- Renée Coventry
Holiness, Inviting God Back In, Pt. 8
I have discussed that the act of creation itself was holy. God divided out time, space, and matter, creating a place for us in which we could thrive. I mentioned that God's holiness exposes us, and we must choose to be holy because He is holy. So how is this accomplished?
After God's promise to never flood the earth again, God decided to have a called-out people, holy to Himself, and to have that people, He chose one man. Remember, in my previous posts on prophetic destiny, you aren't called out for your sake alone, but for your family and the nations/ethnic groups of the world. God chose Abraham.
We see in Genesis twelve that God calls Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans to a place God will show Him. This is crucial because we can't be holy without the leading of the Holy Spirit. We don't know what that kind of purity is outside of God, so it is impossible for us to attempt it on our own. God's desire is for us to enter into covenant with Him, drawing us back to Himself. So how does God achieve this?
In Genesis 15, Abram asks God for proof or a sign that he will go in to possess the land God has shown him. Let's pick it up from there. It states,
"He [God] said to him, 'Bring me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.' So he [Abram] brought all these to Him, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but he did not cut up the birds. Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly a terror and great darkness descended on him...When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram." Verses 9-12,17-18
Do you see what Abram did? He divided! Just as God had separated time, space, and matter for us, Abram divided what he had, animals, for God. And when Abram made a place for God, the Holy God passed through it to enter into covenant with the man whom He had called out and separated. Now that man reciprocates and makes a place for God. This is what covenant is all about. We divide everything so that we might be joined together. We separate our time, space, and resources for another to ultimately be united.
I believe that, in some ways, the church has inadvertently cheapened what it means to be in a relationship with the Lord by saying, "Just come to Jesus. He'll <fill in the blank>." Covenant places responsibility on both parties to make a place for each other, and it's no easy task. Observe that Abram had to drive away those things that were aggressively, ravenously seeking to consume the place he was carving out for the Lord. Interestingly, the phrase "drove them away," in Hebrew has the connotation of doing so by blowing and is only used three times that I can find in Scripture. The other two times refer to the Spirit of God blowing on what is frozen to melt and on the withered grass, as the flower fades (Ps. 147:18, Is. 40:7). So, in covenant with God, it is crucial to guard the place we have made for Him.
Proverbs 4:23-27 tells us what and how. It states,
"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil."
We've seen this before. Where? Look again at 1 Peter 1:13ff. I know it's long, but it's worth me typing it out for you so that you can see it clearly. The words in brackets are mine, added to show the significance of separation to God as He separated time, space, and matter for us.
"Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind [matter], be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time [time] of your stay here [space] in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times [time] for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth [matter] through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible [space], through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' [Is. 40:6-7 mentioned above re: blowing to drive away]. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."
We will examine what this means for us, our character, and our conduct. For now, observe that holiness relates directly to our behavior and that we are to take an active role in our covenant with God. Please don't anyone accuse me of preaching a gospel of works. That is NOT what this is about! After all, salvation is a free gift, and it is through the enablement of the Holy Spirit that we are transformed at all. Ultimately, though, the Holy Spirit requires our cooperation when it comes to self. Remember that free will we were given? This is covenant, and while separating a place for Him may seem easy, maintaining it in a world of sin is much more challenging.
Father God, I am in awe that You desire to be in covenant with me. Before I ever entered into it, You gave me a promise, just like You did with Abraham. Subsequently, everything about him changed, and I want to change, too. Please, Lord, show me what it means to be holy, walking in purity in every aspect of my character, even as You do. Lord, I invite You into all that You provided for me. I want to abide in You every day of every week of every year, for all time. Holy Spirit, please help me to change. Holiness is entirely contrary to my flesh. It is only through You that I can. In Jesus' Name. Amen.