This is the ninety-third lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
See Mel Lawrenz’s book, How to Understand the Bible.
Years ago I remember when we got a new car and my wife and I agreed it would be “set apart” for my travels and my work. Our kids were teenagers at the time and both were new drivers, so our vehicles were very heavily used, with plenty of dents and dings that mysteriously appeared, and lots of fast food wrappers that also mysteriously appeared. So the plan was that Dad’s car would be “set apart” for a different use than hauling bags of manure from the garden store. The “set-apartness” was simply a declaration (and, to help the cause, not giving anybody else a key to the car).
That’s the picture we get in the Bible of special priestly garments and temple furniture that were “set apart,” as were prophets, priests, and kings. All it takes is a declaration from God. He says that table will be my altar, that man will be my prophet, that land will be a place of promise, that Abram will become Abraham. How did Abraham qualify to be the father of a nation, and the picture of faith to the whole world? God chose, Abram believed, and so he was set apart.
Any who believe in Jesus Christ have been declared by God—holy!
The purification process begins, and it never ends as long as we live on earth. Nobody will ever rightly hold their “holiness” over you, because all of us are enrolled in the same program. In fact, it is when people start to flaunt their personal holiness that you start to worry about them getting putrefied rather than purified. Even the great apostle Paul, summarizing his life, said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
Holiness is a past, present, and future reality. “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
What better hope can we have than this? “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Dear God, purify me inside and out. Cleanse me and I will be clean. Cleanse my mind. Purify my heart. Suppress my motives that are self-centered and small. Help me believe what you mean when you call us saints.
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.