sermon: His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Part Three)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 29-Apr-16; Sermon #1319B; 86 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, continuing his comparison of the timid, insignificant sparrow with the virtually unnoticed, timid Church, reiterates that God has complete oversight over the awesome plan of creating offspring in His image. Consequently, we should not fear Satan, his demons, or the world, but we should fear and respect the One who has complete involvement in our lives. The calling of God the Father, compelling us to conform to the image of Christ, is in fact, a calling to participate in the ministry of reconciliation, reuniting mankind with God the Father through Jesus Christ. God's called-out ones, selected and predestinated before the foundation of the world, continue to submit to His instructions, while other professing 'Christians' throw out whole portions of His Law, including the Sabbath, a major tenant in both the Old and New Covenants, created, like light, water, air, and food, as a benefit and blessing to mankind. As God called out the Jew and the Greek, He began with the least significant of all people (including us) that no flesh should glory in His sight. Whatever gifts or assignments God has given us are to be used boldly for God's glory, not our own. We are undergoing sanctification, set apart for a special purpose of being refined into His likeness, a process which takes a lifetime, honing skills of endurance and resisting sin. Currently, the scattering of the church has furnished us a measure of protection, but Satan is doubling down on his plans for persecution, and we will (with God's Spirit dwelling in us) resist his pulls as did our Elder Brother before us. The battle lines have already been drawn between the seed of Satan and the seed of Eve, with the separation of the line of Seth from the line of Cain. At least in part, God instituted marriage to reproduce, something angels cannot do (Luke 20:36). Though the sons of God have a natural fear of Sa
Please turn to Matthew 10. I want to give you a little bit of a background on where this subject of God's eye being on the sparrow came from. It was really one of those things that just popped into my mind. I cannot remember when it was in terms of the time of day, but I started thinking about it this morning and thought it would be a good idea to include this. I want you to understand some things that are in this that are important to you and me.
Matthew 10:27-30 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
This series began in August of 2015, when my mind became impressed by a comparison made between the insignificant sparrow and the church of God, which is, among the institutions of this world, equally insignificant. In its present scattered condition it is even more insignificant than it previously was, however there are several things in these series of verses important to our lives that we need to be motivated by.
First is the setting that this takes place. This is Christ's instruction given as He was sending the apostles out to begin their work under Him. Therefore the instruction is focused and pointedly pertinent, to us this is a ‘right now’ thing. We are already involved in the work of God and we have all been given assignments to fulfill. They might not be clear to us but they are nonetheless there.
Second, it is the instruction to be bold, not timid, not like a sparrow, not timid in our obedience to our responsibility given to God. He is not saying here that we have to go out on the street corner and try to convert people, just the generality that we should be bold in showing the truth of God in our obedience before mankind.
Third, He told us very plainly and clearly who we should fear. It is not Satan, not the demons, but God. God must never be allowed to be taken for granted in our life. Satan has no power to destroy us in the Lake of Fire from which there is no resurrection, but God does, and He is the one who is doing the judgment.
Fourth, the comparison with the timid and insignificant sparrow. God is totally aware of each of us individually to a greater degree than He is of the insignificant sparrow, and yet not one sparrow falls to the earth without Him exercising His judgment as to whether it should happen or not. That is where the Word will comes in.
I want you to be stunned by that, about how close of His oversight of our life is. If He is that careful with a stupid bird, how careful is He regarding us, how closely is He watching? How much is He a part of our life and wants to see our salvation. That is incredible considering how many sparrows there are worldwide. Not one sparrow passes from life apart from the will of God.
Out of my thoughts about this grew much of the series that I gave on Deuteronomy at the last Feast of Tabernacles of 2015. As I began to grasp the overall purpose for the entire book as a general guide to help keep the church on track should it ever wander from its purpose, Deuteronomy, if it is read, understood, and believed, will guide us back. That was the kernel of those sermons, but far more specifically it led to the series I am presently involved in that I titled, “Leadership and Covenants.”
God clearly points to one of Israel's major failings in Ezekiel 34. It is very poor leadership. He calls the leaders of Israel shepherds who feed themselves and not the flock. The Israelitish people are being driven by leaders who are self-centered. America is in the midst of a presidential campaign which is taking place in the midst of the greatest immorality crisis this nation has suffered since the Civil War. In that crisis the major emotional issue was slavery, not the big financial issue, not the big governmental issue, but it was the emotional issue that was driving people.
