IPS-Eye-White
001orange

Section 7. Living The Faith...
The Biblical Command to Holiness and Perfection

 

   003white Index to   Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian       >        Holiness       >      What Is Holiness... Part II

IPS-Header
Seperate-Bg
 

What Is Holiness?
Part II

Carol Brooks
Edited By Vicki Narlee

The commandment to be separate, perfect and complete were unchanging, and consistently repeated from one end of the Bible to the other. Holiness, or separation from the world and it's standards is NOT a virtue, it is the commandment of God, and anyone who professes Christianity without holiness is as phony as the proverbial three dollar bill.

Index To All Three Sections

Part I ... God is The Standard of Holiness. Holiness Is Not Optional. An Unholy Person Cannot Approach a Holy God. The Instructions to Be Holy

001orange Part II ... Separation is a Timeless Spiritual Principle, Come Out From Among Them, A ôHoly Nation" has its own Citizenship
Modern Day Pharisees and Practically Applying The Principles Of Separation

 Part III ... Moral Perfection, The Consequences Of Sin, Three Resources For a Three Sided Battle. The Flesh... Practical Steps to Win The Battle Between Persistent Sin and The Spirit. The World... Cultural Contamination of People and Entertainment. The Devil... Using The Armour of God In The Battle.
 

Bible1-Bar 

Part II

What is Holiness?

Separation

Timeless Spiritual Principles
Come Out From Among Them
A Holy "Nation"?
The Warnings
In Summary...

Change of Familial Status and Citizenship

Applying The Principles Of Separation
Modern Day Pharisees

Money And Material Possessions
Physical Pleasures
Food and Alcohol
Dancing
Tobacco
Movies and Televisions
Gambling
Clothing
Jewelry
Cosmetics
Tattoos

Whatsoever Is Not Of Faith Is Sin
Lawful But Not Expedient

Outward Holiness Springs From Inner Sanctification

 


What is Holiness?
The Biblical answer is short. Holiness consists of the intertwined, and inseparable, concepts of Separation and Perfection.


Separation
In the 21st century, the word "holy" can convey some very negative connotations. It is often used to describe someone who is self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious, goody-goody, priggish etc. The phrase "holier than thou" indicates a person who's attitude is one of superior virtue.

To most Christians, the word "holy" implies moral goodness. However, this is only part of the meaning. As said by James Patrick Holding "While holiness certainly implies goodness, the core meaning of holiness, it is not "good" but rather "set apart" -- and therefore, "good". [2]

In the Old Testament, the English word "holy" has most often been translated from the Hebrew word...


Q˘desh (H6944)
In it's almost 500 occurrences in the Old Testament, q˘desh has occasionally been used of God's "Holiness" and "Holy Name" [Ezekiel 39:7, Amos 4:2], However it most often refers to an inanimate object, not a person. Since inanimate objects cannot be morally good or bad, the word "holy" implies a sacred, consecrated, or dedicated place or thing, Something exclusively set aside for God's purpose.

    The Altar: Seven days thou shalt make atonement for the altar, and sanctify it: and the altar shall be most holy (q˘desh); whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy (qÔdash). [Exodus 29:37]

    The Sabbath: And he said unto them, This is that which Jehovah hath spoken, Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy (q˘desh) sabbath unto Jehovah: bake that which ye will bake, and boil that which ye will boil; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. [Exodus 16:23]

    Garments Used in Temple Ceremonies: the finely wrought garments, for ministering in the holy place, the holy (q˘desh) garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office. [Exodus 35:19]

    When the priests enter in, then shall they not go out of the holy place into the outer court, but there they shall lay their garments wherein they minister; for they are holy (q˘desh) : and they shall put on other garments, and shall approach to that which pertaineth to the people. [Ezekiel 42:14]

    The Holy of Holies: And Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place (q˘desh), and shall leave them there:  [Leviticus 16:23]

    Certain Convocations: And on the seventh day ye shall have a holy (q˘desh) convocation: ye shall do no servile work. [Numbers 28:25]

    Jerusalem: (for they call themselves of the holy (q˘desh) city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; Jehovah of hosts is his name): [Isaiah 48:2]

    God's "Mountain". even them will I bring to my holy (q˘desh) mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. [Isaiah 56:7] (Note that this verse was probably not even referring to a literal mountain)


Timeless Spiritual Principles:

Be Ye Holy
One of the central themes running throughout Leviticus is the holiness of God, and the requirement for His people to be a holy people. In fact Leviticus 19 which consisted of a diverse set of God's commandments to the nation of Israel, was prefaced with the words...

    Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy (q˘desh); for I the Lord your God am holy (q˘desh). [Leviticus 19:2]

The timeless spiritual principle behind many of the Levitical laws was distinguishing between what is "clean" and what is "unclean", and separating the Holy from the profane. These laws gave the nation of Israel a unique identity very different from the nations that surrounded them. Not only would they worship differently, but their society would be be set up differently. They would neither look nor behave like any one else. All of which would keep them separate from the surrounding people and tribes, thus lessening the chances of them being influenced by pagan cultures and religions. 

Being holy is about separation.

    And ye shall be holy (q˘desh) unto me: for I, Jehovah, am holy (q˘desh), and have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be mine. [Leviticus 20:26]
     

Come Out From Among Them
 
In Leviticus 26, the Lord told the people that if they walked in His statutes, and kept His commandments, with particular mention of not making for themselves any graven image, pillars, or idols that they bowed down to, He would set His tabernacle among them, walk among them, and they would be His people and He would be their God

    And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. [Leviticus 26:12] Also See Exodus 29:45

Paul reiterates this promise in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, in which he uses the Greek word aphorizo, translated into the English separate. [Emphasis Added] [See other uses of aphorizo in Footnote II]

    (16) And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate (Greek aphorizo), saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, (18) And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. [2 Corinthians 6:16-18]

Verse 17 is actually a paraphrase of Isaiah 52:11, which says

    Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; cleanse yourselves, ye that bear the vessels of Jehovah. 

Isaiah was speaking in the context of the end of Israel's exile in Babylon. Through the prophet, God was calling on the people to depart from Babylon, and to return to their own land. However, they were to leave in a pure state and not contaminate themselves with any of the Babylonian's objects of idolatry. Paul used Isaiah's words to emphasize exactly the same concept.

However, since it is obvious that we cannot physically leave this planet, how do we 'come out from among them'?


A Holy "Nation"
In Exodus 19, we are told that three months after they left Egypt, the nation of Israel arrived at the base of Mount Sinai, and Moses climbed the mountain to God, who gave him a message for the people camped below. His message was that they had seen what God had done to the Egyptians, and how He had brought them out of slavery. Therefore, if they would keep His covenant and obey His voice, they would be His own possession, chosen by Him from among all the people of the earth. They would be unto Him a "holy nation".

    "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation"..." [Exodus 19:5-6]

This meant that, just as the altar in the temple, and the garments worn by the high priest, were used solely in the service of God, the nation of Israel was also to keep themselves separate from all the other nations... a unique people dedicated to the purpose of God.

