There is a critical Biblical teaching that has been LOST to modern Christians that demands to be restored. What is it? HOLINESS.
Holiness is the intrinsic nature of God. It is the unseen IMAGE of the Almighty’s glory.
How can a Christian say that they KNOW God yet know nothing about His Holiness? Without Holiness, no one can see who the Lord is (Heb 12:14). Holiness is not a WHAT but a WHO!
It is my prayer that Christians have their motivation restored to seek Holiness. To finish this long discourse you will need that motivation. Prayerfully eat this reading in small meaningful bites. Absorb it and let it help you to see Jesus in His reality.
For true Christians, pursuing Holiness must be preceded by understanding the Holiness of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. When you are finished studying this lost topic, the following scripture will take on a new meaning you may never have seen before.
Philippians 3:10 KJV That I may know him [in power and fellowship]…
First, God commands His ‘chosen people’ to BE HOLY. When He says this, He means that He wants us to be transformed into and to display (glorify) His image (Leviticus 11:44). In modern day Christianity, our pursuit of God is often misguided. How many of us really want to display the Holy image of Christ? How can we display something we know little about? If we are serious about ‘Chasing God’, then we must start with the principles and purposes of the Old Testament holiness code.
Moses and the Levite Priests were tasked with creating and maintaining a home (tent, mishkan) of Holiness in order for God’s presence to live within Israel. If this sanctuary was sustained properly, the presence of God would keep them in freedom, remove the dryness of their souls, and prosper them. In other words, bless them.
This way of life with God was called the ‘Highway of Holiness‘ (Isaiah 35:8), a divine path to rest and establish a wandering people permanently onto God’s Holy Land*.
*Note: God’s Holy Land is expanded wherever the people of God consecrated themselves, thereby encouraging the ‘presence of God’ to dwell.
It was of utmost importance that the Sanctuary, the Priests, the Courtyard, the Objects and Furniture of the Sanctuary, the Calendar, and the People of God, maintain moral and ritual purity as prescribed by God. This is what insured a peaceful and blessed existence. To dwell securely in the Holy Land, God’s presence had to be continuously attracted to dwell among them. To despise Holy living (Highway of Holiness) was to despise God Himself.
The Law of the OT is really a roadmap of peaceful living (ethical law) with one’s brothers and Holy living (sanctification law) with the One Holy God. As New Testament Christians, we are told that ‘the law’ is a schoolmaster
(Galatians 3:24) that teaches us that it’s impossible to keep its elements (Be Holy) and that our justification (purification) must be by ‘works of faith’*
(Romans 4:2, James 2:21). We are further told that ‘the law’ and it’s sacrifices were incapable of ‘perfect justification’. They only served as a temporary shadow
of the coming full image of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus offered Himself out of free will and pure-motive as a pure, permanent, and perfect sin offering for sinners.
Hebrews 10:1-2 KJV For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto
perfect. (2) For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things… (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
*Children of faith, heirs of God’s promise to Abraham, are those who have been baptized (a work of faith) into Christ’s death. (Galatians 3:26-29).
With this predicate in mind, I offer the following set of declarations in order to:
I. Describe the major elements of the ‘shadow of Holiness’ available through ‘the Law‘ and the Sanctuary system that vouchsafed God’s presence.
II. Describe the New Testament reality that emerges from the cast shadows, that is, the Spiritual transformation of our souls by the work of the Holy Spirit.
III. Describe 18th-20th Century Wesleyan Holiness that culminated in the worldwide Pentecostal movement.
IV. Motivate believers to ‘pursue God’s Holiness’ again as a lifestyle iconography, displaying the express image of Jesus Christ. If Holiness is restored among Christians, our world will see who Jesus is.
It seems to me that the NT epistles were written as the pinnacle expression to help us see the reality and superiority of the Spirit’s work in creating the true Holy image of God, Christ in us. Paul call’s this work of the Spirit ‘a mystery’ that was hidden in the words of the OT shadows. This perfecting work of the Spirit of Holiness was made possible only by a cross and sacrifice of purest life-blood.
Colossians 1:26-29 KJV Even the mystery
which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (28) Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: (29) Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
The Shadow and Reality of Holiness
1. God alone is Holy. Monotheism is the first declaration of holiness. It is also His personal revelation of glory and identity.
Revelation 15:4 KJV Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
Isaiah 47:4 KJV As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.
Only ONE is Holy so “Shema Israel” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
2. In contradistinction to all of the world’s false deities, God’s name alone is Holy. Since God makes the worshiper holy, it is not acceptable to carry God’s name in a common vain (profane) lifestyle, abrogating the rules of holiness. This denigrates God’s Holy name.
Leviticus 22:32 KJV Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,
Is it any wonder then that the ‘name of Jesus’ represents God’s sanctifying purifying agent of life? This name doesn’t cover sins temporarily like imperfect animal blood, but is the identify of perfect sacrifice that removes and casts away sins, a pure blood that covers that is made efficacious by faith (see the end of the article, Acts 2:38).
This name is given to men to for salvation, healing, baptism, sealing, subjection of devils, and whatever else we need to do in ‘word or deed’ (Luke 10:17, Colossians 3:17). We are commanded to do ALL in the name of Jesus, the name of life (John 20:31). This name is above all others because of it’s greatest demonstration of Holiness, death on the cross.
Acts 19:5 KJV When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 4:12, 30 KJV Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved….(30) By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
In the OT, life was in the blood. In the NT, life is in the name
(Lev 17:11, John 20:31).
3. The word HOLY when applied to God, His character, virtues, identity, name, and essence, actually means PERFECTION. But it is not a definition that human thinking or words can actually comprehend or describe. It is a heavenly agapao perfection, a quality of Grace that is unfathomable.
Does man deserve this grace? David said, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4, Hebrews 2:6).
4. Holiness is contagious and is absorbed by people pursuing a closer proximity to God’s presence. God’s holiness draws people who willingly turn to His presence. He then chooses these people for separation from the ordinary, a byproduct of having been touched by the ‘consuming fire’ (glory) that radiates from His presence.
The camping arrangement of Israel positioned everyone into levels and spheres of sanctification. The outer camp was Holy ground, with Judah camped closest to the Eastern Gate of the Sanctuary and thus, more set apart, sanctified, than the other tribes. The inner court was even ‘more Holy’, that is, closer to God.
In the Old Sanctuary system, the one closest to God was the High Priest. He was the ‘most sanctified’ and was permitted access to the ‘Holy of Holies’ once per year on the ‘day of atonement’. Once there, only the light from the fire of God (kabod, glory) illuminated the space, enabling him to see where to apply the blood.
5. The Levitical Priesthood is a hierarchical priesthood, with the family of Aaron most privileged. The High Priest in that family is favored above all. In the Old Testament system, some are holier than others thereby creating hierarchy. Leadership of the nation in this system is divided between two persons; the High Priest (spiritual) and the King (secular), where both wear golden crowns.
A New Testament Melchizedek priesthood is egalitarian, where ALL are equally Holy, none above the other, a family of king-priests. Those who exalt themselves above their brethren in the new system are trapped in the fleshly sin of pride, defiling (unclean status) their own temple.
Jesus is the High King-Priest (ONE Messiah)
in this system, merging the two OT offices. He makes His entire family a nation of king-priests once they enter His Kingdom through water and Spirit (John 3:5). Upon entering this Kingdom, worshipers mature in Holiness through the fruits of His Spirit.
Numbers 16:3-5 ESV 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?” (4) When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, (5) and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.
6. To be chosen is to be sanctified, set apart for Holy living. It was initially God’s desire to make the entire nation of Israel Priests but the people refused Him (Exodus 20:19, Deut 5:23-33). Therefore, God separated them into holiness levels of proximity, places of order, privileged leadership, and access to His sanctuary.
