Set Apart For A Purpose
October 10, 2021
Set Apart For A Purpose
Main Point: God is calling us to be set apart for a specific purpose, in order for us to identify with Him so that the world may know Him.
Have you ever felt like you were different from anyone else? In a group of people you feel like the odd ball out? For me, I’ve felt that way my entire life. Inwardly, when I was younger, I just wanted to blend in and just be like everyone else, but over the years I’ve actually learned to embrace my differences among others. I know that God has set me apart for a purpose, and I’ve learned that He does this in all believers for a specific purpose. We’re going to talk about that today.
Just like God has made us all different and unique, He made the avenue of following Him unique as well.
How is Christianity different from other religions?
Plain and simple, Jesus Christ. He is the center and foundation of what Christianity is all about.
Christ is where we get our name as Christians. “Christ-ians” literally means “little Christ”. So we are “little Christs” here on earth when we give our lives to Him and receive Him as our savior.
Also, Christianity claims to be the one and only way to heaven, which is believing and following Jesus Christ. This excludes all other religions and ways of thinking according to John 14:6. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
In other religions, man is reaching out to a god of some sort. But in Christianity, God reaches out to man first and wants to be a part of their lives in an intimate way.
Lev. 26:11-12 (NLT)
I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.
We as Christians are called to follow the characteristics of God in how we live our lives instead of following our own ways of living and thinking. And that’s called living by the Spirit instead of by the flesh.
Gal. 5:16 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
What are some characteristics of God? We talk a lot about God being loving, kind, forgiving, and His Mercy and Grace. But one characteristic of God we often overlook because, to be honest, it’s a little intimidating, is His holiness.
The word “holiness,” referring to God’s character, is mentioned 43 times in the Bible. If it’s mentioned that many times, I think we should pay attention and look more into what the holiness of God really is.
The word “holy” comes from a Hebrew word qadosh, meaning “sacred” or “set apart for a specific purpose.”
So God’s holiness is set apart for a specific purpose. What is that purpose?
God is holy because He is different from anything or anyone else that we’ve ever encountered in life.
From Dake Annotated Reference Bible:
Six Commands (Characteristics) of a Christian in I Peter 1:13-22:
- Practice self control, vs 13.
- Be sober, vs 13. Greek word “nepho” which means to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit. To be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.
- We should rest our hope fully upon the grace and salvation in Christ, vs 13. Many times we rely on our own way of getting peace in this world, whether it be addictions, pet sins, etc. He wants us to rest in Him and Him alone.
- Repent and don’t live according to your former life of sin, vs 14; Eph. 2:1-3. You are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17-18). Don’t go back to the way you were living before.
- Pass the time of your stay here on earth in reverential fear of God, vs 17. I Cor. 10:12-13. Always live your life in light that God is aware of everything you do and say. Let everything you do and think be filtered by Him.
- Love one another fervently with a pure heart, vs 22; John 13:34-35;15:12-13. Love those who love you and those who don’t love you back.
A lot of times we sing songs of worship that praise God because He loves us, and about how much we love Him. And that’s great because love is one of God’s characteristics. I Cor. 13:4-5.
But do we talk about God’s justice? His majesty? His holiness? Predominantly, God’s holiness is not talked about in American churches. It’s more about what tickles the ears of people and makes them “feel good.”
If God’s word isn’t stepping on our toes every once in a while, we probably aren’t hearing Him correctly. He will mess with us and our lifestyles.
Many of us see God as nothing more than our “homie/buddy” or someone that we run to in hard times. And then we forget Him and go back to living our lives without even thinking about Him.
We attempt to bring God down to our level, and our way of living and thinking, instead of conditioning our lives and hearts to please Him.
We have to yield our thoughts and ways to Him:
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Encounters with God in the Old Testament:
Many times when God spoke to the Israelites, He reminded them that He was “the LORD your God” (Exodus 6:7; 15:26; Leviticus 11:44; Numbers 10:10, etc.).
When people in the Bible encountered God, they just didn’t go up and shake God’s hand; they cowered and bowed down to Him.
Exodus 3:4-6 (NLT)
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. 5 “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
God wouldn’t even show His full glory to Moses, or it would have killed him (Exodus 33:19-20).
Daniel was able to stand up to the kings of the land and to sit in the den of lions, but the visions God showed him of His glory and majesty terrified him (Daniel 7:13-15)
Dan. 7:15 (NLT)
I, Daniel, was troubled by all I had seen, and my visions terrified me.
The apostle John saw the visions from God causing him to feel as though he was dead (Revelation 1:12-17).
Rev. 1:17 (NLT)
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.”
God appearing to Moses and the Israelites on Mount Sinai:
Exodus 20:18-20 (NLT)
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. 19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” 20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”
For many of us, we keep on sinning because we don’t have a reverential fear of who God really is.
As you can see, God’s holiness is a HUGE deal.
How would you react if you met God today the way the people in the Old Testament met Him? It would probably terrify you.
We are set apart as holy.
Lev. 20:26 (NLT)
You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.
As you can see, logos identify a certain brand, and it stands out from any other brand or logo out there.
God’s presence set the Israelites apart from all other nations:
Exodus 33:16 (NLT)
How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.
