26 March 2008

What YHWH meant when He said ...

by Frank Turk

We're going to delve into the Message today, partly because I love to see people lose it when I cite the Message, and partly because there's a passage in the OT which I wanted to chat about briefly:
That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron's sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered "strange" fire to God—something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them—they died in God's presence.

Moses said to Aaron, "This is what God meant when he said,

To the one who comes near me,
I will show myself holy;
Before all the people,
I will show my glory."

Aaron was silent.

Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Uzziel, Aaron's uncle. He said, "Come. Carry your dead cousins outside the camp, away from the Sanctuary." They came and carried them off, outside the camp, just as Moses had directed.

Moses then said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, "No mourning rituals for you—unkempt hair, torn clothes—or you'll also die and God will be angry with the whole congregation. Your relatives—all the People of Israel, in fact—will do the mourning over those God has destroyed by fire. And don't leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting lest you die, because God's anointing oil is on you."

They did just as Moses said.
Now, the especially-sharp among you will notice right away that this is a passage from Leviticus 10, and it's about the altar-worship, the priestly worship of Israel -- and Aaron's sons, who were priests, presented worship which God "had not commanded". And you sharp ones will say, "yes, but Frank: Christians don't do 'altar worship' anymore. We live under Grace and not the Law, so this passage may have some value as an artifact of a past time, but it's hardly good for my best life now...the way I do church...a new kind of Christian a relevant guy like me."

Well, that person would be right to notice we don't carry a tabernacle around with us anymore, and that the blood of bulls and goats isn't what we turn to as a people when we find ourselves wanting to approach the living God.

But let me suggest something: what Moses tells Aaron here speaks to us clearly across the ages since which he said them.

This is what God meant when He said, "To the one who comes near me, I will show myself holy; Before all the people, I will show my glory."

That's Moses' explanation to Aaron why his sons, who were anointed as priests, were struck dead by God while they were allegedly worshipping: God shows Himself holy to those who approach Him.

Now today, this week after Easter, He is risen indeed -- and our sins no longer require a sacrifice because the work of that law is finished: paid in full. But let's think about whether or not God has changed -- and what God meant when He said "I will show myself holy".

What should a people like us do when we approach a God like that? I think that it has congregational implications, it has pastoral implications, and it has personal implications.

As Dan would say, discuss.


Jonathan Moorhead said...

Frank, I was just reading through Exodus and was struck at the commands for the priests that came with the warning, "that he may not die" (28:35, 43; 30:20, 21, etc.). God is very specific with His commands, and so warns those leaders who stray with death.

Can you imagine such a scenario in the church today? "Pastor, do ABC or you will die. Do DEF or you will die. Do GHI or you will die." What if that was a very real threat? Maybe the pastorate would be taken seriously . . . maybe.

James Scott Bell said...

I do think God's holiness is his central attribute, of which all others are inextricably a part. The Bible does not say God is "love, love, love." It does say, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty."

Unless and until we understand, accept and bow to that truth, our church life and personal life in Christ will certainly NOT be "our best life now."

Rick Frueh said...

A good point. It is my personal opinion that upon the first glimpse of the Risen Christ and the Triune God in God's dwellingplace, we will immediately realize how colloquial we have treated our Lord when in fact He should have been approached with much deeper sense of holy awe and reverence.

So actually instead of pursuing Him to greater heights that bring us into His presence, we have captured Him in a caricature and attempted to bring Him into our manufactured worship. If we don't like it, it must not be Him.

Have you ever heard a person respond to this question "How was the worship service today?" and the person says "Actually it was frightening, God's presence was manifested!". That response just may indicate a greater authenticity of a spiritual experience.

olan strickland said...

Great reminder that we are not approaching "the man upstairs" but the King of glory! This does indeed have implications congregations, pastors, and individuals. I often wonder if what is offered to God as worship in many churches would be offered in the same manner and with the same disrespect if they were having "an honor banquet for an important official."

Grace and peace,

Solameanie said...

Frank: partly because I love to see people lose it when I cite the Message . . .

So, in other words, our beloved Centurion loves to stir pots and whack hornets' nests with scantlings? That's why we love him so much. :)

Thought-provoking post.

Anonymous said...

Hebrews 10:12-22
"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,"
17 then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

1) Personal Implications: We can draw near to God with confidence because we have a great high priest who has changed everything with a single offering. All those who attempt to approach God apart from this offering, will experience the same fate as Aaron's Sons.

