Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Holiness: What Is A Sanctified & Consecrated Priesthood?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Holiness: What Is A Sanctified & Consecrated Priesthood?

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:5-9).

Unlike the O. T. Temple, each local church of Christ is a “spiritual house” made up of living “stones.” The word “spiritual” is translated from the Greek word pneumatikos (pnyoo-mat-ik-os') and refers to someone filled with and governed, or controlled, by the Spirit of God. Only a pneumatikos Christian is a spiritual Christian. A person is “spiritual” because his life is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God. Spirituality is the overflow of the Spirit of God in our lives. The filling of the Spirit always results in the overflow of the God-life with the “fruit of the Spirit” being manifested. Therefore, a “spiritual” person or a “spiritual” local church will always be visible through the evident realities of the “fruit of the Spirit.”

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).

When we try to pour a five-gallon bucket of water into a one-gallon bucket we get overflow. However, what happens when we try to put an infinite supply of water into a one-gallon bucket? We do not just get overflow. We get a flood! That is what happens when the infinite God overflows in the life of a believer. A flood of spirituality happens. We call that revival. Why is it we do not regularly see these spiritual floods in our local churches? Notice that the word “and” in Galatians 5:24 confirms that true spirituality or holiness not only produces the “fruit of the Spirit,” it also dies to both the “affections and lusts” of “the flesh.”

Although the Aaronic Priesthood and the Priesthood of the Believer are considerably different in their “work of the ministry,” they are equal in their responsibilities to personal holiness. When we think of the Priesthood of the Believer two words should come to mind. These two words are sanctified and consecrated. The word sanctified describes what we are to be before God. The Believer Priest is to be separate from worldly pleasures and ambitions and separated unto God. Consecrated defines the reality of a life given to the Lord for doing the “work of the ministry. Both are essential before God can use a believer for His purposes. Although the function of the Old Testament Aaronic Priesthood was considerably different from the present Priesthood of the Believer, the requirements of being sanctified and consecrated continues.

40 And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. 41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: 43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him” (Exodus 28:40-43).

The word translated “consecrate” in Exodus 28:41 is the Hebrew word male' (maw-lay'). It means to fill or to overflow. The Priest who was consecrated was to be filled spiritually. His was to be fully given to God; body, soul and spirit. All of him was to be under God’s control. In the New Testament, we call this being “filled” with the Spirit.

The word translated “sanctify” in Exodus 28:41 is the Hebrew word qadash (kaw-dash'). It refers to someone that is sacred. This means someone completed dedicated for God’s use. Being sanctified in the Old Testament involved certain purification rituals. Without going into elaborate detail regarding these purification rituals, purification involved three basic things:

1. Clothing to cover their nakedness (“linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs shall they reach” (Exodus 28:42)

2. Ritual purification with water (Exodus 29:4)

3. The offering of sacrifices to “cover” their own personal sins before God (Exodus 29:10-33)

Note: the Hebrew word translated “atonement” in Exodus 29:33 is kaphar (kaw-far'). The word “atonement” is not an accurate translation of this Hebrew word. The kaphar did not reconcile the individual to God. It could only cover over sin until at which time Messiah would propitiate God. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25). The eating of the kaphar implied that the participating priest acknowledged both his sin before God and the just penalty of condemnation for that sin. In doing so, he accepted God’s grace in covering his sin and providing forgiveness.

Under the New Covenant the Believer Priest is already clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. However, he is commanded to “put off” worldliness and to “put on godliness.”

26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:8-13).

The other two items (ritual purification with water and eating the kaphar) are fulfilled in Christ. Under the New Covenant, these two parts of sanctification involve the confession of sin whereupon God acts and cleanses the repentant Believer Priest of all unrighteousness.

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:7-9).

“Fellowship” is the partnership with God in the “work of the ministry” that comes when the Believer Priest is consecrated and sanctified to God. “Fellowship” is from the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah), which refers to a joint participation. The best English word I can think of that accurately translates the meaning of this Greek word is the word synergy. It refers to the combined energy of two or more people in a cooperative work. Synergy with God and other Believer Priests is not accomplished until sanctification and consecration are spiritual realities in a believer’s life.

What Peter is talking about in I Peter 2:5 is this synergy or “fellowship” that comes when the living “stones” come together as the “spiritual house.” They are by regeneration a “spiritual house” in that God has saved them and made them part of His New creation in Christ Jesus. They are a “spiritual house” by the fact of the impartation of the “Divine Nature” in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

However, this positional reality is useless in this world if it does not become a practical reality in our lives. Believers must be sanctified and consecrated to the Lord. It is the individual responsibility of every Believer Priest to separate himself from worldly ambitions and pleasures and to dedicate his life to doing the “work of the ministry.” Any believer Priest failing to maintain a sanctified and consecrated life destroys the synergy of the “spiritual house” of living “stones.”

Secondly, sanctification is practically useless apart from consecration. Of what value to God is a holy vessel that never does the “work of the ministry”? The purpose for personal sanctification is to prepare one’s self to be a vehicle of God’s grace. Sanctification without doing the “work of the ministry” is like getting up in the morning, putting on our work cloths and then sitting around the house all day doing nothing. Sadly, that describes exactly the concept most Christians have of sanctification.

Thirdly, consecration is practically useless apart from sanctification. Of what value to God is a dirty vessel that He cannot fill with His divine power for the “work of the ministry”? Many Christians rush into the Lord’s work without giving careful consideration to the spiritual preparation that is essential to doing that work. They think they are doing God a favor. The reality is that they are just spinning their wheels. Nothing will come of their efforts

Maintaining our “fellowship” with God involves sanctification and consecration. When these two truths become the practical realities of our lives, we can honestly say we “abide in Christ” and can expect all the promises that come from that reality. Abiding “in Christ” means to live in constant fellowship (synergy) with Him through continual sanctification and consecration.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:4-8).

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