Exodus 20:18-19 KJV And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. (19) And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
Although the NT Priesthood is egalitarian, anointing levels are obtained by pursuing Holiness. As Christians, we are never to be physically isolated from the body of believers or our neighbors. Asceticism does not absorb anointing. In the pursuit of Holiness, God’s will alone and the process of sacrificial obedience brings the ‘fire of His Spirit’. This consuming fire matures the ‘fruits of Jesus Spirit’, the mechanism for healing the nations (through the gifts of the Spirit acquired through the ‘more excellent way’, fruits of the Spirit).
7. As said before, objects absorb God’s holiness by proximity to Him. They in turn speak in terms of ‘redemption symbology‘, a concept of ownership. Here is what is redeemed, owned by God:
- Sacred Ground – Holy Land or ground
- Sacred Attire of Priests – As one moves closer to God, rules for outward attire arise including the engraved golden crown (mitre of the Holy Name) on the High Priest’s forehead.
- Sacred Furniture & Vessels – Ark of the Covenant, Menorah, Table of Shewbread, Altar of Incense, Brazen Laver, Brazen Altar, Firepans, etc
- Sacred People – High Priest, Priest Assistants, Temple Guards, and Chosen People.
- Sacred Precincts – The Tent (mishkan, Holy of Holies, Holy Place) and the various Inner and Outer Courts (Jerusalem Temple).
- Sacred Sacrifices – Bullock, Heifer, Lamb, Goat, Dove, Flour, Oil, Incense, Joy and Repentance. Sacrifices are either ‘gift or purification’ offerings, expressing worship or reconciliation to God.
- Sacred Time – Days, Years, and Appointments. First the Celebration and Purification Festivals (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, etc), then the resting/restoration times of Sabbatical and Jubilee Years, and finally, the Appointed Days of God’s Grace and Vengeance.
- Sacred Diet (kashrut) – This is defined more by what is forbidden than what is permitted. Meat and dairy together, Birds of prey, Bats, Fish without both fins and scales (catfish are unclean), Pork, non-cloven hoofed animals (dogs, cats, etc), creeping reptiles and flying/creeping insects, rodents, blood, meat from strangled animals, meat offered to idols, rabbits, and camels are all forbidden.
- Sacred Food Processing – Kosher meats could not be cooked in their mother’s milk, nor could Gentile grown grape juice or wine be consumed. Only kosher utensils could be used to prepare food and dairy and meat could not be eaten simultaneously or on the same plate. Anything offered to an idol could not be consumed and blood must be thoroughly drained from properly slaughtered animals.
- Sacred Agriculture – It was not permitted to mix and grow seeds of different plants in one field.
8. God originally made man in His image. Man makes the free will choice whether he wishes to reflect or mirror God’s image. When God commands His people to
be Holy, that is, reflect His image (Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7), it is the same concept as ‘two becoming one in marriage’. That one image is the Holy image of God. Thus, no icons or images are permitted other than the reflected monotheistic image of God.
By becoming a fully restored soul (Holy), the worshiper glorifies (declares, makes visible, reveals) the ONE God to idolaters. An idolater is someone who does not reflect the Holy image of God.
In the Hebrew language, the word Holy (Qadosh) when spelled out fully, can refer only to God. When the same word is spelled deficiently (without the O), it refers to others who only absorb Holiness. This is literary diction’s way of telling us that God’s perfection is imparted to the imperfect human sphere.
9. Holiness has two
aspects that reflect God’s image:
- Sanctification and
Sanctification is described as separation from common
(non-Divine) use. The common is not necessarily sinful even though the Bible often uses the word profane to describe it. Sanctification also amplifies the concept that separation is to avoid death and it’s symbols (touching the unclean, tasting the unclean). Separation is a lifestyle that glorifies the God of life (reveals His existence, declares His ownership, engraves His name, declares His values and virtues). Dietary laws such as ‘avoidance of meat from strangled animals (eating blood given for atonement, life for life), were instituted because of the sacredness of blood and for separation from the common practices of other nations.
Leviticus 17:11 KJV For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Most dietary laws are not implemented because of health reasons although many do have them, but expressly for the purpose of demarcating and drawing a line of separation from the ordinary (common among surrounding nations).
10. Purity is the absence of defilement. Defilement of the Sanctuary, Vessels, People, Land, and Festival Calendar can come about from two types of disobedience:
- Ritual Defilement (disobedience and disorder)
- Moral Defilement (intentional or unintentional)
Only the Land cannot be purified. It accumulates defilement (abomination) until it must ‘vomit out’ or evict the current tenants. God’s presence is what creates Holy ground. Once ground becomes Holy, God owns it. Thus Holy Land is His to give to whom He will. Thus, cumulative defilement of sanctified Holy Land causes God to vacate the land Himself prior to the eviction of those tasked with keeping it Holy. Once a land is polluted, it is considered vile like Sodom and Egypt.
11. Sacrifices are to be given out of two overriding principles:
- Expression of Worship and Joy (Thankfulness, celebration, the gift offerings)
- Expression of Remorse (Repentance and Reconciliation, the purification offerings)
When either a worshiper or Priest brings a sacrifice to the outer court for slaughter, they both are concerned with:
- Imitation of God (conforming to His image, restoring His image)
- Maintaining the presence of God in the Sanctuary and Community.
The presence of God in the sanctuary brings blessing to the worshiper, Priests, and nation. Abominations causes God to remove His presence (blessing) from the sanctuary, nation, and Promised Land.
Sacrifices of cleansing and atonement
(purification offerings) must be offered for the following:
- Willful acts of sin (commission).
- Unwitting acts of sin (omission).
- Ritual defilements.
most heinous sins are ‘moral impurity sins’ that defile the Holy Sanctuary, the Holy People, God’s Holy name, and the Holy Land. These sins denigrate the ‘beauty of Holiness’ and diminish the glory of God.
The 3 categories of moral impurity sins are:
- Idolatry – Mixing false deity worship with worship of the One True God.
- Bloodguilt – Murder, eating and drinking blood, abortion, and misuse of blood in purification and atonement. Manslaughter defiles only the person who accidentally kills and then must reside in a city of refuge to live.
- Sexual Transgressions – Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, incest, beastiality, rape, and lasciviousness.
One differentiation between Moral defilements and Ritual defilements is that moral defilements are not contagious but ritual defilements can be. Moral impurity cannot be removed or reduced through rituals (washings, launderings, and ablutions).
Moral impurity caused by willful sins can only be purified by:
- Cutting off the offender from the nation
- Death of the offender
- Special Purification Offerings, also called Sin Offerings (hatt’at) accompanied by repentance, reconciliation, and restitution.
Note that it is possible that a sin offering might only purify the sanctuary but not the sinner. In order for the sinner personally to be purified, he or she must confess, repent, reconcile, and restore before bringing the ‘purification offering’ to the outer court yard for slaughter.
For unwitting sins of omission, a special
hatt’at was offered on Yom Kippur. However, a time of preparation among the people was required. Thus, Israelites began a 10 day period of corporate introspection and repentance, commencing at Rosh Hoshanna (Festival of Trumpets) and concluding at Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
Many Jews believe that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God. To atone for sins between separated brothers, one must first seek reconciliation with the offended person then right the wrongs committed against them if possible (restitution). This is the purpose of the 10 day period prior to the Day of Atonement called ‘the Days of Awe‘.
12. The fire of God’s glory (kabod) is a manifestation of God’s sanctifying presence. This fire is the mechanism of how God purifies, communicates, and works His power. This fire is usually hidden within a cloud, both of which (cloud and fire) signify the existence of God’s presence and blessing. The fire of God casts out light and generates a strong rushing wind (Revelation, Speech, Power, Blessing).
