God is holy. His Spirit is holy. He wants His Spirit of holiness to abide in us, to live in and with us, to reside in us – and us in Him.
In the previous post, we looked at how spiritual growth comes through an active, not a passive faith. Today, we will talk about the idea that holiness “sets apart”, and we will consider what it is that God’s holiness is actually setting us apart FROM…
Holiness sets apart. In the Old Testament, we see the nation of Israel, the descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac, the child of the promise – we see them set apart from all the other nations of the world (Deuteronomy 7:6). Through Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and great commission, we see the grace of God broadening from the setting apart of one nation to the setting apart of the whole world.
What if the whole world became set apart for God? From whom or from what would it then be set apart? As Christians, we can think of ourselves as being set apart from the world, like we’re just a new reiteration of the Hebrews. But God seems to want to set the whole world apart. If all are set apart, then who or what is left? Who or what could the whole world be set apart from?
John 14-16 represents Jesus’ main teaching in the Gospels about the Holy Spirit – it’s riddled with expressions of connectedness, togetherness with Him, communion. Abide. In. In. In. With. What if the thing God wants to set us apart from is our separation from Him? Holiness sets apart. And holiness seeks to separate us from our apartness from God, drawing us into ever more intimate and communal togetherness. Holiness sets apart; holiness draws together.
In terms of marriage, my wife is holy to me. She is set apart. She’s not really set apart for me. She is set apart with me. We are set apart for togetherness, union, oneness with each other. Spiritually speaking, she and I have become one. We remain individuals, but individuals who abide in oneness with each other.
As Christians, we are set apart for oneness, communion, togetherness with God. We remain unique individuals, but individuals whom are united with God, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Holiness is our marriage to the divine. Our baptism vow could be likened to a marriage vow: “for this reason, a man shall leave his enslavement to sin and cleave unto the Holy Spirit”.
My wife has been set apart from singleness and her parents’ household to cleave unto me, and I unto her. As Christians, we have been set apart from separation from God in sin’s household to cleave unto Christ. To abide in Him and He in us.
Let’s take a few moments of silent prayer together. I will guide you – you speak with God and listen to Him, and write down what you hear Him say:
Invite – Thank Jesus for sending down the Holy Spirit… Thank God for Pentecost!… Thank Him for filling you at the moment you received your adoption as His son/daughter… Invite Him now to completely fill every facet and crevice and corner of your life, your heart, your mind, your habits, your schedule…
Abide – Ask God now how He would have you immerse yourself in His holiness… What action of “earnestly seeking Him” is He challenging you with today? Write down His responses to you.
Obey in Faith – What’s the last thing God directed you to do? Is it done? Are you still working on it? Did you avoid it completely? He may not direct you on to a new thing until you have obeyed the last thing. What was the last thing He led you to do? If that is done, then ask Him now, “what is the next thing You want me to do?” Listen for His response… and commit to do it by faith in His strength.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians perfectly articulates the hope I have for everyone of us in our pursuit of holiness by faith in the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. I want to pray this Scripture over you as we close out this series on holiness:
I pray that out of his glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:16-21
I’ve been listening to a sermon series from John Piper that covers this topic, too. I love the idea of being set apart from the “apartness.” Wonderful words today, Nick!
Thanks, Jenny! What’s the name of that Piper series?
Hunger for God– 3 parts. It’s good stuff. I think you’d enjoy it.
Cool – thank you, Jenny!