What does it mean to be set-apart?
Set-Apart. In Hebrew, kadash, set-apart, means dedicated, sacred. From kadash we derive kodesh, meaning Holy, sanctified. Quite a concept, isn’t it?
I’m sure my understanding will be enhanced, through unpacking kodesh, in a practical sense. Through my research, I have uncovered eight practices which will prepare our minds and hearts to receive Yahveh’s holiness. The first is belonging to God and thirsting for holiness. What does it mean to belong to Yahveh? Psalm 100:3 is a good start, in which we read: Be aware that Adonai is God; it is he who made us; and we are his, his people, the flock in his pasture. This thought is echoed in Isaiah 43:1, where Yahveh declares: But now this is what Adonai says,
He who created you, Ya‘akov, He Who formed you, Isra’el: “Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are Mine. From the voice of Adonai Yeshua, we hear, as recorded in John 10:2-4 – But the one who goes in through the gate is the sheep’s own shepherd. This is the one the gate-keeper admits, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep, each one by name, and leads them out. After taking out all that are his own, he goes on ahead of them; and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. To belong to Yahveh means to know we are His; there is no guessing here.
Then we need to prepare our minds and hearts to receive holiness. How do we do this? Once again we turn to His Word. Proverbs 24:27 shares with us a cryptic message: Prepare your outside work and get things ready for yourself on the land; after that, build your house. What is our outside work? This, I believe, is our physical lives – our behaviours. We need to refine our behaviours to be in tune with Yahveh’s Life Instructions, as found in Torah. Then we have get things ready for yourself on the land, or educate ourselves in the understanding of His Word and what it is He wants us to do, whatever that may be – teach, preach, guide, encourage, etc. Finally, build your house, meaning building the ministry He has given to us, using our unique set of skills and gifts. Now, that is preparing our minds; what about our hearts?
1 Peter 3:13-16 helps us in this understanding, wherein we find: For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed, but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you — yet with humility and fear keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame. I don’t think this could be any clearer – we are to keep Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, sacred within our hearts; He is the owner of our love and none else. With this is mind, we go to the words of Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, who encourages us with: For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God’s powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile, highlighting our confidence in Him Who loves us and sends us forth to do His bidding.
A third process in preparing for kodesh, is avoiding moralism. Oh, how difficult that seems to be for follows of Yahveh; how often do we catch ourselves in portraying a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, particularly with other believers, who profess a different theology? All we need do is read one day’s worth of comments on Face Book and we will see reems of moralistic comments, always meant in the best of intentions, obviously. What does His Word say about moralizing? Rav Sha’ul weighs in here, writing to that Galatians (Galatians 1:6,7) as they were receiving moralistic teachings from a faction of believers with a different theology. Read his words carefully and hear how they apply to us today: I am astounded that you are so quick to remove yourselves from me, the one who called you by the Messiah’s grace, and turn to some other supposedly “Good News,” which is not good news at all! What is really happening is that certain people are pestering you and trying to pervert the genuine Good News of the Messiah. This requires discernment on our part and He gives this to us, if we but genuinely ask.
Then we might focus on actually setting ourselves apart from the world of sin, while still being in the world. How might we do this? Once more Rav Sha’ul encourages us with these words, found in Romans 12:2 – In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the ‘olam hazeh. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed. ‘olam hazeh is Hebrew for this present world. We are constantly bombarded with temptations from the world, temptations which require us to be conformed to the standards of the world of flesh. Calling upon His guidance and support will go a long way, when added to our own resolve to not allow ourselves to be dragged into behaviours which characterize the unbelieving world. Rather, we align ourselves with Yahveh’s standards of conduct, as found in Torah, which Adonai Yeshua taught exclusively.
Beloved, I hope you do realize we cannot make ourselves kodesh, holy, despite the protestations of others. Only Yahveh, our Beloved Elohim, has the power to do that. What we can do by: recognizing we are His – we belong to Him; preparing our hearts and minds to be made set-apart spiritually; avoiding moralism or a superior “holier-than-thou” attitude, rooted in pride and actually separating ourselves from the world of flesh, indicating to our Beloved Abba we are ready to be made kodesh, holy, set-apart for Him.
CONSIDER: Do you consider yourself set-apart, kodesh? If you have the slightest doubt, please examine your life-style, your behaviours and your thoughts.
ACTION: Ask the Holy Spirit of the Living God to examine you and indicate to you any aspect of your life, which may block you from being set-apart for Yahveh.
PRAYER: Beloved Abba, I do want to be holy in your sight. I do want to be set-apart from the world of sin and temptations of the flesh. I do want my mind and heart to be focused on You only and not on any earthly desires. Please help me maintain a life-style, with its behaviours and thoughts which will lead me fully towards your desire for holiness and righteousness. In Your Beloved Name I pray.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.