2) Congregational Implications: One phrase - regenerate church membership. God is Holy and His Church should reflect His holiness.

Then one must ask - if we have the right to approach such a magnificent God, why do most people only bother to worship corporately when its convenient?

3) Pastoral Implications: Preach the gospel of the glory of Christ, not a cheap, easy believism version of the gospel, which is "strange fire." Or a different gospel, such as liberation theology (see my post at www.doctrinicity.blogspot.com), etc.

Give the church a vision of God that is bigger than a Disney animated genie in a bottle, who exist to give me my "Best Life Now."

FX Turk said...

Tad Thompson? The arkansas pastor?

He reads this blog?

The rest of you should be so lucky as to have a pastor like that.

Dave T. said...

Second time reader, but first time commenter. Great post. I especially appreciate the reference to the LORD's true name--YHWH. Regarding the strange fire, I believe it refers to some form of intoxication by the priests. Also, I truly believe that YHWH is holy, holy, holy, but I would have a hard time supporting your conclusions in light of Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." The priests of the former covenant drew near with fear, but we may draw near in confidence. Our confidence is the risen Lord. I do not disagree that the body of Christ should carefully examine our worship. I'm just not sure that we live under the same threat of death any longer. dt

FX Turk said...


Even a paraphrase has its uses. People who miss that (if I can say this without stirring up DJP's post from yesterday) are legalists.

And I'm pleased to take a swing at that hornet's nest.

FX Turk said...

Hm ... do we live under the threat of death if we worship improperly ... ? ... Hmmm ...

... hmmmm ...

Anonymous said...

Ecclesiastes 5:1
"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.
2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Acts 5:1
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,
2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

I would say that we should still guard our steps...

Anonymous said...

Ultimately we (all people) live under the threat of eternal death if we worship improperly, do we not?

God uses warnings like that as one of the means by which he keeps his elect faithful, No?

Otherwise why the warning, (and further to that, whither the preservation of the saints?)

Michelle said...

All praise to God that we can now enter into the holy place with confidence by the blood of Jesus. When YHWH looks at us, it is the righteousness of Christ we wear that He sees. This is grace vs legalism.

BUT, let us approach very, very carefully, with a true heart and a clean conscience (Heb 10:22), not walking in unconfessed, deliberate sin. Otherwise, we tramp that precious, priceless grace underfoot.

Rick Frueh said...

" do we live under the threat of death if we worship improperly"

Improper worship is not actual worship, and I have personally tested that theory several times and I still live. All the idol worshipers are only outwardly replicating a design which is hollow and useless, but they still live as well.

Although fear and reverence must be core ingredients, so must love and intimacy. And an over focus on structure leads to pride and lack of intimacy. There is no algebaic equation for worship but a humble and regenerate heart is the foundation.

If there is no substative private worship in a believer's life then his corporate worship is compromised, driven by music, atmosphere, the strength of the worship leader, familiarity of the song, service structure, sound system, peer pressure, and a host of other less than spiritual particulars both overt and subliminal.

The word for worship in the Greek indicates a "kissing of the hand" or a humble and sacred reverence. I contend that all true worship must be without the works of man and in complete and undistracted attention to the Almighty. A believer can praise the Lord while doing dishes, but worship cannot have any competitors, our hands and minds must be free from earthly duties. So when Rick Warren contends that we can worship the Lord while taking out the garbage he is wrong.

We can praise Him and we can honor and obey Him while taking out the garbage, but worship must be exclusive and should not be a "kill two birds with one stone" experience. It requires sanctification, separation, meditation, humiliation, and an unsual sense of brokenness before our Wonderful God.

In the western world it is sometimes very difficult to clear one's mind for worship, and it is impossible to add worship as a nice fit within a well rounded American lifestyle and Biblically offer that as true worship.

FX Turk said...

Hmm ... "deliberate sin" ...

... hmmm ...

The Interface said...

Well said. Part of the timeless relevance of Scripture is the concept that, rather than specific rules and regulations that can easily be outdated and therefore irrelevant, there are general and specific *principles* to be applied to a wide range of situations, allowing us to walk in God's ways with boundaries. 2 Timothy 2:5 still applies for the NT Christian: "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."

Anonymous said...

