The Consecrated Self
To consecrate something is to declare it to be holy. In today’s reading you will encounter the consecration of the Temple by Hezekiah after it had been made unclean by King Ahaz. This was not a task taken lightly or quickly done. For sixteen days the priests and the Levites worked to consecrate the temple so that offerings might once again be made to the Lord for the sins of the people.
Throughout scripture it is clear that the Temple is a temporary provision pointing to a future promise. We see this as early as Leviticus 11:44, where God tells His people, “I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” It is repeated in 1 Peter 1:16, which tells us that this is not merely an Old Covenant command, but a command for all people.
Christian, what was the last time you thought of yourself as consecrated? When did you last consider that you are holy? Many of us have become so concerned that the world would slap the “holier-than-thou” label on us that we ignore that God has slapped the “holy-unto-me” label on us.
What might we say about ourselves as consecrated? First, we are consecrated by the declaration of God. In Ezra 8:28, God says, “You are holy to the LORD…”. This is an important foundational realization about the holiness of the Christian — you are holy because God has said you are holy, not because you have earned the label.
Second, you are holy because of your response to what Christ did for you. Psalm 4:3 ties your holiness to God’s hearing of your call to Him. The cross beckons us to realize our sin and the weight of our guilt before God and to call on Him. So, we are holy because we received the Gospel and are thus “in Christ” — taking part in His holiness. You are holy because Christ is holy.
Neither our holiness by declaration of God nor by our participation in the Gospel clears us of the need to labor to grow in our personal holiness. Striving for holiness is hard work. It is a daily, even moment by moment, battle that is required of every Christian. 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” Personal holiness requires repentance and discipline. It is not the basis for our acceptance by God, but the striving after it is the proper response to our acceptance by God — because we desire to be useful to our Lord.
God chooses to consecrate each of us to serve Him in different ways. Paul and Barnabas are consecrated as missionaries to the holy. God consecrates each of us. If you don’t know how God has consecrated you, do the following: (1) begin to serve in your local church and look for fruit; (2) don’t equate consecration to personality. God may call you to something you are not naturally predispositioned toward (consider Moses); (3) ask your church leaders and godly friends for insights into how they have seen God use you; (4) don’t wait to have a burning bush experience. There is much to be done. Get busy and trust that God will reveal His will to you.