WHEN GOD SETS US APART FOR SERVICE…
…He works within us a radical purity that refuses to compromise who He is and who we are. While hiddenness works to expose the issues of the heart that drive us, being set apart is simple. It is about purity within. The presence of the Spirit both requires purity and works purity in the heart.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
'But the one who continues sinning hasn’t seen Him with discernment or known him by intimate experience. 1 John 3:6
John Paul Jackson has said:
“The higher the intended service, the more thorough the breaking (purging).”
This is true of nearly every single significant character in the Bible, and throughout history. God intends to deal with the minute movements of the heart that would serve to disqualify us from fruitful service.
GOD ALONE DETERMINES YOUR USE
God alone determines your call, destiny, and giftedness. You don’t have a say in what you are called to do, nor in what you are gifted to do. It is his sovereign choice acting out in your life. Take the life of Paul for instance.
Before Paul met the Lord (when he was known as Saul), he was serving within the sect of Judaism known as the Pharisees. He was the disciple of Gamaliel, one of the most notable Rabbis of the day. Paul was not just any disciple, he was the heir apparent of this notable Rabbi. Paul was set to become one of the main interpreters of the Jewish scriptures. His observation and knowledge of the Torah was beyond reproach. At one point, Paul even describes himself as having been the most zealous of all the Pharisees.
If you fast-forward his life to his radical encounter with the person of Jesus on the road to Damascus, you see a man with a radically different outlook, world view, and passion. The entire narrative of his life was turned upside down. Everything changed for Paul that day on the Damascene road.
'“Our response to God is simply to turn our hearts to him.”
But what didn’t change for Paul was what he did. The things Paul went about doing after his encounter with Christ were essentially the same things he did for Gamaliel and the Pharisees. He interpreted scripture, traveled the known world and taught people who God is. This is not so radical a departure as it first seems.
Paul’s life changed, but the call on his life never changed. He was gifted and called to lead people into the knowledge of God, and he was attempting to fulfill that call before he met Christ. When he met Christ everything changed, but some things remained the same.
Our responsibility is not to determine our giftedness or call, God alone determines that. Our responsibility is to remain faithful. The role of man in determining his destiny is simply to turn to Christ.
“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
Our response to God is simply to turn our hearts to him. He alone determines what you are called and gifted to accomplish.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. Ephesians 4:11
The “some” that Christ gives is grace to become what you are created to become. He gave grace to some to become apostles, grace to some to become prophets, etc… But without those turning to him they could never discover and fulfill the grace that had been afforded to their life. So what has He set apart for you to do?
So why do so many of us struggle so much with discovering what we are created to do? Perhaps it is because many men and women operate in their gift sporadically and fail to understand what it takes to consistently hear from God accurately. The service we are set apart for is determined by God, but how we enter into that service is determined by our response to His call.
NEVER HAVING BOWED THEIR KNEE
When the Lord speaks to Elijah about the 7,000 prophets he has squirreled away, He makes an interesting statement.
Yet I have left seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:18
Those who have been set apart are distinctly recognized as having never bowed to Baal, nor kissed his mouth. To understand the significance of this statement, and the ramifications it has upon us today, a cursory glance at the worship of Baal is necessary.
Baal was the god of Jezebel. He was worshipped by the Canaanites and Phoenicians, and the female counterpart of Baal was Asherah. The worship of Baal took many different forms, and at times in the Israelites’ history they entertained worship of this god. The common forms the worship of Baal took were sexuality and wealth. We can see in Baal the precursor to the Greek and Roman gods Aphrodite, Mars, and Mammon.
“While we may not bow our knees to literal idols, we surely bow our knees in minute ways to each of these influences.”
The Israelites seemed to have a knack for following pagan gods. From the golden calf when they grew tired of waiting for Moses to the Asherah poles set in their high places, they were constantly pulled away from worship of Yahweh in the Old Testament. It seems much the same way we devote our lives to ideologies and identify with consumer products to give us meaning.
Though the gods of the ancient world are not known by name today, humanity still dedicates a large portion of their allegiance to them. Mammon, the ancient god of money is worshiped the world over by the drive for accumulation of things. Mars, the old Roman god of war and power is very much alive today in the grasp for greater and greater influence. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty is seen every day in the hyper-sexualization of women.
While we may not bow our knees to literal idols, we surely bow our knees in minute ways to each of these influences. And God is looking for those who would refuse the refuse of the world and pant after his righteousness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
What you hunger for, you will be filled with. And what we pay attention to, we will often imitate. We eventually become like the things we fill ourselves with. We are created in the image of God, but the we take on the likeness of the image we fill our selves with. Lust leads us to worship sex, anger leads us to worship power, greed leads us to worship money. Those who obsess over these materialistic things are consumed by them, and eventually become like them.
Lust obsesses over body image, power obsesses over position, and greed obsesses over possessions. When we worship these things we cannibalize our self-image, our relational positions, and our possession of material things. When these become our lives, we have difficulty finding the place set apart for God.