As disciples of Jesus Christ and in opening our lives up to Him to be His holy vessels, we have entered into a living partnership with our Heavenly Father concerning holiness. However, much of what passes as acceptable in today’s Church suggests we are falling short in upholding our end of this partnership. Whether by ignorance or direct disobedience, it appears than much of the Church in the West, at least, is not walking in a higher level of moral excellence and devotion this agreement suggests.
This week I learnt that a dear ministry friend; a regular old-school great man of God was promoted to glory. He was a true pioneer in the nation’s of New Zealand and Australia in the move of the Holy Spirit in the early Pentecostal / Charismatic movements of the sixties and seventies. A man of faith, dedicated to the exposition of Biblical truth. His was a life lived in full pursuit of the highest level of moral excellence that a disciple of Jesus should aspire to. Pastor Trevor Chandler knew only too well what this partnership with our Heavenly Father, this call to holiness, was all about. We had discussed this often in our many conversations. He will be sorely missed.
Partnership with God is best summed up by one word – consecration! We are called to be in the world but not of it. It’s about living a separated life. Let me encourage you today, to go for a seasonal change, to intentionally purify your life and begin to live a truly God-filled, separated life. This is no small undertaking considering the worldly trappings and ungodly ways that pollute our daily existence, pulling on our old nature, so much so, that we need to crucify self, daily, in order to uphold this partnership of holiness. Yet we are able to aspire to this moral excellence of living, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6). A verse loved by my pastor friend Trevor. Years ago, he had it written front and centre over the stage of his church auditorium.
Seeking to grasp more fully this word consecration, it strikes me that it’s best understood by two characteristics or elements that require our honest attention and understanding. Firstly, through the work of the cross the Father has consecrated us to His work of service and ministry of reconciliation in the earth. Alongside this, comes our daily responsibility of walking out our consecration in obedience to the Word of God. Now, in considering a biblical model, an example we can use, that best embodies this word consecration …we need to look at three Hebrew words. They are, Qadash, Nazar and Charam. Together they form what it means for a believer in God to live a clean, devoted and set-apart life; consecrated unto the Lord.
‘Qadash’ refers to being morally and ceremonially clean by God; in Christ every believer has received this standing before the throne of His grace (2 Cor. 5:21). In Christ we have been called, like the priests of old, Exodus 28:41, to serve this generation as His consecrated priests to and before the Lord (Rev. 1:6). He’s literally made us a ‘kingdom of priests’ unto our God. A richer and fuller revelation of this reality should not only inspire us, but also yield in us a higher motivation to live a life worthy of a son and daughter of the King.
This calling to be priests of the most-high God is, in lots of ways, missing from the wider Church community today; very few are living the lives essential to priesthood. I see many Christian’s living on what I would call, the extreme outer edges of the Biblical injunction for upright godly living. This aspect or element is missing in much of the Church today. God’s idea of purity and holy living is way higher than the now acceptable standards across most Christian circles. Now my mother used to say, “son, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. In other words, be very carful what you wish for, as you too have faults and undisclosed issues to deal with. So I wish not to be judgmental in what I say and write here, rather it’s about holding up a true biblical example of consecration for all, including myself.
‘Nazar’ refers to another aspect of being consecrated that is, to be above (remain aloof) and abstain from all impurity (Num. 6); a dedicated set-apart life unto the Lord. For us today we are not to become legalistic in our approach to abstinence as part of being set-apart. Rather to follow after the principle in the Word and in obedience, when the Holy Spirit shines a light on any area in our lives that requires correction, to follow through in obedience in order to live a life consistent to the Word of God; to align our life to the word revealed. Many hear the ‘word of the Lord,’ very few follow through and actually change in order to become consistent. Friend, it’s not so much an issue of the heart, but rather an issue of permanence. Yes, permanence! You see it’s not good enough to obey for a short time, we are called to tear down and remove ‘all the high places’, it’s costly and it’s permanent.
This brings me to the third aspect of consecration to complete our picture, namely the word ‘Charam’ (Lev. 27: 21; 28-29). This refers to secluding ourselves away and devoting oneself to God. There’s a real spiritual and mental attitude that seems to almost overtake you as one spends consistent time in prayerful relationship with the Lord. It also builds emotional resolve. You develop a mindset that is consistent with one who’s consecrated unto the Lord and grow in you understanding in what it means to be part of a kingdom of priests. That you have a special calling on your life, a special covenanted relationship; a partnership with God, that requires you to keep yourself untainted from the weight of ungodly and worldly things.
It’s about keeping oneself separated unto the Lord in all things; our lifestyle should reflect such consecration. In the days when this Scripture in Leviticus was written, people knew what it meant to devote something to the Lord. It was something costly, and living a live separated unto the Lord is costly as well, even today, because it involves your whole life and it’s permanent. Jesus said, ‘you must lose your life to find it’ (Matt. 6:25). To gain a deeper measure of the things of God, we must seclude ourselves away from the ways of the world and walk in the highest level of moral excellence as is humanly possible.
So there you have it, what this holy partnership – this consecrated life should look like. This is the hour to begin to change! I conclude with a line from the poet, TS Eliot:
“Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want be sure it is what you want.”