Clean Hands and a Pure Heart
As children of God, we are called to be like Jesus as He lived on the earth. To serve God in the role of priest and prophet. A priest unto the Lord and a prophet unto the people. A priest serves God, going to Him on behalf of the people. A prophet serves God, going to the people on behalf of God. 1 Peter 2:5, "Be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." And in verse 9, "For you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." The Old Testament reveals to us the pattern of our priestly role. Leviticus 10:10 tells us that the priests were to "distinguish between the holy and the common; between the unclean and the clean." The purpose of this teaching is not to go into lengthy details of priestly life in the Old Testament, but to help you know what God is referring to when He calls us to fulfill this role today. The Old Testament priests did not live like the other people. They were required to keep themselves pure and undefiled. There was no mercy shown for sloppiness or for any disregard of God's instructions. Not following the letter of the law meant sudden death. They took their call seriously and lived committed in service to God all the days of their lives. Living a successful life before God requires this same commitment to diligence and consecration of our lives.
We do not live according to the law, but under grace. Grace is God's ability to do what we are unable to do for ourselves. Jesus died on the cross, paying the ultimate price for this grace to be made available to us. Grace is not a license to sin or to be sloppy in our walk with Christ. Rather, it is grace that keeps us humble before God, recognizing that 'without Him I can do nothing!' Grace gives us the opportunity to fulfill the plan of God in our individual lives. Grace allows us to live free from guilt, condemnation and sin. We have been translated into God's own Kingdom. We have been delivered from the law of sin and death. We are told to put to death all sin. Jesus, when dealing with sinners, told them, "go and leave behind your life of sin".
There is much permissiveness in our society today. Varied excuses are made in tolerance for the behavior of people. We are quick to blame external circumstances for who we are, how we have turned out and where we are expected to go in life. This is natural world thinking that has become all too common among the people of God. When God tells us that His expectation of us is for purity and holiness, it is not something that is beyond our reach or ability to achieve. Jesus said, "I can of My Own self do nothing." If Jesus required God's help to live above sin and temptation, then how too our need for God's divine intervention to help us!
We are living in a time when God is moving swiftly in both Judgement and Glory. How the outpouring of His Spirit affects us is determined by our heart condition. Are we sloppy in our service to Him? Do we serve Him with outer garments that appear white and clean while wearing dirty under garments? Do we deceive ourselves when we pretend to live a holy life, but in our hearts we know the sins that we love too much to allow ourselves to be purged from them? God is not mocked. We are warned that there will be many that stand before God and boast of their ministry accomplishments, all done in the Name of Jesus, but without actually loving Him. How grievous it is to realize that many who seem to serve God will hear those terrifying words from the Judgement Throne, "I never knew you." It is a time for each of us to get on our face before the Lord and allow Him to purify us by the fire of His Holy Spirit. It is time for each of us to walk in the fear of the Lord. To have such reverence for His Holiness that we would not dare to approach His Presence with filth in our lives.
The Church has learned much about God's role as our loving Heavenly Father to our great benefit. God does delight in us as His beloved children. But just as children will either respect their parent or dishonor them, so too we must check our hearts to see if the honor that is due our God is truly there. Are we quick to make excuses, as young children always do, for our disobedience? Are we so filled with the knowledge of His grace that we indulge ourselves in the pleasures that make Him unhappy? Because of our knowledge of His love for us, do we naively think that we are getting away with it? God does not wink at our sins. I know there is a temptation that comes to our thoughts, especially when we have been wronged or hurt, to think that God will let us get by with disobedience because we are wounded. But this is not acceptable to God. As long as the enemy can get us to compromise our priestly standard for purity and holiness before God, then we will always remain susceptible to his attacks. Jesus is coming for a Church that is "without spot or wrinkle." People of God, it is time to cleanse ourselves from our fleshly acts of disobedience and sloppy love and enter into the same commitment and consecration that the Old Testament priests were required to live in.
In John 6:38, Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him Who sent me. And this is the will of Him Who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me." Living with this purpose keeps our focus on eternal things and looses us from temporary, earthly things. Our call as a Believer in Jesus Christ is to make disciples. Each of us has been given charge over people out of this world. It is the will of God that we not lose one of these people. God will not tolerate any excuse when we stand before Him. We will not be able to blame society, our parents, the hard times or anything else. All of us have been given the ability to carry out the great commission.