So Rick,

When you say that "all true worship must be without the works of man" are you saying that true worship can only consist of complete and total silence?

Is that Scriptural?

We can't do anything without the works of man, being as we are men and all.

So does that mean true worship is impossible?

How does this relate to Romans 12:1?
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship"

What does it mean to "fear God"?

Isn't eternal death more severe than death death? (You know what I mean)

So many questions...

Rick Frueh said...

daryl - surely I do not mean silence, but all the singing/instruments/etc. must be solely for worship without any earthly task benefits.

None of the words translated "worship" in the KJV are the word service in Romans 12:1. Presenting your body in worship is essential in worship, but my point is that we cannot mow the lawn and worship God - it would be duplicitous and double minded.

Michelle said...

... deliberate sin ...

Ananias approached with his contrived (deliberate) sin and risked, and received, the discipline of YHWH. We risk the discipline of YHWH, whatever He deems that to be, every time we approach Him with contrived/deliberate sin in our hearts. Don't we?

Al said...


One thing I would say differently that makes your argument a bit stronger…

We no longer offer a substitution sacrifice before God, Jesus having sat down at the right hand of God, but we do bring him sacrifices of praise, good works and love. While those sacrifices are acceptable only in Christ they are still really offered by us and really accepted by God in worship.

The writer of Hebrews goes page after page of how the sacrifice for sin and the need for an additional priest have ended with Christ’s death and resurrection. Amen and Amen. But, he comes to the end of his letter and writes:

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

I think those sacrifices are to be done with the same view toward God that the stinkers in Leviticus lacked.

al sends

Anonymous said...

I Cor. 10:30 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Rick - in light of this passage, can mowing be worship...can it be done for his glory if I am diligently serving my family, neighbors and caring for what God has provided by keeping my lawn looking nice?

You have seemingly defined worship way to narrowly.

Deliberate sin: I would add unintentional sin to the list. Sin is objective, not subjective based upon intent.

Anonymous said...


I think that's doing too much dividing up of praise/worship/adoration and whatever else you want to add.

Given our people-ness and the way we think/operate, by your definition I think I could argue that no one has ever worshipped, ever.

But, on the other hand, I can agree to disagree too.

I'm thinking about Frank's conversation directing comment "hmmm...deliberate sin...hmmm"

Consider the prohibition against gnat/human contact in the OT. Consider that some gnats are invisible to the naked eye. Consider how not clean a 2 million person camp in the desert would be. Consider whether or not anyone in that camp was ever really ceremonially clean when they worshipped (priests included).

All this consideration leads me to believe that while on some level non-deliberate sin is equally damning as deliberate sin, clearly on another level there is a distinct difference between the two. (Or maybe it's just that God, in his forbearance, has deigned to overlook much of our non-deliberate sin for now, in order to not completely paralyze us).

So...there must be a difference between unintentionally worshipping in an improper way, and intentionally worshipping in an improper way. (I'm not talking about accidentally worshipping a false god, I'm talking about worshipping in an improper way, in good faith).

When God requires qorship he seems to accept worship that is intended to be done properly, even if it isn't quite.

I agree that these thoughts can be problematic, but that's why I started with the whole gnat thing, I think that's important somehow.
In all his glory, God always condescends to some (great) extent to our falleness.

Rick Frueh said...

daryl - Grace covers the entire thing and no one has in and of themselves offered completely pure worship outside the grace of God. My point is that a church cannot call for a cleaning of the sanctuary and "Oh by the way" while we are vacuuming and picking up trash we will simultaneously hold a "worship servive"

That is my point, God will not receive multi-task worship.

Anonymous said...

Will he recieve worship from the unclean?

Rick Frueh said...

If by the "unclean" you mean the unsaved the answer is no. If by the "unclean" you mean the backslider the answer is no. If by the "unclean" you mean the imperfect but regenerate sinner who has a desire to serve Christ then the answer is yes because that is all of us.


Anonymous said...

Then I would suggest that, by the same token, he will accept worship from the distracted because that, too, is all of us.


Rick Frueh said...

Daryl - I agree if that distraction is not planned and accepted and taught as a pluralistic part of Biblical worship. The bar cannot be lowered even if we need God's grace to clear it.

Anonymous said...

I'll give you that...(I think :) )

Stefan Ewing said...

