Understanding Holiness: Part 2
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN COMMON AND HOLY
IDENTIFYING THE COMMON & PROFANE: Once we understand the basic meanings of the profane and the holy, that we are looking at things that are common vs. things that are set apart we need to look a bit deeper to understand what God sees or has determined is common. We can look again at 1 Peter for some clues. 1 Peter 1:13-19 nasb 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
Peter begins to distinguish between what is set apart/holy and what is not (profane or common). Let’s look at some of the verses that highlight the differences: 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers In these 2 verses Peter clearly informs us what is NOT holy or set apart. 1. Conforming to the former lusts of our ignorance. 2. Futile way of life inherited from your forefathers. Remember if it is not holy, it is common and the common things of this world are profane to God. We need to look at and understand why these 2 things are “common” and therefore unholy.
Why is conforming to the former lusts of our ignorance common or unholy? Galatians 5:17-21 nasb 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul helps us understand this concept by saying in Galatians that the spirit and the flesh are at war. They do not agree. If being holy is being set apart to and for God, then common things could not be inline with the ultimate set apartness/holiness of YHVH. Instead of being set apart common things conform, they look just like everything else,. Therefore the common or profane is indistinguishable from the world and is accepted by the world as “normal.” Paul talks about this as well in his letter to the believers in Rome: Romans 1:21-32 nasb 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Earlier in this chapter Paul says we are without excuse for not believing in God since His creation speaks to His invisible character, then Paul lays the hammer down. He just wrecks those who so quickly cast off holiness for the common and exposes their behaviors which are these “lusts of ignorance” mentioned in 1 Peter: 1. They know Him but do not honor Him 2. Exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image or a form of corruptible things 3. Exchange truth for a lie. 4. They worship the creation instead of the creator. 5. Knowing God’s commands they not only do the things He says not to do, but also approve of those who practice them as well.
Why are these behaviors common? What/who are they common for? Who is “god” in this arrangement? The Scripture answers these important questions. 1 John 3:4-13 nasb 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 1 John 2:15-17 nasb 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. These verses in 1 John continue to reveal the issues of pursuing the lusts of our ignorance mentioned in 1 Peter. These lusts are common place to the world. They are one with the world. As we read in Galatians 5 those common things of the world are at war with the Spirit of God, they cannot agree. 1 John 3:13 summarizes this concept perfectly: 1 John 3:13 nasb 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. Why would the world hate something that is common to itself? If we are being honest with ourselves, it wouldn't. This is constantly played out in our society. These lusts or passions that are common to the world rule, and if you disagree with them, if you stand up and speak out against them, if you are set apart at all from their ways of thinking or their behaviors you are crushed under the scrutiny and judgement of those more tolerant and wise than you. You must conform otherwise they withhold their love and support, or excommunicate you all together from their all accepting world view. Those of the world hate you, hate the Bible you stand for, hate that you believe in YHVH. When we love the common things the world loves, worship at the altar of self the way they do, listen to their “wise men”, follow their commands, and do as they do, they have no reason to hate us, because we’ve conformed, we are just like them. Our lusts are the same as theirs, our knowledge the same as theirs, our path guided just as theirs are, our entertainment the same, our idols the same, our beliefs more and more the same, it is common, not set apart, therefore, according to Scripture it is profane. I am not making a case for hating those who love the common things of the world, however, it is a call to understand and discern what it truly means to be set apart, and to pursue it with our eyes wide open to the consequences of rejecting what is common to embrace what is holy. Why is this a problem? When we have chosen to allow ourselves to be conformed to the world, we are in unity or harmony with it, which can mean only one thing according to
1 John 2:15, that we are not in harmony with God, we are not set apart. This should cause us to ask some very difficult questions. 1. What in my life is common with the world? 2. Am I set apart from the world according to God’s standard? 3. Am I driven more by my own passions, plans, knowledge or lusts than I am by obedience to God’s commands?
Why are some inherited ways of life common or unholy?
The second common item mentioned in 1 Peter 1 is the “futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.” If we had to summarize this, we could say the traditions or customs of men. These things are also common or profane, because they are not set apart.
