When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. (Luke 19:29-30 NASB)
I suppose I could subtitle this “The Three Conditions of Holiness”, but I resisted. It’s just that as I read and thought, something from the wording struck me as interesting. The meaning of holiness is pretty much assumed in Scripture which makes it a problem for us today. We have to surmise what they meant then by the term. It’s not impossible, but it does do some really interesting things with the idea.
Holiness has come to mean something today which is often very different than what it meant to those in the First Century and before. This can be seen when it’s pointed out that the word is actually Greek and was therefore used to refer to pagan worship and work as well. Suddenly the meaning for many is destroyed since they tie it so closely to Jesus, Father, and Spirit.
I’ve covered that before…probably several times, and used the tag to make them easy to find. What I’d like to point out here is the “holiness state” of the donkey/colt. I believe it demonstrates the various (I think 3) states of holiness in which things can exist.
The first state is neither common nor holy, so I called it “purposeless”, but that’s a really bad label. It’s the state of something which has been “made” but not used. It may have an intent of its maker/Maker, but that intent hasn’t been made actual yet. Perhaps this is where some get the concept of “age of accountability” or something. I’m not sure. But in this state something isn’t profane or common, and therefore is not “unholy”. On the other hand it isn’t holy either, so it isn’t automatically restricted from common use.
The colt was in this state. Jesus instructed His disciples to go put it into use on His behalf, therefore making it holy. It’s at this point I realized that there is some sort of qualitative difference between “sanctified” and holy without sanctification. What I mean is that the quality of something (or someone) who goes from “purposeless” to holy is a better quality of holiness than something which needs sanctification (common to holy). So Jesus seeks a colt which will go from “purposeless” to holy, not a donkey which will need sanctification.
Things can go from holy to profane, or profane to holy, but never back to “purposeless”. The only way to truly prevent conversion from holy to profane is destruction of the item/person. This idea lies behind the breaking of a glass so that it will never be used for a “lower” purpose than holding drink for the last person who used it (i.e.at some weddings, ancient nobility, etc.). Yet profane/common things can be sanctified into a holy state. And holy things used for common purposes become common/profane.
Examples of people who have gone straight into a holy state might be John the Baptist and Samuel. There may have been others, but those examples stick out in my mind. The qualitative difference between these and others who weren’t so sanctified from birth is interesting. Yet keep in mind that two characters from the entire gallery of faithful people means that this quality in people isn’t the critical quality. Look at Sampson. In and then out of holiness, and then back in just in time to die. Yet he was set aside for holiness at birth.
My point is that holiness is something which can be transitive, but also has degrees of quality. So it is in my life. I’m supposed to sanctify by my presence, like Jesus did with His. I have His Spirit within, so where I go and whatever I do is supposed to be made holy simply by my going and doing. This means travel, work, even recreation; all is supposed to be sanctified by my participation. But I don’t necessarily see it that way. I see these things as mine and therefore common. Yet my Master sees them as holy, and urges me to see them that way as well.
It’s a lesson I learn, forget, relearn, forget, relearn, ignore, and so on. I cycle through it because it’s hard to sustain. Part of it is my ability/heart, and part of it is my Master in me working to sanctify me. My intent though often derails His work in me. He patiently waits for me to get back at it. The process and final end is more important than the immediate issues I face. I forget that too. Trudge. It’s the verb of recovering sobriety. Often sanctification is exactly that, trudging along.
That’s my view through the fence. What do you see through your knothole?