How to become holy

Holiness is essential for us to ever see the Lord’s face.  (See Be Holy)  The Israelites under the Old Covenant failed.  God nailed the problem, 

‘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 for ever!’  Deuteronomy 5:29

For us, under the New Covenant, Jesus made it possible to become holy, 

‘In Him [Jesus] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men, but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.’  Colossians 2:11-12

What is holiness?

Jesus changes a person’s heart.  Holiness has to do with attitudes like love, loyalty, peace, harmony, et cetera.  They are all matters of the heart.  Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to be the Counsellor and Teacher.  He helps to ‘clean’ us up so we can live as God wants, to enable us to achieve God’s required holiness.  

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ Colossians 3:12-13

Scripture has much more to say about it.  Suffice to say that holiness makes an eternal Kingdom of peace and harmony possible.  And through Jesus it is attainable.

God’s brilliance with burning beasts

Today we want to continue with the Bible’s answer on animal sacrifice (see Sacrifice in the city and The law – do or die!).

God’s sacrificial system (animals in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament) is the key to the Kingdom of God.  Without it, God’s plan of an eternal kingdom will remain a pie in the sky and never materialise.  It is because no human being can ever keep all God’s commands. 1  Let’s look at God’s brilliant design to ensure that the Kingdom will become a reality.

#  Almighty God, the King

The very first people, Adam and Eve, disobeyed Almighty God, the Ruler of the universe.  It is a serious offence and carries the death penalty. 2 God knew that the descendants of Adam would find it impossible not to sin or disobey.  So He designed a way to legally be fair (judge them) and yet forgive them (extend mercy).

#  The legal exchange – judgement and mercy 

  • When Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them with animal skins (the animals died for their disobedience).  It fulfilled God’s decree,  ‘…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ 3  It was a legal exchange.  The animals were ’judged’ and the people were forgiven.  So justice combined with grace and mercy.  God was fair (He judged the sin), yet merciful (the animals died in their place).
  • Followers of Jesus don’t always recognise that God’s justice and mercy is absolutely unique.  Only the all-knowing, wise God was able to plan it.  Remember it was designed before creation. 4

#  The enemy cannot complain

The devil wanted to complain, because he does not want people to be forgiven.  He wants them in hell, which is his future ‘home.’  It was actually prepared for the devil and his angels because of their rebellion against God. 5  However he cannot complain.  When he stole Adam’s right to rule, God did not stop him.  Scripture is very clear, ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one.’ 6

#  The New Covenant/Testament

  • The Old Testament sacrificial system was a type or shadow of something better.  Through Jeremiah 31:31 God said there will be a New Covenant.  Jesus instituted it,  ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ 7
  • We see how effective God’s new covenant is by the universal spread of the Gospel.  Animal sacrifices were only for a time for the Israelite nation who kept livestock.  It was not practical for people like the Eskimo’s who live in the polar regions.  Animals for offerings are scarce there.  Yet in God’s New Covenant system they are not disadvantaged.  When an Eskimo wants forgiveness, the blood of Jesus takes away his sins.  God ‘catered’ for all people in Christ.

Conclusion

The sacrificial system of justice and mercy, which began in the Garden of Eden and ended with Jesus on the Cross, displays the wisdom of the Trinity.   The unbeliever can mock about Jesus and the Cross,8 but God’s design of justice and mercy stands forever as a monument to His brilliance.

References

  1. Romans 3:9-18
  2. Genesis 2:16-17
  3. Hebrews 9:22
  4. 1 Peter 1:18-20
  5. Matthew 25:41
  6. 1 John 5:19
  7. Luke 22:20
  8. Revelation 5:6

The rebellious son and the homosexual

In a previous blog (Stone the rebellious childNew Covenant in Jesus), we referred to the covenant that God had with old Israel. That covenant was replaced by the new one that centres around Jesus Christ. He came to make God’s eternal Kingdom a reality by renewing minds and changing hearts so His children can obey Him out of love and not law.

We failed to make it clear that the God of the Old Testament is not different from the God of the New Testament. Jesus did not abolish the old covenant, so that people can do what they like. In a sense, the inner change of the new covenant is much more serious and intense than the old. For example,

In the Old Testament it was a crime to kill someone. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, it is a crime to hate someone.1

In the Old Testament adultery was forbidden. Jesus says, when a man looks at a woman lustfully he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.2

The Holy Spirit came to help us with the inner transformation God requires in the New Covenant. He is our personal Trainer.

Homosexuality

We had a comment on that blog, asking whether the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorra for their homosexuality in the Old Testament, condones it in the New Testament?

Lately the emphasis is very much that the Church has to accept homosexuals. Our contention is that we should be very careful. Do we really understand the cry of the human heart, do we know enough or are we interested enough to find out who they are, what happened to them, et cetera?

What does the Bible say?

Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, what business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.3  So we need a different attitude towards people outside and inside the church.

God is the Judge of all the world. Paul writes, Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.’4 In addition God excludes things that don’t seem that ‘dangerous,’ like ‘hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, …orgies, and the like. I warn you … that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.5

Why does God exclude these people from His eternal kingdom? It has to do with the structure of the Kingdom—a family of  peace and happiness, with no rebellion. God regards jealousy, discord and hatred in the same light as murders, lying and practicing magic arts.Yet all these people can repent and yield their lives to Christ, as the church in Corinth did.7

Question: In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man (in hell) begged Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead to his five brothers to tell them life after death is real. Abraham’s answer was, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if somebody rises from the dead.8 Do you think it is valid to believe what the Holy Spirit and the Bible says about who will be in and who will be outside the Kingdom of God?

References

  1. Matthew 5:21-22
  2. Matthew 5:28
  3. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  5. Galatians 5:20-21
  6. Revelation 21:8
  7. 1 Corinthians 6:11
  8. Luke 16:19-31
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