Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Set Apart

My friend Cindy left the confines of her life here two years ago, having succumbed to a vicious battle with breast cancer. She lost that skirmish, but certainly not the war. Never did she doubt the outcome for a moment, knowing full well that her absence from the body meant her presence with the Lord.

Cindy, a PK (Preacher's Kid), was raised with some biblical understandings that didn't come to me until much later in life. One in particular stands out, and it was from her that it made it's amazing way to my personal understanding.

The subject? Holiness.

I confess straight up that my lifelong view of holiness has been largely negative. It was not something I desired, much less sought because - in my book - it was sickeningly austere; and marked with all manner of audacious self-righteousness, if not utterly useless behaviors.

Then came that fateful day when Cindy and I were chatting casually (no doubt during one of our many lunches or shopping expeditions). In passing, she mentioned that she knew from her earliest recollections that she had been "set apart". Her knowing had arrived with her salvation; and that had arrived while she was yet a young girl.

I thought it a curious statement, so I asked her:
Could you explain that further? What do you mean by "set apart".

In her simple & gracious way, Cindy connected the dots from "set apart" to "holiness". In that one moment it all began to get crystal clear for me as Cindy spoke of the incredible design of it. To her, holiness was anything BUT austere or audacious. It was lavish; a special placement - - as if in one fell swoop she'd been moved from poverty to privilege.

Cindy had no mis-directed beliefs to overcome. She was simply made an overcomer.

It was soon evident: Holiness was not AT ALL what I'd thought it to be.

Needless to say, the subject has not only been made clearer, but much dearer as well. Gone are the vestiges of my prior views. You might say a huge Paradigm Shift took place that day; and to this day I thank Cindy for telling me the truth. It was - and is - truth born in the very Word of God.

No doubt you've known these things for umpty-umpty seasons, but here's what I learned about the grand transaction that takes place when set apart.

In 1 Peter 1:13-16 the apostle tells us: 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 19:2.

In order for me to be holy
like/as He is, I must at least have a rudimentary understanding of what His holiness looks like. Passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 6:3 are just two of many examples demonstrating it - His absolute perfection.

He is high above any other, and no one can compare to Him (Psalm 40:5). His holiness pervades His entire being and shapes all His attributes. His love is a holy love, His mercy is holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath are holy anger and holy wrath.

How then, being an imperfect mortal, can I be like that; like Him?

First ... it is He Who does the setting apart, the making of holy - not me.


I understand it better when first I consider the instructions given to the nation of Israel; then later to all believers.

When God told Israel to be holy in Leviticus 11 and 19, He was instructing them to
be distinct from the other nations by giving them specific regulations to govern their lives. Israel is God's chosen nation and God has set them apart from all other people groups. They are His special people, and consequently they were given standards that God wanted them to live by so the world would know they belonged to Him.

When Peter repeats the Lord's words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to believers.
As believers, we need to be "set apart" from the world unto the Lord. We need to be living by God's standards, not the world's.

Immediately we understand why friendship with the world's ways makes us an enemy of God. The world is not set apart; and the world's ways even less so! It and they are assigned to the ignoble.

God isn't calling us to be perfect in the absolute sense, but
to be distinct from the world. 1 Peter 2:9 describes believers as "a holy nation."

It is a fact! We are separated from the world; we need to live out that reality in our day-to-day lives, which Peter tells us how to do in 1 Peter 1:13-16.

If we truly are believers, then
we recognize that our position in Christ automatically sets us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9).

The day will come when Cindy and I will again take up this topic, for both she and I are set apart for His eternity. Come on along!


Resource: Got Questions?

20 comments:

Beth E. said...

I like this! Being set apart is a good thing...a GOD thing. :-)

Heart2Heart said...

Kathleen,

What a great post and reminder of what it truly is meant by being set apart! I loved this and gained so much insight from this!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

sonja said...

I had the same idea of 'holiness' -sort of a puritan like dull life...

Not for a minute! I think when I first heard that God is more interested in our holiness than our happiness, I began to wonder about it.

His standard is holiness, and of course, that has to mean that it is nothing I can contrive, it is all His work.

Good thoughts, and for sure a topic you and Cindy and the rest of us will re-visit in eternity. Then we will truly understand HOLINESS, won't we?

Hugs!

Sonja

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

Great teaching. Praise God. I'm on the ride with you Kathleen. I'm sold out for Jesus! Some would call me a "Jesus Freak". I'd call that "set apart" wouldn't you? AMEN!

skoots1mom said...

grafted gracefully into His Vine...it gives me THE JOY of the Lord!!

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing this.

manthano said...

Really appreciated the post. I spent a
number of years in the "Holiness Movement"
-both in Churches and school. It took me a
while to see their confusion. Then longer to
sort out the truth. But as you can figure, I
ended up at about the same point you are.
Thanks for making it simpler that the
text books do. God bless you sister.

