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

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What Is Holiness?

Applying The Principles Of Separation

Carol Brooks

The commandment to be ’holy’ is consistently repeated from one end of the Bible to the other however many Christians, who mistake their prejudices for Biblical commands, lay down rules and regulations most of which are unsubstantiated by the Scriptures. 

Index To All Sections



Part II

 Modern Day Pharisees

Money And Material Possessions
Physical Pleasures
Movies and Televisions
Jewelry and Cosmetics

Outward Holiness Springs From Inner Sanctification
Whatsoever Is Not Of Faith Is Sin
Lawful But Not Expedient


Applying The Principles Of Separation

Modern Day Pharisees
Considering how much importance the Bible places on separation, brings up the question of how exactly a believers in the 21st century is to distance himself from the world. To what extent can Christians be involved with secular society or do they have to isolate themselves from the world and everything in it in order to be considered a 'holy nation'? Are Christians supposed to look and sound religious?

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.

The holiness movement that originated in the United States in the early 19th century had strict codes of dress and behaviour. There is little question that the theology behind the movement was flawed in many ways. For example, many believed that sinless perfection was possible however, one has to respect their commitment to a fundamental and indispensable principle of Christianity... being a holy nation separate from the world. As said by Keith Drury, Associate Professor of Religion at Indiana Wesleyan University...

    Living a holy life is just that - a 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. [03]

The problem is that Christians often seem to swing between two extremes. At one end is 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. With their incredible ability to invent rules and regulations some Christians 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.

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. 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.

And these are not all. There are a host of other things not mentioned anywhere in Scripture, which have found their way into lists of "sins" drawn up by various Christian groups. In fact, most of these do's and don'ts are legislated by cultural biases. 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 against alcohol per se. As 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. [04]

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. [05] .

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". [06]

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, 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 gloriously happy and carefree world 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.

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 wealthy, other non-royal men of faith, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and Joseph of Arimathaea, were among the wealthiest people of their day. Being poor does not confer 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 favor, and that they needed to get their priorities in order. When the apostle James said

    Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5 NASB)

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 who has 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. 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. His 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?

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 do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB)

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

    Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come 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 led astray, by wolves masquerading as Christians.

See The Prosperity Gospel and The Word of Faith Movement.
Note: This article covers the Prosperity and the Word-Faith Doctrines. Both teachings, subscribed to by millions of Christians all over the world, have exactly the same end goal, i.e. God wants believers to be prosperous, healthy and happy in this life. However, there are subtle differences in how they get there.

Lifestyles of the Tele-evangelists.
Welcome to the mile wide and inch deep flashy mega-churches, very expensive entertainment, and wealthy celebrity pastors with deep pockets, and self serving shallow theology. Note this article was initially devoted to the tele-evangelists - hence the name however, it has expanded to include other 'Christian' evangelical leaders who may not appear regularly on television but who pastor very large churches.

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, generally because they have been 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 it was God who created male and female instructing Adam and Eve to replenish the earth.

    God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:27-28 NASB)

However, sex must be used as God intended it, ie. within marriage. As the following verses make clear, sex in any other context violates God's law.

    "You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14 NASB)

Flee immorality (Gr. porneia). Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral (Gr. porneuo) man sins against his own body.  (1 Corinthians 6:18 NASB)

    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality (Gr. porneia), impurity, sensuality, (Galatians 5:19 NASB) 

In both the above New Testament verses the Greek words porneia and porneuo mean harlotry (including adultery and incest)

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. There are numerous Biblical references to people drinking wine or even 'strong drink'. Also See The Bible and Alcohol

    Melchizedek king of Salem and "priest of God Most High" brought wine to Abraham:
    And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine (Heb. yayin); now he was a priest of God Most High. (Genesis 14:18 NASB)

    Hannah: Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, although the child was young.  (1 Samuel 1:24 NASB)

    Job 1:13 refers to Job's family drinking wine,
    Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine (Heb. yayin)in their oldest brother's house,  (Job 1:13 NASB)]

    Daniel speaks of refraining from bread, wine (yayin) and meat for only three weeks:
    I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine (Heb. yayin)enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all until the entire three weeks were completed.  (Daniel 10:3 NASB)

    Esther: It is very likely that Esther drank with the king
    And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine (Heb. yayin) at the banquet, "What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done."  (Esther 7:2 NASB)

Note: The Hebrew word yayin comes from an unused root meaning to effervesce.

