May 21, 2010

Examining The Scripture IX: You're Not As Good As You Think

If there is one thing I am horribly convicted of and nearly certain is this: Many people including myself have not or do not fully understand holiness and/or the impact of its true purpose in our salvation. Perhaps this statement is better phrased this way: We as humans do not realize how far from God we really are and how wicked and sinful we really are. How often do we believe or claim to be righteous and in a right relationship with God when truth couldn’t be farther from us? We claim closeness with God yet we do not abide in Him or we wholly reject His commands.

“They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” ~Numbers 16:3

Even after we have our shortcomings shown to us in a way that we couldn’t possibly deny them we continue to grovel and whisper in a sinister manner under our breath, "Nah, not me, that guy is too legalistic" or "He's too confrontational and dogmatic" (Num 16:41). To truly understand the depth of human sinfulness it is paramount that people understand the ceremonial system, how it extensive it was and the ideas behind the Law and sacrifices in the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy).

Sadly, there are many people that have read the iterations of Law in the Bible and they either walk away scratching their heads never to read them again or they say, “Ugh, its just a bunch of names and rules”. This couldn’t be farther from the truth and if this is the impression people walk away with, they’ve read these books improperly and with the wrong heart. We need to understand the Pentateuch and the laws and rules it contains to know and understand Jesus Christ and to understand what He saved us from, what He atoned for. It helps us understand why we need to and should strive to be like Christ, to strive to be near Him in a relationship. To fully understand why we need to understand books like Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers where rules for the Israelites are laid out plain as day and understand why they were instituted. They in turn will convict us and help us figure out how far we are from the desired ideal of Jesus Christ. Once we have the correct relationship and understanding with Christ we can then have a clearer perspective of our position in relation to holiness and by association, to God. Once this happens we will never approach God the way we have in the past. It will no longer be acceptable to have a cavalier attitude towards our sin.

We lose the full devastating impact of sin and mankind’s horrid condition if we ignore or trivialize the Old Testament’s strict levels of quality control to improve man's holiness. All people should understand what Jesus fulfilled when He approbated the ceremonial law on the cross and at the Resurrection. Some underestimate the need for such high levels of holiness. To do this we underestimate the need for a right relationship with God. We need the holiness to have the relationship with God the way that he expects it because we have to play by His rules. There is no other way regardless of what our pluralistic society has insisted upon. Pluralistic society is wrong. It is on God’s terms or no terms. We either meet His demands or we will be separated from Him. If we don’t figure this out by our dying day the separation is permanent and the outer darkness is absolute. It is where God’s wrath resides.

We are to have a love/loving relationship with God. One of the ways we show our love relationship is by obedience to His word, His commands and by default Him. To disobey the word, His command is to disobey God. The relationship will obviously be an unequal relationship because God is infinitely greater and capable of perfect love but He desires this relationship none the less. He wrote the entire Bible because He wants this relationship. The obedience He wants is not the cold, dehumanized and distant response like a soldier obeying military commands at a military outpost but rather as a result of a close, honest and reverent love for God. A God that always has our best interests in mind. He wants a relationship that is the product of an honest assessment of ourselves and a realization that we are just not capable of doing or creating anything of any lasting value for Him or without Him. In the end if we show a love like this towards God and towards other human beings it will show our faithfulness to God.

To help us keep all this in perspective I need to mention one more thing. As an indicator of man's inability to grasp God and the need for us to rely on God and the work of the Spirit in our lives we should look at Joshua 24. Joshua exhorts the Israelites to "serve the Lord"...

"...therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether h the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~Joshua 24:14-15

The people then answer Joshua ending in verse 18 "we will serve the Lord"

Joshua's reply?

"You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God..." ~Joshua 24:19

Why does he say this? Think for a minute. These people had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years in the PRESENCE OF GOD and they still couldn't serve Him properly because He is that holy and we are that sinful.


Lloyd said...

Great message. What a wonderful God we have that even though we are sinners He will take us just as we are. God's blessing to you. Lloyd

Andy Pierson said...

That's awesome Lloyd, glad it edified. I did and inductive study of the law for my OT class at school and the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. A lot. I had to pen this one to see it in front of me in my own words. God is merciful and full of grace. Thank God.

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