“Give Me Thine Heart”

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” —Proverbs 23:26

IN THE OLD Testament the word “consecration,” as generally used in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus in connection with the typical priesthood, is translated from a Hebrew word meaning ‘a filling of the hand’ (Margin, Exod. 28:41; Lev. 8:33), picturing the placing in their hands of the power and authority of the office of the priesthood. In translating this same Hebrew word, Rotherham and Moffatt refer to this transaction as the “installation” of the priesthood. Professor Strong adds the heart-warming thought that the same Hebrew word is also used to describe a setting of gems. The scholars and the context thus confirm that the Hebrew word translated consecration in these instances is used in connection with a setting apart for the office of priests of those selected for that service; and it is so used in the 8th chapter of Leviticus, which relates to the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood.

In the same 8th chapter of Leviticus we find another significant word used in connection with the consecration of the members of the priesthood. It is the word “sanctified,” and is translated from a Hebrew word (qadash) the basic meaning of which, according to Strong, is ‘to make, pronounce or observe (i.e., recognize) as clean’. And so we find that all that was to be used in connection with the work of the priesthood was sanctified, or made clean—the Tabernacle and all that was therein, the altar and its vessels, the laver, and Aaron and his sons—all had to be made clean, to be suitable for so important a work. “I will sanctify [make clean] the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and the altar; I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.”—Exod. 29:44; Lev. 8:10-12

Deny Thyself

Oddly enough, when we come to the New Testament we discover that the word consecration is never used, and we find that the word consecrated is used but twice, and in neither case is it the best translation that could have been made from its Greek counterpart. Furthermore, in neither case does it refer directly to the consecration of the antitypical priesthood. But although the word itself is not used in relation to the consecration of the Lord’s people during the Gospel Age, there are numerous scriptures which definitely invite believers to give themselves wholly to the Lord.

After rebuking Peter for his attempt to dissuade him from exposing himself to death at Jerusalem, the Lord said to his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) If we would be his disciples, Jesus tells us, we must be willing to give our all, even unto death. That is a call to consecration.

On another occasion he gave the parable of the rich man who prepared a great supper and invited many to attend. But “they all with one consent began to make excuse.” One had to examine a piece of ground that he had just purchased; another had to test out some newly-bought oxen, and still another had just taken a wife. So the Lord said unto his servant that “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

Jesus then went on to make the point of his lesson. “And he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not [love less] his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” This, too, is an invitation to consecration; and our Lord at the same time presented the conditions of discipleship—forsaking all, and following after him.—Luke 14:16-27

And some of his hearers did just that! One day, on the shores of Lake Galilee, the multitude that “pressed upon him to hear the word of God” became so great that he stepped into a fisherman’s boat that was nearby, and asked Simon Peter, whose boat it was, to put off a little from the land; and thus he taught the people. When he had finished, he suggested that Peter let down his net for fish. But Peter objected. “Master,” he said, “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.” Nevertheless, he followed the Lord’s instructions; and so great was their catch of fish that it caused their own boat and that of their partners to begin to sink.—Luke 5: 1-11

No doubt Peter had previously heard of this one who claimed to be the Son of God, but probably this was his first direct contact with him. And now Peter suddenly recognized Jesus for what he was; and filled with astonishment and fear, he fell at Jesus’ feet. The Lord, reading Peter’s heart and finding it good, could well have performed this miracle for the very purpose of calling Peter and his companions, James and John. Having set the stage, the Lord issued his invitation. “Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” And what a heart-warming response the Lord received! For we read that “when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” That is consecration!

The Lord’s call to Peter was simple and direct. And it was accompanied by a miraculous act in which he revealed himself to Peter as being the Son of God. And Peter’s acceptance was similarly open and immediate. Today, the Lord’s calling of his people may not appear to be so plainly indicated as was the case with Peter; for the loving providences of God are often too deep and his ways too mysterious for our finite minds to discern or fathom. But it may well be that when we are beyond the vail we will marvel at what great things the Lord hath done to bring us to a knowledge of the truth, and to gently lead us to give our hearts and minds and lives to him; things done on our behalf no less miraculous in their way than what he did at the time of Peter’s call and consecration.