The kabod (glory of God, identity) is an all consuming (devouring, eating) fire that either accepts or rejects a person’s offering. If a sacrificial offering is not motive-pure, then it is likened to a grain of wheat’s hard shell, absent the meat (substance) inside the kernel. This substance or pure-motive is man’s loving desire to please God.
13. In the NT,
impure-motive is called ‘the form of godliness’ from
which God denies manifestation of His power (rejection of the offering). True godliness is a state of pure-motive. The kabod is the reward to the pious
(godly) who continuously and diligently seek the Lord with faith.
2 Timothy 3:1,5 KJV This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come… (5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
In order for motive-purity to exist, the worshiper must act out of the ‘desire to please God’ in submissive obedience to His will. This includes loving one’s neighbor as themselves. This seeking of God’s will by faith is the pursuit of Holiness, God Himself. If one hates Holiness, then one is not interested in pleasing God and walking in faith.
Hebrews 11:6 KJV But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The apostasy of Israel began when rote obedience to holiness rules was not founded upon the desire to ‘please God’ by submissive obedience. Desiring to please God is the hidden mystery of a love relationship between God and His chosen people. The OT Prophets spoke against heartless offerings as ‘preferring the shell and not the substance of the kernel of wheat’. Without motive-purity, holiness cannot be absorbed or granted into a worshiper. If the desire to please God is present (faith), the kabod (glory, fire of God) will manifest and consume imperfection (death, sin, disease, poverty).
Comparing the Masoretic Text (Hebrew, MT) reading of Psalm 40:6-8 with the Septuagint (Greek, LXX) reading of the same passage, the importance of motive-purity is amplified. In the MT, the Psalm says ‘peace offerings and purity sacrifices’ are not the ‘will of God’. In the LXX, the Psalm says ‘purity sacrifices’ find ‘no pleasure in God’. In God’s word then, the phrase ‘sacrifices for sin thou has no pleasure’ (LXX) bold faces the phrase ‘not the will of God’ (MT). In simple language, rote obedience is not based on a love relationship. This is the consistent message of the PROPHETS who God uses to speak to the people and Priests against the heartless ceremonialism that emerged.
When we arrive at the New Testament (NT) in Hebrews 10:6-7, both readings are merged:
Hebrews 10:6-7 KJV In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (7) Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Looking closer, we see Jesus personal sacrifice of his life and human will is defined in scripture as “to do Thy will O God”. This clarifies the meaning of ‘obeying the voice of the Lord’ (motive-purity) in 1 Samuel 15:22. That is, ‘doing the will of God’ (the shell) must exist with the motive of ‘desiring to please God’ (the substance).
1 Samuel 15:22 KJV And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
The right motive is the difference between ritual and sincerity. Jesus examines the worshiper’s heart, separating the chaff from the wheat. That is, Holy fire from the throne of God must be respected for all it’s dimensions.
Matthew 3:11-12 KJV I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he… shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (12) Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
14. The throne of God was considered to be the most Holy object where God’s Holy presence rested. This throne was embedded and surrounded by the fire of God’s glory (kabod). As state previously, the kabod had
the purpose of purifying Holy ground and worshipers. It was also a confirming sign of the love relationship between the worshiper and God. Without the ‘fire of God’, there is no ‘light’ illuminating the inner sanctuary and Holiness process.
This purifying fire of God’s throne (surrounded by a rainbow glory cloud) was first revealed on Horeb at the burning bush. This is where God first spoke to Moses and instructed him to remove his shoes from the Holy ground.
After the exodus, the Hebrews followed Moses back to Sinai (Horeb) mountain, the very place where he had first heard God’s voice. In turn, all of Israel heard the trumpet blast and voice of God for personally as the glory fire of God broke through the cloud. 400 years later at the Temple dedication of Solomon, the cloud smoke of God’s glory was seen again. It descended onto and into the sanctuary, overwhelming the Priests, people, and Solomon at the outer court as they worshiped at the door (2 Chron 5:22). This cloud served to hide the burning fire within it, the very essence of God’s presence.
Fire-Light-Voice-Presence: When Ezekiel was given the vision of the ‘presence of God’ at Chebar river in Babylon, he first sees a great cloud with fire rolling and enfolding within itself, casting out rainbow light. The vision shifts and Ezekiel is ushered into the ‘throne room’ of God where he sees the Cherubim being touched by the ‘fire of God’, burning and empowering them to become brighter as the Spirit of God moves. He then sees that God’s throne itself is burning with fire from God’s waist downward, casting out a rainbow of light. When he sees this vision, he hears the voice of God.
Note however, that God’s throne is called a ‘throne of grace’ in the NT.
Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
By using the word Grace, the NT reveals the root of God’s Holy nature and sovereignty. In other words, God rules through lovingkindness. This verifies what the Apostle John says about God’s Holy nature?
“God is love.”
Perfect love is thus the image of Holiness. To ‘Be Ye Holy’, the fire of God can be absorbed (submissive obedience) in response to His first love for us. Then in turn, we reflect His image by manifesting agapao love toward our brothers. The proof of our holiness displays itself when we esteem each other higher, serve one another in humility, and submit to one another in preference. This proof is called the ‘more excellent way’, the Highway of Holiness.
1 John 4:16-21 ESV So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (17) By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (19) We love because he first loved us. (20) If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (21) And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Before Ezekiel, Isaiah was also ushered into God’s Holy of Holies ‘throne room’ where he was given his commission to speak on behalf of God and His heavenly court. However, an angel had to first walk over to an altar burning with ‘coals of fire’ (kabod) and use one of these coals to purify Isaiah’s lips before opening his mouth. Prior to being cleansed, Isaiah laments that he is undone, that is, his mouth is defiled, not pure enough to speak on God’s behalf.
Isaiah 6:5 KJV Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
15. Dietary laws instructed Israel that certain foods commonly consumed by the ordinary Gentile nations were not to be eaten. Probably no others holiness rules separated the people of Israel like these. The word KOSHER is in fact the same word for Holy.
Jesus told the people of Israel that they are not defiled by unclean food, but are defiled by unclean speech. He differentiates separation from purification with this statement, not implying to them that they could abandon the KOSHER diet.
Matthew 15:16-18 KJV And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (17) Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? (18) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
However, what emerges in the New Covenant given to the Church is that the Law’s rituals and dietary rules are no longer necessary for separation. Why? Because the Shadow of the Law and Temple had been fulfilled by the blood of Jesus and the emergence of the Gospel light. An interesting argument is displayed in front of us on this issue at Antioch, Syria, where Paul confronts Peter on Kosher rules that demanded separation from the Gentiles.
Galatians 2:11-16 MY PARAPHRASE But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he failed by succumbing to peer pressure. (12) For before some came from James’s Church in Jerusalem, Peter dined with the Gentile believers. But when the Jewish believers arrived, he withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles, fearing the Jews who upheld the OT dietary rules that forbade eating with Gentiles. His example reposed the Kosher rules upon the Gentiles. (13) It was incredible as I watched even Barnabas and the rest of the local Antioch Jews follow Peter into this unloving hypocrisy. 14) So I confronted all of them with the truth of the Gospel, because they were not walking upright. I said to Peter before them all, not caring if I embarrassed him,
“If you, being a Jew, live as a Gentile here in Antioch and not as the Jews of Jerusalem, why do you now compel these Gentiles of Antioch to live as a Jew from Jerusalem? (15) We Jews were given the dietary and ceremonial laws, unlike the ritually unclean Gentiles who did not receive them, (16) but we now know that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ! Brother, don’t you believe in Jesus Christ that you might be justified by the faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law? (Isa 64:6, Hab 2:4) Don’t you know that flesh cannot be justified by works of law. (17) But if we seek to be justified in Christ and made Holy by faith, how can we be found to be sinners by violating these OT Holiness laws? This contradiction makes Christ out to be a minister of sin? Let it not be said!”
