Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Home

SERIES:    "RESTORING THE CHURCH'S TRUE IDENTITY"    

 

Session No. 5    A CONSECRATED PEOPLE  

 

INTRODUCTION  

We live in a world that essentially rejects the notion of moral absolutes and, therefore, rejects biblical standards of holiness and righteous living. Yet the whole of the biblical record - Old and New Testament - is a call for the people of God to be a holy people, consecrated to God and His purposes and reflecting His holy nature as individuals and in our corporate life together.

 

"Consecrated", "Holy", Sanctified" are words that are very much part of the Biblical vocabulary and they are pretty much interchangeable in meaning and impact.   In the Christian world today - especially in the Western "Christian" world - there is emerging a renewed call for the people of God to once again become a consecrated and holy people.

 

Such a call is both understandable and desperately needed given the state of the Church - especially the leaders - with regard to holiness. The exposure of sexual sin, financial fraud and emotional manipulation among the leaders seems to be only the "tip of the iceberg"! It seems that the values, standards and morals of this world system have very effectively infiltrated and infested the Church in our day and we have largely become an "unholy" & an "unconsecrated" people.  

 

[NB: The content of this session is aimed at both mind AND heart and may require each of us to do some serious soul-searching that leads to areas of repentance and restoration. Now might be a good time to pause and ask the Lord to use what follows to speak to each of us with clarity and precision.]

 

UNDERSTANDING "CONSECRATION"  

 

When someone or something is "consecrated", it means that they (or it) are "set apart or reserved uniquely for a divine purpose or use". In the Old Testament this word is used of...  

a. PEOPLE - for example, the priests were consecrated (Exodus 28/39-41)  

b. PLACES - the ground at the burning bush (Ex.3/5,6) or the Temple  

c. SPECIAL DAYS - the Sabbath (Ex.20/8) or Year of Jubilee (Lev.25/10)  

 

In both the Old and New Testament, consecration has a strong moral and ethical thrust. (NB: The New International Version in the New Testament translates "consecrate" as "holy" or "sanctified"). It means to be separated from evil to God so that we are righteously different (but not self-righteously different!)

 

Even a casual reading of the whole Bible makes it very clear that, as the people of God, we are called to be observably different in our attitudes, values, priorities and lifestyle. We are to be insulated from the world and its values but not isolated from it.   Can you explain that distinction? Can you give a practical example of it?  

 

If we choose to live what we might call an "unseparated life", there are numerous ways that our consecration can become neutralised. Consider the following passages of Scripture and note that which has the capacity to defile us.  

 

[1]  HEBREWS 12/14-17   In the context of speaking about holiness (consecration), the author mentions 3 "enemies". Can you identify them?   v.15____________________________________________(see also  Eph.4/31,32)

v.16________________________________(see also  1Thess.4/7,8; Eph.5/3-5)  

v.16, 17______________________________________(see also 1 Tim.6/9,10)    

 

These were evidently 3 of the "biggies" back then, just as they are today!  

Bitterness and an unforgiving attitude continue to cripple the lives of far-too-many Christians and it defiles their commitment to holiness. According to Matthew 6/15, refusal to forgive others effectively blocks God's forgiveness reaching us.  

Sexual immorality is surfacing in epidemic proportions in the Church. This defilement in the Body of Christ is much more than pre-marital sex or adultery; the use of pornographic material by professing Christian men in particular is widespread. But Ephesians 5/3 is very explicit on this: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity...because these are improper for God's holy (consecrated) people".  

The god of greed is also alive and well and it is evident from the passage above that covetousness can lead to a debilitating case of "affluenza"!! Did you notice how greed is called idolatry and is listed right along with sexual immorality, impurity, obscenity? Do you find it disturbing that the sin of greed or covetousness is much more 'acceptable' and tolerated in the Christian community? Why is that so, do you think?    

 

THE ULTIMATE MODEL OF CONSECRATION   If we want to find the best example of what it means to be separated but not isolated from the world, we need look no further than the example of Jesus Christ. Seeing Jesus as our example will help prevent us from becoming very negative about the truth of consecration or holiness and falling into the trap of legalism. Understood correctly, "holiness" is meant to be a very posive and liberating dynamic in our lives.  

 

Read John 17/13-19(and read "consecrate" for "sanctify")  

 

Project: Discuss together how Jesus worked out the truth of consecration in His own life. Can you give an example from His life that shows how Jesus was consecrated (separate or different) but not isolated? Can you also give a contemporary example as to how that same dynamic could or does work out in your own life?   The following verses use the word "holy" but could just have easily used "consecrate". As you read the verse from your Bible, imagine that you had to state the same truth in your own words. As a group, try to re-phrase each verse.  

1. ROMANS 12/1 ____________________________________________________  

2. 1 PETER 1/15,16 ___________________________________________________

3. 2 PETER 3/11 _____________________________________________________  

 

QUOTE:"In an effort to control the behaviour and speech of Christians, the Church has often resorted to imposing external codes of conduct that amounts to nothing more than legalism. The effect has mostly produced external conformity rather than internal consecration". Agree or disagree?   How can the local Christian community encourage authentic consecration or holiness in the lives of its members? How can we become strong and remain strong in consecration? (Maybe Romans 12/1,Philippians 4/8,9 and  1 Timothy 2/20-26 are starting points).  

 

CONCLUSION   "Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?" (1 Cor.5/6). This really is a critical spiritual principle for our Church. Do you feel that the Church in general is struggling because of "contaminated consecration"? The purity and holiness that should mark our lives has become defiled and "slimed" by deliberate thoughts, words and deeds that have, in turn, compromised our consecration.

 

In Joshua 7 we read of Achan's "secret sin" and how the whole community suffered as a result. As the people of God we have such a solemn responsibility to each other to avoid all that would prevent us from obeying the call, "Consecrate yourselves!"    

 

FOR YOUR READING THIS WEEK. KEY THOUGHTS:"COMPETENT" AND "QUALIFIED" AND "EMPOWERED"  

  1. Exodus 33/12-20
  2. 1 Samuel 17/32-50
  3. Acts 3/1-16
  4. 2 Corinthians 2/12-3/6
  5. Philippians 4/4-13
  6. 2 Timothy 2/1-7
Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.