Today we are going through this terrible crisis in the United States of America. In this crisis the emotional issue is the wholesale abandonment of our culture of the Christian values America once had. America, as I have shown you in sermons, never really has ever been a Christian nation, but what we did have was enough to give this nation’s citizens the best foundation for community life that any nation on earth has ever had since God established Israel through Moses.
Why have we lost it? One of the major reasons is what I am teaching in this series. It is because the citizenry does not really believe that God exists, does not believe His Word, and does not really and truly even believe that He is deeply involved and has a purpose and a plan that He is working out, that everything is done randomly under God. That is not the nature of God at all! Under God everything is gone into great detail and worked out by Him overseeing what is going on.
What kind of oversight does God give when even sparrows grab His attention? He does have a purpose, He does have a plan, and He has been working at the same purpose and plan, working it out personally since before the foundation of the world. That purpose is to create a family in His image. His plan is not merely to save people, it is to create a family of offspring in character and conduct that is the spitting image of Himself. This is what human parents should do, make families in their own image.
He wants this Family Kingdom to be huge, a guess would be 70 billion in His Family. Why the number 70 billion? Because that is what the demographers estimate how many people have lived on earth since the time of Adam and Eve. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance and live. We may think that our hands are full. How about thinking about the work that God has set Himself out to watch over, that is a huge responsibility.
During that time of His 6000-year-purpose, His purpose and plan has become lost in people's minds. So He also restores that purpose from time to time as it pleases Him and we have been the beneficiaries of what He worked through Herbert Armstrong. It is not that Herbert Armstrong was right on everything that he thought, said, and wrote, but he was nonetheless doing something that nobody on the face of the earth even came close to doing. That was God directed. The most important thing that was done was that truth of God's Word went out, and it was published among all nations, and broadcast at least in the nations of Israel and others besides.
II Corinthians 5:12-16 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. [Those who were persecuting them and specifically the apostle and his fellows who were preaching the gospel.] For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus; that if one died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
There was a time that Jesus appeared to be just a man. He was also God. He has died and been resurrected and rose to heaven, He is the head of the church. He created us, He is the one we answer to, He is our Lord and master, and we have to look at Him at what He is. I mean perceive, understand His power, authority, purity, innocence, kindness, mercy, and everything else that is part of what He is.
II Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. [We now have to think of Him of what He is now.] Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
The church is still in that position. We are part of that group that is being used to reconcile mankind to God through Jesus Christ. We do not do much more than just make the truth of God available to mankind, so that they can come under Jesus Christ.
By the time I left off on the previous holy day, I spent a great deal of time during the first part of that sermon hoping to reinforce in your mind a very important truth. It is an understanding acted upon, because it is held to be very important by us as to the quality of our life, and it is that God the Father is in all reality, fully and personally in charge of the new creation, even as He was in the original one made through Jesus Christ.
The Son answers to the Father, but they are one in the sense that they perfectly agree with one another, but nonetheless the Father is of greater authority than the Son, so there is a submission on the part of the Son even as great as He is to the Father. Therefore we assume that even the Father is greater than He is. Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I.” We do not merely acknowledge that He is the Creator but we live our life relating to Him in this dimension giving Him—the Father—all deference, all the respect, and all of the authority in every aspect of His created work in our behalf.
Jesus Christ showed us the right thing. We always defer to the Father in things that matter, because He is the Head of the Family. This does not diminish our knowledge and appreciation of what Jesus Christ did, but the greater deference goes to the Father, and His position has been this way since before the foundation of the world. This is a reality that the world does not have, it does not do that.
I will give you a clear example that you will relate to. They ignore what the Father is, they say that they believe in God, they say that Jesus Christ is their Savior, and then they turn right around and reject major portions of His Word as being unnecessary for them. You may find some of that hard to reconcile because maybe you have grown up in the church of God, and you just accept it, but if you are getting letters like we are here from people who are out there and getting the Berean or other materials of ours, or getting materials from other churches of God, you begin to find that people do not really believe God, they do not believe His Word. It is almost incredible and yet in their thinking they honor Him, in their own mind, as being the Creator, as He being the boss.
