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Being set apart

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POSTED: May 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
What does it mean to be set apart? In the Christian world, there are many things said and even quoted from scripture about man. Words that should have such great meaning become clichés. They are often revalued to the point of benign rhetoric.
For example: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Even the simplest truth, "God is love," often becomes an empty sentiment in the minds of many believers.
The proof of this can be found in how many Christians live. We know we are to live by faith. Most believe they consistently live by faith, even to the point they would argue with anyone who suggested that is not the case.
If faith is your belief in God and His word, living by faith would have to be defined as the application of that said belief in your daily existence. The first question becomes, "If you are living by faith, by how much faith are you living?" This is immediately followed by, "If you are only applying your belief in God to certain portions of your life, are you truly living by faith?"
What does this have to do with being set apart? In God's kingdom, to be set apart means to be sanctified.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (online) defines sanctified as: to set apart for a sacred or religious purpose, to consecrate; to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability or respect to; to give moral or social sanction to, or to free from sin.
You cannot truly live by faith without living as one set apart. You cannot wholeheartedly embrace a life with Jesus without embracing the process of sanctification. Many are quick to acknowledge that God, by His grace, will free them from sin. It is true. However, there comes a place where God expects man to remove himself from that, which is sin and iniquity. God will sanctify you, but for it to be real and lasting, you must choose to remain sanctified.
A friend once had a knife that was honed to a very fine edge. He was a hunter and this knife was set apart for the explicit purpose of removing the hide from the animal he hunted. He fed the children with the meat and sold the tanned skin to provide for his family. Although he set the knife apart for that specific purpose, his son and I used that knife one day to carve up some wood. We destroyed the blade. Even though he set it apart, we did not. The knife was lost to its desired purpose. Even if God sets us apart, we have the ability to hinder or even destroy our own purposes by embracing what we should not embrace.
"Does this mean I have to give up things in my life?" This question surfaces when talking about sanctification and true Christian life. Phrased more simply, it asks, "What is sin?"
What people do not realize is that the very asking of that question can be an indication of a wrestling match between their flesh and their spirit. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it acceptable? The better approach to such things would be: "Does this help or hinder my relationship with God?" "Does this better the future He has for me?" "Will it reflect God's glory or impede my witness with others?" In other words, "will this dull my blade?"
To live by faith means that you must be willing to embrace that God has a purpose for your life. It means that you must recognize His desire for you to remain free from sin. You must recognize that if you allow sin to permeate your surroundings, sooner or later you will inhale or ingest sin into your life. Even if it does not immediately affect your actions, it will permeate your belief system. Your blade will become dull.
I urge you to consider all that you allow to exist in your life. What does it cause you to believe? What beliefs that you now hold are challenged or ignored by its existence in your life? How is it affecting your relationship with God and His people? When God saved you, He sanctified you. He set you apart. Determine today to live as one set apart!

Byler is the senior pastor of Bethesda Church.
 

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