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The Message That Is Missing In Our Pulpits Today
"Those who would be transfigured with Jesus, must not be disfigured by conformity to the world." - Charles Spurgeon
Throughout the Bible, we find the command - given to the people of God - that states - "Sanctify yourselves."
In 1 Samuel 16: 5, we find Samuel's words to the elders of Bethlehem - "And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice..."
In Leviticus 20:7, the Lord spoke unto Moses to tell the people to - "Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy..."
In Joshua 3:5, we read the command of Joshua to the people - "And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."
Then again, in Joshua 7:13, we find the words that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak to the people, saying - "...Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you."
And, lastly, 1 Corinthians 11:28 adds - "But let a man examine himself..."
What exactly did this command entail?
Whenever the command to "sanctify yourselves" was given, the people understood that it meant to abstain from all impious and idolatrous practices...separate from all who were given to idolatry...be holy in principles, affections, and aims...cleanse one's self from all pollutions of sin...consecrate and devote oneself to the service and honor of God...conform in everything to His holy image and will...be obedient to His holy laws...turn one's heart to Him in faith and trust in His promises...abstain from everything that would indispose one's mind from attention to Him alone...or come away from worldly business or all other cares unto the meditation of His Word and prayer.
A physical token of this spiritual process was the actual washing of their bodies and garments in pure water. This was to get them into a proper disposition to hear from God...meet with Him...or be searched by Him.
As we delve deeper into the Scriptures, we find that - at a given time and for a particular purpose - God also gave the command to different leaders to - "Sanctify the people."
In 1 Samuel 16:5, we read of the prophet Samuel specifically setting apart the family of Jesse - "And he said...I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice."
In Exodus 19:10, Moses was given the specific command - "And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes."
Then, in Exodus 19:14, we read of how Moses carried out this specific command - "And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes."
In Leviticus 20:8, we find that the Lord God of Israel also sanctified the people - "And ye shall keep My statutes, and do them: I am the LORD Which sanctify you."
In Joshua 7:13, the Lord gave the command to Joshua - "Up, sanctify the people..."
In 2 Chronicles 30:17, we find that the Levites were given the "charge" to "sanctify the people" - "For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD."
In Job 1:5, we find that Job sanctified his own children - "And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually."
In Joel 2:16, we read the word of the Lord to the prophet Joel - "Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet."
Once again, when the leaders commanded the people to "sanctify themselves," it was understood that they were to wash their clothes, bathe their bodies, and even abstain from lawful conjugal enjoyments. The outward washing was an emblem of the soul being washed through repentance. It was a token of one's self being cleansed from sinful pollutions. All wandering thoughts were to be gathered in...impure affections were to be abandoned...all disquieting passions were to be suppressed...worldly cares were to be dismissed...and hearts were to be entirely engaged.
It was all meant to place the people in a suitable frame to appear before God.
Like Job's children, it was possible that they "cursed God" in dishonoring Him with slight and low thoughts of His Majesty or in neglecting to give His the honor and praise due His Name.
At this point in the message, let's stop for a minute and reflect on what is being said here.
We know that God has not changed. In the Bible, He had given the people the command to "Sanctify yourselves." And then to reinforce the idea, He directed the rulers of the people to set them apart as well, by saying - "Up, sanctify the people..." At one point, it is said that He is the One Who ultimately is behind this separation process - "... I am the LORD Which sanctify you."
The question we must ask ourselves is this - Since God has not changed, and we see this command given repeatedly throughout the Bible - both directly to the people and indirectly through the leaders - why don't we hear this same command given in our assemblies today?
God is still holy. And He still requires people to approach Him in a suitable fashion.
As you look around at the church today, just how many people are guilty of "cursing God" or dishonoring Him with slight and low thoughts of His majesty or robbing Him of the glory due His Name?
What is definitely needed in our day is the command to come forth from the pulpits of the churches, proclaiming - "Sanctify yourselves."
And the Preachers need to get back to calling the people to the good ole fashioned altars where they can lay all sin and worldliness down and be truly sanctified.
Perhaps you are reading this message and are feeling as though there are things in your life that are not pleasing to God. You are not sure how to find your way back to Him or to get back all that you lost through compromise and sin.
Let me offer you David's prayer in Psalm 26:2-6 as an outline prayer - "Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in Thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evildoers; and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass Thine altar, O LORD."
Based on this prayer, here is what you need to do -
1. Ask God to look you through and through...make a strict and rigid examination of your walk...and conduct a careful scrutiny of your affections, desires, and thoughts.
2. Make His "lovingkindness" or favor your chief end or the object of your desire.
3. Embrace the Truth of His Word - regulating your life by it...living in accordance with it...and making it the ruling principle of your everyday conduct.
4. Avoid the company of those who are addicted to the vanities of this world...live for this life - while pursuing after riches, honors, pleasures, and profits...are vainly puffed up in mind...are false, hollow, and deceitful...or whose common discourse is foolish, light, and empty.
5. Determine to worship and serve the Lord Jesus in purity and truth.
The message has not changed. God is holy and requires a holy people.
Can He fellowship with someone like you?
May God Bless His Word.