The focus of our church this month is on holiness -internal and external purity.
Understanding God’s view of sanctity can dramatically change our life and it even determines the destiny of a believer. The most revealing example is found in the lives of King Saul and King David. Both of them were chosen by God and anointed to reign over Israel, but the outcomes of their lives were totally different.
“What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:11-14)
This text presents the sad story of the first king of Israel, Saul. After Saul took certain actions, God decided to deprive him of his regal position forever. If we look at this situation from a human point of view, at first glance it will seem that the decision against the king of Israel was too harsh.
As the enemy approached, rather than waiting for the prophet, Saul took it upon himself to make a burnt offering. You might think that Saul had the noblest intentions; after all, he was concerned for the people and he did not want to launch an attack without the blessing of God; therefore he made an independent decision. However, God’s response was the exact opposite of human reasoning.
King Saul made another mistake: instead of full and sincere repentance after the prophet’s words, he began to justify his behavior. Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. ” (1 Samuel 15:24) Because of this, God permanently rejected Saul and deprived him of the throne.
Now let us consider the story of another king of Israel, David. This king also made a series of mistakes. At first glance, they seem even more treacherous than Saul’s.
Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. ” (2 Samuel 12:9-14)
David sinned before God with a married woman, Bathsheba, who subsequently became pregnant. Having learned of it, he committed another grave offence, he sent her husband to war in the most dangerous zone of the conflict to the end that he might be killed. And so it happened. Then on top of all that, King David proceeded to marry Bathsheba!
God, from Whom nothing is hid, sends the prophet Nathan to David to condemn the king of this atrocious sin in private. It was not done in the view of the entire kingdom, but one on one. David’s reaction to the rebuke was immediate, and it was with repentance: “I have sinned against the Lord.” As soon as David spoke these words, the Prophet said to him: “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”
We may ask where God’s justice is. He rejected Saul from the kingdom simply because Saul was so zealous, but David committed adultery, killed a loyal subject and got let off the hook! Why? Let’s zoom in on this further and learn God’s view of holiness. This will help us to understand why one person is exalted by God after failing, but another is not.
- When the prophet rebuked Saul for failing to keep the commandment of the Lord God, Saul did not repent. Rather, he began to justify himself and blame his behavior on the prophet’s delayed arrival.
- When David sinned and the prophet confronted him, David did not justify himself. Instead, he repented sincerely. He agreed with God that his punishment -the death of the child he had from Bathsheba- was just. King David did not complain or sulk, instead he continued to serve God and the people faithfully, proving his holiness before Him.
“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” (Proverbs 24:16)
This means that as long as a man seeks to please God and serve Him, the Lord considers him just and holy. It is on this basis that the Lord calls people holy, although sometimes their actions depict a contrary picture. We see many examples of this in the Bible: Abraham lied about his wife, Noah got drunk, Peter was overcome with fear and denied Jesus, Thomas doubted and Paul persecuted and killed Christians. Yet God calls them saints!
Carl Maxie Brashear, a United States Navy sailor said: “It’s not a sin to get knocked down; it’s a sin to stay down.” He graduated from the U.S. Navy Diving & Salvage School, becoming the first African-American to attend and graduate from the Diving & Salvage School and the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver.
Holiness should not be defined by human logic, but by God’s. Holiness is when in spite of the sin committed, the person does not stay down, but rises and goes forth to carry out God’s will.
Why did God include such accounts in the Bible for all to see the temptations, weaknesses and falls of the great and anointed people of God? Because God will not share His glory with another. Never! For this reason alone, God sometimes allows the publicity of mistakes and negative aspects of the lives of even those most beloved and His greatest servants.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Man is just man. He will always make mistakes and commit sins. No matter how anointed a man may be, we should never be under the delusion that he is perfect. God reveals human weaknesses to shift all our focus onto Jesus Christ!
“For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:7)
Jesus knew that a person is not able to be as perfect as He is but the Lord was actually saying that we should not be disappointed or hindered by failure. Neither our own failures nor those of the people we follow. The Lord says: Look only at Me! Let your focus be only on Me! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! He will never let you down!
People tend to put certain people on pedestals. However, no one is perfect. Sometimes as a result of our own sins or the sins of others, we are disappointed in God. We lose faith, we begin to rebel and leave our church; but Jesus says: “Be holy, because I am holy”. This means you must not allow yourself to be disappointed in anyone, do not allow anything to stop you, press on and continue to follow Jesus! Look only at Him! He is our role model! He is our goal! Keep going! Continue to move in your calling and execute the will of God on earth!
How was the righteousness and holiness of David expressed?
- he had the fear of God and lived in harmony with his conscience;
- he was humble before God and men;
- he had a pure heart,
- he was prudent;
- he did not hold grudges but was able to forgive;
- he was led by love for God and people;
- he was fair;
- he was trusted with very little and proved himself trustworthy, though it was someone else’s property. He remained faithful to God;
- he developed his relationship with God, had faith in God, longed to know Him, honored Him and was a true worshipper of Him.
Dear brothers and sisters, Seek the Kingdom of God! Live the Kingdom of God! We are all imperfect; there is no man without sin. Never, never, never lower your head, do not lose heart, but rather, always look forward, see Jesus, get up and try to win through our Lord Jesus Christ!
With love and respect,
Pastor Nataliia Potopayeva
Recommended books to read:
- “Those that are Christ’s” by Pastor Sunday Adelaja
- “Understanding God” by Pastor Sunday Adelaja