Deuteronomy 17-18, John 18

Wholly Holy.

Deuteronomy 17-18, John 18

You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. ­– Deuteronomy 18:13 ESV

God wanted His people to be holy. He demanded that they be blameless. The Hebrew word translated as blameless is tamiym and it means “entire, whole or complete.” It is a word that carries the idea of moral integrity. In Latin, it is the word, integer, and it means “untouched, undivided, whole.” When we read the word, blameless, we tend to think of perfection or perfectness. But the real idea behind the word is that of wholeness. It is the same word used by God in His address to Abraham found in Genesis 17:1: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless’”. God was not expecting Abraham to live in perfection or without sin, but He was expecting Abraham to live a life that was wholly and completely dedicated to God. Every area of his life was to be lived out in full view of God. No compartmentalization. No hidden areas. He was to “walk before” God. The Hebrew word is halak and it means “to walk back and forth; to walk about; to live out one’s life.” God expected Abraham to live his entire life in full view of the gaze of God, knowing that God would see every area of His life. Nothing was hidden from God. The Israelites, descendants of Abraham, and recipients of the promises made to him, were to live their lives in the same way. They were to be blameless, whole and complete. There was to be no hidden areas in their lives, where they attempted to hide their actions from God. The laws of God were intended to cover every area of life. They were comprehensive and complete. Nothing was left to the imagination. A life lived in relationship with God was to be a life that was wholly and completely impacted by His presence, power and will.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God had already told the people of Israel, “You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind,your whole being,  and all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV). This was the great Shema. God was telling them that He expected their love for Him to be comprehensive and complete. It was to come from their whole mind, their whole being, and their whole strength. Their love for God was to encompass their entire life – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. Jesus said of the religious leaders of His day, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8 ESV). He was quoting from the writings of Isaiah, the prophet, who had recorded the words of God against the people of Israel. God does not want lip-service. He doesn’t want His followers to simply go through the motions. The worship of God is to be holistic and complete. It is to be comprehensive and all-encompassing of every area of life. We see this modeled in the life of Jesus. His love for His Father was comprehensive. It was evident in every area of His life. His desire to do the will of His Father, even though it involved His own death, was an expression of His love. He held nothing back. Jesus was arrested, falsely accused and forced to undergo a series of trials on trumped up charges. He was subjected to all kinds of abuse and accusations. Even Pilate said, “I find no fault in him” (John 18:38 ESV). He was blameless. He was obedient. He was simply doing what His Father had called Him to do. And it was for His dedication to the will of God that He would die. Rather than preserve His own life, He willingly sacrificed it, out of love for the Father.

What does this passage reveal about man?

We are the kings of compartmentalization. We are constantly trying to keep back certain areas of our lives over which we can maintain control. We give God portions of our lives, but withhold other areas for our own use. Our work can easily become our private domain, somehow separated from our “spiritual” lives. Our finances can become our personal arena over which we alone sit as masters. We can so easily give the appearance that we are dedicate to and in love with God, while we reserve certain aspects of our lives for our own use. Our thought lives remain ours to control. Our time becomes ours to use as we see fit. Our social lives become separated from our spiritual lives. And yet, God has called us to live lives that are holy and blameless, completely and wholly dedicated to Him.

At one point in His earthly ministry, Jesus was approached by a Jewish lawyer who asked Him how he could inherit eternal life. Jesus, knowing the man was an expert in the law of Moses, asked him what he thought the law said about it. The man responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27 ESV). Jesus told the man, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28 ESV). What Jesus knew was that it was going to be impossible for the lawyer to “do this.” He would find it impossible to love God wholly and completely. He would discover that his inability to love others as God intended would be a stumbling block in his attempt to love God. No man can live blamelessly or wholly dedicated to God apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ. He alone makes it possible for us to stand before God wholly holy. It was the death of Jesus that cancelled our debt to God and transferred the righteousness of Christ to our account. It is what is often referred to as the Great Exchange. “But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” (Romans 4:5 NLT). My sin for His righteousness. Because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross on my behalf, I stand before God as wholly holy.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

But while I am positionally holy before God, there is a need for me to live practically holy before Him all the days of my life. I must continue to learn to live in obedience to His will, not out of some misguided attempt to score brownie points with God, or earn His favor, but out of love for Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ESV). There is an expectation on each of us as Christ-followers to live obediently within the will of God, submitted to His Spirit and guided by His Word. We are to model our lives after Christ, We are to “have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5 NLT). At attitude of servanthood, submission, humility and obedience to the will of God. My entire life is to be lived out before God, with nothing held back, no parts hidden or compartmentalized. I have the Spirit of God within me who makes it possible for me to live wholly holy. Not perfectly, but increasingly more willingly submitted to God’s will for my life as His child. It is a process. It takes time. It is what is often referred to as sanctification, the ongoing transformation of my entire life into the likeness of Christ Himself. And there is a day coming when we will be like Him. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 ESV). The time is coming when we will be perfectly holy and complete. In the meantime, we are to maintain that as our goal. We are to strive towards holiness in every area of our lives. We are to love God with our whole mind, our whole being and every ounce of our physical strength – striving to be wholly holy – with the Spirit’s help.

Father, I want to be wholly holy. I know it is impossible in this life, but it must be my goal. It must be my heart’s desire. I also realize I can’t do it on my own. I must rely upon the Holy Spirit’s help and depend upon His power to make it possible. Continue to reveal to me my own shortcomings and inadequacies and remind me of my constant need for Your help to live the life You’ve called me to live. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

 

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