The words "holy nation" and "kingdom of priests" in Exodus 19:6, were originally applied to the nation of Israel, but, when Peter used almost exactly the same words, he applied them to believers, or spiritual Israel, who were to be "God's own possession". .. In other words, a unique people dedicated to the purpose of God.

    But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy....
     

We simply cannot afford to take Peter's words lightly, because when he said "holy nation", he meant exactly that...


Change of Familial Status and Citizenship
It seems that many Christians are familiar with the New Testament verses that tell them that born again believers become sons and daughters of God.

    but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. [Galatians 4:4-7]

    For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:26]

In fact these verses are often used to make the case that God doesn't want His children to be broke, but wear the best clothing, drive the best cars, and have the best of everything in this life, provided of course, they claim these blessing for themselves through positive confessions of faith and the 'sowing of seeds'. [See The Word of Faith Doctrine]

Most Christians are also probably quite familiar with various statements made by the apostles, that tell them that they are 'citizens of heaven''.

    For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [Philippians 3:20]

    that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world...So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, [Ephesians 2:12, 19]

However, what is often ignored are verses like the following... [All Emphasis Added]

    These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city. [Hebrews 11:13-16]

    I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. [1 Peter 2:9-12]

Note the words used... the members of the 'hall of faith' in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews had the opportunity to return to the country "from which they went out", but they were "seeking after a country of their own", and desired a "better country", which God had prepared for them.

Since the word sojourn means 'a temporary stay', and a pilgrim is a person who undertakes a journey to a place considered sacred, the apostles were very clearly emphasizing that becoming a citizen of Heaven, meant that a believer is not a citizen of this world, and does not belong to it.

We are here temporarily... merely passing through.

Throughout the Bible, earthly kingdoms are mentioned in contrast with, and opposition to, the heavenly one, and we are warned that our allegiance is to God's Kingdom. We are not to be shaped and influenced by this world, or even be friends with it. However, just as a traveler from one country is expected to comply with the rules of any country he happens to be passing through, we are strongly urged to submit to the governing authorities, and give them their proper due, which includes paying taxes. [See Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:12-14].


The Warnings:

Jesus taught that no man can serve two masters, Paul emphasized that Christians should be shaped and influenced by God, not by the world, while James in his usual blunt style minced no words in calling friends of the world, enemies of God...

Jesus: If you pay attention to Jesus' words in Luke 16:13, You will notice that He did not say you should not serve God and mammon, but you cannot serve God and mammon

    No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

As Jesus told His disciples.. they were in the world, but not of the world.

    If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. [John 15:19]

Paul: The apostle Paul warned his readers not to be

    "... fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. [Romans 12:2]

James: The book of James is marked by a refreshing directness, without so much as a hint of subtlety or evasion. Were he alive today, we would probably call him a "straight shooter". In his characteristic, outspoken way, James bluntly stated...

    Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. [James 4:4]

John: When John penned the following words, it seems clear that he was referring to a love of the things the world has to offer... material objects, power, prestige, influence, etc.

    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [1 John 2:15]

In other words, the minute believers are born again, they are adopted as sons and daughters of God, and become citizens of His heavenly kingdom. However they cannot maintain a dual citizenship. Their allegiance has to be to one or the other and, if it is to this world, they become enemies of God, with no inheritance in His Kingdom.

if any believer chooses to return to the world, and to engage again in all its vain pursuits, there is nothing to hinder them. Certainly there are inducements and "opportunities" enough to do so, and they would be welcomed with open arms. The author of Hebrews emphasizes that faith, or confidence in the divine promises convinces the patriarchs and many other men and women of faith of both the sinfulness, and the ultimate futility, of making the things of this world their reason to be.

Their affections were now set on a kingdom, which would not endure for a mere 70 or 80 years, with nothing but the grave as a final destination.

Their sights were set on a kingdom that would endure for all eternity. Therefore they chose not to be a part of this world, but to live as strangers and sojourners during their time here.


The Example of Esau

Immediately after the author of Hebrews tells his readers that without holiness no one will see God, he talks about Esau who sold his own birthright. Read the verses together.

    Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord: looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright. For ye know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for a change of mind in his father, though he sought it diligently with tears. [Hebrews 12:14-17]

It takes some reflection in order to understand why, in the context of holiness, Esau is pointed out as a negative example.  Esau was the eldest son of Abraham and older brother of Isaac. From his early years he must have been aware of the blessings promised Abraham and his descendants. However in the final analysis, as said by Bob Diffenbaugh, Senior Pastor of Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas ... [Emphasis Added]

    "living in close proximity to God's blessings is not the same as entering into them". [3]

Esau's sins were the same as those of too many modern believers. He returned from the fields, exhausted, hungry, and faint, to the point he seemed to fear that he was actually going to die. He then traded in his birthright for a bowl of soup (or stew) that Isaac had ready. Like so many in our modern culture, when the going got rough, Esau caved in and sold his eternal blessing for instant and temporary gratification. He 'fell short' of holiness. He failed to be separated to God and therefore, was afterwards unable to inherit the blessings, although he sought it with tears.

Today, God's Holy Spirit resides in each believer who is described as a temple of the Holy Spirit. However, John, in the book of Revelation, tells us that the day is once again coming when God Himself will dwell with His people, healing all hurt, and curing all pain. A time when death will no longer exist.

    And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away."  [Revelation 21:3-4]

However only the "perfect" will be there. Only the "holy" are allowed to approach God.


In Summary...
The shallowness of our world today is exemplified by the endless pursuit of what's new and what's "hot", regardless of how much 'the latest' pushes the boundaries of decency, or even good taste. More sex, more violence, and less and less morality, are the hallmarks of modern society's lifestyles, and "entertainment". Right and wrong are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, overshadowed by 'situational ethics', which teaches that ethical decisions should follow flexible guidelines, rather than absolute rules, therefore, should be made on a case by case basis..

The commandment to be separate, perfect and complete were unchanging, and consistently repeated from one end of the Bible to the other. Holiness, or separation from the world and it's standards is NOT a virtue, it is the commandment of God, and anyone who professes Christianity without holiness is as phony as the proverbial three dollar bill.

    Obviously being conformed to the world, or even flirting with what the world has to offer, is dangerous ground for the Christian to be treading. What makes it more difficult and complicated, is that in our time, it is perhaps more difficult to maintain, or even define, separateness than it has ever been.

      I would argue that with the pervasive influence of modern media, the tug of the world is greater now than it ever has been. Daily we are bombarded with attractive people telling us that we cannot be happy unless we own the product that they are selling or adopt the lifestyle that they are pursuing. We thumb through magazines that lure us with beautiful homes, new cars, luxury items, or expensive vacations that all can be ours, if we just get enough money or go into enough debt. There are plenty of credit card offers that will help us get hopelessly in debt, if we're not careful. It is lust for the things of the world that prompts Americans to spend billions on casino gambling and lottery  tickets. Just one lucky hit and you will have it all! [4]

    All of which brings up the million dollar question of how we as 21st century believers are to apply the principles of separation and perfection to our, often very complicated, lives in the modern world. In fact, our effectiveness as Christians depends on our concept of what separation means.