Here are some simple examples that you can relate to. They claim that His laws are done away, these are people who are claiming to be Christian. They believe that Jesus Christ is their Savior. They can read Matthew 5:17-19, and come nowhere near the conclusion that you come to. It is so plain and clear to you that Jesus said, “not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled.” They say that is done away, we do not have to do that.
What gives them that authority to just reject what the Man who was their Savior said? Nothing is done away in the law. That includes all of the things that Moses wrote, and the prophets, which includes multiple authors writing all those other books. It is mind boggling how they can do away with the entire Old Testament.
Not to long ago I wrote a lady and asked her, if God is all-powerful and we only use the New Testament, why is it that the Bible continues to be printed with the Old Testament even in it? If God is so powerful, why did He not saw two thirds of it off and not have it printed anymore? I asked her to consider this logically. If God has all of this power, then why did He not toss it and say, we do not need that anymore. I said does that not lead you to think that it is not done away? Apparently not. I think these people are being led by the wrong spirit. In a way it is so simple, to take the words of Jesus Christ and then dispense with what He just said.
Another one involves the covenant series that we are going through. Which one of the Ten Commandments is mentioned in the original covenant God made with man? Only one, the Sabbath. Not only was it created by the fact that God Himself literally kept it and declared it as being holy. What is there about Sunday that is holy? Not one thing. That day was established by the Catholic Church as the day in which Christians would worship upon, and I noticed no gods in the Catholic Church. What man has enough holiness in him to declare something else holy? It cannot be done, there is only one weekly day that God Himself declared holy, that is the Sabbath.
In Genesis 1, what did God create? First of all the whole earth. He created light. Is light necessary for human beings to live? It would be terrible without light. He also gave us air, water, animals that we can use, He gave us all kinds of things. Among those things that He gave—that He created for the well being of mankind so that we can live a good life—was the weekly Sabbath. All of those other things that He created they agree it was necessary for a good life except the Sabbath. They will not stoop that far because it would be an admission that they are wrong.
The Sabbath simply provides a different source of spiritual material that we need to make our life successful. It is the only day in God's purpose that does that, not just the weekly Sabbath but the holy days as well because they have to be included within that.
Are you beginning to see that their thinking is so far out, it is incredible they cannot get past the logic, and they cannot get past the logic because Satan has gripped their minds in regards to spiritual things. They might otherwise be very fine people, good citizens, but they are not converted Christians. Yet they claim to be and they do it sincerely.
Another thing that impressed me as I was beginning to put everything together for this series of sermons, I have asked people why did not God go to the Gentiles? Because that is where the huge populations lived, a billion people in China, a billion people in India, we have all the rest of those huge populations in those nations. If all that God was trying to do is to save people, why did He not go to where most of the people in the world lived? God is either exercising His will or He is not. He is playing out, enrolling, employing His plan and His purpose and therefore He decided not to go to them, but to go to Israel.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first [This was God's plan. Jew represents Israel, and Greek represents the Gentile.] and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
This was written to a predominately Gentile congregation, but Paul is stating to these Gentiles that God first began His new creation in the Israelitish nations, not the Gentiles. He went first to the Israelites. None of that made the Israelites better in terms of spiritual quality. It was simply the order God willed to do His created labors, and that is what we humans have to deal with. Notice how this Jew or Israelites first is reinforced in God's word. Please turn to Deuteronomy 7. He is talking to the Israelitish people just before Moses died.
Deuteronomy 7:6-7 “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples.
There is God's pattern. In a sense He went to the weakest first. It was not quite the weakest but the Israelitish people were way down on the list, if we can put them in terms of power or numbers, or whatever you want to call it. Turn to the New Testament and we will see that God is still following the same pattern. That is the way He has willed Himself to do.
I Corinthians 1:26-29 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Here God is working with Gentile people, but even among the Gentile people He goes to the weak. That is His pattern, that is what He has willed to do, and that is what He is following. Those He does convert will come to the place where they truly understand they are nothing, and everything that they do have has been given to them, created in them, by the Creator. That is His pattern.