Yolanda said...

I, too, loved this. And what a beautiful gift you and I have been given, to be set apart.

With much love,
Yolanda

NanaNor's said...

Thank you for sharing this and what a blessing Cindy was to you and now to us. Wonderful clarity and message-how we need it in these times.
Hugs, Noreen

They call me "Deb" said...

Beautiful teaching on holiness! A word that so many consider to be negative - you've shared, with love, that it's indeed a great positive - even a place of high esteem! I love it!

LisaShaw said...

Kathleen,

I've nodded my head through every word until my neck hurts (smile).

This subject is very close to my heart and has been since I was 28 years old. As you know I'm 44 now.

I grew up in church and good church BUT I used to have an understanding that the "Holy Spirit was for the holy folks...the older people" and often it was because the theme if you will, of "holiness" was spoken in such a very high and over the head type of way that one in their youth and teens could barely comprehend let alone attain.

I felt thankful for being 'saved' by the blood of Jesus but it TOOK ME YEARS of living with the head and not the heart knowledge of my Salvation and that included a lack of understanding of "being set apart" or the word that I finally grasped at 28 was "consecrated".

So much I'd love to share but perhaps we'll do a kitchen table or back yard sitting with a cup of coffee one day and just talk long about the LORD.

I was incredibly blessed to see your precious friends face -- she certainly had the LORD's presence all over her and NOW she's IN HIS PRESENCE fully! How awesome!!

The reunion with the two of you will be sweet. I hope I can join in too (smile).

I love you and I'm off to share this message on FB because it has blessed my heart and I know will bless others.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Every time I visit your blog, I am blessed with a new lesson on what it is to live a Godly life! Thank you! What a beautiful lesson on being Holy! And YES I'm along for the ride!

Rose said...

What an incredible view of holiness your dear friend had. Wow. It sure does change the way a person thinks about it after hearing her thoughts. I too, like most, view it as something to lofty for me to ponder. Great post...thanks for sharing!

Rosezilla said...

This was very well put! I always felt from the day when I was a child and accepted Jesus as my Savior, that He gave me a gift of faith. I just know that His word is truth and gives us such perspective that life seems easier because He is in control. The more we become like Him, the more life makes sense.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

from "poverty to privilege"... one of the best descriptions of holiness I've heard. Writing that one down, Sassy.

peace~elaine

Nel said...

I am with elaine, what a wonderful description. Beautiful truthful words as always sassy! Thank you!

until next time... nel

TRUTH SHARER said...

Kathleen:

I too, lost a very dear friend two years ago who had beat breast cancer once but then got it again along with pancreas and liver cancer - the same one that took my precious husband to heaven a year before her. We too, spent many hours together talking about the LORD and how ready she was to go too! She was a PW [Pastor's wife].

What a precious legacy that your friend Cindy left for you to understand that TRUTH about holiness and being set apart! Indeed the Scriptures you have shared here blessed my heart! I love to hear these kinds of stories because it shows how God connects the dots through His people. He gives us that precious privilege of participating in His Kingdom work. He allowed Cindy to pass an important message on from Him to you.

So we must live out that legacy together - being HOLY because HE is HOLY! Amen, Sister!

Choosing JOY,
Stephanie
JESUS ONLY in 2010

Stephanie said...

Very Good. I am so glad I found your blog. Awesome.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

Wonderful post as usual. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Patrina said...

Praise be to God for His eternal influence on you through His chosen vessel, Cindy. Thanks be to God for HIs eternal influence in the world, though YOU, Kathleen, also His chosen vessel.

Praise and thanks be given to God for His eternal choice to set us apart - to be HIs light - to a dark and misguided world.

Awesome Post! As you know, I'm the child of a preacher-man too. usually that counts against us - even in adulthood, when it comes to sharing my love for God.

I say that, because I want you to know that it was God's plan from your begining relationship with Cindy - to use her to open your eyes to His TRUTH. It was God's plan that she influence you to this eternal TRUTH. You may have not received it from anyone else. That said, it was an anointed moment when your eyes were opened.

You wouldn't have known it, before hand - Cindy might have not even known it - but your name was most definetly written on Cindy's God-given purpose for life in this earth realm.

And I say to that - Blessed be the NAME of the LORD God Almighty for HIs choice in Cindy to influence you for eternity's sake!

And .... as an adopted daughter of the MOST HIGH KING, I say to you: "Sister, adopted daughter of the MOST HIGH KING, I'm so glad that we're sisters - that He has chosen to clothe us in His Holiness for HIs purpose and His Glory - that we might also be - willing and transformed vessels in His hands.... for such a time as this!"

Blesings, dear sister

Patrina <")>><
His watchman on the wal