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  • Renée Coventry

Removing Our Sandals & Keeping Our Feet from Evil, Pt. 13

Proverbs 4:27 ends with, "Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil." Notice that you are the one to take action. God doesn't remove your foot from evil; you do. It wasn't God who gave sin entrance into the world; it was humankind. We are the ones who daily compromise in varying aspects of our lives. We already discussed where our focus should be, so what does it mean to turn? Turning in this verse has the connotation of stretching out, pervert, and bend. How often has the church, instead of walking in holiness, stretched the truth of the gospel to accommodate what breaks the heart of God? How often have we bowed to society's dictates instead of God's? Is society more merciful than God? Absolutely not! So why then do we bow?

Here is a self-evident truth: a foot must stand on something to fulfill its designed purpose. On what, then, are you standing? That which is evil or that which is holy? I submit to you that the opposite of evil is not good. As we've discovered, even when we do good, if it is not grounded in proper motives and a pure heart, it can be wrong. No, the opposite of evil is holiness.

In Exodus 3, verses 3-6, Moses turns aside to see a burning bush. Even though the bush is on fire, it is not consumed. The word turn here is a little bit different. While it can mean to depart from your path, it can also mean to turn in unto. This is what Moses was doing. The sight itself was so spectacular he turned into it, not away from it. We have a misconception that holiness causes people to turn away. It's the opposite. It is such an anomaly that people take notice of it. History is clear regarding the early church. It's not that they went around beating people over the head with Torah scrolls that attracted the world's attention. It was their holy lifestyle. What? No idol worship? A God you can't see? You must be atheists and, therefore, must be punished!

Moses turns to see this irregularity taking place in nature, and when he turns into it, God calls him by name, and Moses answers! You see, when we turn into holiness, God not only reaches out, but we respond. However, when Moses turns, God makes a point of telling him not to draw close but rather to remove his sandals. Why? Because he was standing on holy ground! God had separated this portion of land as a place from which He would call Moses out of his current life to act as a deliverer of God's people.

Now, I know that people say that removing the sandals was a sign of reverence and submission. I agree with that. However, I also think that in having Moses remove his sandals, God was telling Moses that He didn't want anything of man's contrivance between him and His holiness. Much like the prophet Isaiah who experienced the holiness of God and had to be touched with coals from heaven's altar to fulfill his prophetic destiny as God's mouthpiece, so Moses' feet had to touch the holiness of God so that his feet could be purified to lead God's people out of bondage (Is. 6:5-6). Like Isaiah, whose response was that he was undone, Moses' response was to hide his face from God, recognizing his sinfulness. Fear of God came upon them both, and that is the response we should have when we come in contact with the holiness of God. A holy life is one lived in a healthy fear of God.

In the holy place, God reveals Himself to Moses and Isaiah, and it is in this sacred place that they are purified. If we want to know God, it must be from a place of holiness. I think it's interesting to note that when Moses first encounters God, it is at God's initiative, and Moses hides his face in fear. Later, after Moses relationship with God has grown, Moses initiates contact with God, and in response to Moses' request to see God's glory, God not only makes a place for it to happen in the cleft of the rock, but God covers Moses with His hand, protecting Moses from the death that would surely result if a man looked upon the face of God (Ex. 33:18-23).

There is the cycle. God creates a space for us in which He initiates contact with us even in our sinful state. We respond to that call and invite the holy God into the space He created. This continues on an even grander scale, where God increasingly reveals Himself to us. Only now, God doesn't prevent us from experiencing His holiness. When Christ died, the veil between the Holy of Holies and us was rent in two (Matt. 27:51). Jesus has made way for us and in the closing statements of Jude, Jude states,

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

To God our Savior, Who alone is wise,

Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power,

Both now and forever. Amen" (Jude 1:24-25).

This is the God we serve – One who is so desirous of an interpersonal relationship that He willingly creates space for us in our sin, covers us with His hand to prevent our destruction, but then provides a way for us to stand boldly and without fault in His presence. This is our Holy God!

However, to see this made manifest in our lives, we must remove our foot from evil and anything that keeps us from experiencing His holiness. What is under your feet? Upon what are you standing? As the old hymn of the church magnificently proclaims, I too want to shout from the rooftops, "On Christ the solid rock I stand!"

Let's Pray:

Father, I don't want to stand on evil; I only want to stand on You in holiness. Holy Spirit, please help me remove my foot from anything that prevents me from accessing Your holiness and glory. Like Moses and Isaiah, I am undone in Your presence, Lord Jesus. Like Jude, I want You to take great joy in presenting me faultless before God. Please help me remain firmly planted on You, My Rock, daily removing anything that holds me back from seeing You as You are. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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