Argh! Two long, thought-provoking posts and comment threads in two days that I don't have time to read all the way through. Argh!

Only two things to say:

1. We stand as sinners before a holy God, washed in the blood of the Lamb though we may be. We are saved by grace and not under the Law and have assurance of salvation, but is it possible to squander God's grace?

2. In one sense, the New Testament doesn't let us off the hook. Yeah, we no longer have to shun wearing mixed fabric blends, but Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude in their epistles—every one of them without exception—at one point or another exhorts their readers (and by extension us) to holy living, while at the same time adamantly upholding that we are saved solely by the grace of God. I'm still trying to square that circle, and all I can do is confess to God that I can't do it on my own, and seek the help of the Holy Spirit.

Oh, a third thing:

3. It's a fine thing to write what I wrote, but living up to it is another matter. I pray for God to have mercy on a wretched soul like I.

FX Turk said...

So: Deliberate sin.

I'm wondering what that means.

Does it mean someone goes out and does something with the intention of it being an affront to God? You know: Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise -- she wasn't trying to "deliberately sin".

She just thought she knew better than what she was told.

You know: what God meant when He said ...

olan strickland said...

1 Corinthians 11:27-32

27. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
28. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
30. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
31. But if we judge ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.
32. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

Grace and peace,

Strong Tower said...

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Just how does one do this? Seeing that all our works are but filthy rags. How does one present himself a living sacrifice which is holy and acceptable to God? Can we cleanse ourselves and present a spotless sacrifice. Or, does this mean that we present ourselves to the mercies of God in the light of the fact that we are unholy, and that by that our sacrifice is acceptable knowing that the sacrifice has been made on our behalf? Isn't it the way of the world to perform religious service to be acceptable to God, or the gods, or to distain, or not care?

Then we put to death the works of the flesh by the Spirit of Christ. We cannot make ourselves clean and the only presentation that we can make to God is as a tree with putrescent fruit.

"If, when we examine the fruit is stinks a little or is molded, then I think we better be looking back at our connection to the vine. He doesn't produce sin and disobedience in us."

There is no doubt that he only produces good fruit. But, I don't. My fruit is moldy and stinks. With that I boldy approach the throne room of grace. It is not grace that I bring to the alter, but it is at the alter that I am met with grace.

If I enter flippantly, God is Holy, God is angry.

If I enter believing I have done something to make myself acceptable, God is Holy, God is angry.

If I hide my sin, God is Holy, God is angry.

The only way then is to enter as David did: "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

And low and behold what does he find?

What is there that God does not know about you. Intentionality or no. In entering in Isaiah was in the Lord's house worshipping. What then should we say. We offer ourselves as David did to be examined. Let no one say then I am a man of clean lips when he comes to worship the Lord. We subject ourselves to the fire of the Lord that our flesh is killed and carried out to be buried without the camp. For grace is found by those who humble themselves in his presence. Grace is found in the throne room of grace where fire consumes the flesh. We do not bring grace with us, we do not bring holiness, we bring ourselves, a living sacrifice in all its imperfections, a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God, our reasoned spiritual worship.

Rick Frueh said...

Frank - deliberate sin is what you commit, what I commit are well intentioned mistakes.

DJP said...

The rest of you should be so lucky as to have a pastor like that.


FX Turk said...

spokesman: excellent.

r(h)Frueh: exactly. My point exactly.

DJP: wait 'til you meet him at T4G. You'll be completely disappointed.

Michelle said...

What is deliberate sin?

I think it is knowing something is an affront to my holy God (because my finely-tuned "sin-o-meter" - my conscience - and the indwelling Holy Spirit remind me what His Word says), but going ahead and doing it anyway.

At that point the red lights of my sin-o-meter flash brightly and rapidly and the siren sounds loudly and I am drawn back to that straight and narrow path in confession and repentance, overwhelmed by His grace in spite of His holiness.

Deliberate sin is not going looking for ways to do those things that are an affront to God. That's just wierd.

Like David, the cry of our heart should be "create in me a clean heart, oh Lord, and renew a right spirit within me."

Jugulum said...


It does seem like there's something to the concept of "deliberate sin". I can see a difference between losing your temper & punching someone in the heat of the moment, and being violent as a way of life.

But saying "my sin wasn't deliberate" can easily be an excuse--an attempt to diminish your culpability. I would prefer to say that every sin is a deliberate choice. (Hmm...Though, are sins of omission "deliberate choice"?)