Our response is that we deal with it, we accept it, and that is what He wants His children to do. It is their attitude toward Him that what God is doing is right, and God is at the forefront of everything that is right and good. I want to bring into your mind one of the things that I explained as we were going through Genesis 1. It is that Genesis is arranged in such a way so that the Creator dominates the entire chapter and shows that He comes before every gift that is given out for man's benefit. That has never changed. He is the source of everything that is right and good.
This is the concept the world does not have, they do not look at God like this. He is something that if push came to shove they shove God off to the side and will not admit it. It is the difference between a converted mind and an unconverted mind. The converted mind looks to God with fear, respect, understanding, knowledge, and they love it because they know that everything that God does is right and good and has a holy purpose behind it.
We read in II Corinthians 5 of a new creation. The first creation was a physical world, along with all of the attributes needed to make Adam and Eve perfectly capable of a successful physical life. This new creation is a spiritual creation of those that God chooses to be in His image spiritually. In this spiritual creation, the called and converted figuratively become the soil from which the spiritual creation proceeds. Figuratively, in the new creation we become the soil that God is manipulating to form and shape us into what He wants. These are spiritual characteristics. I am not talking about physical characteristics, but we are the clay. Isaiah calls us the clay, the clay and the Potter.
Paul was using that illustration so that we will understand. Our responsibility in this relationship with God is to be as compliant in God's hands as the materials were to His hands when He created Adam. Our humble voluntary compliance in obedience to His spiritual laws is our co-operation as the soil.
The Jews reaction to Jesus and His teaching in the area surrounding Jerusalem give ample evidence as to what I am saying here. First of all, when He began speaking, they were highly skeptical of Him. They argued with Him, they conspired against Him as His popularity began to be accepted and followed, and eventually they murdered Him in order to reject complying with His Word. The same basic processes are being employed against Him in our time, by the religionists of our time, by their clever but empty intellectual arguments in order to reject Him by rejecting the authority of even His very existence, and of His Word. Those are the big issues in our time.
The nones, those people who are elitist and sit in control of authority in the United States of America and in Britain, do not really believe in God, so He is rejected out of hand. What does it do with us? It is going to eventually work its way around until we are persecuted as Jesus was persecuted. Jesus trod that path, and we are going to follow, you can see it happening, if you are following what is going on in the United States of America. Those with some Christian values in their life, some Christian beliefs that they follow sincerely, if they resist what is going on in the United States of America in regard to these things that are being changed so rapidly in the United States, they lose virtually every case that comes before the court.
We can see that Jesus trod that path and Jesus was persecuted. Those calling themselves Christians out in the world are being persecuted, and eventually Satan is going to expose the church of God to that kind of persecution. We are such an insignificant sparrow they have not found us yet but it is coming and as we get ready God is going to allow it to occur.
This scattering of the church has been a tremendous blessing, because through it God has managed to hide us. He has hidden us for the purpose of getting us time to get ready for our belief, our practice to be honed to the place where we are able to carry the load that He is going to allow to come on us. It turned out to be for our good. It gave Him the opportunity to see what our reaction would be knowing that we are part of a big organization but we are virtually standing alone as it is right today. I do not mean just the Church of the Great God, I am talking about the church of God wherever it is.
The same basic processes are being employed against the church of God in our time by the religionists of our times, with their clever arguments that are actually intellectual, but nonetheless they do not count. So with this example before us the very first thing we must do is get thoroughly anchored in our mind that not only does God rule His creation, He is deeply involved with each and every one of us. We are worth more than just a couple of sparrows. He really cares for us.
God is a hands-on Creator, personally overseeing us before we are even beginning to be aware of Him as the one that we must answer to. We are eventually, in this series, going to get around to this. Our Creator has a wonderful purpose, to create us in His image, and share life with Him and His Son forever.
What I am hoping to accomplish while we continue this sermon is to show you step-by-step clarity right from God's Word how He has been involved in shaping the growth of His spiritual creation. This truth grows out from that unusual location in Genesis 3:15. From the judgment God made against Satan following Adam and Eve's sins in the Garden. This shaping is largely accomplished by Him through what is called sanctification. I hope that when I am done with this you will understand that sanctification is one of the most important doctrines in all of the Bible for us personally.