What Paul reminded Peter about was that perfection of the image of God (holiness) comes through justifying faith (the good news, faith in Jesus). This light removes the shadows of the law, retiring the temporary schoolmaster. Paul advocates instantaneous sanctification! More on that below.
16. The NT gospel moves us out of the Holiness Laws and Shadows of the OT. The Apostles tell us that Christian speech is elevated into heavenly (Holy) places and that personal purification is revealed most by our conversation and ethical behavior (godliness, goodness).
1 Peter 1:15 KJV But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
2 Peter 3:11-12 KJV …what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (12) Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Recall, Isaiah lamented that he was a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips. God purified his lips when an angel took a ‘coal of fire’, a symbol of God’s purity and presence, then touched Isaiah with it.
This idea of ‘purified speech‘ begins with the remnant of the Church but is foretold to consume the whole world at the return of Christ. This last days event will create ‘pure language’ at His second sanctifying advent. This endtime fire of Jesus will be such a fervent heat that it will symbolically ‘melt the heavens’. The intensity of this fire will beam the purifying light seen only once before on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:2, 2 Peter 1:17-18).
Every eye will see the light of this fire as it moves from the east to the west (Matt 24:27). Not one shadow or mystery will remain as all truth and sin is exposed, shouted from the mountaintop, by the return of Jesus. Said simply, this is that kabod (glory) that purifies speech.
Acts 10:45-46 KJV And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured
out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (46) For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…
Zephaniah 3:8-9 ESV “Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD, “…For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy; all the earth shall be consumed. (9) “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.
Now also consider that ‘coals of fire’ can cleanse the thinking of our personal enemies and opponents, just as they cleansed Isaiah’s lips. These ‘coals of fire’ are not meant for their destruction, but for their purification and attraction to the ‘burning bush’, our agapao love (goodness). By reflecting the goodness of God toward sinners and enemies, we purify the planet and reveal God’s glory fire.
Romans 12:20-21 KJV Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
John 21:9 KJV As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
17. Goodness toward people makes Holy things even Holier. In a discourse on keeping the Sabbath day Holy, Jesus responded to the Pharisees accusation that his disciples were harvesting and eating wheat on a day they should not have been working (Mark 2:23-28). Jesus refuted their accusations by making several points.
- Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, that is, the ONE with authority over it’s purposes and exceptions. This is a declaration of monotheism.
- David violated the Sabbath out of hunger, even profaning the Holy Sanctuary and Holiness rules by eating God’s shewbread. Scripture did not condemn him even though this was an unauthorized breach of Holy proximity.
- The Sabbath was created not to give man rules to follow, but for man to be free from the constant tyranny of work. Jesus is helping the super-religious understand the root and motive of Divine Holiness; goodwill toward man.
- Helping people when a humanitarian exception to a Holy day exists, makes the Holy day even Holier. This theme is continued when Jesus healed a sick woman outside a synagogue on the Sabbath day and was accused by the Rabbi of defiling the Holy Day (Luke 13:13-17). This confrontation demonstrates God’s motive for His impartation of His Holiness (the Sabbath) toward mankind; ‘His goodness’. Good works are the exceptions to dogmatic Holiness. They make Holiness even Holier.
18. The sanctuary or ‘tent of meeting’ was the Holy space for intimate conversation between God and His people. The High Priest wore a breast plate of 12 stones that signified that he was representing the people before God. If the Priest was properly sanctified and his approach was ritually ordered, God’s presence would manifest. When it did, the kabod would send light through the smoke cloud within the Holy of Holies, granting revelation as the glory shined. As this occurred, God’s word could be heard (the face of God shining in the cloud).
2 Corinthians 4:6 KJV For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
face [holy image, word] of Jesus Christ.
For Israel, God’s presence was found at His sanctuary on His throne (the Ark), where His glory was found burning into the throne and cherubim, from His waist down. This manifestation radiated light within the Holy of Holies, which had no other means of illumination. If the light did not exist, then the High Priest could not see where to daub and apply the blood to the mercy seat.
sanctified (separated) what came in contact with it if the object was morally and/or ritually clean. If a worshiper was not sanctified and the ritual ordered, God’s kabod would break through and destroy the unclean thing, just as it did when the Philistines captured the Ark and brought it into the unclean camp and temple (1 Samuel 5). An even more serious breach of Holiness occurred when the Israelites of Bethshemesh received the Ark from the Philistines and dared handle and peer inside it, not being Levites (2 Samuel 6:19-20). Another breach occured 45 years later when King David attempted to move the Ark from Kirjathjearim to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:6-10) in Philistine fashion, using an ox cart for transportation versus the shoulders of Levites.
19. The OT sanctuary could be contaminated when men lost their sanctification. This is the definition of ‘Ritual sin’.
Worshipers and Priests can become unclean when contaminated by matters of ordinary life. For example, touching a dead corpse, even if burying a family member, rendered one unclean. This explains why sepulchers were white washed before major festivals in Israel, permitting worshipers to avoid being uncontaminated by death.
Defilement of the Church occurs when ‘desiring the things of the world and it’s approval’ versus ‘desiring the pleasure (His will)
of God and His approval’ become one’s motive. This defilement removes the kabod of blessing from the Temple made without hands.
1 John 2:15-17 KJV Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
20. Holiness and the Presence of God (the kabod) brings blessing, protection, healing, and prosperity to the vicinity, people, and object that are properly sanctified.
After the Ark returned to the southern city of Kirjathjearim, Samuel led the nation to repentance
(1 Samuel 7:2-17) for the sins of Eli the High Priest and a defiled people. This restored God’s favor and power back to Israel, with God quickly ‘thundering’ a victory for them over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:10). They soon gained back all the territory and cities stolen from them.
To restore Holiness is to bring back a people to God and in turn, the Divine Presence of blessing to the people.
This was King David’s motive for bringing the kabod/Ark into Jerusalem (1 Samuel 7:2-17). After the oxcart breach, he heard about the blessing that came to Obededom’s house as the Ark temporarily rested there.
21. Holiness insisted on not mixing the pure and purified with the common, impure and unpurified. This is best seen where KINDS of life are forbidden to be mixed (ie, animal cross breeding outside of their genus or planting mixed seeds in the ground). God Himself would not be mixed with what was common (profane) unless it was first purified and made Holy. In terms of the incarnation of Christ, Holiness was imparted to Mary as she surrendered her will and stated, “be it unto me Lord, according to Your (will) word.” (Luke 1:38)
It cannot be overstated that the purity-motive of ‘pleasing God and doing His will‘ is in reality the submission required for repentance. This submission is based on the belief that ‘God loves humanity’ and will not abuse His ownership and control over the human vessel. The Divine fire of repentance is granted to the seeker based on this purity-motive, which in it’s essence permits God the legal right to mix and dwell with mankind, the mindful desire of His heart. Mixing with humanity is God’s way of making man into His eternal image, the face of Jesus Christ.
Acts 11:17-18 KJV Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? (18) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Consider Enoch and his testimony. Not only did he walk arm and arm with God (obedient submissive faith), but he pleased God and was translated, raptured. The same happened to Elijah, when the chariot of burning fire, God’s throne, broke into the human sphere, carrying him up into heaven.
Hebrews 11:5 KJV By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
22. God’s power arrives wherever God’s presence and throne manifest.
How often do people leave disappointed at a situation where prayer seems unanswered? Is it because we as God’s vessels are not living a Holy lifestyle (living sacrifice), giving God the ownership rights (our willingness to believe and act) He deserves? Is it because we have not laid down a proper sacrifice of praise, prayer, repentance, reconciliation, restitution, along with other aspects of a Holy lifestyle?