Perhaps "unpremeditated sin" would be better? "Non-habitual sin"? "Sin that you're not actively struggling against"?

FX Turk said...


is the single straight guy who, um, (trying to navigate the homeschool mom demographic here) "lies with" his live-in girlfriend because God is Love -- that is, who thinks he did nothing wrong -- deliberately sinning?

FX Turk said...


I don't think "sin" needs any quantifying adjectives.

That's what I think.

Daniel said...

The tabernacle ceremonies were intended (as the author of Hebrews makes evident) to picture the finished work of Christ. The design, not only of the tent, altar, and holy places, but also of the ceremonies surrounding them - all point to the coming work of the promised Messiah.

The plan, and everything associated with it was set apart from the ordinary. Not just to make things difficult for the priests and the people - but set apart so that they could accurately reflect what they were intended to picture - the Christ.

Nadab and Abihu weren't especially sinful - nor more than you or I - but their sin coincided with a work that God was doing, and stood to pollute that work - and for this reason God's response was immediate and significant. Had God overlooked their "strange-fire" embellishment who knows what other embellishments would have followed? In short order the tabernacle and the pattern behind it would no longer picture Christ, but turn itself into every other world religion. No, God acted decisively in dealing with the sin. The punishment was no more harsh than any sin deserves. We see the same again with Sapphira and Annanias. The new covenant is being set up, and they sin at the most inappropriate time for those who like breathing. It wasn't that their sin was especially bad - it was just especially bad timing, for it stood to pollute acts of worship.

The lesson that comes through the ages is not - draw near God right or God will strike you dead, it is that there is a way to rightly come to God, and that that way has been zealously preserved by God for a reason: That being, because there is only -one- way to draw near to God.

No loving God could allow the only way to Himself to be polluted and obscured by man's sin. That is why God was so harsh.

If my little child walked into an empty street I would correct him sternly - but if the little one walked out into highway traffic, the rebuke would be severe, quick and decisive. It would reflect my passion for the child and their safety.

Rick Frueh said...

Daniel - good thoughts. I believe God's dealing with Nadab and Abihu and Annanias and Sapphira were surely used to warn us all, however why God chose them specifically further showcases God's complete sovereignty.

Just a poor Arminian view.

Strong Tower said...

"but their sin coincided with a work that God was doing, and stood to pollute that work - and for this reason God's response was immediate and significant."

I have often thought how this is reflected in the sin of Ana and Sap. The newness of the work is often overlooked as well as greatness aspect and how a little pollution could mess greatly with such a great work.

There seems to be deliberateness in both events. But, I have to agree with Cent. God deals with sin as sin, and we do not know precisely how it is he is dealing with it. Our feeble minds want to assign penalty with gravity, but God's perfecting work, I think, transcends that. Then there is this, in our purification, God is not only perfecting his work in us individually, but it has its effect in others. We tend to think as Job, self-centeredly, when the correction is that God is working these things for his Glory, and what is happening to us is for the building up, or tearing down, of others.

Solameanie said...

In the OT, if God struck priests dead if they entered the Holy of Holies improperly, and in the NT, if people died as a result of not dealing with the Lord's Supper properly, why is it a stretch of the imagination that God just might actually whack someone if they cross a certain line?

I think one can assume that as a possibility without morphing into Jack Hyles.

Chris said...

Rick: As one who spent many of my first years as a believer in Calvary Chapel (in and around my high school years), I heard the word "backslider" used quite frequently. As I matured in my understanding of the doctrines of grace and/or more reformed thinking, I couldn't help but reexamine that term again. I mean, who exactly is a "backslider"? What does his or her position actually look like theologically? What line, or sin, did he/she cross that makes them so? OR how much different is the "backslider" from any of us who sin every day? If I made only two backward steps today and the "backslider" made five, am I right to say I'm still with the program but he is out of it? Please don't misunderstand me on this inquiry, as I'm not coming from the perspective of some sort of ec-libber; I couldn't be more opposed to the ec, calling it on every occasion I can nothing more than downright heresy. But, something about the ambiguity within the word backslider really bugs me.

Anonymous said...

Ah Frank, I see your point (I'm really really dense...)

According to Romans 1, all sin is ultimately deliberate.