I am showing how God has shaped the group of people that He has worked with, and through the ages until this point in time. In the previous sermon last week, we reached the point in Genesis that God determined to give Eve a merciful gift, a son to replace the righteous and faithful Abel, who obeyed God but was murdered by his brother Cain.
Genesis 4:16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.
I want you to pick up the thread of thought that is going through that verse: “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord,” is a very good picture of what happened with Cain. That statement is clearly announcing the direction of his life. It is as good as saying that this man will never repent, he went out from the presence of the Lord.
Cain's son Lamech marries two women thus signaling a further departure of Cain's family from God's way, and it is continuing on into the next generation.
Genesis 4:23-24 Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
Lamech is following the same anti God path as his father Cain. You can read this in Jude 11 where it mentions the ‘way of Cain.’ Lamech too had already murdered another family member, even as Cain, his father, did.
Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”
Now a son has been appointed for her to have. I am sure that God blessed them this way for at least two reasons. First, it was a blessing for Eve to ease her distress over the tragic murder of Abel by his own flesh and blood brother. Second, it fits in with the purpose (which will be shown more clearly a little bit later), which was to establish a different and, in many ways a better, informed line of descendants of Adam and Eve, who though set apart would at the same time share the earth with the seed of Satan that was already at work destroying lives.
The Cain-Lamech line produced nobody noteworthy in regard to righteousness, the set-apart line of descendants from Seth produced at least two significant men.
Genesis 5:21-24 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Enoch was the first notable person that came from the line of Seth. After that, in Genesis 6, we come to the next one from that line.
Genesis 6:6-9 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
Why does it say that God took Enoch immediately after saying that he walked with God? We have to do some speculating, but I think this speculation that has been made in the church reveals that the notable violence, because of what Genesis 6 reveals, was taking place all over the earth. As an act of mercy God simply removed Enoch to an area of the earth where there was no persecution of him. Enoch did not go off to heaven, nobody has gone to heaven. He was simply transported to another place on earth where he live out his life and then died. We do know that he walked with God, he was a godly man.
Genesis 6:1-2 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
I am going to give you my belief regarding the sons of God. These people were from the Seth line. Sons of God is used for only two groups of personalities on the earth—one is converted men and women, the other is angels. We are going to eliminate angels here, at least in my mind. I am going to pass it on to you. I want you see something in the New Testament, please turn to Luke 20.
Luke 20:34-36 Jesus answered and said to them, “Sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
Angels neither marry nor produce any seed at all. I will explain why in just a second. That statement by Jesus was given because marriage is the only way through which God will produce legitimate children, angels produce no legitimate children, they cannot produce legitimate children. Some people believe that the sons of God were angelic beings, but that cannot be so because the Bible gives no indication angels can reproduce themselves. And Genesis 1 informs us that kinds can only reproduce after their own kind. Angels and human women are different kinds, they cannot reproduce.
The only other possibility I can see is one that strengthens my Seth belief. It is that God, translated from Elohim in Genesis 6:2, where it says the sons of God, that word God is Elohim. What I am telling you is proven out of the Bible that Elohim, a name of God, is also used for human beings.
Psalm 82:1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. [Notice that the plural gods, which is Elohim, is not capitalized. The reason is because the translators knew it was speaking of men, not the Great Creator God.].
Psalm 82:6 I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” [again gods is not capitalized]
Are the children of the Most High Gods? No, we are human beings who are converted, and we are children. What this does is gives us a strong case to understand that the sons of God in Genesis 6:2 are part of the line of Seth. They were generally a much more godly line of people, as we will continue to see. They are the ones who got off track and started marrying women from the Cain-Lamech line and it was bad news. Notice it says, they took wives from everywhere.
This is something that is very important regarding Noah. What we read there in Genesis 6:1-2, and leading up to verses 6-9, where Noah is directly mentioned, is the precursor of what was going on at the time that God decided that He was going to flood the entire earth.
What we are going to begin building toward here following the statement in Genesis 6:8, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” is that this begins to serve as an introduction to the doctrine of sanctification. It gives us understanding of what God is working out here. Actually this is a long sermon which we will not get completed today, but the remainder of this sermon revolves almost entirely on this doctrine of sanctification.
