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September 1, 2009
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
Christ loved the church, the called out ones, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5.25b-17) But what does it mean to be holy, clean, pure, undefiled, whole?
While we won't be exhausting the subject, we can give some food for thought. The Word of God divides. Pure and profane, clean and unclean, pure and polluted, holy and unholy, undefiled and defiled, spotless and stained, whole or divided, complete or incomplete…these and other categories and classifications form the foundation of inclusion or exclusion in the Scripture, a system of purity. What do we find? Purity relates to wholeness and normality both as to the physical body and the social body, to things spiritual, and to matters of worship and living in the presence of a holy and living God.
We find divisions concerning moral issues, table fellowship, the purity of food, sexual issues, corpse uncleanness, separation from evil things and people. The people of God are exhorted to separate themselves from evil and cling to what is good, to consecrate themselves to the one, true God and have nothing to do with idols, the no-gods. The wise person is contrasted with the fool, the righteous with the wicked, the believer with the unbeliever, those destined for eternal life with those destined for wrath.
Labeling and classifying defines boundaries for the purpose of establishing order and safeguarding life. That which transgresses the boundaries established by God, that which is out of place and thus out of order, that which threatens and endangers life, that which is non-being or no-god, that which is formless, that which contravenes ordered relations, such are classified as unclean, defiling, unholy, impure. It is like dirt-matter out of place.
To be holy, pure, clean, undefiled is to live in an ordered, structured system bounded by the will of God as to the physical body, the social body, the spiritual body, and as to the community of worshippers. What is holy, clean, pure, unmixed, etc. serves to establish the identity of a group in order to maintain it as it should be. God made man in His image and likeness-deathless, until Adam sinned.
God gave the Law as a way of life. Do this and you will live. Transgress and you will die. Adam over-stepped the bounds and died, bringing death to the human race and the consequences of sin to all of creation. (Romans 5.17ff) Jesus, whose life is considered "one righteous act," is God come in the flesh. He is the Federal Head of a new humanity. As the infinite God-Man, He fulfills all righteousness and in fact is the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus is life and that life is the light of all people. He came that those who trust in Him, those who are His, would have life and that more abundantly.
But look at this. Jesus comes into the culture of His day. Jesus comes along and is accused of crossing forbidden and dangerous boundaries of persons and social norms. Jesus has dealings with unclean people like lepers, sinners, and tax collectors. He redefines sacred times like the Sabbath and scared places like the Temple. He moves the boundaries of food rules and washing customs. He writes, as it were, a new set of cultural and spiritual maps regarding persons, places, things, and times. He does this speaking as one having authority in Himself. In His encounters with the culture, Jesus shows Himself to be the Messiah and even God Himself. Jesus is the Author of Life. Before Abraham was, I AM. (John 9.58)
In fact, Jesus is the Incarnate Word, God the Son, come to establish and order the Kingdom of God (KOG), to define its boundaries, describe its citizens, and defend it from all that would endanger the maintenance of "the way, the truth, and the life." He moves to the internal, to motives, to things that truly and assuredly threaten and keep one from eternal life, eternal truth, and the way to eternal life. "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." (John 8.51)
Thus a defective body will not keep you out of the KOG, eating or not eating certain foods will not form the basis of whether you are in or out of the KOG, tithing unmixed seeds isn't the point, working at specific times won't assure your entrance to the KOG, your pedigree or lack thereof is not the basis, loss of life fluids like blood and semen will not ultimately threaten eternal life-sin separates from a holy God. That sin must be atoned for with blood sacrifice. The life is in the blood. God's wrath must be propitiated. Alienation from a holy God must be overcome. The curse of the Law, the penalty of the Law, the liability of the debt note of sin must find satisfaction under divine justice. Satan's power must be destroyed. Jesus forgave the sin of a paralytic; that is what truly made him "whole."
Leviticus 11 talks about clean and unclean foods; yet Jesus comes and declares all foods clean (Mark 7.19). Food just goes into the belly; it is what goes into the heart that matters. Paul will say that He is persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteems any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Romans 14.14) Leviticus 13 and Leviticus 21.16-21 speak about those fit to worship and those excluded, those fit for priestly service and those not; yet Jesus comes and says to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind to table fellowship (Luke 14.13-21). Jesus comes and casts out unclean spirits. (Mark 1.23; 3.11; Luke 6.18; Luke 9.42) The leper wanted Jesus to make him "clean," not just heal him (Mark 1.40-42). Jesus comes along and is criticized for having contact with persons deemed unclean, e.g., the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus' dead daughter, a public sinner woman. Even in the OT, Elisha after praying to the LORD went full body upon the body of a dead child with the result that the child came back to life; the difference being, it was in obedience to God. He was not defiled, though touching it. (2 Kings 4.32ff)
What was it about Jesus and these events? Was He a lawbreaker after all? No. Jesus came in the Order of Melchizedek, in the power of an endless life. He had life in Himself (John 5.26; John 10.17, 18); He was the Source of life. He had power to lay down His life and take it up again. He had power to give life. Anything that endangers life is at the heart of defining what is unclean, etc. Jesus' life was not threatened by any person, any place, any thing, or any time. Nothing could harm Him. No one could take His life unless He voluntarily laid it down. And this He did. His was a substitutionary atonement.
Jesus did not die because of sin; He was sinless. He is God and can not be tempted with evil (James 1.13). There was nothing in Him, in His heart, that desired to disobey the Father. Externally He was tempted in every point, yet internally it just wasn't in Him. Thus by the Spirit of Christ we have power over sin. Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin to pay the penalty of sin and rose again in demonstration to principalities and powers that He disarms both their power and their dominion. Jesus is deathless, obedient to the Father in every way. He raises Himself from death to life and so also His followers, those in Him. Thus to have eternal life, one must have faith in Jesus Christ; be justified by faith.
To be holy, one must be sinless, deathless. The believer's holiness is a righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ (justification).followed by a process of becoming all that God has declared him/her to be (sanctification) and consummating in glorification.. To receive God's word, i.e., hear and obey it, is to have life. (John 1) To believe in and receive Jesus, whose Name is Word of God, is to have eternal life.
The apostles organized, defined, and demarcated so as to set forth what preserves and what endangers life on a personal, social, and cosmic level. Thus we set boundaries and establish order by the will of God, by doing and adhering to the will of God. "A body you have prepared me." (Hebrews 10.5) "Lo, I come to do your will, O God.' (Hebrews 10.9) Believers live in the boundaries of God's will. Outside is death and that which destroys, robs, kills, and endangers life. God supplies grace to obey through faith which works by love that we might live fruitful lives. (Romans 5-8, Gal. 5.6, Eph 2.8-10)
The apostles defined boundaries, what is "in place" and "out of place." Those boundaries establish order and control and govern the purity of the person and the consequent purity of the community of faith so as to maintain unity and safeguard the way, the truth, and the life. Even that which opposes sound, healthy, correct doctrine, even false teachers and false teachings, another gospel than that which lays the foundation for the KOG, threatens bodily wholeness and thus threatens life. Life is threatened by a corrupting agent; therefore, steer clear of those persons, places, things, and times that threaten life, your physical life, your life in Christ, the life of the Christian community, the truth about life, etc. Live!
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Serving the Lord of Glory,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.
And this is the record, that
God has given to us eternal life, and this life
Is in His Son. He that has the Son has life: and he that has not
The Son of God has not life. 1 John 5.11, 12
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