in the spiritual sense:
"Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways" (Psa.119:1-3 KJV).
There are awesome rewards for those who diligently pursue a holy lifestyle in obedience to God's law and successfully maintain their sacred state of holiness:
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2.Cor.7:1 KJV).
"Blessed and holy (hagios) is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Rev.20:6 KJV).
"And he said to me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy (hagios), let him be holy (hagiazo) still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie" (Rev.22:10-15 KJV).
The English word 'holy' in Revelation 20:6 and 22:11 is translated from the Greek word 'hagios', which means 'sacred', 'pure', 'blameless', 'holy' or 'saint. The English phase 'be holy' in Revelation 20:11 is translated from the Greek word 'hagiazo', which means 'purify' or 'consecrate'.
All of these holy righteous individuals are to be blessed because after they were made holy through the process of repentance and baptism, they continued to practice God's law of holiness.
Isaiah records that, after Christ's return and the government of God is established in Jerusalem, all the residence of the city will be called holy. It seems that the reason these people will be called holy is because they will be practicing the laws of holiness:
"In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create on every dwelling place of mount Zion, and on her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for on all the glory shall be a defense" (Isa.4:2-5 KJV).
The prophet Ezekiel was inspired to record that the priests who administer the temple system after the return of Christ will teach the same things concerning holiness that were taught to ancient Israel, the early church, and the elect at the end of the age:
"And they [the Priests] shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezk.44:23 KJV). See also Lev.10:9-11; 11:46-47.
There is a heavy penalty to be paid by anyone who has had holiness placed within them and then contaminates their holy state and neglects to repent and ask for forgiveness for their violation of the law of holiness:
"Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel" (Isa.5:24 KJV).
A Physical and Spiritual Reality
The Sovereign Father and his firstborn son Jesus Christ are holy; they are spirit-beings who inhabit a dimension of time and space which is ruled by perfect law. For God the Father's holy children, holiness is a physical and spiritual reality that derives its sacred quality of existence from God the Father through the power of his holy spirit. It is this sacred quality of existence that separates the Father's earthly children from the rest of humanity and allows them to interact with the Father's heavenly realm.
What does it mean to be holy during the gospel age of salvation?:
All who desire to become an immortal spirit-being, inherit the Kingdom of God, and reap the awesome rewards that are promised for being holy must remain holy, love God with all their being, and obey his laws of holiness:
"But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1.Cor.2:9 KJV).