Month 6:06, Week 1:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year 5935:148 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 4 September 2011
What Exactly Is It?
Continued in Part 2
What do you think about when you think of the word 'holy' or 'holiness'? I think if you ask most people they associate it, in some way, with 'purity'. For others it means 'devout' (when referring to people) or in some way associated with Deity. The English word 'holy' has come to mean many different things and is probably best understood by its opposite, 'profane', which is word for disrespect or irreverence for Deity.
The Hebrew words qadosh and qodesh (and the Greek equivalent, hagios) mean all of these things but also a concept from which, ultimately, all of these definitions are derived. To be 'qodesh' or qadosh in Hebrews means to be separated or set-apart, and specifically, to our Heavenly Father Yahweh-Elohim. Thus if I pick out a silver dollar from my coin collection, separating it from all my other coins, with a view to giving it to a dear friend, that silver dollar becomes holy because it has been separated out from the rest of my coins. It has been set-apart to my friend - it is his. If I inform him of this dedication I have made, and he says to me: 'Go and use that dollar to do this or that', then it is consecrated to whatever service he wishes me to perform with it. It's his gift from me to do with whatever he wants, and in this case, I am appointed a steward over it until I have accomplished what my friend has appointed.
Tithing operates on this principle (though is not the topic I want to discuss today). Yahweh says that a tenth of all our material and economic increase automatically belongs to Him (a third of this belongs to his ministers, a third to the poor, and a third to finance Yahweh's home or congregational set-apart festival celebration - see Shemittah Cycle). It is set-apart, dedicated or consecrated to Him. It's not ours because it is 'holy'. If we decide not to pay our tithe, then we are declared by Him to be robbers and to be under a curse (Mal.3:8-9) until we put the matter right. That is what being 'holy' means - recognising what is Yahweh's and making sure it really is His.
When in the New Testament true believers are called 'saints', the sense here is that we are set-apart to Yahweh. We belong to Him. We are not our own:
We are not 'saints' or 'holy ones' because we have done great miracles or deeds of charity as the Catholics teach - indeed we are not 'saints'
because of anything we have done at all! It is not an honorific title. We are 'holy' because we recognised that we don't own ourselves but belong to Yahweh, in the same way that a true wife recognises that she doesn't own herself but her husband does because Yahweh has given her to her husband - she is 'holy' or 'set-apart' to her husband in the same way that every genuine Yah'shua- (Jesus-) trusting and Torah-obedient believer is set-apart, 'holy', 'dedicated' or 'consecrated' to Yahweh. This is divine tavnith (pattern). Purity only follows when we have done these things unconditionally and without seeking any credit for ourselves.
"Your body is the temple of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy/Set-Apart Spirit) who is in you, whom you have from Elohim (God), and you are not your own...For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify Elohim (God) in your body and in your ruach (spirit), which are Elohim's (God's)" (1 Cor.6:19-20, NKJV).
If we have not recognised these things then we are, quite simply, not qodesh - holy. We are profane. We are robbers and under a curse. And we give the enemy legal rights to afflict us and destroy our shalom (peace).
Having recognised and by Shavu'ot-covenant declared that we dion't own ourselves, and having recognised who our owners are, we are then in a position to have Yahweh open spiritual channels in our soul so that He can operate on us and change us to be holy like Himself. What this means is that once truly set-apart by having a right mind, a right lev (heart), and a body which we treat as a temple of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), we are in a position to start acquiring Yahweh's own holiness - the attributes of His character. This character, moreover, is the diametric opposite of the character traits that define the world and worldliness. We start acquiring, by a pocess of spiritual leavening or osmosis, as Godet puts it, "that attribute in virtue of which Yahweh makes Himself the absolute standard of Himself". This attribute at once separates out that which is of the flesh from that which is of the Ruach (Spirit). We acquire, in small increments, as we repent and put off the carnal man, the divine character - not by virtue of any good deeds we do (because this is not something ever earned) but by virtue of yielding to the higher toqef (authority) above.
Since one who is truly set-apart by his new birth in Messiah (Christ) begins to acquire the character of Deity, he also acquires an ethical quality that is defined by Torah. Holiness then becomes a term of Yahweh's moral excellence and His freedom from all limitation in His moral perfection (Hab.1:13).
This is, if you like, the great moment of emet (truth) for every believer, for then we will discover - when we meet the resurrected Saviour - whether we have truly become like Him in moral and ethical attributes, or not. This is the litmus test of our final salvation. This 'holiness' or 'set-apartness' embraces every distinctive attribute of Deity, and though by embracing and receiving it we don't actually become Deity, we are beyond question embraced by, identified and at home with, that Deity. We become a part of the Divine Family. Since holiness embraces every distinctive attribute of Elohimhead (Godhead), it may be defined as the outshining of all that is Elohim (God). As the sun's rays, combining all the colours of the spectrum, come together in the sun's shining and blend into light, so in His self-manifestation, all the attributes of Elohim (God) come together and blend into holiness. Holiness is therefore rightly described by some as 'an attribute of attributes', that which lends unity or brings echad (oneness) to all the attributes of Elohim (God). To conceive of Elohim's (God's) Being and Character as simply a synthesis of abstract perfections is to deprive Him of all reality. In the Elohim (God) of the Bible these perfections live and function in holiness.
"It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when [Yah'shua/Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2, NKJV).
These perfections therefore, rightly, are seen to be attributed to every single member of the Elohimhead (Godhead) and - by connection and derivation that comes from complete surrender, total trust and unquestioning obedience - to those malakim (angels) and humans who are connected to that perfection by emunah (faith). Our picture of how we, as humans, are to be holy is to be seen and understood in the perfect, sinless humanity of Yah'shua (Jesus) - His unblemished life and character. He is our standard to see whether we are surrendered and owned or not, for when we fail in any moral attribute, it is because some part of ourselves yet remains unsurrendered, or was previously surrendered and has since made a unilateral declaration of independence. Thus the holiness of Messiah becomes both the standard of Christian character and its guarantee:
"For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one" (Heb.2:11, NKJV).
The primary significance of being a New Covenant 'saint' or 'set-apart one' is relationship to Yahweh through Messiah, though it is also descriptive of character, and more especially of Christ-like character. The B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) everywhere emphasise the ethical nature of holiness in contrast to uncleanness, which is the Tanakh (Old Testament) emphasis. It is represented as the supreme vocation of believers and the goal of their living. In the final assessment of human destiny the two categories known to Scripture are the righteous and the wicked.
Moral character is permanent:
Scripture also emphasises the retributive aspect of divine holiness because it involves the world in judgment. From a moral necessity in Yahweh, life is so ordered that in holiness is welfare, in sin is doom. Since the divine holiness could not make a universe in which sin would ultimately prosper, the retributive quality in the divine government becomes perfectly plain. But retribution is not the end - the holiness of Yahweh ensures that there will be a final restoration, bringing to pass a regeneration of the moral universe. The eschatology of the Bible holds out the promise that the holiness or set-apartness of Yahweh will sweep the universe clean, and create new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell (2 Pet.3:13).
"And they overcame [the accuser, Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Rev.12:11, NKJV).