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.

    You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine (Heb. tíyrosh) abound. (Psalms 4:7 NASB)

    He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine (Heb. yayin) which makes man's heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man's heart. (Psalms 104:14-15 NASB)

Note that the translators deemed tíyrosh to be fresh grape juice thus have usually translated it as "new wine". However, this theory does not fit. King Hezekiah built storehouses where he stored all manner of things, including tíyrosh. However, freshly squeezed grape juice cannot be stored - it would go bad in a matter of a day or two. On the other hand, fermented wine can be stored for many years.

     Now Hezekiah had immense riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuable articles, storehouses also for the produce of grain, wine (Heb. tíyrosh) and oil, pens for all kinds of cattle and sheepfolds for the flocks. (2 Chronicles 32:27-28 NASB)

In fact, the ample provision of wine was a blessing from God...

    He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine (Heb. tíyrosh) and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. (Deuteronomy 7:13 NASB)

    The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine (Heb. tíyrosh) and oil. (Joel 2:24 NASB)

    Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine (Heb. yayin), And make gardens and eat their fruit. (Amos 9:14 NASB)

And the lack of wine 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

    "You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine (Heb. yayin) nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them. (Deuteronomy 28:39 NASB)

    "Moreover, their wealth will become plunder And their houses desolate; Yes, they will build houses but not inhabit them, And plant vineyards but not drink their wine (Heb. yayin)."  (Zephaniah 1:13 NASB)

    Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them, Though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, Yet you will not live in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine (Heb. yayin). (Amos 5:11 NASB)

    "So gladness and joy are taken away From the fruitful field, even from the land of Moab. And I have made the wine (Heb. yayin) to cease from the wine presses; No one will tread them with shouting, The shouting will not be shouts of joy. (Jeremiah 48:33 NASB)

Note how the NASB and the KJV render the following verse in Isaiah which speaks of the feast the Lord prepares for His people

    And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people 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 KJV)

    The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.  (Isaiah 25:6 NASB)

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 "well refined" 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."

Drink (Wine) Offering to The Lord
The Lord even prescribed a wine offering to Himself so how can it be sinful?

    and there shall be one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine (Heb. yayin) for a drink offering with one lamb.  (Exodus 29:40 NASB)

    'Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the Lord for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine (Heb. yayin) .  (Leviticus 23:13 NASB)

    and you shall offer as the drink offering one-half a hin of wine (Heb. yayin) as an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the Lord. (Numbers 15:10 NASB)

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.

    "You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine (Heb. yayin), or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. (Deuteronomy 14:26 NASB)

The Warning
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'.

    "Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die - it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations. (Leviticus 10:9 NASB)

    "Nor shall any of the priests drink wine when they enter the inner court.  (Ezekiel 44:21 NASB)

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, be careful not to drink wine (Hebrew yayin) or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. "For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines." (Judges 13:4-5 NASB)

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.

     'Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine (Hebrew yayin) .'  (Numbers 6:20 NASB)

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.

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 getting drunk, and celebrating the Lord's Supper improperly.

    Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you. (1 Corinthians 11:20-22 NASB)

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. (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 disasters  - 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.) [Read Article]

Drunkenness: However it is very clear that drunkenness is prohibited - drunks placed in the same category as thieves, fornicators, idolaters etc. who do not enter into God's kingdom

    And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,  (Ephesians 5:18 NASB)

     The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. (Romans 13:12-13 NASB)

    But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler  - not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11 NASB)

    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB)

    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NASB)

    so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:2-5 NASB)

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.

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 (2 Samuel 6:14 NASB)

    Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. (Exodus 15:20 NASB)

    When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. (Judges 11:34 NASB)

    It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. (1 Samuel 18:6 NASB)

    You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, (Psalms 30:11 NASB)

    Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. (Psalms 149:3 NASB)

    A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NASB)

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.