Are the ‘works of the flesh‘ dominating our lifestyle, a lazy unwillingness for Holiness, thwarting our ministry unto others? If they are, then fasting is the weapon of sacrifice that humbles our flesh (Isaiah 58).
If the fire of God is absent from our services, then our worship of God must be out of order. Whenever the fire of God is present in the sanctuary, signs wonders miracles and the ministry of angels occur. This is the ‘cloud of witnesses’ testifying and revealing God’s glory.
Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking to Jesus,
the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The power of God is a virtue of His Spirit that works. It is the wind blowing, a breathe and touch from His manifest presence.
23. Not to be dismissed by any means, God’s name is Holy. In fact, the Ark of the Covenant was given the name ‘LORD of Hosts’ (2 Samuel 6:2). The vision of Isaiah of the four Cherubim magnifying the name, “LORD of Hosts’ by lifting Holy hands and verbal exaltation of it’s Holy nomenclature, was intended to tell us something. His name sanctifies wherever it is worshiped in adoration.
The High Priest was commanded to wear God’s name on the golden MITRE crown upon his forehead, before he entered the Holy of Holies. When Solomon built the stone Temple in Jerusalem, the sacred name was engraved above its door, an address of identity, ownership, and adoration. This was the name men called upon for restoration after humanity was evicted from the garden of Eden (Holy ground).
Genesis 4:26 KJV And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
Psalms 116:13 KJV I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
Isaiah 12:4 KJV And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
To the Rabbi’s, the name of God was sacred and ineffable
(not to be uttered profanely). When Israel slid into unethical behavior, it was said that they ‘defiled the name of God’. Thus, taking the name of the Lord in vain goes beyond verbal cursing! It also means that how we carry His name in lifestyle, conduct, conversation, and any other aspect of Holiness, reflects the image and identity of God that people see in us. Do we mirror a Holy or defiled image. If defiled, people will not be attracted to God’s beauty of Holiness. For Christians, we speak a lie about the truth of the name of Jesus when we do not reflect His inner and outer beauty.
God’s house (Temple) was to be marked or dedicated by invoking God’s name upon it (1 Chronicles 22:19). The sacred name was also verbally applied to of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chronicles 13:6) upon which the High Priest invoke while daubing or sprinkling blood on the mercy seat. Further, the command of separation given to all Levites was to (Deut 10:8):
- bear the Ark (carry or transport His presence and name),
- stand before the Lord (mediate between men and God), and to
- Bless His name (both verbal exalting thankful praise and by lifting up Holy hands)
Finally, God commanded the Sanctuary Priests to bless the people by the laying on of their hands while invoking the name of God as an order of service. In Christianity, this is also commanded in the foundational ‘doctrine of Christ’ (Hebrews 6:1-3).
Numbers 6:22-27 KJV And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (23) Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, (24) The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: (25) The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: (26) The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (27) And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
24. It becomes apparent that separation, purification, and power are all part of God’s Holiness. However, God is not simply an unapproachable Holy fire that sanctifies or destroys. God is connected to His offspring. It is part of God’s Holy nature to give His people provision, protection, and blessing, just as He has to His creation. This is called ‘His goodness’.
God’s goodness toward people is the divine motive that is front and center when He imparts His Holy Spirit. In other words, Holiness is not Holiness without goodness. Consider this Psalm.
Psalms 34:7-8 KJV The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. (8) O taste [provision] and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Jesus taught that by seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, provision would automatically come, no worry required. Scripture puts a condition on God’s impartation of goodness however.
Romans 11:22 KJV Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off [from His goodness].
To continue in God’s goodness is to to continue to obey His will (His word) through the pure-motive of desiring to please Him (love). When one falls short of obeying His will, confession of missing the mark is a renewal of His goodness. This concept of obeying God’s will out of relationship was reinforced by Jesus.
Luke 12:47-49 ESV And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. (48) But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (49) “I came to cast fire on the earth [God’s will, glory], and would that it were already kindled!
If people are not experiencing and demonstrating God’s goodness, then defilement of Holiness is most likely occurring. That is, the mark of His perfect will has been missed.
25. God’s Holiness demands love for those who are disabled or incapable of taking advantage of the Divine blessing. If we are a Holy people, then it behooves us to bless the fatherless, the widow, the poor, the halt, the lame, the blind, and the stranger. Our good works are a manifestation of the glory of God.
To make their land Holy, Israel was instructed not to harvest the corners of their fields nor to glean the surplus left lying on the ground, but leaving it for the poor. Holiness let’s us know that we ‘are our brother’s keeper’. When a worshiper brings a sacrifice of ‘social welfare’ (good works) at God’s command, he glorifies the Lord and expresses His image.
God becomes angry at those who oppress and humiliate the poor/defenseless (without a mentor, advocate, or champion). An attitude that withholds our help because we suspect laziness or manipulation is not a beatitude that gains God’s approval. If we decide to give willingly, we are to consider our ‘good works’ as if giving unto the Lord himself (purpose of the parable of the good Samaritan). That is the acceptable motive of Holiness.
Matthew 25:35-40 ESV For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (40) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
The NT Apostle reinforces this idea again. He expresses that a ‘miser Christian’ toward the poor is ‘dead in Faith and Holiness’. Dead holiness occurs when we ignore our social responsibility or worse, demand repayment or performance for our generosity. Even preferring the rich over the poor is defilement of our garments and repels God’s presence.
James 2:15-17 KJV If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
To understand a Holy God, we must cherish His goodness toward us and express that goodness toward others who are incapable or unfortunate in the carnal realm.
Psalms 68:5 KJV A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his
Good works are born out of pursuing God’s Holiness. It is an express image of His goodness (Eph 2:19, I Tim 2:19).
26. Holiness is not mere separation from the world but a separation and dedication to perform God’s perfect will on earth. Holiness fails when one’s motive is to please and pursue selfish interests at the expense of God’s will. Seeking the will of God in our present circumstances permits God to manifest His goodwill, righteousness, and presence for the benefit and dignity of man.
God has many GRACES or aspects of Holiness that radiate from His throne. As His Holy people absorb them, He desires that these GRACES (fruits of the Spirit) be expressed to others (be ye Holy).
The 12 fruits to be found on our ‘tree of nation healing’ is Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance, Righteousness, Praise, and Truth (Rev 11:1, Gal 5:22, Heb 12:11, James 3:18, Heb 13:15, Eph 5:9). This is the Holy breastplate of the Melchezadok priesthood (saints).
27. Bringing sons into glory is another way of saying ‘perfecting love’ within the saints. When Holiness is perfected in believers, believers become Jesus-kind.
Hebrews 2:10-11 KJV For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (11) For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren…
Reading the above correctly, Jesus brought sons into glory through the means of His suffering. The sacrifice of His life, name, and blood, was a Holy and perfecting offering. Now Jesus’ sacrifice sanctifies all believers into one Holy body of brothers. Last supper principles keep us Holy in love.
28. The manifestation of God’s glory is a revealing or description of His identity. Whenever the kabod was seen, light made God visible. This light described or revealed God’s goodness. Consider Moses experience when he asked God to reveal His glory. God permitted it, but yet held His hand over Moses eyes so that His pureness would not destroy Moses. Moses upon coming down from Sinai, had to veil his face because he had absorbed so much light. Without this veil, the reflection and purity of the light would have prematurely revealed God’s identity in the face of Moses.
A shining face was thereafter a metaphor for describing the complete revelation of God. If God made His face to shine upon someone, it was a gift of revelation, albeit, not a complete revelation.
Exodus 33:18-20 KJV And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. (19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. (20) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
Notice in the discourse above between God and Moses, the words GLORY, GOODNESS, NAME, GRACE, MERCY, and FACE emerge. These are all terms of IDENTITY (revelation).
Consider the Cherubim that Isaiah saw and heard worshiping the name of God while cross referencing this praise to David’s prayer for his son Solomon (that Solomon would see the revelation of God).