We are all to be like Jesus, our High Priest. He was our earthly example. He laid down His heavenly life, as King and came to earth as a servant, to seek and save the lost. Jesus' life is recorded in the gospels and testimony to His life is recorded in the remaining books of the New Testament. We are to be like Jesus on the earth. We have been given the same anointing and authority to carry out the same commission. We have received power to do all that God has called us to be and do. We are fully prepared and equipped to obey God when He calls and when He commissions us. Will we be ready to answer "yes"? Are we eagerly preparing ourselves, even as the priest prepared his garments and his life? Before he was able to enter the Holy of Holies to do the work and will of the Father, as an intercessor for the people he has to first of all cleanse himself. Are we pressing into the grace of God to learn the discipline of laying down our lives, our schedules, our goals and our plans? Have we ridden ourselves of both the hidden and the obvious sins? Are we eager to throw off every weight that encumbers us?
The scriptures tell us that our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. Many believers today use this as an excuse to remain in sin. In Romans 7:24,25 the Apostle Paul writes "what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Jesus paid the price and now "sin has no power over us." It is time my brothers and sisters, for us to stop sinning, stop making excuses and stop compromising. It is time for us to come away from the world and the entanglements there in and live as priest and prophet.
One of the most heart stirring scriptures is found in Psalm 27 "This one thing do I desire; this one thing do I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life. To behold the beauty of the Lord, to inquire of Him and find Him." The only way that we may dwell in the house of the Lord - the Holy of Holies and the only way that we can behold His beauty, is when we make the choice to give God our lives in wholeness. To love the Lord our God with ALL our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength, with all our might. This is a time to refrain from fulfilling the lusts of our flesh, the pride of life and the love of money. To serve God and to trust His plan for our lives must be our only pursuit. Will we allow the truth to penetrate our innermost being, that we do not live for ourselves, but like Jesus, we love to do the will of Him that sent us? Psalm 101 God promises us "My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to Me."
We are living in a time when we require a move of God in our land. This blessing is conditional on our walking blamelessly before God. We will minister to Him in spirit and in truth, only as we throw aside the filthiness of our flesh. Jesus has paid the price for our right standing with God, by His blood. We do have the right to come boldly before the throne of His grace, to receive His mercy, to partake of His grace and to obtain His favor, His help. But this does not give us a license to sin. God' s Word says, "to him who knows to do right and does not to it, to him it is sin." The epistles admonish us over and over again of the consequences of tolerating sin in our lives. We deceive ourselves when we think that we can allow sin in our lives and not bear the consequences of it. It's time for true repentance and baptism from all sin.
In meditating on the story of Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts, we are told that "ALL" believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. From time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them and brought the money from the sales and laid it at the apostles' feet. Ananias and his wife Sapphira, were believers. We do not know their motives, but we do know that they too sold their land and brought money to Peter. We know the story . these people kept back some of the money for themselves. Now, it would seem that a person who sells something that belongs to them should have the right to keep all the money if they wanted to. In fact, Peter tells them that they had this right. It was not in keeping the money but it was in the sin of lying that God judged them and allowed them to receive the wages of their sin, which was to be struck dead. The scripture tells us that they were killed because they lied. They lied to the apostles and God views that as lying to Him. In this day of God's righteous judgements, we are going to see similar things happen in the church.
The time for playing Christianity is over. It's time to get off the fence and live for Christ or to live with the consequences of our choices. Our Father says "I would that you be hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of My mouth." I pray that the love of and for God would so increase in our hearts that we would obey God and live holy before Him out of this love. That we would willingly submit, not only out of fear, but out of love. Romans 6:22 says, "now that you have been set free from sin and have becomes slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The only way we can effectively hear from God and be used by Him as priest and prophet, is when we are consecrated. Allowing the Holy Spirit to purge us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We come and receive forgiveness each time we sin, but the scriptures clearly warns us that those continuing to sin when they know it is sin, will not receive forgiveness. God sees our hearts and He knows our motives. We cannot live under His Grace and continue to sin. We are showing that we are not His child when we knowingly continue to disobey and dishonor God. We must live holy lives and live free from the consequences of sin. Sin keeps us from God's presence.