Question - Were the Annanias and Sapphira thing and the Nadab and Abihu thing discipline or wrath?

That is, heaven or hell for them?

I don't think we can know for sure but rightly or wrongly I think I've always leaned towards hell. I'm not sure how that is significant but I can't help but think that it is.

Jugulum said...


I see your point, but I think of 1 John 3:9. "Habitual sin", at least, seems to be an important biblical distinction.

FX Turk said...

daniel --

He didn't overlook it and Israel still went after Baal and Ashtoreth amd Moloch.


Rick Frueh said...

RPolycarp - Actually a backslider can appear in many different ways. He can appear as a faithful pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a missionary, and as an openly carnal and defiant professing believer. Only God sees with complete knowledge.

However, in finite terms, I view a backslider as one who has left what once was a faithful disipleship and now lives a careless and fleshly lifestyle which seems void of seeking any holy and separated characteristics.

Sometimes these particulars can mean the person was never saved while other times it can mean they are a backslider. It is an Old Testament term that usually appilied to Israel but it fits some New Testament believers as well.

Of course the most obvious backslider is one who is not loyal to the pastor! :)

Michelle said...

Frank, you asked if the single guy who "lies with" his live-in girlfriend, and doesn't know that he is doing anything wrong, is deliberately sinning.

I'll assume he's not attached to the Vine (with stinky fruit like that), but would say that, yes, he is sinning deliberately. Somehow, deep down, he will know that what he is doing is wrong, because God has written His law on the hearts of all men, and even the unregenerate have a God-given conscience. Any sin will lead to conflict and guilt (unless the conscience has been seared to the point of disablement, or you're a psychopath). When we are born again, we are set free from the GUILT of our sin.

The justification of "God is love" is just that - a justification to appease the guilt that is a consequence of all sin. It's a trick we all resort to to circumvent the conscience, but it usually rings hollow.

With someone who is not covered with the righteousness of Christ, is doesn't really matter whether their sin is deliberate or not, they stand condemned regardless.

Daniel said...

Frank said, "He didn't overlook it and Israel still went after Baal and Ashtoreth amd Moloch."

...in response to Daniel's comment: Had God overlooked their "strange-fire" embellishment who knows what other embellishments would have followed?

I agree Frank, the severity of God's response did -nothing- to prevent Israel's eventual spiritual decay, but I don't think God's reaction to Nadab and Abihu was intended to dissuade latter day Israelites from their spiritual promiscuity - rather God's reaction to N. & A. had a more narrow focus: that being to keep what the temple was portraying consistent, pure, or if you will - "holy".

Anonymous said...

Was he trying to keep the tabernacle holy or just flat out punishing them for abusing the holy place of worship?
Does God punish evil folk in order to prevent evil, or just to punish evil folk?

donsands said...

"DJP: wait 'til you meet him at T4G. You'll be completely disappointed."

You guys are going to T4G? That's gonna be heart changing and mind renewing.
My Pastor and his elders are going. Wish I could go.

"What should a people like us do when we approach a God like that?"

Have a healthy fear and love for Him. And also for His Word, the Scriptures, which He magnifies above His Name; YHWH.

And what about Uzzah? He was doing a good thing, and God killed him.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"And what about Uzzah? He was doing a good thing, and God killed him."

That story always scares the heck out of me. I always thought that I would have done the same thing as Uzzah if I was in his place.

Without more information and context, my takeaway lesson from that story was:

(1) I don't want to get anywhere near the Ark.

(2) If I did, and it happened to start falling off.... I'd let it drop!!

Daniel said...

Daryl asked, "Was he trying to keep the tabernacle holy or just flat out punishing them for abusing the holy place of worship?
Does God punish evil folk in order to prevent evil, or just to punish evil folk?

I don't think God chastises people to prevent or punish evil, since the punishment for sin is condemnation and wrath, and not merely physical death, and if God were preventing evil by raining down fire from above on those who would bring it into the world - well, we should expect to see divine fire raining down constantly.

Since God gave very specific instructions to Moses on Sinai about how to cleanse the tabernacle etc., I don't think God was reacting to the defilement of the tabernacle - though God would certainly be justified for doing so.

Likewise, I don't imagine that God was simply trying to keep the tabernacle holy, but, as I have said in previous comments, rather I think that God was trying to keep the pattern (that He gave to Moses on mount Sinai) holy -- or said another way, God was preserving the "shadow" of Christ from perversion.