Isaiah 6:3 KJV And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Psalms 72:19 KJV And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
In Isaiah’s description of heavenly worship, the earth is already full of God’s glory. In David’s prayer for his son Solomon, he exhorts his son to make God’s blessed name to be made known over the whole earth. With Isaiah, the Cherubim are speaking about how creation reveals God. With David, he is speaking about illuminating the inhabitants of earth, living in darkness, with the identity of the creator.
Jesus prayed two similar prayers as David about revealing the name of God and about revealing the Son of God.
John 12:28-29 KJV Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. (29) The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
John 17:1 KJV These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
When Jesus says that he has ‘glorified the father’, he means that he has revealed His Holy nature and identity to men. This is the revelation of Grace and Truth, a brighter picture of God’s face than Moses was able to reveal. This was the good work Jesus was sent to do.
John 17:3-4 KJV And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (4) I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
29. To help those who perceive God’s love as a license to sin, the case of Ananias and Sapphira must be considered. The man who denied Jesus three times, confronts these two Christians with a question he already knows the answer to.
Acts 5:3-4 KJV But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (4) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
The motive of Ananias was obvious. He wanted to be esteemed among the brethren, but not at the price of truthfulness. He brazenly did not believe that God meant what He said.
Thus we see that TRUTH is never sacrificed in the mistaken human concept of compassion. God is Holy, remains Holy in the NT, and His throne of grace is also a throne of Truth. Judgment overcame MERCY in the case of these two liars who wanted the praise of men but disregarded the reality of God’s approval.
Revelation 20:11-12 KJV (11) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;
and there was found no place for them. (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
This episode is very similar to the outbreak of God’s truth during the matter of ‘strange fire’.
Leviticus 10:1-2 KJV And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. (2) And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
Earlier in Israel’s history, we see that the censer’s of Korah (Numbers 16:37-38) and the rebellious Kohath Priests were collected and hammered into a covering for the brazen altar. The Holy fire of God in those censers came from the brazen altar. As Nadab and Abihu discovered later, fire from any other source is illegitimate. If an unclean sacrifice was offered on the altar or if that sacrifice was offered by an unclean Priest, the fire of God would it incinerate the impurity even while sanctifying the item used to offer it. As we learn in the Korah episode, this sanctifying of unholy men’s censers was done to remind Israel of the dangerous nature of Holy fire.
Therefore, the case of Ananias and Sapphira is a NT warning to Christians who sacrifice from the motive of peer-pressure. congregational conformity, or man pleasing approval. These are lying motives that are in reality, strange fire offerings. God examines the motive of the worshiper by the Fire of Truth. We must never forget that the Holy Ghost is also Holy fire.
Matthew 3:11 KJV I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he …shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Acts 5:5 KJV And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
In identifying the 12 fruits of the Spirit, the first fruit is love. But the 12th fruit is truth* (Eph 5:9). God’s throne of grace (lovingkindness) is also a throne of truth (encompasses judgment). God never sacrifices truth for love or love for truth. They are both aspects of Holy fire from His throne.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 KJV (9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in
them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
*see the writing on the 12 fruits of the Spirit
Progressive vs. Immediate Sanctification
When scripture says that Jesus is the captain of promise (Heb 2:10), the salvation of our souls, we therefore must acknowledge instantaneous soul sanctification. Since we have been made a living soul when we are born again, it is up to us to continue the cleansing process from all defilements of our flesh and spirit thereafter. This is what is known as progressive sanctification.
Progressive sanctification is a process that moves our Holiness forward as we pursue Jesus. Note, it’s not a destination but a lifetime process. In pursing Jesus from faith to faith, changes occur in our
outward conformity to the image of Christ (cleansing our flesh) and inward conformity to His Spirit. By removing doubt, our willingness to believe the Word of God (cleansing our spirit) brings God’s will to earth. Faith to faith pursuit produces glory to glory results (Romans 1:17, II Corinthians 3:18).
2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Progressive sanctification is the means to obtaining the remaining promises of God, after salvation is obtained through instantaneous sanctification. In this progressive process, we cleanse ourselves through the washing of the word (believing it) and Spirit (experiencing it), obtaining a maturity of ‘fruits’. As our fruits of the Spirit mature, we become a more willing living sacrifice, available for God’s purposes and use (separation to His ownership).
In discussing instantaneous sanctification (salvation of the soul) and progressive sanctification (cleansing of flesh and spirit), the Wesleyan Holiness doctrine now looms large in the history of our Christian rear view mirror.
John and Charles Wesley formed a ‘holiness club’ at Oxford University and earned the moniker, METHODISTS, a term of extremism from other students. Distressed at the passions and prideful thoughts that seemed impossible to rid themselves of, the Wesley brothers thought asceticism could eradicate and overcome the SIN NATURE*.
*Augustine invented the doctrine of Original Sin and Sin Nature. Read more here if you are interested.
In their attempt to eradicate the Law of Sin
(Law of Members, Law of Death, Knowledge of Evil) through Methodic asceticism, they came to realize that something was missing. As all men eventually experience, the Law of Sin is simply KNOWING (Gen 3:22) evil, the contaminating ideas that enter man’s mind during collisions of inconvenience (temptation). By succumbing to this Law through the flames of evil impulse (impure-motives, works of the flesh, the impetus of lust or pride), condemnation of the soul is witnessed after an x-ray of the conscience by the Holy Spirit . This is usually referred to as conviction.
John 8:7-9 KJV So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (8) And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. (9) And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Departing Oxford after taking ‘holy orders’ into the Church of England (Episcopal Church), John Wesley became a missionary to America, landing at Savannah, Georgia, serving Commander James Oglethorpe’s colony. Frustrated with his inability to convert Indians, Wesley turned his attention to the other colonists, all living in divided camps of culture and language. Then he fell into trouble.
Wesley became obsessed with a woman, Sophi Hopkey. He was exposed after refusing her communion upon her marriage to another man, store clerk William Williamson. This brought a law suit by Williamson. Depressed and defeated, Wesley felt condemned and began searching for a solution to burn out the passions of his so-called sin nature. He wrote in his diary,
“I came to convert the Indians, but, oh, who will convert me?”
This defeat of
ascetic ritual holiness caused Wesley to turn to the Moravians who seemed to have a peace that he and other Episcopalians did not possess. 4 months after Wesley’s return to England, Wesley reluctantly went to a Moravian house meeting in London on Aldersgate Street. His Moravian friend, Peter Bohler, had been ministering to him and saw his need. It was here that Wesley unexpectedly experienced the fire of God’s glory.
He later wrote in his diary about the experience that during the house meeting, someone was reading from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to Romans.
“In the evening I went unwillingly to a society [Moravian layman’s bible study] at Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
The Moravians taught that the fire of God, a heart warming presence, was the assurance of salvation. Wesley, after his asceticism failed to subdue his passions, was ready to give up Christian faith altogether. Peter Bohler counseled him to keep on preaching.
“Preach faith till you have it,” Peter advised. “And then because you have it, you will preach faith.”
Wesley eventually (1777) synthesized the mixture of his ascetic ways and the instantaneous Moravian experience into a tract he called ‘Christian Perfection’. This tract has become the doctrinal foundation of the Wesleyan Holiness movement for nearly 300 years. In it, Wesley explains that 5 books laid the foundation of his ‘Christian Perfection’ doctrine which he had read at Oxford over 4 successive years.
- Bishop Taylor’s ‘Rules and Exercises of Holy Living and Dying’ [1725, age 23]
- Thomas Kempis’s ‘Christian Pattern‘ 
- William Law’s ‘Christian Perfection‘ 
- William Law’s ‘Serious Call to a devout and Holy life‘ 
- The Bible
Thus, Wesleyan holiness emerged in 1777 as articulated in the tract ‘Christian Perfection’, which explained Wesley’s 50 year journey.
