God is passionate about His people and He is passionate about His people becoming pure and maintaining a pure lifestyle. Purity is paramount because Jesus said without it we cannot see God.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for THEY shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
Impurity, or profanity in all of its forms, cannot be tolerated in the life of God’s people, especially if you are a leader who goes before God on behalf of people, and then goes before people on behalf of God.
“1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.. . . 8 The Lord then spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 ‘Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations— 10 and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses.”” Leviticus 10
The One who is described as an all consuming fire set on fire the two eldest sons of the High Priest Aaron. Their death, and the reason God struck them down with Holy fire is a matter of much debate.
Some speculate they did not use fire from the brazen altar. Some speculate they attempted to enter the tent of meeting at the wrong time. And others point to verse 9 in our selected text. ‘Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die — it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations.”
The phrase, “it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations” is an interesting one. Most of the statements of this nature made in the Old Covenant expired with the arrival of Jesus on the planet and the inauguration of His earthly ministry. Some of those have to do with circumcision, the slaughter of animals, the Levitical priesthood, temple worship and Jerusalem as THE place of the worship of God, and others.
But this one carries forth into the New Covenant. While we find verses in the New Covenant that speak on the subject of drinking alcohol I believe the New Testament broadens the scope of what being drunk entails. One such reference we will look at later in this Blog.
Whatever these two priests did to cause God to act so severely should cause every ‘priest’ of God to never attempt to enter God’s presence flippantly and irreverently. This should make every minister of the gospel take inventory every time they enter their prayer closet and especially before they speak on behalf of the God they say they represent.
As we examine the words ‘holy’, ‘profane’, ‘clean’, and ‘unclean’ in verse 10 we find some interesting information.
Sanctified and set apart to God and His purposes. It means to show oneself, and to keep oneself sacred and separate unto God. In other words, do not involve yourself in any activity or with any person that is not holy.
Pure! To purify oneself. Again, the responsibility is on the person to keep them free from all pollution.
Exposed! To make common. To wound or be wounded. To break one’s word. To become diseased. To be exposed means to have what you are hiding come to the surface because you did not deal with it. It means to treat what God calls holy as common, or unimportant. To wound or be wounded really has to do with victimizing others for your profane benefit and then playing the victim card when you get confronted. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not honor your word. This kind of profane behavior is like a disease that will destroy you.
Impure. Defiled. Foul. To be regarded as unclean. People who do not bathe spiritually become as offensive to those around them as a person that rarely if ever takes a physical bath. They stink!
Drunkenness can be more than ingesting alcohol of any strength to the point of losing some or all of your faculties. Drunkenness can be being influenced by the ways of the world that causes us to lose focus on what is important to God. Being intoxicated diminishes our ability to walk right, think right or act right.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 5, “15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,”
Being “filled with the Spirit” is an intoxicating experience as revealed in Acts 2. “1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues , as the Spirit was giving them utterance. . . 14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: ‘Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19 And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”
We see how the powerful experience with the Holy Spirit had such an intoxicating effect on the disciples that the people in Jerusalem thought they had been drinking alcohol.
Paul, in the Ephesians 5 text leads up to this admonition of paying attention to how we walk with a very strong exhortation on how to maintain our position of purity with God.
“1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints ; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.'”
There is so much meat in these texts it would take many blogs to extract all of the nutrients out of them. Let me summarize what I believe to be the most important aspects of what God wants His people to understand.
Paul mentions many character flaws in this text but I want to touch on greed. Greed is the desire to have what belongs to someone else which can lead to actions not holy or healthy where the greedy person seizes what does not belong to them. The person is not willing to pay the price paid by the person possessing what they want so they set out on a path to possess it through manipulation and control. Revealing how dishonorable they are in their core they corrupt the gift God has not given to them. And it rarely if ever ends well for them.
We all have an enormous responsibility to maintain and communicate a lifestyle that is free from the pollution of this world as well as to remain free from every activity that could impugn the character of the very God who has purified us with the blood of Jesus Christ, and freely given to us all we need in the Person of Jesus Christ.
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” [Romans 8]
When Christians involve themselves in behavior that is unbecoming to one of God’s holy ‘helpers’ He must take drastic action to bring correction to the corrupted.”6 Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5
If the person does not deal with themselves God will authorize His delegated authority to deal with it and them. God has mature and healthy people positioned in places of power who will bring a correcting influence to those living in impurity. As stated above, it IS the responsibility of those who have been corrupted to correct their own behavior. The only responsibility the one, or ones, bringing correction have is to confront them with the truth in love and then enforce the will of God so that the greater community of the faithful ones will be kept safe.
The Greek word for ‘saved’ is sozo [sode’-zo]. Sozo means: forgiven, healed, delivered. It also means to be whole and to make whole. But one definition that seems to rarely be talked or written about is to be safe or to keep safe and sound.
To be saved means to be a safe person that does not bring harm to the community you are connected to. It also means when people who claim to be ‘saved’ are not safe to be around then the community and its leaders must take whatever safety measures they believe are commensurate with the “crime.”
” 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5
Paul, as the founding spiritual father of the church in Corinth had absolute authority on behalf of Christ Jesus to adjudicate righteousness within the community he gave birth to. No one has the legal spiritual right to adjudicate something in an area they have no personal investment in. We only have authority where we are under authority and have holy and healthy relationship with the people we are intervening on behalf of. To assume that right opens the assuming person up to the corruption being dealt with by the God-given spiritual authorities who do have a vested interest in the safety of the people being harmed.
So, God who is purity personified, ordains His delegated authorities to adjudicate righteousness within the community they live and serve in. People can choose to come clean, stay clean or they can choose to go somewhere else where they will feel accepted because the new place will not investigate why they left where they used to worship.
And that keeps the Body of Christ impure!
Keep His Passion, Power, Presence and Purity!