But certain it is that we, like Peter, have heard the call; and we, like him, have made a similar commitment to leave all, and follow him. Those whom the Lord accepts, he justifies, and begets with the Holy Spirit. We become a part of the family of God; and henceforth all that we are, or have, or hope to be, are his. Thus we see that consecration is a once-for-all, a lifetime, irrevocable commitment to serve the Lord.

Purify Thyself

Sanctification is what takes place during our life after we consecrate. Sanctification is a process—a process of being made holy, of being made pure. In the New Testament the word “sanctification” is translated from the Greek word hagiosmos, meaning ‘holiness’; and it is translated holiness as often as it is translated sanctification.

In I Thessalonians 4:3 the Apostle Paul says, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification [hagiosmos].” Clearly, he is telling us that God did not call us to live evil, dissolute lives, but to purify ourselves, to live holy lives. We are to put off the deeds of the old man, which is corrupt, and “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-32) We are to strive daily to purify ourselves, and grow more and more in the perfect and glorious image of our Lord Jesus.

Writing to the Church at Rome, Paul says, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have [in times past] yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity …; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness [hagiosmos].”—Rom. 6:19

The word “sanctified” is from the related Greek word hagiazo, meaning ‘to make holy’, or ‘to purify’. Exhorting the brethren at Miletus on his last missionary journey, Paul says, in the closing words of his farewell message, “Now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified [hagiazo].” (Acts 20:32) In another translation, Beck refers to this as “an inheritance to be shared by all who are made holy.”

Called to Be Holy Ones

The Greek word hagnizo, also closely related, means ‘to make clean’, or to purify, as in I John 3:3: “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth [hagnizo] himself, even as he is pure.” James also wrote, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify [hagnizo] your hearts.”

The adjective of this family of Greek words is hagios, meaning ‘pure’, or holy. Throughout the New Testament hagios is fairly consistently translated “holy.” Thus we have holy child, holy ground, holy kiss, Holy Spirit, holy Scriptures, holy calling, holy faith, and other examples. But there is one notable exception, and that is in reference to the Lord’s people, where hagios is rendered “saints.”

One wonders, in view of its being consistently translated holy in every other instance, why hagios is not similarly translated in the case of the called ones, the holy ones, as the Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott indeed frequently renders it, e.g., “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, constituted Holy ones.” (Rom. 1:7, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) For we are indeed called to be holy ones, and such we are in God’s sight! And if we are to be used of the Lord in his glorious ministry we must purify ourselves, yielding ourselves daily to God’s purifying providences.

How are we sanctified, or made holy [hagiazo]? In the first instance, we are made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus. “We have been made holy [hagiazo] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10, Rotherham) Also, we are made holy by faith in the Lord. In Acts 26:18 Paul quotes Jesus concerning those who turn from darkness to light, and receive “forgiveness of their sins and take their place with all those who are made holy [hagiazo] by their faith in me.” (Phillips) We are made holy by the Spirit of God. “God hath chosen you to salvation through the purifying influence [hagiosmos] of the Spirit (II Thess. 2:13, Twentieth Century New Testament) And we are made holy by the truth. “Make them holy [hagiazo] by thy truth.”—John 17:17, Phillips

What all this comes to, of course, is what the Scriptures speak of as justification by faith. We became saints of the Lord, or holy ones, when he first accepted our consecration, by virtue of being justified, or made righteous, by faith in Jesus Christ.

But that was only a start in the process of our sanctification! That was laying the foundation upon which we must henceforth build, and from which point we are to strive daily to be made more and more in the likeness of Jesus; bending all our energies to rid ourselves of imperfections of the flesh, and put on the fruits and graces of the Spirit; a yielding ourselves wholly to the purifying power of the Holy Spirit as it instructs and guides us through his Word of truth, thus growing in love and faith and mercy, and in purity and holiness. And as this sanctifying process, this process of being made holy, or purified, proceeds, the depth and sincerity of our consecration will be fully tested and proved.

The Trial of Your Faith

Many of the testings of the persevering power of our consecration will come from the world, even as they did with the Early Church. Gathered around Paul in Rome, as fellow prisoners in bonds and fellow sufferers in Christ, sharing his trials and serving his needs, were a few faithful brethren—Timothy, Epaphroditus, Tychicus, and others. But there was one who fell—one for whom the stigma and trials of association with the great apostle apparently were too great, in contrast with the allurements and creature comforts that beckoned to him from the world to which he returned.