When God commanded the Israelites to be holy, He was telling them that He wanted them to identify with Him and who He was. He wanted them to be branded by Him as His very own people, different from anyone else on the planet.
God put His “logo” on our hearts.
Acts 4:13 (NLT)
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
Heb. 10:16 (NLT)
“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day,” says the LORD: “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
God put His “logo” on our hearts.
His characteristic of holiness in you is His “brand of identity” that you are one of His own people, different from anyone else in the world.
Isn’t it mind-blowing that God, who is perfect in all ways, would want people like us to identify with Him and be His people?
In your sphere of influence, what do people associate you with? What is your identity? What are you known for? Are you known as the hothead, the drama king/queen? Or are you the one that people go to when they need prayer? Are you the one that provides hope for people who are facing a hard time? Are you the one that connects people to God?
Just like in a marriage, a ring symbolizes a covenant between two people, making them one. Our lifestyle of holiness is that wedding ring that we show to the world, that we are the bride of Christ!
Ephesians 5:27 (ESV)
So that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Can we live a life of holiness?
Hebrews 13:21 (NLT)
May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.
We can never be holy in and of ourselves, but God has made a way for us to be holy by redeeming and regenerating us through the blood of Jesus Christ! Our dependence upon Him will determine how much he regenerates us:
Oswald Chambers: “…if Jesus Christ is truly a regenerator, someone who can put His own heredity of holiness into me, then I can begin to see what He means when He says that I have to be holy. Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into anyone the hereditary nature that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives us are based on that nature — His teaching is meant to be applied to the life which He puts within us. The proper action on my part is simply to agree with God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ. The New Testament teaching about regeneration is that when a person is hit by his own sense of need, God will put the Holy Spirit into his spirit, and his personal spirit will be energized by the Spirit of the Son of God — “…until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). The moral miracle of redemption is that God can put a new nature into me through which I can live a totally new life. When I finally reach the edge of my need and know my own limitations, then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). But I must get to that point. God cannot put into me, the responsible moral person that I am, the nature that was in Jesus Christ unless I am aware of my need for it. Just as the nature of sin entered into the human race through one man, the Holy Spirit entered into the human race through another Man (see Romans 5:12-19). And redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin, and that through Jesus Christ I can receive a pure and spotless heredity, namely, the Holy Spirit.”
Here are scriptures that declare to us how God has made us holy:
Hebrews 13:12 (ESV)
So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
The word sanctified in Greek (hagiázō) means “to make holy, consecrate, sanctify; to dedicate, separate.”
So the great news is, we are already holy because Jesus made us holy. We just have to work it out in our lives.
Hebrews 10:10 (NLT)
“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”
Hebrews 10:14 (TPT)
“And by his one perfect sacrifice he made us perfectly holy and complete for all time!”
2 Cor. 7:1 (NLT)
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
“work toward” This means that it’s a lifelong process of a holy lifestyle. It doesn’t just happen overnight.
2 Cor. 6:17-18 (NLT)
“Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them,” says the Lord. “Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.
Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NLT) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Is there a way to live this out in our lives?
1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
In vs. 15 Peter is saying that we need to be holy in everything we do, now. It doesn’t say to live a life of holiness when we get to heaven, it says to be holy “now”.
Now is the time to start yielding to this life of holiness. A life set apart from those around you.
Jesus is coming back for a spotless bride:
Eph. 5:27 (NLT)
He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
When the apostle Peter was writing this letter, the people in the churches he was writing to were having problems living out their faith in the midst of the persecution and temptations that they were going through.
Can we relate? I think we all can relate. Sometimes it is hard to live out the characteristics of God on our own. That’s why the Holy Spirit is in us, to be our coach and guide.
Holiness is a lifestyle, a way of living, a constant identification that we are God’s. It’s literally His brand on us that identifies us as his own.
God doesn’t want to share you. You are so precious to Him. He desires to have you all to himself. You were bought by him, through His own Son’s death, burial and resurrection.
I Cor. 6:20 (NLT)
…for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
For some of us, the first step is to realize that we are precious enough to God for Him to buy us back to Himself at the highest price He could give, which was Himself.
What if I mess up?
At times we will mess up and get distracted from this lifestyle of holiness and give into our flesh. This is where the other characteristics of God come into play – like His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
If you mess up, ‘fess up!
I John 1:9 (NLT)
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
But we should strive to not continue to live in that sin, doing everything we can to walk away from that lifestyle:
Rom. 6:1-2 (NLT)
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Being different and set apart from the rest of the world can be scary and it may feel like you’re alone. It’s hard to go against the current of how the world is going, but God makes it clear in His word that He will be with us and will sustain us, in Him.
John 16:33 (NLT)
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
If followers of Jesus were just like everyone else, there would be no appeal from the world to follow because there would be no difference. Your lifestyle being different, set apart from everyone else, is absolutely necessary for others to know and see Christ.
You may be the only Jesus they ever see!
- Embrace the lifestyle of being set apart for holiness. Don’t be afraid of living a life that is set apart from those around you. It’s what you were made to be.
- Be constantly aware and have a reverential fear of the holiness of God and how you approach Him.
- Realize that living a life of holiness is a lifestyle. It’s who you were made to be. It’s the brand of God, your identity.