God's Expectations for Life

Intentionally Living Above the Standard…

Category: Holiness

Consider Holiness

? When we consider the Expectations of God the central thought is “walking in Obedience”Is Obedience important to God?

[1 Samuel 15:22] And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

Obedience is the crux of our response – we must obediently Acknowledge, Walk, Pass On and Wait – God Expects this of us
(Click here for a fuller discussion of God’s Expectations)

From the very beginning God expected obedience – why because of Who He Is!

Who is this God we are to Acknowledge?  The Scriptures say He is Holy – is Holiness a Character trait of God? As we will see Holiness is not a character trait – Holiness is the very nature of God – it is the Who – What – Why and all of God – it is a state of being – it is not one of many character traits – Holiness is the sum-total of who HE is – not something arrived at – something is either Holy or it is Not Holy!

I recently was captured by the passage in Ezekiel 44:23

They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common,
and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.

God had commanded the leadership to “teach the difference between the holy and the common” and to “show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean”

To understand this I want us to look at one event in the Old Testament…

God gives us a visual life picture in Leviticus 10…

Turn on that “cranial tv” of yours and visualize this event at the beginning of the Levitical priesthood. God had given very specific instructions to His newly appointed priests and how He took their role seriously.  It took two men, sons of Aaron to help the people see the seriousness of obeying this Holy God and help them also see what is considered “Holy and unholy” in God’s sight.

Leviticus 10:1-11 (ESV)

[10:1] Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. [2] And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

God commanded Aaron and his family not to morn – they were to stay in the Tent of meeting and not come out because the anointing oil of God was upon them – they were Holy… (you get a picture here of it is that God cannot have what is unholy in His presence… more on this later…) It goes on in Leviticus 10:

[8] And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying, [9] “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. [10] You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, [11] and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.”

Without a doubt Nadab and Abihu offered something unholy – unclean to the Holy God – they profane or unauthorized fire. God reacted immediately to their attempt to come before Him. God then spoke directly to Aaron with some very specific instructions concerning the priests while serving in the tent of meeting.  They were to keep a clear mind so they could discern for themselves between the “Holy and the common”

This discernment was to be between the holy things and the unholy, and also between the clean and the unclean. The reference to holy and unholy things referred to the service in the tabernacle covered in Lev. 1-9, whereas the clean and the unclean referred to the instructions about personal cleanliness given in Lev. 11-15.

In the last verse of chapter 9:24 God had revealed Himself to all the newly appointed priests, and all Israel, by accepting their first offering before Him, by setting it on fire – with His fire – God lit the fire – it was fire from God – Holy fire – letting all know His pleasure.

The instructions concerning the offerings were given in Leviticus chapters one through seven. In chapter eight the priests were ordained and in chapter nine the priests began to offer sacrifices for the people.

At this point, the Bible records: “Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.” (Lev. 9:23b24a).

God was pleased with the offerings because they were performed in accordance with all that He had prescribed.

The fire from God was still burning on the altar after God consumed the burnt offering because the ordinance was that this fire was not to go out (Lev. 6:13). This fire from God was then available for all future offerings. But it seems that, Nadab and Abihu chose to do something different.  This was not in accordance with God’s command. “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.” (Lev. 10:1)

This story helps us understand what God means when He states we must “discern between what is Holy and common (unholy).

So What About The Holy and the unholy?

An object, place, season or person was considered holy in the Old Testament if it was set apart from common use and dedicated to God.

The tabernacle,  its furnishings, utensils were considered holy (Num. 4:4-15).

The offerings were holy (Lev. 2:3; 6:25; 7:1).

All of the priests were consecrated in holiness (Ex. 39:30; Lev. 8:9, 30).

The Sabbath day was holy (Ex. 20:8).

 

A key point her is that only those things which God designated to be holy, according to His word, could indeed be holy.

The Scripture notes that God commanded the laws of the various offerings (Lev. 9:7, 10, 16). Thus, they were holy, consecrated to God, because God so ordered them – by His Word.

This was the problem with the profane fire offered by Nadab and Abihu.

