Holiness is an anointing and that is why we start at Exodus 30 where we will look at 5 or 6 verses to demonstrate 5 distinctives that I think are important about this subject. We will have read these verses so often because it is about the anointing oil.
Exodus 30 v. 26-29
“Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony, the table and all its articles, the lamp and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.”
Now, the whole thrust of these words reminds of the fact that, firstly, holiness is a distinctive. God is holy, and that simply means that he is different. God is not the same as us in our sin. God is not the same as a world touched by darkness, as a humanity blighted by disease, sickness, sorrow and sadness. Do you not think that in the world we live in we need a different kind of God? I do not need a God who is like me. I need a God who wants to make me like him, and he is different from what I am. J.B.Phillips wrote a book fulminating against liberal theology which brings God down to our level and our measure and called it “Your God Is Too Small”. God is great! There are so many things that flow from that distinctive.
“God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.”
God is truth. God is faithfulness. God is all of these things and from all of them flow the practical reality that the difference of God is expressed in his actions towards men. When the anointing of God touches us it makes us different, and everything that the holiness of God touches becomes different. That is a challenge, because there has to be a difference between the anointing of God and the ways of men. It is a distinctive. God says of the oil, of he tabernacle, of the priests and eventually of the whole nation that it is distinctively different.
I was recently at a church where the young people looked as if they had just rolled out of the nearest nightclub! We are in a charismatic age where we accept everything. I spoke to these young people in a way they had never been spoken to before because it just will not do. There has got to be a difference – a distinctive in how we should live and how we should be. I do not wish to turn the clock back to legalism, but I want to come into something that expresses something of what God has placed in us. That goes for our language, attitudes, how we keep our homes, cars and so on. There is a shoddiness about the people of God wit our attitude of “We are under grace now, not under law.” I am well aware of that, but that does not mean that we drop our standards to the levels of the world or below. Even the world gets all dressed-up for a night at something special, but we fall out of bed into the presence of God unshaven, unkempt an all the rest. Holiness is a distinctive.
Many people ask why there is no anointing, and often the answer is not just to do with the inner spirit, but with the outer man. People come to me with their bad breath or smelling of cigarettes, and even the world knows that kills you. The world is even mounting a campaign to preserve people in immortality, and here we are as the temples of the Holy Spirit treating our bodies like muck! This is not my opinion – it is written in the Word of God;
I Cor. 6 v. 19
“Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honour God with your body.”
It is no wonder the Holy Spirit does not flow through us when we are such a mess! I would not stay in a dank room stinking of cigarette smoke, so how much more is that true spiritually? The Holy Spirit gets to our bad-breath and all the other things that go on in our lives, and will not go any further than that! Maybe we don’t usually think like that, but I am sure that is how God thinks, and that when we get our lives sorted then we get the anointing. There is a demand in anointing.
This brings me on to my second point. Holiness is a challenge. We sing nice songs about this being holy ground, but if it really was holy ground some of us would drop down. You may protest that we are under the New Covenant. Precisely! Have you read it? Paul says;
II Cor 2 v. 15-16
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life.”
I would like to particularise that; holiness is death to that which does not belong to Christ, whether it is in you or anyone else.
Judges 13 v. 6
“Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t as where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, “You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazarite of God from birth until the day of his death.”
The same thing was said about Samuel, but this is about Samson. He lost the anointing when he forgot that word, but when he lived in that word he had the anointing. The last anointing Samson ever got caused his own physical death and the death of everybody opposed to God, because in the midst of his cripplement and blindness this man born to holiness and backslidden from it, suddenly it dawned on him that he was not birthed for bondage nor blindness nor subservience to the enemies of God. I wonder if those prophetic words from his mother came back into his heart and he realised that he was birthed for greatness and for anointing in the power of God. Suddenly a surge went through him and his hair began to grow, and in the anointing of God he gripped the pillars and pulled it all down like a pack of cards. He became a Nazarite until the day of his death and fulfilled his own prophesy.
God does not want us to backslide, although we all do. But over the years we have to understand what the anointing is and the grip and the call of the anointing on our lives. I know what it is like; we all long to be free from our thoughts, our habits, our fleshly-ambition, and so on, but when God lays it on your life you know what Paul meant when he said; “I am constrained”. The vision of God puts a constraint on you and that is not an easy thing to live with. The holiness of God is a challenge. We need to understand that if we want the anointing we have to accept the challenge. It is only going to come to people who accept the prophetic reality of what they are.
The third thing I want to say is that holiness is a power.
I Chron 13 v. 5-8
“So David assembled all the Israelites, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. David and all the Israelites with him went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the Cherubim – the ark that is called by the Name.
They moved the ark from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.”
Let us look at this first. David got it all wrong. He should never have been dancing like that before the Lord and before the ark (remember he danced naked before the Lord, and he should not have done that), and he should have carried it the way God had told him too. The Levites should have put their poles through the holes to carry it – it should not have been on an oxcart. We know that David’s heart was right, but his actions were all wrong. His desires were right, but what he did with them was wrong. How many times are our desires expressed in wrong actions? The result here was that two innocent men died – Uzzah and Ahio who were told to steady the ark. The ark had been moved many times in the wilderness and it never got into trouble because it was carried by men with poles. God had it carried like that or safety because the ark was never to drop since his name was on it and what was in it should never perish. The ark only disappeared under the judgment of God. Nobody else ever had power over the ark of the covenant. The Philistines took it and when the holiness of God came among the enemies of God they tried to get rid of it fast because of all that happened.
When Uzzah stretched out his hand to steady the ark, he died. Liberal Bible scholars who do not know the dynamic of the Holy Spirit dismiss these stories, but this has got to do with what God is. One day the world will know what God is because where the holiness of God reaches forth in power it saves many and destroys some. Holiness is power.
The holiness of God is there because it is the place of the presence of the Name and that is the entry-point for God into a world of bondage. The holiness of God drives out all evil, and that is what happened with Jesus; the demons couldn’t stand Him, the devil was overcome, sickness fled and unbelief was overpowered because in Him there was a direct anointing of the holiness of God. That is why Peter called him “the Holy One”. Holy, the Anointed One. What was released in Jesus was an anointing the world does not know unless God does it. That is why in the great Psalms and the great occasions when the people raised their voices there was this tremendous grip. It says;
“Let all the earth stand still”
It happened in the Acts of the Apostles when the power of holiness struck Ananias and Sapphira because they were in sin and lied to the Lord.
The fourth point is that holiness is a proclamation. What I mean by that is what Peter says, that God has released the anointing among us because;
I Peter 2 v. 9
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
God is planting in the midst of the nations a testimony of a different kind of life, a people committed to different principles, different attitudes, different desires and ambitions, who are no-longer consumed for themselves, but are committed to God.
Now let’s turn to Isaiah 62.
Isaiah 62 v. 11
“The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘See your Saviour comes! See his reward is with him and his recompense accompanies him.'”
They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”
A proclamation! We have got to get beyond this boring idea of holiness as though it is a set of rules and realise that it is an anointing, an overflow of the essence of God. That it drives and comes in power and that those who touch it willingly are transformed, and those who touch it sinfully are dead.
Finally, holiness is an expectation. Let’s look at Isaiah 35, one of the most beautiful scriptures in the Bible.
Isaiah 35 v. 1-10 (whole chapter)