Friday, March 6, 2015

"Be Holy, for I the Lord am Holy"

This week, we read about God’s self-revelation through the law of Moses (Ex. 20:1-17), psalm of David (Ps. 19), and by Christ’s cleansing of the temple (Jn. 2:13-22) and death at the Cross (1 Cor. 1:18-25). In all these passages, the common thread is the holiness of God. God’s manifestation of his glory among us requires that we be holy as defined by His moral laws and precepts. So, when Jesus cleansed the temple, he was revealing the holiness of God’s glory. Whenever and wherever God reveals His glory, He requires a moral response from us. We cannot sit in the Presence of God and remain unrepentant and unchanged.

Jesus came to die at the Cross to fulfill the holy demands of Moses’ Law which defines sin as transgression of any of more than 600 different laws, precepts, commands and rules. Having fulfilled the law’s demands and done away with it as the basis of God's judgment through the Cross, Jesus redefined righteousness as believing and sin as disbelieving the message of “Christ crucified”. Having been delivered from works of the law by grace, we are no longer judged by our ability to keep the more than 600 OT laws, but by faith: for “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).

That doesn’t imply we who are under grace have no more moral boundaries. Having done away with the keeping of laws as the basis for salvation, Jesus’ own life and teachings in contained in the Gospels show us what it means to be holy under the new covenant of grace. In particular, his Sermon on the Mount redefines what is our moral response under grace. Our moral and spiritual obligations are even higher under grace (anger is murder, lust is adultery, etc), but our power to keep these moral and spiritual standards is no longer dependent on our own self-efforts but by the power of the indwelling Spirit in believers: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive." (John 7:38-39).

The end point is still the same: "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-But the means to be holy has changed: it will be by faith in “Christ crucified” and the indwelling power of the Spirit.

Father, thank You for the Cross and for the gift of Your Spirit to make us righteous and holy in Your eyes. Amen.

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