    Applying The Principles Of Separation

    Modern Day Pharisees
    A myriad of questions arise concerning to what extent Christians can be involved with the habits and customs of secular society. Does he, or she, have to isolate himself from the world and everything in it, in order to 'be holy'? Are Christians supposed to look and sound religious in order to obey God's commandment to be separated? What about material possessions? Can Christians own nice homes, or drive good cars, and yet remain "holy"? What about clothes, make up and jewelry?  To say nothing of more controversial subjects like alcohol, tobacco, gambling and dancing. The list of topics is never ending.

    I do not know a great deal about the old fashioned holiness movement, but, from what I have read, I certainly cannot agree with them on all the way they apply holiness to their daily lives. However, I certainly respect and admire their commitment to a fundamental, and indispensable, principle of Christianity... being separate from the world, a peculiar people, a holy nation. As said by Keith Drury, Associate Professor of Religion at Indiana Wesleyan University...

      Living a holy life is just thatŚa lifestyle, something to live. Religious experience is not just a change of status before God, as our Calvinist friends like to emphasize, it is a change of who we are and how we live. Old-fashioned holiness people understand this and I applaud them for it. [5]

    However, in an effort to heed the instructions and warnings of Scripture, Christians, with their incredible ability to invent rules and regulations, have come up with different definitions of what constitutes 'a love of the world'. Some have even gone as far to draw up lists of 'worldly things' that believers should stay away from, with drinking, smoking, movies/television, gambling, dancing etc. usually topping the lists.

    This, unfortunately, is very similar to what the Pharisees did in Jesus' time.

    The Pharisees were far from indifferent to God and His laws, and were in fact, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law. But their zeal to preserve the Mosaic law became so extreme and unbalanced, that somewhere along the line, they, instead of the priests, became the authority. They began to think of themselves as the sole guardians and interpreters of the law, who's holiness and superior wisdom allowed them to keep their neighbors 'straight', all the while bragging that they were not sinners like other men. They often twisted, or even altered, God's commands, introducing hundreds of rules and prohibitions of their own, which were their interpretation of God's law. They did a great job at keeping the letter of the Law, but ignored the spirit of it.

    And therein lay the problem.

    Christians often seem to swing between two extremes. At one end we have the 'anything goes' camp. At the other, those who mistake their prejudices for their convictions, lay down rules and regulations, most of which are unsubstantiated by the Scriptures. If any person, or organization, is going to lay down a law that is supposed to be applicable to all Christians everywhere, they have to be able to point to an explicit Biblical passage that substantiates what they say. Otherwise they are doing nothing but elevating their own laws to the status of God's laws. For example, take the prohibition against alcohol. While the Bible is very clear in it's instruction not to get drunk, it says absolutely nothing negative about drinking.

    There is such a thing as Christian liberty, which is not legislated by a bunch of do's and don'ts, nor by cultural biases. Note a couple of interesting examples of cultural bias.

    Sue Bohlin of Probe Ministries points out...

      It's interesting that the culture of North American Christianity has made smoking an unacceptable, "unchristian" behavior, while in Europe, many Christians don't think twice about smoking, but consider American Christians' materialism and women's makeup unacceptable, "un-Christian" behavior. So much of what we think is wrong is culturally bound. [6]

    While Grek Koukl of Stand to Reason ministries says..

      When I was in Eastern European 20 years ago preparing to travel in the Soviet Union, one of the Christian leaders told me, "Don't tell them that we are playing basketball today because the Russians believe that basketball is worldly. Sports are worldly and it is a sin. They don't allow it." That sounds bizarre to us because we love sports, but that is just their thing. It is an example of their particular rule at the time that they made equal with God's law. They are very sensitive about it. [7]

    Make no mistake there are specific prohibitions in the Bible. For example 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 includes uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, wrath, factions, divisions, parties, envying, drunkenness, reviling, etc.

    However there are a host of things not mentioned in the verses above, nor anywhere else in Scripture, which have found their way into lists of "sins" drawn up by various Christian groups. Let's examine a few of these in the light of God's Word.


    Money And Material Possessions:
    In the late 80's viewers didn't seem to be able to get enough of a television program called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" which, according to IMDB, "spotlighted the eccentricities and excesses of a different member of the "rich and famous" each week. Special attention was always given to the prices paid for the various luxuries with which the upper crust enhanced their daily lives, ranging from spacious seaside villas, to classic cars, to gold-plated bathroom fixtures". [8]

    We all know, or have met, people who are never satisfied. Happiness to them is one more purchase, or one more gadget away. The never ending desire for possessions, whether it be a new carpet or car, a bigger kitchen, a get away cabin, or the latest cell phone, is fed by the usually shallow and conspicuous advertisements that daily tell us of "needs" we did not even know we had. We are promised that all we need to enter into a glorious carefree world, in which we are the self assured, "cool", center of attention, is to buy their product. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to maintain balance, much less a Biblical viewpoint, when faced with this never ending assault.

    This craving for fortune is nothing new.

    During the time of Christ, the Jews believed that wealth and prosperity were a sign of God's blessing, so when Jesus said " It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" [Matthew 19:24], the disciples can hardly be blamed for being dumbfounded. However, it did not take long before Christians swung in the opposite direction, claiming that wealth is actually a hindrance to salvation.

    But what saith the Scriptures?

    Interestingly, the Bible never so much as hints that it is a sin to be rich. While one expects kings like David, Solomon and Hezekiah to be exceedingly wealthy, some great men of faith who were not royalty, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and Joseph of Arimathaea, were among the wealthiest people of their day. [See Footnote for Details]. Therefore, it is not possible that being poor confers some kind of piety on a person. We can be tempted from the path of righteousness by so many things other than money.. alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. etc. etc.

    So when Jesus talked about camels and needles, He was using an exaggerated statement to state a spiritual principle, warning them that their wealth was not necessarily a sign of God's favour, and that they needed to get their priorities in order. When the rich young ruler walked away from Christ, extremely sad that he could not do what the savior asked, it is clear that he was held to the world by his many possessions. The rich young man's downfall was not his money, but his attachment to his money. But, what we need to ask ourselves is.... what in our lives has the same hold on us, anchoring us to this world. What do we possess that makes us willing to walk away from eternal life?

    When the apostle James said

      Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? [James 2:5]

    He was not saying that only the poor of the world are called into God's kingdom but, if the verse is read in context, was tackling the tendency we have to treat those with money and power with far more deference and respect, than those that have none. [See Context is Crucial]

    So let us not look at the wealthy and congratulate ourselves that we are fit for God's kingdom simply because we do not have their material benefits. In fact it would be just as dangerous for an underprivileged person to think that he is better than someone with more material assets, as it would for a rich man to trust in his wealth.