No matter how great God's plan is for our lives, no matter how awesome is His power to save us, no matter how incredible is His love for us, we will kill the purpose of God when we choose to curse ourselves. Jesus death, His blood and His resurrection have given us everything we need to live Holy unto Him. By meditating in His Word we are studying to show ourselves approved unto God; there is no shame in obeying God. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death. Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law, which was sinfulness. God loves us so much that He warns us continually in the scriptures to save our lives from the consequences of evil choices. History provides us with ample reason not to tempt God in rebelling against His command to be holy. 1 Corinthians 10:11-14 says "These things happened to them (Israel) as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore my dear friends, flee from idolatry."
Our lives and the lives of those that God has given to us out of this world are dependent upon our following Christ. We are to be partakers in His resurrection as well as in His suffering. The greatest suffering that we will ever endure is the crucifying of our own fleshy desires. There is no persecution, no attack of the enemy that will require such humility and need for God, as the daily dying to self to live for Him. God has not asked us to do something that is too hard or impossible to do. If we really believe in the redeeming of our lives from sin by the blood of Jesus, then we will acknowledge our ability to live free from the law of sin and death. We cannot hear from God with accuracy when we have sin in our lives. We cannot minister to people with power and anointing when we compromise our priestly standards of holiness. God will use us to the ability that we have left our flesh and its sins behind.
Do you want more of God in your life? Do you need His power in greater measure? Then humble yourself under His mighty hand; Cry out for purification of the Holy Spirit. Allow yourself to be refined and purified in the fire. It is a painful process. There is no quick and easy way to die. We must allow our hearts to be changed from our past ways of thinking and renewed to His mind. Deny yourself and take up the cross every day. Allow God to be God of your whole man. He will take you higher into His presence and His glory then you ever dreamed or imagined! His love will surround you and there will be nothing that can ever make you afraid. Obey God out of love. Obey Him out of honor. Obey Him out of fear. He wants to use you. He will hold you responsible, as He did with Jesus, for those that He has given to you out of this world. Let us stand before our God and joyfully report that "not one of these was lost"! (John 17)
In closing, I want to share this recent experience while worshipping God. The Lord opened my eyes to see the heaven open and Jesus came riding before us on a white horse. A banner flew around Him that read "Faithful and True". The scene before me was as I pictured Jesus riding into Jerusalem 2000 years ago, with people bowing low and worshipping Him. Jesus was coming into the new Jerusalem and we were before Him rejoicing with words of praise and worship. Every knee was bowed and every tongue was confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. But as I looked around me I noticed that many who were on their knees and confessing Him as Lord, it was with tremendous grief and anguish of soul. They were the lost, for though they were acknowledging Him in truth as Lord FOREVER they knew that FOREVER they were condemned; FOREVER they would be separated from Jesus, Who was to be their Lord as well. Because they had rejected Him, they would be removed from His presence. Some were standing very close to me and in all the awesome presence of Jesus, I was smitten with remorse, for I knew that these were some that had been under my care, some that had been given to me for safekeeping and I had failed to keep them. I grieved because I realized that I would not be able to stand before my Father God and report that "not one of them was lost".
I received this warning from the Lord as a call to greater diligence to Kingdom purposes. In all of our fun in dancing, praising, banner waving, laughing etc. we must not forget our commission. To seek and save the lost. Rather than all focus being on our personal relationship with Jesus, we must love Him and love others enough to want to bring them into this wonderful, loving and fun relationship with our friend Jesus. I had to repent for being self-centered in my walk with Him and renew my vows that I would obey Him in boldly spreading the good news of the gospel. 'Not one of them was lost' must be my focus in life.
Lets each of us receive this Word with humility and recognition of our need for His quickening power and grace to help us. Let us purify ourselves and become priests that intercede for those that He has entrusted to our care. Let us stand before our God on their behalf. And let us be a voice that God uses to bring good news to these that He calls. Let us stand in our position as prophets to the people, yielding our voices to bring them God's message of love. Let us boldly speak as Jesus spoke, declaring the glories of God. Speaking only that which we hear the Father speak; doing only that which we see the Father doing. Speaking words of spirit and words of life. Going about doing good and healing all that are oppressed by the devil. I pray that these words will equip you for the work of the ministry and build your faith in God.