Our High Places

2 Kings 14:3-4 “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. He did everything as his father Joash had done. Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away, and the people continued sacrificing and burning incense on the high places.”

I heard a story the other day from a guy who was trying to illustrate a point concerning sin to his kids. The father of three wanted to teach his children a lesson on what happens when we allow a seemingly small amount of sin into our lives.

“The smell of brownies brought a sense of delight as the aroma of the sweet chocolate treats filled the air. The expectation of receiving the special snack was met with horror when the father revealed his cruel lesson. As the kids grabbed the seemingly perfectly made chocolate morsels, the father revealed he had placed a very small amount of dog feces into the batter. He tried to explain to them that they probably tasted the same and that the volume of this secret ingredient would probably not affect the enjoyment of eating them. No matter how much he tried to convince them, the kids desire to enjoy their favorite snack couldn’t overcome the repulsion of what they knew the snacks contained.”

A little bit of sin spoils the entire batch.

The lesson this wise father was teaching his children was the reality of what a little sin can do. We may happily allow our lives to be filled with all sorts of good things of God while setting aside one part in which we allow sin to remain. We might look for excuses to keep the sin; a website that doesn’t seem to hurt anyone, a furtive relationship, or a hidden habit that we’ve kept from our families. The excuses are plentiful, the reasoning is left to our own conclusions, and while the sin is allowed to remain it continues to corrupt the entire batch of our lives—we often try to justify ourselves in thinking the good outweighs the bad but the reminder of what remains is always there.

Galatians 5:7-9 “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

Striving for Holiness

The necessity of Holiness was never more apparent than in the early church. The Holy Spirit was being poured out upon the early church and this completely changed their perspective. As people’s hearts changed, so did their lives, their ambitions, and their love for one another grew. The early church would share meals together, feed widows, and some were selling property to contribute to one another’s needs.

There was a couple that wanted to be a part of this growing move of the Lord and so they tried to enter in to the fellowship of believers on their own terms.

Acts 5:1-5 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

The attempt to deceive God as He was forming His church was an act that was far more treacherous than anticipated. Just like God held Israel to a standard of holiness that set them apart, so God now was establishing His church in holiness.

We might be able to deceive one another but we can never deceive God.

Many people have entered into the congregation of the church who were not God’s own, the necessity to maintain purity within the body of Christ was paramount.

vs. 7 “A short time later, Ananias’ wife showed up to the church and she had a choice to make, follow her husbands lead and lie or act truthfully and repent.

LIke Ananias, his wife failed the test as well.

Ananias and Sapphira were not new believers, excited about joining the newly formed church of Christ, they were imposters who liked the idea of community. The deception they presented themselves by was a precursor to the sin they would have brought into a body that God ordained to be set apart, representing Jesus to the world.

The Lord Himself was removing the corruption of sin, that we have been entrusted with now.

1 Corinthians 5:7 “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

Why is it so important to purify ourselves of All sin?

History gives us a stark reminder of why purging sin is so critical. The children of Israel were held to this standard of God’s righteousness and God dealt harshly with them when they chose to forsake His way and choose their own path. The purpose God had for this tiny nation was to represent His glory before the world. Any deviation from His standard of righteousness was another reason for other nations to blaspheme His name. When the people allowed sin into their midst, God was quick to remind them to purge it from their midst.

Joshua 7:13 “Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.”

A little sin corrupts the entire person, a little leaven, leavens the entire batch and the yeast of unrighteousness if left unaccounted for will bring about corruption to an individual as quick as it corrupted a nation.

The People of God are held to a different standard.

Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

When the world practices sin, the expectation of how they conduct themselves is not unexpected. When people who represent the King of Righteousness act like the world, the stench of sin is amplified. When the people who are commissioned to represent Christ to the world sin, they strengthen the position of the wicked; its as if we give credence to their rebellion and affirm the darkness by which they are associated.

The Lord continually brings conviction of sin, calls us from darkness to light, and tests us so we don’t fall easily into our old ways. When we forsake His chastening, we bring about God’s wrath in our lives. If we don’t leave the past in our past and remove the sin from among us, the Lord will do it Himself. For now, the Lord is patient with us, not desiring that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. One day, His patience toward sin will be exhausted and by His Holiness, He will wipe the face of the earth clean of the stain that sin has left.

Zechariah 13:1-2 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the people of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. It shall be in that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.”

The purity of Holiness was a principle that meant something at one time. It has lost the fullness of its depth by the continual compromise of neglect.

We have neglected our mandate as a people of God. We have allowed the ways of the world to seep into our midst and leave the tarnish of impurity to become a part of our reputation. I have been guilty of this indictment as much as the next man and the need to shine brighter and brighter in this world of increasing darkness has been paramount now as ever.

Holiness is the means of obedience by which we will turn our world around. Unwavering attention to honoring God in our lives aligns what we practice with God’s Truth. The Truth of God is the only thing that will remain, all of this world and the things of this world are going to perish.

The children of Israel learned the lesson of holiness the hard way. They allowed the high places to remain and the subsequent generations of kings and priests completely lost their way. In time, the Lord raised up ungodly nations to destroy their cities and carry off their young men and women into slavery. The result of forsaking God’s call is destruction and yet He still calls out to us, we still have time to repent.

Jeremiah 4:1-2 “If you will return, O Israel,” says the Lord,
“Return to Me;
And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight,
Then you shall not be moved.
And you shall swear, ‘The Lord lives,’
In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness;
The nations shall bless themselves in Him,
And in Him they shall glory.”

One day, all of the land will be holy unto the Lord and we will witness the peace that comes by way of faithfulness.

Zechariah 14:20 “In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.”

Everything will be dedicated into God’s service, nothing will remain that isn’t for His glory.

What will you have to give to the Lord when He returns? Will you have a life of Holiness that you might be able to give as a love offering to the Lord or will the high places of idolatry remain to your shame?

The future of God’s people as kings and queens in His court is one of Honor.

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

*God’s people are commissioned to shine with the light of Jesus to the world. We must hold purity as being sacred in our lives, we have a much greater call to live for.

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