This incident was the occasion of some of the saddest words to be found in Paul’s writings, and we find them in his letter to the absent Timothy, imploring the comfort of his early return to Rome. He writes, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me; for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica. Only Luke is with me.” (II Tim. 4:9-10) Apparently Demas’ consecration was not sufficiently solid and tenacious to withstand the scorn, the persecutions and imprisonment that were so often the lot of the early faithful Christians. The fiery trials that accompanied the purifying process of sanctification were too great for him to bear.

At this end of the age few of the Lord’s people are subjected to such severe forms of testing. But we do have, and must have, trials of other kinds; some of which are the result of the accelerating decline in the standards of human behavior which are so manifest about us. With such conditions pressing in from every side it is more urgent than ever before that the Lord’s people hold fast to the exalted precepts of God’s Word; that we remember that we are saints, holy ones; that we are in the process of being purified for a holy work in the next age.

“Follow Peace with All Men, and Holiness …”

But perhaps some of our greatest trials arise from our very midst; even the Early Church was prey to some of these distressing experiences. One such difficulty arose between two sincere stalwarts of the church at Antioch. When the brethren there chose Paul and Barnabas to go forth on Paul’s first missionary journey they took John Mark along with them. But when they arrived at Perga, John Mark left them, and returned to Jerusalem, while Paul and Barnabas continued their journey.

Some years later Paul suggested to Barnabas that they visit the brethren in Asia where they had established churches, and Greece. Barnabas agreed, but wanted to include John in the company. But Paul thought it not good to take with them one who previously departed from them “and went not with them to the work.” And we read that “the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed.” (Acts 15:36-41) One can visualize them angrily stalking off on their separate ways without so much as a Godspeed.

But Paul did not harbor in his heart any lasting resentment toward John, who had caused this strife between Paul and his former beloved traveling companion; nor did John toward the Apostle Paul. For when Paul was subsequently imprisoned at Rome we find that John had joined him there, and served him well. And Paul finds loving words to write of him to Timothy, saying that “Mark is profitable to me for the ministry.”—II Tim. 4:11

Then there was the contention that arose between Paul and Peter in Antioch, when Peter withdrew himself from eating with the Gentiles, for fear of criticism from the Jews. Discerning Peter’s weakness in the matter, Paul says he “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” How humiliating it must have been to Peter, to be taken to task by his fellow laborer in Christ before the entire assembly!—Gal. 2:11-14

But again, like Paul and John, Peter did not allow this unpleasantness to stumble him, and we later find Peter writing to the brethren of “our beloved brother Paul,” and referring in glowing terms to Paul’s deep knowledge of the truth. (II Peter. 3:15,16) For the process of sanctification was going grandly forward in the life of the Apostle Peter! Those wonderful brethren of the Early Church were able nobly and lovingly to rise above their occasional differences in the larger, overriding interest of the great cause to which they had dedicated their lives.

Paul wrote, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”—I Cor. 3:11-15

The Prophet Malachi writes in similar vein, “Behold, I will send my messenger, … But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”—Mal: 3:1-3

“Without Which No Man Shall See the Lord

How well are we building? Is our consecration sufficiently deep and abiding to endure the purifying fires required to accomplish our sanctification—our being made holy? The Apostle Paul was never one to mince words; and in his letter to the Church at Ephesus he reminds them, and us, of the gravity and magnitude of our commitment. He writes, “We are to attain to full manhood, measured by nothing less than the stature of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13, NEB) This is no small task! And the depth of our consecration will be fully tested and proved as the work of sanctification, the work of purification, the work of making us holy, proceeds in our mortal bodies.

In Hebrews 13:11-13, Paul refers to the typical Atonement-Day sacrifices which were offered for sin. He says, “For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary [hagion, holy place] by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify [hagiazo, ‘make holy, purify’] the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

The apostle is telling us that we, who in this age are made holy by the blood of Jesus, will have the privilege, if faithful, of sharing in that thousand-year ministry of sanctifying, or making holy, the whole world of mankind in the next age, when the church is complete, when the marriage of the Lamb has taken place, and the kingdom of righteousness is established in the earth. What a time of joy and blessing that will be! “May God himself, the God of peace, make you holy in every part, and keep you sound in spirit, soul, and body, without fault, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is to be trusted: He will do it.”—I Thess. 5:23, NEB

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