“In 1725 at age 23, I read several parts of this book [Bishop Taylor’s ‘Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Dying’]. I was exceedingly affected; that part in particular which relates to purity of intention. Instantly I resolved to dedicate all my life to God, all my thoughts, and words, and actions; being thoroughly convinced, there was no medium; but that every part of my life (not some only) must either be a sacrifice to God, or myself, that is, in effect, to the devil.”
Here is a summary of Wesley’s doctrine, some of it written in his own words.
- Faith and heart warming comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. This is a work of grace, a spiritual experience that arrives as a ‘love gesture’ from Jesus to those that diligently seek Him. This assurance gives one the knowledge of salvation, an agreement between God’s Spirit and man’s spirit (absence of fear of condemnation, Romans 8:15-16). *
* Note: Wesley and the Moravians, like Luther, erred in focusing solely on the book of Romans. The Apostle John tells us that agreement must exist between Spirit, Water, and Blood (1 John 5:6-8) not just a feeling of cleansing in the conscience. Thus, water baptism is also essential for remission of sins (Peter, Acts 2:38), not just ‘heart warming’. Let’s call it ‘head warming’. More on this at my concluding comments below.
- Holiness is Christian Perfection. It is how one obtains the ‘mind of Christ’. It is a purified state bringing a sinless lifestyle into existence as a second work of God’s grace.
- Simplicity of the pure-motive responding to God’s love, is the inspiration for sacrificial obedience that God accepts. This pure-motive was called the ‘wings of the soul’ that lifted Wesley to the mountain of God.
- Once one experiences a total sanctifying experience with God, one submits the entire heart to the mission of ‘pleasing God’. This brings God’s will to earth as it is in heaven. This second work of grace (sanctification) occurs instantaneously after the first work of grace (salvation). In other words, a double cure.
- Sanctification comes by the grace of God’s throne and makes it is impossible to be ‘half hearted’ in one’s devotion and commitment to God. If one is half hearted and imperfect, then one is not yet sanctified.
- Sanctified ‘walking with Christ’ insisted on an entire inward and outward conformity to the pattern of the Master. It reflected the ‘image of God’ by acquisition of the ‘mind of Christ’. Wesley felt that he had before times been limping along this path by permitting himself and others to walk in a fleshly way before his sanctification. He felt his entire sanctification occurred at Aldersgate Street meeting. He learned more a few weeks later by visiting the Moravian village of Herrnhut, Germany.
- That circumcision of the heart was in truth, instant holiness perfection. It is an end state of having been cleansed of all ‘filthiness of the flesh and spirit’. The consequence of this circumcision was for believers to be immediately endued with the virtues of Jesus, by the renewing of His image in one’s mind. Thus, one can become perfect (holy) as our Father in heaven is perfect (Holy, Matt 5:48, Lev 19:2).”
- Holiness is in actuality, the manifestation of love. Wesley wrote about it this way (my redaction).
“Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment. It is not only `the first and great’ command, but all the commandments in one. `Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,’ they are all comprised in this one word, love….Here is the sum of the perfect law, the circumcision of the heart. Let the spirit return to God who gave it, with the whole training of its affections. Other sacrifices from us he would not, but the living sacrifice of the heart hath he chosen. Let it be continually offered up to God through Christ, in flames of holy love…Desire not to live but to praise his name; let all our thoughts, words, and works tend to his glory. Let our soul be filled with so entire a love to Him that we may love nothing but for his sake. Let us have a pure intention of heart, a steadfast regard to his glory in all our actions. For then, and not till then, is that `mind in us, which was also in Christ Jesus’…we pursue nothing but in relation to him, and in subordination to his will sure; when we too neither think, nor speak, nor act, to fulfill `our own will, but the will of Him that sent us…And loving God, we`love our neighbor as ourselves;’ we love every man as our own soul. We love our enemies, yea, even the enemies of God. And if it be not in our power to`do good to them that hate’ us, yet we cease not to`pray for them,’ though they spurn our love, and still `despite fully use us or persecute us…For Jesus is`pure in heart.’ His love has purified our hearts from envy, malice, wrath, and every unkind temper. It has cleansed us from pride, whereof `only cometh contention’ and we have now`put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering’…all possible ground for contention on our part is cut off…seeing we`love not the world, nor any of the things of the world’, but`all of our desire is unto God, and to the remembrance of his name…if our`eye is single, our whole body is full of light. When the whole is light…God reigns alone; all that is in our soul is`holiness to the Lord…as we love God, so we`keep his commandments…whatsoever we do, it is all done to the glory of God…to advance His glory by peace and good-will among men…whatever we do in word or deed, we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, even the Father, through him…These are the very words wherein I largely declared, for the first time, my sentiments of Christian Perfection…I began to be homo unius libri, ‘a man of one book’, regarding none, comparatively, but the Bible…we fix this conclusion: A Christian is so far perfect, as not to commit sin. This is the glorious privilege of every Christian.”
Holy love (Christian Perfection) was so prominent in Wesley’s mind that he composed the poem below in 1738 on his journey home from Savannah, Georgia. He later remarked in 1777 that no one had yet to scripturally refute his song.
O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but thy pure love alone!
O may thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown !
Strange fires far from my heart remove;
My every act, word, thought, be love!
The Moravian Influence on Wesleyan Holiness
Wesley on his trip to Herrnhut, Germany (August 1738), his spiritual curiosity aroused a few weeks earlier by his experience at Aldersgate Street, found the source for his instantaneous sanctification doctrine at the Moravian colony on Count Zindendorf’s Saxony estate. It was told him by the tongue of Mr. Arvid Gradin, one of the refuges at the Czech-German colony of 1,300, a village of ecumenical peace settled by various persecuted denominations.
It had been only 11 years after the outbreak of Holy Ghost fire at Herrnhut (August 13, 1727) during a ‘Last Supper Communion Service’ which all the arguing (doctrinal separation) factions attending (Moravians, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Lutherans, Baptists, dissenting Catholics).
Gradin told Wesley,
“Repose in the blood of Christ; a firm confidence in God, and persuasion of his favor; the highest tranquility, serenity, and peace of mind, with a deliverance from every fleshly desire, and a cessation of all, even inward sins.”
Wesley grabbed this thinking from Herrnhut after the instantaneous sanctification doctrine arose after the powerful presence of Jesus that had been experienced by the villagers in 1727, during the ‘Azusa style‘ communion service mentioned above. The Moravians called this doctrine ‘Quietism’ which had Zindzendorfian nuances that Wesley eventually refuted.
Wesleyan Holiness Doctrine Fails Wesley
The acrimonious end of the ‘Christian perfection’ doctrine came in Wesley’s own personal life, which testified that he still possessed filthiness in his flesh and spirit. After years of tremendous revival in England and America, Wesley’s wife left him charging the ‘second work of grace’ architect with marital neglect. Wesley had put his ministry above his love for and relationship with his wife. How he rationalized this unchristian conduct is unclear and it remains the one bugaboo of his character that Wesleyan Holiness believers continue to try and rationalize.
