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Solomon is called by God the wisest man who ever lived. I suspect that Jesus was wiser - but then He was the God-man, so we won't count Him. Solomon grappled with this question after giving us the Proverbs and the following years of failure and sin and turning to idols in his older years. He comes to his senses in Ecclesiastes: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this
is
the whole
duty
of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every
secret thing, whether
it be
good, or whether
it be
evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Wow . . . (1) Fear God, and, (2) Keep His Commandments . . . Heavy!
1 Peter 1:13-17:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning
here
in fear[.]
I see three things - two are in both the Old and the New Testament: Fear God ("pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:"), and keep His commandments ("as obedient children"). But I also see another - a higher calling - and frankly a very hard one to accomplish:
"Be ye holy; for I am holy."
How many of us feel very holy?
Can we even be holy? If we are honest with ourselves, we don't really fear God; and we have huge areas in our lives where we don't obey Him. Oh, we may not go out of our way to disobey Him, but we have had that still, small voice tell us - hundreds of times - things that we are not doing - or worse - things we are doing that He wants us to stop. I'll just concentrate on the positives . . .
Are you praying as much as God has prompted you to pray?
Are you reading the Word as much as you know God wants you to read?
Do you study His Word as you ought? Are you a meat-eater or still drinking milk?
Do you respond to others around you in a Christ-like manner? Are you a godly example to others?
Personal holiness is tough. It is neglected, even ignored, in the church today. We want to "worship" - have a good time in the Lord, praise Him, and emphasize the joy of our salvation - but we don't want to be responsible for our actions.
How can I possibly be responsive to the clear command "Be ye holy; for I am holy?" I don't have what it takes within me . . . or do I?
It starts with the first step finally figured out by King Solomon - fear God.
Let me ask another probing question . . . what are you personally doing to find out what God wants you to do in obedience to Him? Now you are saying I am just getting way too personal!
It is a lot easier to go about our daily lives and not read or study God's Word and thus seek to find out what He may be trying to tell you. After all, ignorance is bliss, right?
A lot of Scripture talks about the benefit of fearing God. Over 110 verses either directly or indirectly refer to fearing the Lord. Look at these few verses:
Deuteronomy 6:2: "That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged."
Deuteronomy 10:12-13: "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?"
Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that
is
within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD
your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And
that
their children,
any thing,
may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your
God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
Personal holiness must be built on the foundation of the fear of the Lord. It will guard us from sin. It will provide motivation to seek Him. It will teach us. It will provide boundaries for us that will protect us. It will be for our good. It will help prolong our lives, and it will help us to possess and keep "the land" that God has chosen to give us (a metaphor to the church that refers to the inheritance that we gain as we serve Him).
But if you have no fear of God - no awe regarding Him, no fear of offending Him, of fear of creating wedges of separation between you and Him, no fear of grieving Him, then you will also have no desire to seek Him or to search His Word. You won't care to find out what pleases Him or to seek His will for your life or to find His calling for you. Your focus won't be to serve Him or the brethren but rather to simply serve yourself. You may not be running from God, but it is a sure bet you're not running to God either.
Personal holiness starts with a proper and spiriually healthy fear of the Lord. Do you fear Him?
Please reconsider the following verses:
1 Peter 1:15-16: "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
In the Old Testament, that command can be found in Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; 20:26; and Numbers 15:40. Do you think God might be serious about our being holy?
So - what is
holy
? What is meant by
conversation
?
In the Hebrew, it is the word
qados:
[a]n adjective meaning sacred, holy [Strong's H6918]. It is used to denote
someone or something that is inherently sacred or has been designated as sacred by divine right or ceremony. It designates that which is the opposite of common or profane. It could be said that
qados
Please note, common is not bad; it is simply common, normal, average. Holy is above that, better than that, purer, finer, greater than that.
Holy
means set apart for God's
use - not for common everyday use.
Profane
needs no additional explanation - it is
bad! It is the very opposite of holy.
In the Greek, the word is
hagios;
an adjective taken from the root "
hagos
means "any matter of religious awe, expiation, sacrifice, Holy, set apart, sanctified, consecrated, saint [Strong's G40]. It has a common root,
hag-,
with
hagnos, . . .
chaste, pure [Strong's G53]. Its fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of Deity, sharing in God's purity and abstaining from earth's defilement" (Zodhiates, 1992, #40, p.70).
So we have a clear theme from both Hebrew and Greek - that of being pure, set apart for sacred use, abstaining from earth's (the world system) defilement.
