Holiness is so so so important. Actually, it is going to be the topic of a bible study I’m leading in my dorm this semester. I will probably chronicle much of what happens in my study, as well as thoughts along the way as I research and plan what to share.
I thought I’d share something that just happened on Facebook. I shared an article from Relevant Magazine entitled, “Is the Sinner’s Prayer Biblical?” And basically, the point of the article is that the gospel is so much more than redemption and salvation. A friend commented:
I was reading the bible last Sunday, after the first passover in Canaan, when a man took the devoted things from the plunder. God was no longer with the tribes of Israel so they were losing horribly. The man confessed and gave the things back because it’s the right thing to do. So god had the man and his entire family, all of his possessions, and his animals, stoned horrible, then burnt alive, then stoned again for good measure. Supposedly that pile of stones which buried the family in this brutal murder remains to this day, as evidence to the crimes committed by the people of Israel. It was horrible, and goes to show what prayers for forgiveness are worth to a vengeful god.
I wasn’t sure how to respond at first, and I first commented something about a repentant heart. Which is true. But later, I rushed back, deleted the comment, and added this instead:
You cite an excellent example. Thinking that the story you cite is about forgiveness is the same error as thinking that the gospel is only about forgiveness and redemption. It is so much bigger than that. It’s about God making us holy, and living a life of holiness, and pursuing God. The story of the Israelites coming into Canaan is part of the story of God setting Israel apart as a holy nation, a people dedicated to serving Him, and living with Him. The story is an excellent example of how our individual behavior does not only affect ourselves, but the lives of the people around us. The man’s sin in taking plunder wasn’t just about him, but it affected the holiness of Israel. Israel must be completely holy in order to dwell with God, and that man put that holiness in jeopardy. That is why it was such horrible crime, and why he had to be punished the way he was.
God wants to set us apart, to make us holy, so that we can dwell with Him, and anything that gets in the way must be removed.
The gospel is not just about getting to Heaven at the end of it all. The gospel is about ultimate redemption so that we may be holy, so that we may dwell with Yahweh, and to pursue a relationship with Him. Now we can encounter an unclean world, and sin as we tend to do, and still have a relationship with Him. We can encounter a deeper level of holiness than ever before. The set-apart one of Israel, whose spirit was so holy that if you did not go through the proper ritual you would be died, can now reside within our flesh. And now we can live life with our Father, for our Father. Our lives can be so much more than just trying to survive, but worshipping God in everything we do and giving all the glory to Him. And of course, there’s still even more to it.
The gospel is way cool.