Colossians 2:6-10 nasb “6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority”
In his letter to the Colossians Paul makes it clear the source of human tradition is the principles of the world not YHVH. As we adhere to, follow, trust, or root ourselves in those common traditions or philosophies we willingly set aside the knowledge of God that was made evident to us through Yeshua (Colossians 2:2) and adopting the common knowledge of the world. What would motivate us to make such a trade? Why would we choose traditions and philosophies that follow the principles of decaying world? Yeshua addresses these questions plainly. John 3:19-20 esv "19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed."
Jeremiah 9:6-9 esv "6 Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord. 7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of my people? 8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?" People make the trade of Godly holiness for the common or the profane because they love it. They love the darkness more than they love the light, and Yeshua says it will testify against them and all who fall into the same error. It doesn't matter where this error is taught or cultivated, whether from the halls of Ivy League Universities or the pulpits of churches around the world, it will always lead to darkness and destruction. Yeshua also warns against following or believing in the fruitless traditions of men as well.
Matthew 15:1-9 nasb Then some Pharisees and scribes "came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” Yeshua explains why the Pharisees are wrong in their adherence to man-made traditions, customs, and commands to His disciples a few verses later: Matthew 15:12-14 nasb 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Yeshua somewhat comically, reveals the issue being that the knowledge and traditions of men are darkness, blindness compared to His infinite knowledge and unshakeable truth. We are hopelessly blind when left to ourselves. Learned men like the Pharisees should have known the difference between the common knowledge of men and the set apart knowledge of God because they were "experts" in the Torah and the prophets. Yeshua was not the only one who warned against the teaching and traditions of men. Jeremiah 10:1-3 nasb "Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; 3 For the customs of the peoples are delusion…” 2 Timothy 4:3-5 nasb "3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." God warns His people all throughout the Bible to resist the urge to slip into following the common ways of the world, even within the relative protection of our churches. He warns of us of succumbing to teaching, doctrine, traditions, etc that just appeal to our own desires and do not challenge us to leave those elemental desires behind to pursue His for of holiness. Why would we want to be led by blind men, or by delusions, or by our own desires? All of those sources will eventually lead us to destruction and into blindness to YHVH's truth. However, we are given the Word of God to equip us to descern the will of God and to avoid being led astray into darkness.
What would motivate us to accept common traditions of men into our lives if they cause us to turn away from truth?
Once again this should force you to ask some very difficult questions: 1. What traditions do I have in my life that are common with the world? 2. In what ways do I still submit to the traditions or the customs of my past that are not set apart from the world before God? 3. Have I allowed myself to be led by blind men simply because they appeal to some personal desire that is common to the world and its ways?
For all of us understanding and coming into agreement with YHVH's guidelines for holiness is a life-long journey of prayer, seeking and obedience to God. We’ve looked at and tried to define what is common to the world like pursuing the same lusts of the world with our lives and seeking the traditions of men rather than the commands of God. There are hundreds more verses all throughout Scripture that we could explore, but I want to bring our attention back to Ezekial 22 to summarize the destruction this way of life brings. Ezekial 22:26 nasb "26 Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned (made common) My holy (set apart) things; they have made no distinction between the holy (set apart) and the profane (common), and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them." God describes not properly distinguishing between what is holy and profane as “doing violence” to His commands by trading them for common things and mixing what is common with what God says is Holy. This is a hard revelation to come to, but when we realize how YHVH views our commonness then we will begin to be rightly convicted when we see it in our own lives and repent and turn from that sin. With all the potential complexity in recognizing the Holy and set apart from the common and profane, the solution may be surprisingly simple and it is revealed to us in the very first verse we read. Ezekial 44:23-24 nasb 23 Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane/common, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths. Teach people how to distinguish between the holy and unholy, judge or correct believers accordingly with love and gentleness, and as we learn YHVH's commands we obey. This simple message is given to us all throughout the Scriptures, but here are just a few examples to reflect upon. 2 Timothy 2:20-22 nasb "20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." Ephesians 4:22-25 nasb "22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. 25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." Romans 13:13-14 nasb
"13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."
Based on this understanding we should all eagerly guard ourselves from the sickness of accepting the common into our lives as if we are defending the most precious treasure in the world. The thought of allowing ourselves the comfort of not testing what we bring into our homes, into our lives, and teach to our children must never become a familiar behavior in our lives. Understanding YHVH's urgency behind holiness for our lives will eventually bring us all to the crushing knowledge that we are far more common than we should be, and that is profane to God. We must not willingly accept this form of violence against God, and renounce each place in our lives where the common/profane has become common place.
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