- When Wesley left for a ministry tour in Ireland in 1758, Molly reported that her husband’s parting words to her were: “I hope I shall see your wicked face no more.” (p. 155)
- Reunited in England, they clashed violently—Wesley refused to change his writing habits (of sending affectionate letters to other women) and Molly accused him of adultery and called down on him, in her own words, ‘all the curses from Genesis to Revelation.'” (p. 155)
- Almost the sole surviving record of this marriage from Molly’s side dates from December 1760, when she said Wesley left a meeting early with one Betty Disine and was seen still with her the following morning. She told him ‘in a loving manner to desist from running after strange women for your character is at stake’. (p. 159)
- In 1771, Molly announced that she was leaving John again. On January 23rd, Wesley’s journal records, ‘For what I cause I know not to this day, (my wife) set out for Newcastle, purposing ‘never to return.’ I did not leave her: I did not send her away: I will not call her back.'” (p. 174)
Clearly, Wesley was not upset to have his wife leave him. The trouble in their marriage began with a pre-nuptial agreement, his brother Charles dislike of his wife, and heated exchanges between them that began only three months after their wedding. Wesley’s marriage ended in a permanent separation, a divorce without written legal proceedings. Incredibly, John Wesley didn’t even hear about his estranged wife’s passing (in 1771) until four days after she had died. Where was his instantaneous sanctification, perfect love of all humanity, agape charity toward his spouse?
Sophi Hopkey (Savannah, Georgia) and Molly Vazeille (England)
witness to us that progressive sanctification is the only remedy for the law of sin that dwells in our members, which easily besetting us. God alone is Holy, infallible in love and truth. We can only pursue Him for what we need.
Progressive Sanctification and Finished Work
Joining Wesley in proving that eradication of a sin nature is only wishful thinking, was Charles Fox Parham and William Seymour, the two 20th century founders of the worldwide Pentecostal movement. Both Parham and Seymour believed in Wesleyan instantaneous sanctification and taught that it was a second work of grace, thus making it impossible for one to sin. However, both men fell into a non-peaceful jihadist sin when intolerance arose within both of them. How? Later in life, Parham became enthralled with the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan and Seymour changed the Azusa Mission by-laws to restrict membership to Negroes only. So much for the impossibility to sin!
Then a man arose that stood up to Wesleyan perfection. William Howard Durham brought Holiness leaning people into the greater revelation of progressive sanctification.
Durham, a Baptist (Reformed version) Holiness Preacher from Kentucky, travelled to Azusa Street and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues on March 2, 1907. He described his experience later in a written testimony just a few weeks later.
“But on Friday evening, March 1, His mighty power came over me, until I jerked and quaked under it for about three hours. It was strange and wonderful and yet glorious. He worked my whole body, one section at a time, first my arms, then my limbs, then my body, then my head, then my face, then my chin, and finally at 1 A.M., Saturday, March 2, after being under the power for three hours, He finished the work on my vocal organs, and spoke through me in unknown tongues.* I arose, perfectly conscious outwardly and inwardly that I was fully baptized in the Holy Ghost, and the devil can never tempt me to doubt it. First I was conscious that a living Person had come into me, and that He possessed even my physical being, in a literal sense, in so much that He could at His will take hold of my vocal organs, and speak any language He chose through me. Then I had such power on me and in me as I never had before. And last but not least, I had a depth of love and sweetness in my soul that I had never even dreamed of before, and a holy calm possessed me, and a holy joy and peace, that is deep and sweet beyond any thing I ever experienced before, even in the sanctified life.
It was at this time that William Seymour, the Holiness preacher leading the Azusa mission in Los Angeles, prophesied that wherever Durham preached, the Holy Spirit would fall upon the people. Just 2 weeks later, this prophecy was fulfilled as Durham made his way to Denver, CO whereupon thousands experienced great outpourings of the Spirit and sanctifying fire.
Returning from Azusa, Durham brought the Pentecostal fire to his storefront Church, the North Avenue Full Gospel Mission in Chicago. Within 4 years, he saw that instantaneous sanctification was imaginary and only a ‘Finished Work’ at Calvary, salvation, could be experienced as a believer repented of sins and received the Holy Spirit. This revelation ignited a reform among the Pentecostal-Holiness people, influencing future leaders such as Howard Goss, E.N. Bell, G.T. Hayward, and A.H.Argue.
Durham then moved his ministry to Los Angeles in 1911 with the goal of liberating the Pentecostal movement from the ‘sinless perfection’ doctrine of Wesleyan Holiness. Almost immediately, this new revelation fractured the unity and tradition of the Azusa Pentecostal-Holiness people and divided the Pentecostal movement into two camps; Wesleyan and Progressive. Durham was banned by Seymour from any further preaching at the Azusa Mission shortly thereafter.
Then Parham joined in and demonized Durham, even calling on God to kill the man with the wrong Holiness doctrine (recall the Korah incident…kill Parham or Durham). But the ‘Finished Work’ doctrine took hold. Progressive sanctification became mainstream and now dominates worldwide Pentecostalism. However, various Wesleyan Pentecostals still exist, predominately in North America, dividing both camps into near equal numbers.
One unnoticed fallout within both Pentecostal camps has been the LOST emphasis on ‘pursuing Holiness’. Durham nor Parham would both have lamented this fire-quenching fallout of their argument.
Denominations that have rejected Holiness principles now find themselves diminishing, without the baptism of fire*. While asceticism cannot bring fire to people, fire can bring asceticism to people. God does not call us to Holiness to keep us in a monastery, but to attract unbelievers to the ‘beauty of Holiness’, the very image of Christ. God’s fire was never permitted to be extinguished in the sanctuary (Eli). When we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are now in position to be progressively sanctified from fire-experience to fire-experience (glory to glory). This is the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ work of the Holy Spirit, the more excellent way.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 KJV (17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Purifying the defiled NT Temple
Since the human body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, it must be instantaneously and progressively sanctified. Instantaneous sanctification occurs in 3 ordered steps, all considered together as one act (work of faith) to produce purity and sanctification.
- Water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ
- Infilling of the Holy Ghost
This process of instantaneous sanctification is expounded in Peter’s Day of Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:38), the keys to the Kingdom (Matt 16:19).
After justification (instantaneous sanctification), progressive sanctification is obtained in two ways:
- Washing of Water (ablution, Eph 5:26) by the word and by consistent study of the word of God (discipleship, John 8:31)
- Maturing of the Fruits of the Spirit
Maturing the fruits of the Spirit is accomplished from time to time as we experience the cleansing fire of the manifest presence of God. To experience this manifest presence, a sacrifice must occur (freewill or sin offering). These sacrifices must be coupled with a loving desire to please God (pure-motive). These sacrifices are the NT offerings:
- Prayer (including intercessory motive prayer)
- Fasting (humbling of the flesh)
- Praise (expression of joy and thankfulness)
- Worship (submission born of pure-motive)
- Lifestyle (Holy living with men and God)
- Repentance (regretful apologies from a broken heart of contrition)
- Restitution (restoration of possessions)
- Reconciliation (relationship phileo love restoration)
The manifest presence of God is encouraged by sacrifice and fellowship, a personal relationship of desiring to please Jesus. Further, how much more fire could be experienced by visitors at our Church services if a sacrifice of prayer and praise was laid down with the right motive in the prayer room?
Keeping the Old Man Buried
Finally, how can one pursue Holiness without dying out to the desires of the flesh? The old man must be buried, sacrificed, identified with Him in baptism, and kept buried by ‘dying daily’. This kind of death puts God’s name on the temple, not our own.
Are the Church leaders we are following living Holy and helping us pursue Holiness, the image of Christ? Or are we following people living in worldly mansions of ostentation and lust, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof?
Romans 6:3-4 KJV Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Now consider the following scriptures with a new knowledge of the Holy consuming fire of God’s nature.
Matthew 3:11-12 KJV I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (12) Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Romans 12:20-21 KJV Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Revelation 1:13-14 KJV And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (14) His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
Revelation 19:12-13 KJV (12) His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (13) And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Daniel 7:9 KJV I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
* In 1894, the Methodists rejected the Holiness principles of Wesley’s ‘Christian Perfection’ after it was co-opted by the ecumenical National Holiness Association. Now Wesley’s grandchildren are struggling with gay marriage and other fire retardant moral issues. Rejecting Holiness is to reject God Himself.