March 30, 2016

Be Holy

According to the footnotes in the NIV study Bible the word “holy” appears more often in the book of Leviticus than any other book in the Bible. The nation of Israel was called to be holy; to be totally consecrated to God in all aspects of life. Peter brought the reference forward in the New Testament, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy”” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV). Christian are not called to be perfect…but to be holy.


Steve Corey said...


-----Christians can’t be perfect, yet. We will be. But right now, we’re fatally flawed. That is, our bodies are fatally flawed. So they will die. But our spirits will never die because they are perfected in Christ and are accompanied within us by the Holy Spirit. This makes an interesting situation for the mind and emotions which both express aspects of each the body and the spirit. Paul conveys that situation at Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” And even though we set the mind on things of the Spirit, the flesh yet makes its demands, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Rom 7:18-19)
-----Even if we have done a great job of self-controlling our minds to be set upon the Spirit, the mind being constrained to the operation of the flesh, that is, thought being neural activity, sets a limit on how well the mind can function. We can only focus on a certain level of minutia. It is the same effect as what we understand about out digital cameras. Regarding our cameras, we call it resolution, and we express resolution in terms of pixels. The more pixels the camera has, the finer details it can photograph.
-----But that’s only a representative similarity. The mind works differently than the camera, of course. Rather than digital pixels and bytes of memory chips, the mind functions through neural networks, combinations of multitudes of specific neurons, each combination representing a thought, idea, image, sound, etc. Not only does this biological mechanism set a lower limit on how fine a detail it can handle, but it also sets limits on how many details can interrelate to form complex perceptions. This is kind of an error in itself. And not only in that if we were without sin, the physical mechanics of our brains would operate exponentially more efficiently, but also in the fact that, since being of physical substance the brain has limited capacity. Even if our behavior was perfect in every way the physical nature of our brains could yet reach a state of tilt by an abundance of information beyond its capacity. And these are just a couple aspects of many more aspects also limited by the mind’s dependence upon the physical nature of the brain. And so Paul tells us we presently see dimly as in polished brass (which were the mirrors of his day.)
-----We can do little more than speculate about spirit. Spirit has no physical characteristics by which we can sense it. Therefore we can not gather firsthand information about spirit by observation. We are left to rather speculate, or at least understand it by reason and logic. And that gets complicated fast, and it probably gets as much useless as it gets complicated. Simply stated, I like to perceive spirit as pattern. That maybe oversimplifies it, but it leaves me with something to grasp as I try to replicate the behavioral patterns I see portrayed in the Scripture, the ideologies of good I perceive there, and the behavioral patterns I’ve observed building up and edifying people who’ve stumbled into my proximity.
-----Our minds are too tiny to produce perfect behavior, and our hearts too feeble to choose perfect behavior. But the thought that I am set apart for perfect behavior at least places my mind upon a path moving towards it, and my prayers upon the Spirit’s day by day breaking through my limitations.

Love you all,
Steve Corey

Troy Marvel said...

Christians are also called to be holy, not happy. The LDS teaches that God wants us to be happy. If we're holy, we become "happy" or joyful, because we recognize what God has done for us that we couldn't do for ourselves.

Gail Marvel said...

You make a good point. The LDS are not the only ones who get sidetracked by putting their focus and teaching on shiny objects (happiness, peace, goodness), rather than teaching the full Gospel.

Steve Corey said...

Paul tells us the Kingdom of heaven is righteousness, peace, and joy. Happiness expresses a emotional response to situational elements: lots of money, lots of food, lots of friends, lots of fun. God is not at odds with happiness. He merely knows that situational elements are produced from two possible sources: from righteous processes, or from evil processes. He definitely wants our happiness in prosperity produced by righteousness. Righteousness is the pattern His kingdom grows by, and it makes prosperity for everyone. Joy is somewhat different than happiness. It is an emotional response to proper understanding. Joy needs no situational elements, at least not physical elements like money, food, friends, and fun. If you wish to think of the mind itself as a situational element, then it needs that set on righteousness. So joy is kind of an emotional response to holiness, if you want to consider one part of holiness as being a way of thinking rightly. Then with joy’s vitality the righteous mind makes behavior productive also of money, food, friends, fun, and happiness kind of as a side effect of producing shelter, clothing, food, godliness, encouragement, and edification. To seek happiness without holiness is to take a devastating shortcut to things that, being in themselves nothing, let us down in the end.