We are called to be certified lovers of God.
To kick off our new sermon series on holiness and sex, Pastor Eli Nelson focused on the passage of scripture in Ezekiel 44:10-18 (NIV). This passage describes the difference between the Levitical priests who were far from God and those who stayed close to God by living lives holy and pleasing to Him. As priests and as Christians today, God calls us to live holy lives - set apart from the world and wholly devoted to Him.
"They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean." Ezekiel 44:23 (NIV)
God does not take sin lightly, and neither should you.
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but there is a difference between those who fall into sin vs. those who willfully sin. For those who fall into sin, they know it's wrong and they genuinely don't want to grieve the heart of God. They repent, turn to God, and want to please Him. For those who willfully sin, they take advantage of God's grace. They look for ways to get around doing wrong. It's a slap in the face to the Cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for our sin.
Personal sin does not stop ministry.
"We are called to deny our flesh, not follow it. When you become more obsessed with anything else besides God (relationships, work, football, etc.), then those things become your idol." ~ Pastor Eli Nelson
For a season, God will allow someone to function as normal in their sin. But their sin will come to the light eventually. Just like the Priesthood of Eli, God will let them minister to the people because God loves His people. But God will not let them minister to God (Ezekiel 44:13). God will still bless you, but you will not be able to come near to God. Do you want a walk that looks religious on the outside but not clean on the inside?
"'Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." Exodus 19:6 (NIV)
We are all "priests" which means we are all created to be one with God. God desires to be united with His people more than what we do to serve Him. In the Priesthood of Zadok, these priests lived holy lives unto God and people. This is how we are to live our lives. Only you and God know if you are living in right relationship with Him. The levitical priests who were descendants of Zadok were called to "wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire" (v.18) because this was a sign that they were living pure lives unto God. The main difference between the two priesthoods is intimacy with God. No one knows if you have your "underwear" on - only you and God know.
It is possible to function in your gift and not be intimate with God.
Just because you can feel His presence does not mean that He is pleased with your lifestyle. Do you worship Him for what He can give you or for who He is?
"Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." 2 Timothy 2:19-22 (NIV)
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