    It is all a question of attitude and what we do with our assets. On the one hand, it is entirely possible that the poor have less of a struggle with the whole God vs. mammon issue, because they do not have that many possessions to relinquish, or lose. But, on the other hand, a poor person may be very focused on obtaining material things, which he may see as a key to happiness. While a rich man may be consumed with both protecting his wealth and adding to what he already has, wealthy men have also been known to use their money to further God's purposes. 

    But there is no doubt that we cannot receive, or retain, God's life when we are in an endless quest for life somewhere else. The modern pursuit of material things has a name in the Bible. It is called covetousness, which, in the New Testament, is in the same list as fornication, stealing, drunkenness, and adultery.

      Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-10]

    In fact, in Colossians 3:5-6, Paul clearly links covetousness with idolatry, which was vigorously denounced in both the Old and New Testaments.

      Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience:

    If you have your heart set on gaining material wealth. If everything you do revolves around 'getting ahead', then you may have a serious problem. And, if you think that God intends for every believer to be wealthy, you have been sadly misinformed, and led astray, by the wolves masquerading as Christians. [See The Prosperity Doctrine.. Does God Want You To Be Rich?].

    Also, people will put their money where their hearts are. Material possessions are to be used wisely, for the good of others as well as ourselves, which does NOT mean helping Benny Hinn buy another Rolex.
     

    Read Lifestyles of the Tele-evangelists.

    I also strongly suggest you read the in-depth study of Tithing on this site. It examines the primary, usually out of context Scriptures used to finance American Christianity, and offers a scriptural pattern of Christian stewardship that opposes modern pulpit appeals. Sadly, most people who have been manipulated into following modern teachings have the most difficult time adjusting to biblically defined stewardship. This is generally because they have been manipulated or persuaded into believing something that has no scriptural support.


    Physical Pleasures

    Sex: If God did not intend for us to take any pleasure in physical things, then He would not have given us the five senses of hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. The very first chapter of Genesis makes it clear that He created men and women, and the relationship between them, then instructed them to use sex properly

      And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. [Genesis 1:28]

    But, wrong uses of sex violate God's law, and are forbidden

      Thou shalt not commit adultery. [Exodus 20:14]

      Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  [Galatians 5:19]

      Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. [1 Corinthians 6:18]

    In both the above verses, the word translated fornication stems from a Greek root word porneia, which means harlotry (including adultery and incest)


    Food and Alcohol
    The Biblical Data: (The Old Testament)

    Please note that whenever wine is translated from the Hebrew word yayin, which does not refer to grape juice. Yayin comes from an unused root meaning to effervesce; thus fermented wine. [Also See The Bible and Alcohol]

      1) Not only did Solomon write "A feast is made for laughter, and wine (yayin) maketh glad the life; and money answereth all things" [Ecclesiastes 10:19], but

      2) Melchizedek king of Salem and "priest of God Most High" brought wine (yayin) to Abraham [Genesis 14:18].

      3) Nehemiah took wine (yayin) to the king [Nehemiah 2:1].

      4) It is very likely that Esther drank with the king [Esther 5:6; 7:1-2]. (According to Bible commentator Albert Barnes, "it was customary in Persia to continue the banquet for a considerable time with fruits and wine, after the meats were removed").

      5) Job 1:13 refers to Job's family drinking wine, (yayin)

      6) While Daniel speaks of refraining from bread, wine (yayin) and meat for only three weeks [10:3].

    If the drinking of wine were sinful why then did the Lord prescribe a wine offering to Himself.

      and with the one lamb a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil, and the fourth part of a hin of wine (Hebrew yayin) for a drink-offering. [Exodus 29:40] Also See Leviticus 23:13 and Numbers 15:10 which also use yayin

    One of the instructions given the high priests was that they drink no wine, or any other strong drink, when they went into the sanctuary, which implies that they could do so when they were not 'on duty'. 

      Drink no wine (Hebrew yayin) nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting, that ye die not: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: [Leviticus 10:9]

      Neither shall any of the priests drink wine (Hebrew yayin) , when they enter into the inner court. [Ezekiel 44:21]

    Deuteronomy 14:23-26 concerned the tithes of the first fruits of grain, wine, oil and animals which were to be taken to the temple, But if the person lived too far away, he was instructed to sell these items and buy whatever he desired, be it meat, wine or strong drink. He and his household were then to eat and rejoice before the Lord.

    The lack of wine was viewed as a judgment from God.  In fact, one of the curses of Deuteronomy 28 that they would not be able to drink of the wine from their vineyards, because the worms would eat the grapes

      Thou shalt plant vineyards and dress them, but thou shalt neither drink of the wine (Hebrew yayin), nor gather the grapes; for the worm shall eat them. [Deuteronomy 28:39]

      And their wealth shall become a spoil, and their houses a desolation: yea, they shall build houses, but shall not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but shall not drink the wine (Hebrew yayin) thereof. [Zephaniah 1:13]

      Forasmuch therefore as ye trample upon the poor, and take exactions from him of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink the wine (Hebrew yayin) thereof. [Amos 5:11]

      And gladness and joy is taken away from the fruitful field and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine (Hebrew yayin) to cease from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; the shouting shall be no shouting. [Jeremiah 48:33]

      They say to their mothers, Where is grain and wine (Hebrew yayin) ? When they swoon as the wounded in the streets of the city, When their soul is poured out into their mothers' bosom. [Lamentations 2:12]

      Through all that time, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when one came to the winevat to draw out fifty vessels, there were but twenty. [Haggai 2:16]

    On the other hand, the ample provision of wine was a blessing from God..

      and he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee; he will also bless the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy ground, thy grain and thy new wine and thine oil, the increase of thy cattle and the young of thy flock, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. [Deuteronomy 7:13]

      And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.  [Joel 2:24]

      And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine (Hebrew yayin) thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. [Amos 9:14]

    Psalm 104 credits the Lord with being the creator of all good things, including wine that makes a man's heart glad, while Psalm 4 compares the joy of the Lord with an abundance of grain and wine.

      Thou hast put gladness in my heart, More than they have when their grain and their new wine are increased. [Psalms 4:7]

      He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, And herb for the service of man; That he may bring forth food out of the earth, And wine (Hebrew yayin) that maketh glad the heart of man, And oil to make his face to shine, And bread that strengtheneth man's heart. [Psalms 104:14-15]

    In Isaiah 25:6 "Fat things and marrow are often used as synonymous with sumptuous entertainment, and are made emblematic of the abundant provisions of divine mercy" [Barnes]

      And in this mountain will the Lord of hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. [Isaiah 25:6]

    Note that the lees refers to the sediment of dead yeast cells, grape pulp, pips etc that settles during fermentation. Wine left on the lees usually acquires additional depth, complexity and colour. As said by Albert Barnes... "The word rendered Ĺwell refinedĺ is usually applied to the purifying of metals in a furnace 1 Chronicles 28:18; 29:4; Job 28:1. When applied to wine, it denotes that which has been allowed to remain on the lees until it had completely settled and become perfectly clear."