While there is no question = that smoking is a very expensive 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 do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB)

The body being a fit temple has nothing to do with its physical qualities, because if that were the case, it would infer that, because they have a healthier temple, people who exercise are more spiritual than those who don't. Also, people whose bodies are compromised by sickness or diseased would be less fit temples.

If you read the verse in context [See Context is Crucial], it becomes clear that Paul is talking about moral behavior, telling his readers not to go to bed with a prostitute because by dong so you are bringing the Holy Spirit into direct contact with immorality.

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.

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 has become an everyday American pastime, a form of entertainment. Not only have casinos sprung up like mushrooms across the country but 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. However, lotteries and bingo are not uncommon church events. I 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 the only time I have ever done so was when a friend took us to the buffet at one.

Who can doubt there is 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? Also 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.

    Now He was also saying to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. "And he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.' (Luke 16:1-2 NASB)

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. [08]

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.

One example of a non-Biblical dress code is the one enforced by the United Pentecostal church. [See UPC’s Legalistic Dress Code]. However, by challenging UPC’s 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.

In speaking of the women in the church, Paul and Peter each made the following similar comments

    Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, (1 Timothy 2:9 NASB)

    Your adornment must not be merely external -  braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;  (1 Peter 3:3 NASB)but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  (1 Peter 3:4 NASB)

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.

    An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  (1 Timothy 3:2 NASB)

    But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:1-8 NASB)

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 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.

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?

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

Jewelry and Cosmetics:
When Peter told the women that their adornment must not be merely external, ie. braiding their hair, wearing gold jewelry etc. (1 Peter 3:3-5) it is impossible that he is forbidding the wearing of jewelry because 

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" with him that 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.

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.

    "Then I asked her, and said, 'Whose daughter are you?' And she said, 'The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore to him'; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.... The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. (Genesis 24:47, 53 NASB)

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.

    Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. (Genesis 41:41-42 NASB)

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

    Then all his brothers and all his sisters and all who had known him before came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him. And each one gave him one piece of money, and each a ring of gold.  (Job 42:11 NASB)

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 the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians."  (Exodus 3:22 NASB)

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 Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom. (Daniel 5:29 NASB)

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

    "Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. "I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. "I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. "I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. "Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. "Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:9-14 NASB)

It is commonly believed that Jezebel painted her face because she wanted to seduce Jehu. However, if you read the context she no doubt intended look like a queen in the face of impending death. It also served as a royal burial preparation.

    When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. (2 Kings 9:30 NASB)

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. [09]


Tattooing is a centuries old tradition among many indigenous peoples - even found on mummies from ancient Egypt. Tattoos 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. 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.

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]

In today's world, 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. However, opinions are 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 depraved have tattoos.

But are tattoos wrong?

Tattooing is forbidden in Judaism because of the prohibition in the Torah:

    'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28 NASB)

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. 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

    'You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. (Leviticus 19:27 NASB)

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.

    However, even if one were to ignore or fail to understand, that the law was a precursor of things to come - that 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.

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.


In Summary
Outward Holiness Springs From Inner Sanctification
And while I could go on and on, the point is clear that none of these things are sinful in themselves.

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, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (Mark 7:21-23 NASB)

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. However, remember that...

Whatsoever Is Not of Faith Is Sin
Although 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, the principle remains the same - the kingdom of God does not consist in outward things. However, if you yourself believe that it is wrong to drink a beer, wear jewelry, or get a tattoo, you might not want to do so because it is entirely possible that, for you, it will count as sin.

I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  (Romans 14:14 NASB)

Faith consists of more important matters than these 'secondary issues', and we should not judge each other on these matters. [V. 17-18]. However, Paul 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 turn away from Christ. So, from that perspective, ask yourelf whether your Christian liberty is giving someone else the wrong impression or causing them to stumble in any way. For example, 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 profitable (expedient KJV). All things are lawful, but not all things edify. (1 Corinthians 10:23 NASB)

The KJV uses the word 'expedient' which 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 possible that the non believer or 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 savory... 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 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:1-8 NASB)

    Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

What is sure to help when dealing with issues that we are not certain about is to ask ourselves some questions

    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)

Continue On To Chapter III A - Tâmîym - the other Hebrew word intrinsically linked with the concept of holiness. Here


Index To Holiness and Overcoming Sin