“The Divine Imperative”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We look for the “bottom line” in most circumstances of life. There is a “bottom line” for a Christian and for the body of Christ, the church. Moses recorded the “bottom line” for all who would call themselves believers, Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 11:44 and Deuteronomy 7:6. The Apostle Peter likewise declared the “bottom line”, 1Peter1:15-16 and 2:5, 9. The “bottom line” which is the divine imperative is a declaration of being rather than doing. The divine imperative is “Be Holy!” The church is a holy nation because God has set her apart. He chooses men and women to be in Christ. He declares that each person in Christ and certainly the body of Christ is holy. The church is set apart to God by God!
Those who are set apart to God are to act differently from the world! It is important to remember that Christians act differently in response to God’s action of setting them apart.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the meaning of holy. In addition, the church is accountable to God to teach her people the meaning of holiness. Everything that the church is and does must be holy if we profess to be Bible-believing people. The basic meaning of “holy” is to be set apart; to be unique. God is totally other than all of His creation. He transcends Creation. The range of meaning of holy begins with uniqueness and ends in absolute perfection and purity. God is the entirety of holiness!
The Westminster Shorter Catechism’s first question and answer deals with man’s purpose. “What is the chief end of Man?” The answer is, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” To glorify God is to attribute all the honor, respect, majesty, etc. to Him. In other words man is to live knowing that God is holy and everything is due Him.
We are given glimpses of God’s holiness in the Bible. Isaiah 6: 1-5 is probably the most familiar. Isaiah is allowed to see the throne room of God. Part of the vision that he received included great winged creatures crying out to each other “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts…” “Holy” is the only word repeated three times in describing God. Twice would be emphasis in the Hebrew Language similar to the English use of an exclamation point. But three times is supreme emphasis.
The Apostle Paul referred to the children of one believing partner in marriage as “holy”. Children of believers are given the sign of the Covenant because God said He sets them apart! Covenant children are part of the covenant community because God said they are holy.
We understand consecration and sanctification in light of the word holy. Both words are descriptive of God’s action in setting people apart for Himself and changing those whom He sets apart to be like Christ.
So what? What does God’s holiness have to do with our lives, this divine imperative? The simple answer is everything! As mentioned above, everything in the Christian’s life is to reflect God’s holiness. All else is sin. The Apostle Paul wrote that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3: 23. Yet, God requires perfection. God requires that those who will see Him face to face must be holy as He is holy. In this life our lives, our worship, and all that we are and do must reflect the holiness of God. The gospel is the only means given by God for our holiness. Those whom God justified, He glorified, Romans 8:30. God glorifies His people by sanctifying us. He makes us holy. By God’s work of grace, He continues to sanctify us so that when we see Jesus face to face we will be holy. Jesus as He is offered in the gospel is our only hope.
God has organized the visible church so that each member will grow up into Christ. As a pastor of a local church, I am responsible to God, along with the other elders to be faithful to equip our members to be holy. Our worship, our Bible studies, our service ministries are to reflect the holiness of God. In order to apply God’s imperative to be holy; everything concerning our church must be centered in the word of God.
God said, “Be holy because I am holy!” May you pursue Godliness by living under the word of God.