This fits what I have just said regarding the second reason why God began the line of descendants from Adam and Eve through Seth. This was the second purpose of why God blessed Eve with Seth. He wanted to begin a line of people that was what we will call the holy line. We are going to find as we go through here that every person that God sanctified in the Word of God by name came from that Seth line. That is why I mentioned Enoch, and now Noah, because out of that line He has directly given us an indication that these people are being worked in by Him. They walked with God, which is another way of saying, they were converted. If they were converted they were sanctified, because they received the spirit of God.
The term sanctification appears in both Hebrew and Greek. The general meanings in both languages are synonyms of each other. In broad general usage the terms are understood, and usually translated as holiness. Both languages indicate something or someone separated from others and both language terms also indicates a sense of purity and cleanliness.
Sanctification indicates somebody set apart, separated from others. Sanctification also indicates cleanliness, holiness, and righteousness. They are all contained within the usage of the word. The most common definition into English is holiness. If you see holiness it means they are separated, sanctified. They are all linked within the usage of these terms and thus the terms as used in the Bible signal a difference that causes separation.
What is it that causes a separation? It is the holiness. It is because those people are different and it is recognized.
Noah was separated, he received grace, he was separated. Do you think that did not separate him from everybody else on earth? It did, he and his family were separated by the sanctification by the act that only God does. Make sure you get that in your mind because it is exceedingly important. This is how God directly mixes with His people. He separates who He wants to be part of His Family, who it is that He wants to do a responsibility, a job for Him. Nobody else makes those appointments.
The Hebrew and Greek term as used in the Bible signifies a difference that causes separation. The cause is not overt but when we read we must understand that cause is an invisible spiritual presence. This is what we by faith must understand and allow it to be used as a major part of the foundation of our understanding, and make the right use of it in our God-given faith. It is what is unseen, but the all powerful Creator God who is working out His purpose and plan does what brings about the separation. Just as surely as national boundaries separate people, so does sanctification separate people spiritually. Sanctification is the boundary between the converted and the unconverted.
The doctrine of sanctification in the Bible is used in two ways. The first is to indicate the initial separation that divides a person from others. We have no part or power over this. This is solely, completely, God's doing. Nobody is going to tell Him who is going to be in His Family.
The second is the process of the separated ones actually becoming holy in our nature because of the work of Christ within us creating a new heart. This is the new creation at work. Do you get it that there are two steps to sanctification? First, we have no power over it at all. God is the one who chooses to separate us from everyone else. Second, it is the process of actually be coming holy. We do not become holy in an instant in our heart, that takes creation and creation takes time—even for the Creator God to do it.
Our part in this process is to voluntarily submit to God, Our responsibility is to become a living sacrifice; that is the way the apostle Paul put it.
Why would God even want to make a separation between people? There are two very good reasons. The first is for our benefit, because God desires and therefore willed to make an us-and-them division in mankind apparent for the benefit of those He calls. God wants us to have something to resist and fight against. Our faithfulness needs to be tested, our understanding needs to be tested, so He did it so that there would be those who would pick on us. God specifically did that so that there would be an us-and-them situation.
The second reason: recall that the curse states in Genesis 3:15, that the curse is not limited to between Eve and Satan, the enmity is also between the seed of Satan and the seed of Eve. A separation among people begins to more clearly established by this act of God in separating Noah of the seed of Eve. I mentioned earlier when Noah was sanctified and his family with him. It separated them from all the population on the whole earth. They were the only people on earth who were sanctified.
If you think that being sanctified is nothing, think about this: Noah, his wife, and his children are the only ones who survived the Flood. Only those sanctified had God's protection in that awful experience. If you think being set apart is something you can laugh off or think that is nothing in the way of a blessing, you better rethink that in a hurry. This is one of the most important things that will ever happen to your life.
Again let me remind you, we have absolutely no control over it at all, it is completely God's call. He is working with each one of us, person by person, fitting us into the body of Jesus Christ, and gifting us so that we, like Noah, can carry out the job that He wants us to do. I was not kidding when I said that God is a hands-on Creator. I will tell you that you are something really precious in His eyes, you are worth more than a couple of sparrows. That is what Jesus said, we are worth more than many sparrows.