    In Judges 13:4-5, an angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, foretold the birth of her son (Sampson) who would deliver Israel from the Philistines. He gave the mother-to-be specific instructions regarding herself and the child, one of which was that she was not to drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat anything unclean.

      Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine (Hebrew yayin) nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. [Judges 13:4-5]

    When the Nazirite took a vow to separate himself unto the Lord he was requited to "separate himself from wine and strong drink", and even refrain from eating fresh or dried grapes. [Numbers 6:3]. However after the wave offering, he could resume drinking wine.

      and the priest shall wave them for a wave-offering before Jehovah; this is holy for the priest, together with the wave-breast and heave-thigh: and after that the Nazirite may drink wine (Hebrew yayin). [Numbers 6:20]


    The Biblical Data: (The New Testament)
    If Jesus had disapproved of any use of alcohol, His first miracle would not have been turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana [John 2:1-11]. Note that there is little question that Jesus turned water into fermented wine, since the Greek word (oinos) translated wine, is also used in Ephesians 5:18, which says "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit". One cannot get drunk on grape juice. Besides which, according to Strong's Hebrew and Greek lexicon, oinos MAY may have come from the Hebrew yayin.

    Besides which, in Luke 7:33-34, Jesus contrasted himself with John the Baptist, saying

      For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine (Greek oinos), and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."

    In other words John the Baptist neither ate bread nor drank wine, but the clear implication is that Jesus did both. Also, the very fact that the Pharisees called Jesus a drunkard, implies that He drank something alcoholic. Note the final moments before Jesus died on the cross...

      There was set there a vessel full of vinegar: so they put a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop, and brought it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. [John 19:29-30]

    The NASB (New American Standard Version), as well as the NIV, uses the term "sour wine" instead of vinegar. In any case, the word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, sour or tart wine which, we are told, was the common drink of the Roman soldiers. Almost the last act of Jesus' earthly life was to accept a drink of "sour wine". (This is not to be confused with the vinegar mingled with gall (Matthew 27:34), or the wine mingled with myrrh (Mark 15:23) which was offered to Jesus before his crucifixion, and which he refused.

    When Paul rebuked the Corinthian church about how they were celebrating the Lord's Supper, he said that one person ate his own supper ahead of time, while another got drunk. Then he asked if they did not have their own homes to eat and drink in. He was not rebuking them for using wine at the Lord's Supper, but for despising the church of God by both, getting drunk, and celebrating the Lord's Supper improperly.

      When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord's supper: for in your eating each one taketh before other his own supper; and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and put them to shame that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you? In this I praise you not. [1 Corinthians 11:20-22]

    Paul suggested that Timothy refrain from drinking water and take some wine for his "stomach's sake" [1 Timothy 5:23], probably because the water was causing Timothy to frequently become ill. Paul also said that older women and deacons should not be "enslaved to much wine" [Titus 2:3. Emphasis Added], which implies that they can drink wine in moderation. The Greek word oinos is used in both cases.

    However, it has to be noted that Paul also said that it is better not to drink wine if it caused another Christian to stumble or fall, which obviously implies that drinking wine (without getting drunk) is acceptable, as long as it does not cause problems for other believers.

      It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth. [Romans 14:21]

    Cultural Conditioning:
    Daniel B. Wallace, Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts points out that....

      Our attitude toward alcohol may well be conditioned by our culture more than we realize. Since the days of Prohibition, many believers have simply assumed that partaking of alcoholic beverages was sinful. What is interesting is that in many other countries God-fearing Christians see no problem with alcoholic beverages. (When I was on sabbatical in England, for example, I heard the pastor at an evangelical church use an illustration which involved alcohol in a positive light. He was speaking about our attitude toward little disastersŚ such as when one brings home the groceries and the one sack that had the Sherry in it falls to the ground and the Sherry bottle breaks! The very casualness of this illustration put in bold relief the difference in attitude between many American Christians and many European Christians regarding alcoholic beverages. If a pastor in the States were to use the same illustration, most churches would censure him for it if not outright sack him.) [9]

    Drunkenness: However it is very clear that drunkenness is prohibited.

      And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; [Ephesians 5:18]

    Note how drunks are placed in the same category as thieves, fornicators, idolaters etc. inasmuch as they too do not enter into God's kingdom

      Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in revelling and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy. [Romans 13:13]

      but as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat. [1 Corinthians 5:11]

      Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Corinthians 6:9-10]

      Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [Galatians 5:19-21]

      that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the living and the dead. [1 Peter 4:2-5]

    If you are a Christian who drinks alcohol, you may want to examine your motives for doing so. Do you drink for the buzz, or the feeling it gives you (which may be the first stage of drunkenness), or do you do so in order to fit in with the your immediate surroundings?

    In the first case why would you (assuming that you are a committed Christian) want to flirt with something that God so strongly condemns.  In the second case you may want to sit back and take serious stock of what social situations you are in, or what people you are associating with. Obviously alcohol is a large part of this circle, and you may want to strongly re-evaluate whether this is where you should be, and, more importantly, is this where God wants you to be, and what He wants you to be doing. Many Christians have testified to the fact that God has led them refrain from alcohol altogether.


    Dancing:
    It was not unknown for God's people to dance in celebration. When the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel, David, a man after God's own heart danced in sheer joy

      And David danced before Jehovah with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. [2 Samuel 6:14]

      And it came to pass as they came, when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with timbrels, with joy, and with instruments of music. [1 Samuel 18:6]

      They that sing as well as they that dance shall say, All my fountains are in thee. [Psalms 87:7]

      Let them praise his name in the dance: Let them sing praises unto him with timbrel and harp. [Psalms 149:3]

      a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; [Ecclesiastes 3:4]

    Clearly, dancing is not wrong. But, once again, a completely natural human expression can be very misused by being done in a sexually suggestive, or lewd manner, in which case it becomes wrong.


    Tobacco:

    While I would be the first to tell you that smoking is one dumb, health destroying habit, the Bible does not expressly forbid tobacco. Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6:19, do not work as a prohibition against tobacco. He said...

      Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;

    But, if read in context [See Context is Crucial], it becomes clear that Paul is talking about moral behavior in this verse, telling them not to go to bed with a prostitute. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and, by sleeping with a prostitute, you are bringing the Holy Spirit into direct contact with immorality. The body being a fit temple has nothing to do with the physical qualities of one's body, because if that were the case, it would infer that people who exercise are more spiritual than those who don't, because they have a healthier temple. Also, people who are sick and diseased would be less fit temples, because their bodies are less attractive, or are compromised by the disease.


    Movies and Televisions:

    Do you fill every spare moment with endless television shows? Do you have to see almost every movie that comes out? Do the shenanigans of Hollywood stars, and various other celebrities, fascinate you to the point that you cannot wait for the next issue of People Magazine, or to turn on the latest episode of television shows like Extra, that do nothing but showcase the trite, the trivial and the superficial.. to say nothing of a usually ungodly, sinful, way of life.

