Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Holy, Holy, Holy

                Have you ever found yourself praying, and then your prayers turn to praise. One minute you are pouring your heart out before the Lord and the next thing you know you are repeating “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty”. You know that you are before the Lord and all that can come out of you is how Holy He is. That is where I found myself this morning. Like Isaiah I found myself saying, “Woe is me!” (Isaiah 6:5) Standing before our Holy God makes us see how truly unholy we are. But the Lord says to us in Leviticus 11:44 that we are to be holy because He is holy. How then are we made holy? The Lord tells us to be holy, so how then are we to be holy?

                As I pondered on these questions, I read a commentary from my Bible that states, “The word holy means unique, set apart, unlike any others. Holiness is not what God does, but who He is. All God’s attributes flow out of His holiness. That is why He is incapable of the slightest hint of impurity, unrighteousness, untruth, injustice or questionable use of power.” (Women’s Study Bible NKJV) All God’s attributes, who He is, stems from His holiness. He is incapable of anything other than holiness, and He desires the same from us. But is it possible for me to be holy?
                “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16
                Peter gives us the tools we need to become the holy people, the holy nation God has called us to be. First he tells us that we must “gird up the loins of {our} minds”. The word “gird” means to prepare. The phrase used by Peter here is a metaphor that the people of the time would have understood. Before going on a journey the people would bind up their flowing garments around their bodies and then fasten them with a leather belt or cord. This made sure that their garments didn’t get in their way as they were walking and would not impede any movements they might need to take.
                To gird up the loins of our minds means that we must fasten our minds, take control of our thoughts and bind them up so that our thoughts do not impede our walk with the Lord. One commentator stated that we need to “get rid of loose and sloppy thinking and control what we think about, and what we decide to set our minds upon.” To become holy people, the holy people God desires us to be we must take control of our minds and our thoughts because what we dwell on will trip us up, will cause us to do things we do not want to do, and will eventually lead us down the road of sinfulness and unrighteousness. What is in our minds affects our whole being.
                Jesus tells us this in Matthew 15:19 that “out of the heart (translated mind) proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies.” It all starts with our minds. What we think eventually affects how we act and react to daily living. We are to have our mental faculties alert and in control if we desire to be holy.  
                Peter goes on to say that we are to “be sober”. We are to be calm and collected in spirit and free from the influences of intoxicating things. I think that Peter is referring to more than just wine and spirits in his words to us. To be intoxicated means that we are affected by a substance of some kind. Think of what affects your thoughts. What we look at, what we ponder on, goes into our minds. Most of us have watched a horror movie and had nightmares about the movie. Because we allowed these images into our minds, and now our minds begin to think on them. What we put into our bodies affects our whole bodies, this applies to more than just food and drink; it applies to what we fill our minds with. We are to be sober by letting go of the things that “intoxicate” us and grasp hold of the grace of God which is found in Jesus Christ. When you find your mind going to things it should not, say the name of Jesus, sing a worship song, do anything to take control of your mind and not let your mind control you.
                We are to be holy, separate and unique, set apart for God and God alone. Hiebert writes that to be sober “denotes a condition free from every mental and spiritual loss of self-control; it is an attitude of self-discipline that avoids the extremes.” We are to control what we think about, what we allow our minds to get caught up in and we are to avoid those things that keep us from focusing on Jesus Christ and His return.
                “Living the way God wants us to means that we must prepare for action, much like the phrase “rolling up your sleeves”. Then we must be sober, which means we have the ability to take a serious look at life.” (David Guziak Blue Letter Bible) We are set apart for God alone. We are like the vessels used in the temple. Each vessel was designed by God, consecrated and set apart for His use alone. The vessels were not taken door to door and anyone and everyone were allowed to use them. No, they were set apart; they were holy to God, just like we are.

                “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” Leviticus 20:26.  We are His and His alone. He does not desire that we be defiled with the world and its lusts, but that we choose to be separated for Him. David Guziak writes that holy means “apartness, the idea that God is separate, different from His creation, both in His essential nature and in the perfection of His attributes. When we fail to see God’s apartness, we begin to believe that He is just a “super-man”. Then we don’t see that His love is Holy, His justice is a holy justice, and so on with all of His attributes. Holiness is not so much something we possess, as it is something that possesses us. ” To be holy people of God, we must first grasp and understand that God is holy, that there is nothing in Him that is not holy. We cannot understand how to be holy if we have not first experienced the holiness of God in our lives.

                We are to be holy in all our conduct, in our thoughts, in our actions, in our words. In every manner of our lives we are to be separate, set apart for God to use us as He pleases. We are a vessel designed by God for His use and for His glory. What we allow into our minds affects the holiness that is to come out of us. God is holy, everything He is and everything He does derives from His holiness. We should be no different. Everything we do, say, think and ponder in our hearts should be rooted in the holiness that we have been called to. Holy should be who we are, because He is holy and we are His and His alone. To the glory of God the Father, amen and amen.