Recall that the curse states that the enmity is not limited between Eve and Satan, the enmity is also between the seed of Satan and the seed of Eve. A separation between people begins to be more clearly established by this act of God in separating Noah of the seed of Eve.
The fear of Satan is in those descended from Adam and Eve through Seth. This is our protection. God has done something that puts the fear of Satan in us, and we carry that with us. The world does not give a hoot the way we do because we see Satan for what he is. He is a destroyer of everything good in life and he wants us to lose the opportunity for salvation. So in order to protect us God has done something to our minds, our spirit, similar to what He did to the animals. Animals have a fear in them of mankind, we have a fear of Satan, of not getting to close to him. That is for our protection so that we will make use of this curse that God put on them.
It is becoming clear who the seed of Satan is. Satan cannot reproduce children from a wife like humans, therefore the seed of Satan are spiritual children that he influences freely and thus bears his characteristics, like Cain and Lamech. We can look at them as examples.
I John 5:19-20 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
John tells us the domain of the enemy, it is the world. And you know what the world means in biblical terms. God purposely created a them-and-us circumstance. Part of that reason was so that we would understand and use our gifts from God to make sure that we resist Satan.
The second reason is, God wanted to make sure that there would be a line of people that would be Satan's, and a line of people that would be those from Seth.
Understand this. A titanic spiritual struggle develops. It is titanic for us, when God sanctifies anybody at any time. When God decides to choose somebody He knows that this person is going to run into trouble. In actual usage within the Bible the term sanctification is treated somewhat differently and emphasized differently in each testament. That difference is in due course important to us personally in our daily lives.
The different usages are actually quite simply stated despite their importance to our life. In the Old Testament, objects, as well as people, are frequently declared holy simply because they are separated or set apart from others of the same kind for some kind of divine use.
Exodus 29:29-30 And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated in them. That son who becomes priest in his place shall put them on for seven days, when he enters the tabernacle of meeting to minister in the holy place.
Exodus 29:33 They shall eat those things with which the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them; but an outsider shall not eat them, because they are holy.
Exodus 29:37 Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and sanctify it. And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar must be holy.
I just bring these things out because buildings, utensils, altars, clothing, soil, and ceremonies are declared holy. More importantly a person can be declared holy, like a priest or a prophet, because they are used in the service of God. The emphasis in the Old Testament is not on a person literally becoming holy, partly as result of his consistent humble obedience through the power of God's Holy Spirit.
I am not saying that aspect is not in the Old Testament. I am only saying it is not emphasized. In the New Testament those two positions are radically reversed. A person’s becoming holy is the goal of Christian life. That is quite a difference! Did you ever think of soil as becoming a son of God? But it is holy, it can be declared holy.
That is the difference between the usages. Both usages appear in both testaments, but the difference is in the frequency and emphasis applied to the term within the context the term appears. Thus there are examples in the Old Testament that the Christian can follow to become holy. Why is New Testament ‘holy’ important to understand and becoming holy even more important personally?
Here are two things important to our fundamental understanding in our relationship with God. Catch this carefully as to why we have to become holy. God is, in His very being, except for Him being the model use for our creation, completely separate, different, from us. In a way, this is saying He is God, we are human. The difference between God and us is enormous.
The second reason: this very difference becomes so admirable to the converted mind once the reality of the separation becomes apparent, it becomes the goal and driving force of our life—to become like Him in our very being. Thus we come to truly know Him and love Him. It is not just because He is God. We love Him because of what He is. This is the way husband and wife are supposed to be.
Thus in the Old Testament writers use the term sanctification to indicate a separation from others that God initiated, but the New Testament writers used it to indicate not only an initial separation but also the process of becoming God.
Why does it have to be this way? Because if we do not become holy like God is holy there can be no relationship. He is so different in His purity, mind, and character, we cannot really have a relationship with Him until we become like Him. That is the goal. It becomes the converted goal in life to be absolutely like Him in every way we possibly can. That way a relationship can be there. Like a husband and wife are to become one. That was Jesus’ prayer the night that He was crucified—that they become one, holy, like God is holy. Sanctification begins the process.