    What exactly do you enjoy watching? Are the programmes sexually explicit? Do they include unnecessary violence, condone adultery, drunkenness etc. Or are they nothing but mindless, superficial stupidity?  I have never ceased to be amazed what Christians will condone. For example at one time, Todd Bentley's myspace page listed Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Die Hard, Mission Impossible and Bourne as his favorite movies. King of Queens, Seinfeld, American Chopper and CSI were his favorite television shows.

    Most of which tell us a great deal about the man. [DETAILS]

    While I cannot possibly agree that all television programs are bad, I daresay that many Christians can name all the Kardashians, but would struggle to name all the books of the Bible. How many could tell you the plot of a popular movie or television program, but could not give you a basic overview of one of the books of the New Testament.

    Also See The Dangers of Television


    Gambling
    Gambling has become an everyday American pastime, a form of entertainment. The proliferation of Indian casinos across the country, as well as the rapid growth of online gaming sites, means that no one has to take the trip to Vegas, Reno, or Atlantic City. However, for many, what started out as an occasional flutter, soon becomes a debilitating, life-changing addiction, due in no small part, to the "high" that winning can bring. The gambling then becomes more frequent, and although most gamblers know that the odds of winning a lot of money are very small, they are driven by that adrenal rush, and the belief that they will beat the odds. But even winning streaks are very temporary, and pretty soon the losses add up. Many gamblers convince themselves that they do not have a problem, lie to the people they love about their habit , and often find themselves facing outrageous debts, among other things.

    Obviously, the end result can be catastrophic for both the person concerned, as well as their family and dependents.

    Opposition to gambling from Christian sources often appeal to the principle that we shouldn't try to gain something for nothing. However, lotteries and bingo are not uncommon church events. Although it is true that these bingo drives and raffles are held to fund something or the other, if we truly believed that people should not gain what they have not worked for, then even the "greater good" does not justify these events.

    Incidentally, those that use this argument need to remember that we cannot 'work' for the greatest prize of all.. salvation.

    Having said that, I have absolutely nothing against these activities and completely fail to see how playing bingo in a church hall has very much in common with casinos or the track (other than the possibility of gain). Bingo is usually a highly social event, with the fun often superseding the small prizes.

    When I was a young girl, my grandmother and a group of her cronies used to get together three or four times a month to drink coffee, have a snack, and play cards. The 'bank' was probably equivalent to $10.00 today, ensuring that no one ever won or lost very much. It was a social occasion, and I used to enjoy playing with these older women who's skill at the game far exceeded my own. I hope no one is going to try and convince me that this 'gambling' was 'sinful'. My grandmother would never have so much as stepped into a casino, and I have not yet done so. Frankly, the glitz and glam hold absolutely no interest for me (although I am told that the food is excellent, and reasonably priced. Hmm! Will they let us eat without playing?).

    So, is there a clear line of demarcation between playing cards with one's grandmother, or bingo at a church hall, and what can be a highly risky, certainly time wasting form of entertainment? That question is similar to asking how many millimeters above, or below, the knee a woman's skirt should be in order not to be considered immodest. Or exactly what price we should pay for anything before it becomes 'worldly'. There are no clear answers. But, consider what Jesus had to say in the beginning of the parable in Luke 16, which should tell us that it is not a good idea to squander God's money and resources, and that we all will one day be called to give an account of what has been entrusted to us as His stewards.

      And he said also unto the disciples, There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, What is this that I hear of thee? render the account of thy stewardship; for thou canst be no longer steward. [Luke 16:1-2]

    There is something very, very wrong with you, if, as a Christian, you are wasting endless, mind-numbing hours feeding quarters into a machine, when the world around you is going to hell in a hand basket. Yet, a September 2010 article entitled Churches Raise Awareness on Dangers of Gambling in the Singapore edition of the christianpost.com, quotes a 2008 survey by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports which showed that nearly half of all Christians gamble. [10]

     Are you dabbling with danger and wasting the Lord's resources, including your time? Take up Scrabble. At least it will keep your mind sharp.


    Clothing:
    One example of a non-Biblical dress code is the one enforced by the United Pentecostal church. [See UPCĺs Legalistic Dress Code]. However, by challenging UPCĺs dress code (among other things) we are not saying that women are free to wear revealing and provocative clothes to church, or anywhere else. It is far from decent, or seemly, for a woman who has committed her life to Jesus Christ to dress herself the way so many women do today

    Moderation:
    In speaking of the women in the church, Paul and Peter each made the following comments, which are quite similar to each other...

      In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; [1 Timothy 2:9]

      whose adorning--let it not be that which is outward, of plaiting of hair, and of putting around of things of gold, or of putting on of garments, but--the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible thing of the meek and quiet spirit, which is, before God, of great price, [1 Peter 3:3-4]

    There is no virtue in being careless or shabby, and neither passage is an absolute prohibition against jewelry (See next category) or good clothes, but a warning against extravagance and self-centered display. Neither apostle is saying that you cannot braid your hair, but are confronting the tendency toward vanity among women who took pleasure in expensive clothes and jewelry, and extravagant hairdo's adorned with gold and pearls, often done in order to draw attention to themselves, and/or to flaunt their wealth and their beauty.

    Both apostles were speaking out against excessive display, encouraging women to dress in an appropriate, modest way. Note that moderation is not supposed to be a purely a female quality, but as a virtue that is to characterize all believers as the following verses show.

      The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach; [1 Timothy 3:2]

      but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled; [Titus 1:8]

      But speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine: that aged men be temperate, grave, sober-minded, sound in faith, in love, in patience: that aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed: the younger men likewise exhort to be sober-minded: in all things showing thyself an ensample of good works; in thy doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of us. [Titus 2:1-8]

    Modesty: Tragically, one of the key elements that seems to have been all but lost in many modern churches is modesty. So many of today's mega churches teach as many ridiculous doctrines as they can invent, but never seem to address the issue of clothing (especially what some women are wearing to "church"). I do understand that many of these women are not trying to be immodest, or sexually provocative, but fashionable. However, there is very little difference in dress between those who profess to be Christians, and those who don't. And, considering the level of immodesty in the world today that is an extremely damning comparison.

    In Romans 12:1, Paul says

      I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. [Romans 12:1]

    Christians have to actively choose to present, or offer, their bodies as a living sacrifice (an antitype of the Old Testament sacrifices offered on the altar), they have to choose not to conform to the pattern of the world, and be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Christian women, are supposed to look different from the women of the world who do not know any better.

    Are you dressing in a way that draws attention to certain parts of the body, and causes men to take a second and a third look? If so it is wrong.

    In short.. if you are showing too much flesh, or too much of your shape, you are not obeying the Biblical precept of modesty and moderation. Christian women would be well advised to give up wearing pants that are tight or very low cut, tops that cling, are short enough to expose their midriffs, or thin enough to see through, necklines low enough to show cleavage, and skirt with slits that show too much thigh.

    Ask yourself this.. Do your clothes reflect a woman whose first concern is to be a credit to Christ?

