Friday, January 15, 2010
The 2 scariest words in the English language I find are “unholy still”. The full quote is “let him who is unholy be unholy still.” These words are uttered by our Savior at world’s end. The text reveals that evil has a time limit. It is on a schedule for termination, and those who embrace it will go down with it. Considering that at this moment in time I am “unholy”, then am I doomed to be “unholy still”? And more to the point, when will the day arrive that I can join the group who will remain “holy” through these last events?
Christians fear the time of the end for their physical safety. They worry about persecution. Perhaps those fears are more legitimate now that even our country seems to have embraced torture as an acceptable form of questioning. But forgetting the merely mundane issues that surround our physical well-being, what of our spiritual condition at the end of all things? The thought of being categorized as ‘holy’ seems foreign to my thinking. I can see myself as forgiven. I can see myself as saved by grace; but sinless? Could I stand before the throne of God without an intercessor?
In the Old Testament Sanctuary model, the priest acted as the intercessor for the children of Israel. He went before the Ark of God to plead for forgiveness for the sins of the people. In the Heavenly Sanctuary, Christ is our High Priest and fulfills this role. He pleads before the throne of God for His people, those who have embraced Him and accepted love over evil. But there will come a time, when Christ leaves off His work of acting as our defense attorney. He will come back to claim us. At this time, He declares those telling words … “let he who is holy, be holy still and let he who is unholy be unholy still.” There is finality in those words. There is an absolute in those words.
He did not say let he who is forgiven, remain forgiven. The word was “holy”. Holy implies that actions and words are free of all evil, of all the influences of sin. Motives, thoughts, and actions in harmony with the government of Heaven – this is what it means to be holy. Our world is the exact opposite of Heaven. And in general we have lived lives reflecting the world around us. The transforming power of God appears to be on a schedule for us. Perhaps this is why so few are thought to “live’ through the end days. Many will be ‘put to sleep’ to await the coming King. This is considered a kindness by God, not a punishment. There will come a time when to live is considerably harder than to sleep in death.
But fear of death pales in comparison to fear of permanent imperfection. To have found yourself to be a goat, not a sheep – to be lost, not saved – to be unholy, not holy – and to live through the entire experience. The thought is terrifying. This is the time of Jacob’s trouble. Jacob’s great lament on his return to see his brother Esau was not just his fear of dying. It was a deeper fear that he had not really changed, that he was simply older, not different. Jacob fled from Esau a petty selfish thief.
Was he returning a genuinely different man in the core of his soul, or was he simply older? He wrestled Christ thinking it his brother throughout the night; the blessing he craved at daylight was more a confirmation that he was really different than anything else. Jacob was not asking for money, he had that. He was not asking for women, kids, or love – he had all of that. He was not even really asking for God’s favor, he had that. He just wanted to know, he was not the same man he used to be. And God heard him, and spared him, and blessed him – confirming the change.
Our time is coming if it is not already here. We face world’s end where evil rules, and too often has ruled within us. Are we really different? Have we allowed God to really change us? Or are we simply acting a good game. There are only 2 choices, only 2 conditions, only 2 results. There is no multiple choice. There is no do-over. There is no ‘third’ chance. It comes down to “holy” or “unholy” – still.
To be sealed in the kingdom of God is a goal of no small achievement. To be one of the 144,000 special souls who witness the end of days. It matters not whether this number is literal or figurative. It matters not how the last 10 plagues fall upon the earth. It matters not how many die, or even if we are among them. But to be uncertain is to live in horror. To find yourself “unholy”, does not prevent persecution, of body or of mind. The ultimate test of faith comes upon us. Is the salvation or our God real? Is His transforming power in our character real? Has it worked? Are we holy or simply deluding ourselves? This is the last great trial we face. To put our money where our mouth is.
It is not our God we doubt, but our history. We know so well the extent of evil that has lived within each of us. Are we finally free of it? How can one so evil as I be truly changed. Most times in life when sin is not being committed, it is being planned. Lack of opportunity to commit sin is not the same as being free from it. Will we find ourselves not committing sin by mere denial of circumstance?
This agony was experienced once before in our world in Gethsemane. Would His sacrifice be enough? The weight of sin was upon His soldiers. One who never knew sin, now had to bare its entire weight. How disgusting the burden of evil. How overwhelming the extent of it. Could He be reconciled to His Father after having borne its burden? Perhaps the stain of sin would prevent Him from ever being in the presence of His Father again – eternal separation – effectively hell. This agony nearly overwhelmed Christ. We are destined to share this experience.
Knowing how evil we have been, can we ever come to know ourselves in the context of the absence of sin? Forgiven is something we understand, but reformed? And more to the point, can we even conceive of ourselves as “holy”. The alternative is even more fearful. I can imagine a perfect God. I can imagine Love big enough to come to die for me and save me. But can I imagine me different than my past?
We do not need the physical presence of the antichrist in our world to begin to experience the time of Jacob’s Trouble. We know what is possible today. We know what could be done in us, if we allowed. Has time already passed us by? Are we in the sorting phase, or past it? The thing I fear most in this world is me. I fear my selfishness. I fear my judgment. I fear my arrogance, in thinking I might trust my own wisdom, rather than follow His word. In so doing am I preventing Him from truly changing me? It drives me back to my knees. I plead with God to kill the ‘self’ that fights to reign in me. All of this only points me back to the desperate need of a savior. Save me. Change me. Find a way to force me into the “holy” group. Ignore my refusals. Over-ride my stubbornness. Undo my stupidity. Push me, Pull me. Drag me kicking and screaming. Just do not let me away from Your side. Hold me fast Oh Lord, for without my savior, I am dead already…
Posted by Kristian Nelson at 12:23 AM