Look again at 1 Peter: ". . . so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." The word
anastrophe
(Strong's G391): a "noun from
anastrepho
(390), to turn up, to move about [Strong's G4762]. A turning about. In the NT, mode of life, conduct, behavior, deportment . . . life, as made up of actions" (Zodhiates, 1992, #391, p. 164). The word has a prefix -
ana,
which means to repeat over and over
strepho,
our manner of living - our behavior or actions (Strong's G4762) (Zodhiates, 1992, #4762, p. 1317).
So lets reread 1 Peter with this new expanded knowledge:
1 Peter 1:15-16: But as he which hath called you is pure, sacred, and set apart from the world, so be ye pure, sacred, and set apart from the world in all manner of your repeated behaviors and actions; Because it is written, Be ye pure, sacred, and set apart from the world; for I am pure, sacred, and set apart from the world (paraphrased).
We are called to be holy, to be set apart, to be sacred, to be pure in all manner of our everyday behaviors and actions. Over and over - everyday - continuously.
That is a really tall order! How in the world (or out of this world might apply better) am I supposed to accomplish that demand? How can I possibly be "holy as He (God) is holy?" How am I supposed to be set apart? When, Why, Where, What, How? (We know the Who - ALL OF US WHO ARE CHRISTIANS!)
We now know that holiness means pure and set apart for God's purposes. How am I supposed to be set apart? Can I even do it? Not on your own, but with the Lord's help - yes, you can! Let's start with something simple - personal meditation on God's Word. For as we saturate ourselves in His Word, it will cleanse and conform us into His image - for He is the Word.
What is Scripture mediation? Meditation is first and foremost a living, growing relationship with our heavenly Father through the transforming power of His Word, not an intellectual study. This spiritual exercise involves the following components or steps:
1. Read a Section of Scripture
When we read the living water of the Word, it has a cleansing effect upon the mind, will, and emotions. As Jesus points out, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3).
cometh
by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"
Reading portions of Scripture also fulfills God's instruction to believers: "Till I come, give attendance to reading . . ." (1 Timothy 4:13).
2. Read With Your Spirit, Not Just Your Mind
Meditation is not an intellectual exercise. It is a Spirit-to-spirit interaction. ". . . For the Father seeketh such to worship him. God
Reading a larger section of Scripture can build personal faith which is essential in order to please God. ". . . Faith
is
a Spirit: and they that worship him must
worship
him
in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24).
Meditation requires that we place the mind under the control of the spirit and God's Spirit, because the Scriptures are spiritually discerned, as Paul explains. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know
them,
because they are spiritually discerned"
(1 Corinthians 2:14).
This also requires that we have the Holy Spirit in us by being born-again, and that we have not grieved Him or quenched His power. Sins must be confessed and forsaken, because "[i]f I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear
me
:" (Psalm 66:18).
3. Mark the Verses That Stand out to You
As you read, the Holy Spirit will cause certain verses to stand out to you with special meaning. Put a mark by these verses so that you can come back to them. As you reread familiar passages, different verses will probably stand out because you have had new experiences and are facing new needs in your life.
After finishing your reading, select the most significant verse or passage so that you can use it for your meditation. If God directs, you can also select an entire chapter or book to use for your memorization and meditation.
That was Old Testament - but what about now? How does a "New Testament" saint answer that question? Consider the following:
conversation
is the Greek word
Deuteronomy 31:12-13:
which have not known
is a positive term regarding the character of its
referent, where common is a neutral term and profane a very negative term. This word is often used to refer to God as being inherently holy, sacred, and set apart. (Baker & Carpenter, 2003, #6918, p. 976)
(n.f.)" and
which refers to
(Romans 10:17).
(Strong's G303) (Zodhiates, 1992, #303, p. 142); and a root
4. Place the Passage in Your Heart
Meditation is an activity that takes place in the heart. Therefore, David prays, "With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments" (Psalms 119:10). God states, ". . . Let thine heart retain my words . . ." (Proverbs 4:4).
We put God's Word in our hearts by memorizing it word for word. God urged us to do this when He says, "Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For
it is
a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee
. . ." (Proverbs 22:17-18).
5. Use Scripture to Talk With God
In the process of memorizing the passage, quote it back to the Lord as an expression of your mind, will, and emotions. This is what David does in his meditation. ". . . Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed . . ." (Psalm 25:1-2).
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