    Also See Modesty Matters   and   Should Christian Women Dress In A Sexually Provocative Manner?


    Jewelry:
    When Peter said...

      Whose adorning let it not be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner aforetime the holy women also, who hoped in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: [1 Peter 3:3-5]

    ...it is impossible that he is forbidding the wearing of jewelry since

    Rebecca, one of the most prominent women of the Old Testament wore jewelry, at least some of it a present from her father in law.. Abraham.

      And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him. And I put the ring upon her nose, and the bracelets upon her hands. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah. He gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.  [Genesis 24:47, 53]

    Abraham was called the friend of God, yet, when he sent his servant, Eliezer, to find Isaac a wife from among his kindred, the Bible tells us that Eliezer took "goodly things" belonging to Abraham with him [Genesis 24:10]. These obviously included presents for the bride. That these presents were some very costly jewelry is told us in verse 22... "a golden ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold". It is obvious that Abraham did not think the wearing of jewelry was sinful.

    Joseph: When the Pharaoh realized that the spirit of God was in Joseph, he gave Joseph a gold chain. Had the wearing of jewelry been sinful, Joseph would not have accepted the gift, which would have been mentioned in the account to make that very point.

      "... said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; [Genesis 41:41-42]

    Job: Similarly, Job was given gold rings which there is no evidence of him refusing.

      Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him concerning all the evil that Jehovah had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one a ring of gold. [Job 42:11]

    Daniel: The prophet Daniel had no trouble disobeying the king's edict to pray only to him so, if the wearing of jewelry was wrong, Daniel would have rejected the gift of a chain of gold given him, after he correctly interpreted the writing on the wall.

      Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with purple, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.  [Daniel 5:29]
       

    The Nation of Israel: Before they left Egypt the people were instructed to ask, or demand, what was (possibly) recompense for their years of slavery. Although the word "jewels" does not necessarily mean jewelry, one has to wonder then where the slave nation got their gold earrings which they later used to make the golden calf. While it is tragic that the very things which were granted the nation of Israel by the providence of God, should be used for idolatry, there is no question that the Israelites wore jewelry.

      But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall despoil the Egyptians. [Exodus 3:22]

      And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. [Exodus 32:2]

    Although the passage below is metaphoric, it seems very unlikely that God would have used jewelry as an example of the blessings He had poured out on Israel, if jewelry was forbidden.

      Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with sealskin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and covered thee with silk. And I decked thee with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a ring upon thy nose, and ear-rings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper unto royal estate. And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty; for it was perfect, through my majesty which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord Jehovah. [Ezekiel 16:9-14]


    Cosmetics

    It is commonly believed that Jezebel painted her face because she wanted to seduce Jehu (which is absolute nonsense if you read the context).

      And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and attired her head, and looked out at the window. [2 Kings 9:30]

    If you are against make up because you do not wish to be associated with anything Jezebel did, then you're going to have to stop combing your hair as well.

    Note a very interesting comment on the Everything you need to know about Orthodox Jews site...

      It is considered a great thing for a married Jewish woman to dress up for her husband, thus jewelry and cosmetics can be a staple in a woman's repertoire. [11]


    Tattoos

    Tattooing is a centuries old tradition among many indigenous peoples.  It is an ancient tradition in Japan, and a common practice among the Celts and other central and northern European tribes. Tattoos have even been found on mummies from ancient Egypt. The symbolism and impact of tattoos differ greatly. They have been used as marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, amulets and talismans, pledges of love, and an indication of how a person feels about their mother, child etc. According to Wikipedia, Roman soldiers were required by law to have identifying tattoos on their hands in order to make it difficult to hide if they deserted, and Gladiators and slaves were likewise tattooed. While, tattooing was a commonly used identification system for inmates in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, people today are often tattooed to demonstrate identification with particular groups, including criminal gangs

    Tattooing in the western world originated in Polynesia, and initially became popular among European sailors. However, tattooing has gradually been making it's way out of seedy waterfront shops into the mainstream. But opinions are still sharply divided. There are those that consider tattoos a form of art and/or the ultimate expression of an individual's personality. Others believe that only the totally

    National Geographic carried this photograph of a woman in Lalibela, a Coptic Christian, who is tattood with crosses to show strong faith

    depraved have tattoos.

    However, there seems not to be a consistent Christian position on the subject since Emperor Constantine I banned tattooing the face around AD 330. Apparently, the early Christian Montanist movement practiced a form of tattooing which involved putting signs or seals of God's name, according to their interpretation of verses in the book of Revelation, which speak of men having "the seal of God on their foreheads" [7:3; 9:4 etc]. 
     

    [For details see The Mark of The Beast]

    Catholic Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina used tattooing, especially of children, for perceived protection against forced conversion to Islam during Turkish occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1463-1878). The Knights of St. John of Malta, sported tattoos to show their allegiance, while Egyptian Coptic Christians tattooed themselves with the symbols of coptic crosses on their right wrists.

    On the other hand, many missionaries tried to stamp out the practice among indigenous tribes on the grounds that it was a "pagan" or "heathen" activity.

    Today, many, many Christians choose to get a tattoo with a 'Christian theme'.. crosses, doves, Bible verses etc. Some do so as a bold statement of who they are and what they believe, while others choose a tattoo as a reminder of their walk with the Lord. The reasons can be as diverse as the design on their skins.

    But are tattoos wrong? Tattooing is forbidden in Judaism because of the prohibition in the Torah: "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:28). Interestingly, most of the Christian objection to tattoos is centered around the same verse. Accordingly, some Christians believe that since the body of a converted person is the temple of God and a dwelling place for His Holy Spirit, God does not take it lightly when Christians "defile" their body with piercings or tattoos.

    However, even if one were to ignore, or fail to understand, that the law was a precursor of things to come, and the New Testament ushered in a transition from a mere letter-of-the-law, minimal standards approach, to understanding and obeying the spiritual intent behind the law (which actually demands a higher degree of holiness and obedience to God). I am not sure how exactly a person goes about picking which of the laws he will keep, and which ones he will discard, especially since Scripture declares that to keep 612 commandments, and yet fail to keep one, is to break all 613.

    In this specific instance, it is just silly to quote Leviticus 19:28 as a prohibition against tattoos when the verse immediately preceding this one, says

      Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. [Leviticus 19:27]

    Guess all you guys that sport beards better make tracks to find out exactly what was meant by this prohibition, lest you unwittingly break it.. and note that ignorance is no excuse for breaking God's laws. [See Unintentional Sin... Acquitted By Virtue Of Ignorance?]

    Or perhaps all these issues are slightly more profound and replete with meaning, than a shallow reading of the Bible allows for

      See Jesus and The Law: The Bible contains both Old and New Testaments, each with seemingly different teachings and commands, which has led to more than a little confusion for those that have not grasped the seamless relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and struggle with the tension between the Old Testament emphasis on regulations and the New Testament emphasis on grace. Certainly many Christians are not clear what our relationship to the Old Testament should be, especially when it comes to the Old Testament Laws in general, and the Ten Commandments in particular, as well as the keeping of the Sabbath and/or other Feasts of the Old Covenant.


