use his church to spur his people on and
be the context in which iron sharpens iron
When affliction falls on a community of believers,
are knit together more tightly.
To Relinquish the Temporal for the Eternal
God also uses suffering to wean us from a love of this world and redirect our thoughts and affections toward that which is eternal: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor. Then, he said, you will have treasure in heaven. The young man went away sorrowful. Sometimes, God will simply remove those treasures for our greater good; it’s better to lose an eye than for your whole body to land in hell (Matt. 5:29).
As Christians, the afflictions we experience in this life should point us to the reality that we’re “sojourners and exiles” (1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13) here on earth, journeying toward the ultimate city. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). This world is not our home, and the afflictions we experience along the way serve as arrows directing us to release what’s fading and grasp what’s unending.
Paul declares that God “comforts us in all our afflictions,” adding: “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:3–5). As the Lord of true comfort, we are to see our pain as “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
To Produce a Hypocrisy-Free Faith
God also uses suffering is to refine us, as fire refines gold by burning away the impurities (Jer. 9:7; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:3). Suffering will often distinguish the true believer from the hypocrite by the response of each.
In our suffering, we are given the opportunity to discover the sincerity of our love, hope, and faith in God.
Are there areas of dishonesty or insincerity in your heart? A plunge into a season of affliction can reveal these. When suffering falls on a church—whether through illness or persecution—“Christ’s summer friends” flee, as the Puritan John Flavel put it. Affliction causes the believer to cling to God and the unbeliever to forsake him. In this way, it comes as a sort of revealing test to separate sheep from goats and refine his precious people through fire.
To Bear Witness to the World
Under the rod of affliction we’re given unique opportunity to bear witness to the gospel’s power in our lives—which effectively calls others to repent and believe. The believer’s own endurance under trial serves as a shining public witness to the truth of God’s Word.
I’ve known believers who have suffered so well that onlookers have asked about the unshakable hope and peace the sufferer enjoys. God uses the suffering of his people to display his grace in securing their salvation. Our frequent trials prove our hope and faith is not in vain, and serve as a platform to showcase gospel hope.
Our Father in heaven ordains suffering for us because he loves us (Heb. 12:6). He is weaning us from a love of this world, transforming us by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2), and will complete the good work he began in us (Phil. 1:6). May we rest in the surety of his covenant promise that, even amid suffering and trial, he will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
What is the Meaning of “Holy“? The meaning of “holy” is often defined by the culture around us. But the ancient Biblical culture gives us a very specific perspective on this unique word. A religious or morally good; exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.”
For this reason, when we read about people like holy priests, who ministered to God in the Tabernacle, we often cannot relate to them. That is because we feel like we aren’t good enough to fit into that category.
Then we read in the Scriptures that there were a lot
holy objects in the Temple.
Does that mean that these objects
are “morally good” or “perfect in righteousness?”
There is something that we are missing in both of these understandings.
The Hebrew Words for Holiness
Hebrew is a unique language when it comes to word studies.
Every word carries the meaning of the root word that it derived from originally. In this way, the Hebrew word for “holy”, kodesh, comes from the root word “Kadash”.
In simpler terms,
it means to be set apart for
(Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, vituralbookword.com publishing, Jeff Benner).
There are times when aspects of
moral righteousness or Godly devotion are connected to “holy” people.
Nevertheless, on its own, the term holiness does
not refer to piety or perfection.
When the Bible calls something holy,
it is not speaking of purity or righteousness.
Rather, it is something “set apart” from everything else
in order to do a job.
By this definition, our homes contain a few holy objects. If you own a coffee pot that is only used for coffee – and not tea or fruit punch – by definition, you have a “holy coffee pot.”
Your toothbrush is only used for your teeth and (hopefully) not for anyone else’s mouth, especially not for cleaning any other item. So, by definition, you have a “holy toothbrush.”
There is nothing divine about these household items, but they are set apart for a unique purpose.
What does the Bible Say about the meaning of Holy?With this new understanding, consider these well known scriptures:
Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9 both refer to Israel as “a holy nation.”
A quick glance at Israel in the Bible and today could leave you baffled.
There are many faults in this nation that does
not live up to what God intended.
When the Scriptures call Israel a holy nation, it isn’t suggesting that Israel is perfect or sinless.
But it points to the fact that
is for a specific purpose
in the earth.
In Leviticus 11:44 and 1 Peter 1:16 we read “Be holy as I am holy.”
Many have understood this to mean that we are
required to be perfect like God.
If we could be perfect on our own or simply encouraged to do so,
we wouldn’t have a need for the sacrifice of Jesus.
But we know that’s not true.
We simply cannot do it. In these verses,
God is not putting something on us that we cannot carry out.
We are not required to be perfectly sinless on our own.
He is saying he wants us to choose to be uniquely different from our surroundings and focused in the way He is. The meaning of holy in this case points to the fact that we are not of this world.
A Holy Proclamation
Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 say that the angels cry before God: “Holy holy holy is the Lord of Hosts” day and night.
With our western understanding, we might wonder why they would say the same thing over and over. Do they not get bored?
Yet before the Lord’s throne, nothing could be more compelling. The angels are proclaiming the holiness or the uniqueness of God, because
He is so different from all Creation.
In essence they are saying:
“You are so set apart from anything and everything in every situation!
There is no one that loves the way you do!
No one has the perspective that you do!
No one in all the earth is as kind and merciful as You!
Your justice is like no other justice in the universe!
You are so uniquely different than anything else you have created!”
We could go on and on, proclaiming how set apart and focused
He is on a
And that is exactly what the angels do!
Holiness is not about being absolutely perfect, but instead, it is about being separated from what is sinful. We cannot make ourselves perfect and blameless, but we can choose to be set apart for God.
Thus, we can choose to be holy.
Jesus had a lot to say about sanctification in John 17.
In verse 16 the Lord says,
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it,”
and this is before His request:
“Sanctify them by the truth;
your word is truth”
In Christian theology,
sanctification is a state of separation unto God;
all believers enter into this state when they are born of God:
"You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption”
(1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV).
mentioned in this verse is a once-for-ever separation of believers unto God. It is a work God performs, an integral part of our salvation and our connection with Christ (Hebrews 10:10). Theologians sometimes refer to this state of holiness before God as “positional” sanctification; it is the same as justification.
While we are positionally holy
(“set free from every sin” by the blood of Christ, Acts 13:39),
we know that we still sin (1 John 1:10). That’s why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. “Progressive” or “experiential” sanctification, as it is sometimes called, is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. It is the same as growing in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18) or spiritual maturity.
God started the work of making us like Christ,
and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6).
This type of sanctification is to be pursued by the believer earnestly
(1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14)
and is effected by the application of the Word
(John 17:17). Progressive sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:18–19). That Jesus set Himself apart for God’s purpose is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart (see John 10:36). We are sanctified and sent because Jesus was.
Our Lord’s sanctification is the pattern of and power for our own. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account we are called “saints” (hagioi in the Greek), or “sanctified ones.” Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, every day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV) are becoming more like Christ.