“Then Nadab and Abihu . . . offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.” (Lev. 10:1)

All was holy because they were separated unto God by His command, which reflects His will.

It is God’s word that declares what is to be Holy.

As God alone is holy, so His very nature must be involved in order for something thing to be holy.  The items for service in the tabernacle were holy in being set apart for God, but they were also anointed with the anointing oil, in the Old Testament “anointing oil” represents the work of the Holy Spirit. And here the anointing oil is instrumental in making the object/person holy. (Lev. 8:10, 30).

In this regard, we should remember that the fire God wanted Nadab and Abihu to use was to have God as its source. The fire had fallen from God upon the altar in Lev. 9:24. The very nature of God was in that fire – it was Holy Fire.

Understand and get this – only those things which are in accordance with God’s word, and which have their source and energy from God’s Spirit, can be Holy.

We need to be absolutely clear about the matter of “holy versus unholy.” We are not talking about “good versus evil.” The Bible is making the distinction between what is OF God and what is NOT OF God.

As time went on we see in the OT in the service of the tabernacle, the priests were failing in their duty, the people were not being properly taught, and God Himself was being profaned –all because the priests could not make this distinction (Ez. 22:26).

This word “profaned”  is used 31 time in the Old Testament, it speaks of the priests profaning something Holy including God Himself – 21 of those times it is found in Ezekiel.

Notice this was all related to the priesthood and the temple – correct?

So what does this have to do with us today?

 

The call to the genuine priesthood

1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

[9] But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. [10] Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV)

[14] Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  [15] What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

[16] What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;

as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  [17] Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, [18] and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

We are the New Testament priests, serving Him in His house, the church, and building up the body of Christ (1 Pet. 2:5; 1 Cor. 14:12, 26).

I believe it’s clear that God wants us to discern the difference between the holy things and the unholy things in our work of building up the church – “God’s People”:

Ezekiel 36:22-23

[22] “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD:  It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name,  which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. [23]  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.  And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

Ezekiel 39:7-8

[7] “And  my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and  I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And  the nations shall know that I am  the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. [8]  Behold, it is coming and it will be brought about, declares the Lord GOD. That is the day  of which I have spoken.

Hebrews 10:19-25

[19]  Therefore, brothers,  since we have confidence to enter  the holy places by the blood of Jesus, [20] by  the new and living way that he opened for us through  the curtain, that is, through His flesh, [21] and since we have  a great priest over the house of God, [22] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts  sprinkled clean  from an evil conscience and our bodies  washed with pure water. [23]  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. [24] And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, [25] not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see  the Day drawing near.

What an exciting and comforting message – right… but read on… verses 26-31

[26] For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, [27] but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. [28] Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. [29] How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? [30] For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” [31] It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

If the priest of the OT were judged – how much more are we if we profane the blood of Christ?

And consider that we are not only His Priests, but also His Temple – when we defile one we defile the other and God’s Expectations proclaim we are accountable before Him – as believers we are accountable – though forgiven we will still face God’s “discipline” 

Be not discouraged one more passage to consider …

1 Corinthians 3:10-17

[10]  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled  master builder I laid a  foundation, and  someone else is building upon it.

Let each one take care how he builds upon it.

[11] For no one can lay a  foundation other  than that which is laid,  which is Jesus Christ.

[12] Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— [13]  each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed  by fire, and  the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

[14] If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives,  he will receive a reward. [15] If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved,  but only as through fire.

Hear these words…

[16] Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? [17] If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.

For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Remember Nadab and Abihu they brought strange fie into the temple – and God consumed them – they wanted to in some sense “APPROACH GOD WITHOUT GOD” – Like many today they plan on doing a great work for God – good things – but God is not in it – they plan it then ask God to be a part of it – they get it backwards.

 

 

My challenge to you – let God’s Expectation’s become a part of your life – review them every day when you “rise up” and every night when you “lay your head down” and all the time in between (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  God’s Expectations in review:

Acknowledge God for Who He is and What He has done and is doing

Walk Obediently in Him

Pass on the Knowledge of the Holy to the next generation

Wait on Him to do all He has promised