    Whatsoever Is Not Of Faith Is Sin
    And while we could go on and on, the point is clear that none of these things are sinful in themselves. However, if you yourself believe that it is wrong to drink a beer, wear jewelry, or get a tattoo, you had better not do so because, for you, it will be sin.

      But he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. [Romans 14:23]

    In chapter 14 of the book of Romans, Paul was endeavoring to settle some difficult and delicate questions that arose between the Jews and Gentiles respecting food, and the observance of particular days. He said that their faith consisted of more important matters than these kinds of more 'secondary issues', and they should not judge each other on these matters. [V. 17-18]. However,he also urged the Romans not to do anything that would result in their brother perishing. A Christian's liberty should not hinder the preaching of the gospel, weaken another person's faith, cause him to stumble, or even turn away from Christ. So, from that perspective, let's briefly look at some of the habits which are not unlawful, but could very well cause problems for others.

    What impression is your Christian liberty making on the hearts and minds of others? Does your alcohol use, however moderate, encourage one of weaker conscience to open a beer, although he is not fully persuaded that it is okay to drink? In which case, to him, the drinking of the beer is sin.

    It is entirely possible that, in matters that do not constitute sin, and are not expressly forbidden by the Bible, the Lord may give freedom to one person, but restrict another.


    Lawful But Not Expedient
    In the final analysis we need to be governed by Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 10:23...

      All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify. [1 Corinthians 10:23]

    The word expedient means "appropriate to a purpose". And, as Christians, our purpose should always be the furthering of God's kingdom.

    The world looks at believers, and the conclusions they come to regarding Christianity, starts with what they see.

    If, as is entirely likely, the non believer, or the on-the-edge Christian, looks at the Christian with a glass in his hand and thinks.. "he is not better than me", the Gospel message has been dented, even before it is preached.

    Do your clothes reflect a woman whose first concern is to be a credit to Christ, or are they doing nothing but putting temptation in the way of every man you come into contact with? And, if you are but an imitation of the very cheaply dressed women that one sees at virtually every mall in the land, how are you are credit to the one you call Saviour?

    Also consider the issue of tattoos, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with a tattoo in itself, they have long been associated with lifestyles that are far from savoury... sailors, bikers, gang members etc. While one or two tattoos may be okay, a Christian with tattoos covering his body is not going to present an image of wholesomeness.

    God gave you a brain.. use it, instead of being swept away on a tide, of emotion, fashion, what's 'in', or what people around you are doing, or how they are amusing themselves.

    Read Paul's words to Titus and the church at Phillippi again

      But speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine: that aged men be temperate, grave, sober-minded, sound in faith, in love, in patience: that aged women likewise be reverent in demeanor, not slanderers nor enslaved to much wine, teachers of that which is good; that they may train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed: the younger men likewise exhort to be sober-minded: in all things showing thyself an ensample of good works; in thy doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of us. [Titus 2:1-8]

      Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. [Philippians 4:5]


    Conclusion...Outward Holiness Springs From Inner Sanctification
    True holiness is not possible without an inner sanctification and a perfect heart. Since a person's actions are a reflection of what he really believes, and who he is on the inside, a heart that is separate to God is demonstrated by that person's lifestyle, habits and conduct. How he orders his priorities reflects where his heart is. As Jesus said..

      For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man. [Mark 7:21-23]

    The Christian is not spiritually lost by living in the world, but by the world living in him. If your heart is captured by the world, you will love the things of the world. If your heart is captured by the love of God, you will be drawn to Him and to the things of God.

    When dealing with doubtful issues, there are several questions we can ask.

      Will it glorify my Lord, or will it on the other hand possibly bring shame to His name? (1 Corinthians 6:20, 10:32)

      Can I honestly ask God's blessing on it and be sure I'll not regret doing it? (Proverbs 10:22, Romans 15:29)

      Is it apt to damage my testimony for the Lord? (Philippians 2:15)

      Am I being considerate of others and the effect this might have on them? (Romans 14:7, 21)

      Will it look bad? Does it have the appearance of what is wrong or suspicious? (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

      Could this slacken or sidetrack me in running the Christian race? (Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24)

      Would I be ashamed to be found doing this when He comes again? (1 John 2:28)

     

    001orange Continued In Part III ... Moral Perfection, The Consequences Of Sin, Three Resources For a Three Sided Battle. The Flesh... Practical Steps to Win The Battle Between Persistent Sin and The Spirit. The World... Cultural Contamination of People and Entertainment. The Devil... Using The Armour of God In The Battle.
     


    End Notes

    [2] James Patrick Holding. What is holiness? http://www.tektonics.org/whatis/whatholy.html

    [3] Bob Deffinbaugh. The Problem of Pain (Hebrews 12:4-17) http://bible.org/article/problem-pain-hebrews-124-17

    [4] Pastor Steven J. Cole. Flagstaff Christian Fellowship. Choose Your Love: The World Or The Father?
    http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/020506m.pdf

    [5] Keith Drury, Associate Professor of Religion at Indiana Wesleyan University. I Like Old-Fashioned Holiness People.
    http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/like.old.fashioned.holiness.people.htm

    [6] Sue Bohlin. Is Smoking a Sin? http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4222939/k.97F4/Is_Smoking_a_Sin.htm

    [7] Gregory Koukl. Christian Liberty. http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5173

    [8] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086750/plotsummary

    [9] Daniel B. Wallace, Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. The Bible and Alcohol.
    http://bible.org/article/bible-and-alcohol

    [10] Edmond Chua. Churches Raise Awareness on Dangers of Gambling. The Christian Post Singapore Edition.
    http://sg.christianpost.com/dbase/church/2591/section/1.htm

    [11] Jewish Clothing for Women - Described. http://www.orthodox-jews.com/jewish-clothing-for-women.html


    Foot Notes

      Abraham: And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. [Genesis 13:2]

      And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly. And he is become great. And he hath given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and maid-servants, and camels and asses. [Genesis 24:35]

      And he had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, and a great household. And the Philistines envied him. [Genesis 26:14]

      Jacob: And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the souls of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his possessions, which he had gathered in the land of Canaan; and went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their substance was too great for them to dwell together; and the land of their sojournings could not bear them because of their cattle. [Genesis 36:6-7]

      David: And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead. [1 Chronicles 29:28]

      Solomon: So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. [2 Chronicles 9:22]

      Job: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and turned away from evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the children of the east. [Job 1:1-3]

      Hezekiah: Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of Jehovah came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah. And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honor: and he provided him treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of goodly vessels; store-houses also for the increase of grain and new wine and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and flocks in folds. [2 Chronicles 32:26-28]

      Joseph of Arimathaea: ôAnd when even was come, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded it to be given upö. [Matthew 27:57-58] [PLACE IN TEXT]

      Seperate-Back

      Index To What Is Holiness

      www.inplainsite.org

      Seperate-Logo