Daniel said...

Donsands and TUaD - In Numbers 4:15 we read:

"And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry." [ESV]

It's a pretty hefty verse but it makes explicit both the infraction and its punishment - anyone who touches the ark dies. Period. Even the Kohathites who were allowed to carry the holy articles were not allowed to actually touch them - for both the ark of the covenant and the altar of incense had loops built into them so that they could be carried by poles - and -that-, only by the children of Kohath (a specific descendant of Levi).

To put the ark on a cart was irreverent enough - I mean, seriously, that was not how God commanded the ark to be moved - but to actually reach out and touch it when God Himself warned that to do so was death - to treat the ark as though it were some mundane piece of furniture that any old person could manhandle - had God -not- put Uzzah to death God would have been painting Himself (at the very least) as having made idle threats, if not an outright liar.

God wasn't being mean in meting out the clearly stated penalty for touching the ark - He was being just.

donsands said...

" to treat the ark as though it were some mundane piece of furniture that any old person could manhandle"

Thanks Daniel. Spot on, I agree.

What if Uzzah's heart was thinking, "I can keep God's holy ark from falling", wouldn't God consider this, though also have to kill Uzzah, of course?

Daniel said...

I think that Uzzah was a saint, and though he made a serious blunder, his physical death was precious in the sight of God, certainly as precious as any other forgiven sinner's death. Even if Uzzah's heart was full of good intention - scripture teaches that God is not worshiped by our good intentions, that is, we are not free to follow our heart and do whatever seems right in our own eyes.

That is the way men tend to think, but it isn't the way God thinks. He will be worshiped according to His dictates, and not ours.

God's commands were designed to keep from happening exactly what happened. Those poles were pretty long - if a Levite stumbled the ark went down, but no one was in danger of touching it. It was the setting aside of these same laws that put Uzzah in danger in the first place.

We must be mindful that our sense of what is good must not be dictated to us by how we would personally protect a fine piece of furniture, but rather by what God allows and condemns.

Our relative morality tells us that stabilizing a tilting ark is by no means condemnable - that God shouldn't ought to have killed Uzzah - even David was stunned by God's reaction. But when we realize that we are rationalizing from our own fallen sense of what is moral instead of from God's sense of what is moral - we soon see that Uzzah was in the wrong, regardless of his motives, because they were founded upon a warped sense of what is right.

Ben said...

I may be missing something, but at some point, the whole discussion about deliberate/non-deliberate sin misses the point that I sinned in Adam, that Adam as my federal head and legal representative incurred my guilt before God as a descendant and heir of Adam, long before I was born.

I don't sin because I'm a slightly misdirected do-gooder who sometimes intentionally sins, but gosh darnit, sometimes I just didn't mean too. No, I sin (pre-new birth in Christ), because my heart is thorougly depraved and corrupt, and like a fish that knows nothing but water, I know nothing but sin (apart from Christ).

There's a great possibility I've completely missed the point of the deliberate/non-deliberate discussion - if so, rebuke me thoroughly, and whack me on the head with a nerf-bat.

Strong Tower said...

Daniel, ever wonder how many craftsmen died building the Ark?
You know, at what point did it become Holy? When the Holy articles were placed inside, or when the lid was sealed?

What if Uzzah's error was instinctual reflex? Wouldn't take much thought.

I am with you, that the example was already in error, which begs the question, why the priesthood was not punished. Was Uzzah like David's son who died in David's stead? Was God's Anger that broke forth directed at the priesthood, and he stood in their stead?

As you mentioned they had already violated the means of transportation. And David was not angry at God, but sought God's law as to the means to move the Ark, did he not? Afterwards it was moved safely and rightly after the concecration of the priests (perhaps better the education of the priests).

Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”

It does not pay to be flippantly careless with the means of worship given. With any gift given to use which we bring to the house of the Lord as an offering, it is His, and we should seek him as how to offer it.

Uzzah did something else. The Ark represented the Promise. It is a type of Christ, representing the finished work of God on man's behalf. Let no one touch it, it cannot fail, nor fall to the ground. If the words of Samuel did not, how much less the Word of God. The finished work of God, is both our justification and sanctification. Let us understand then that we must take care to handle it properly so that no man may touch it an take credit for it not failing.

Michelle said...


You're right - we are born sinners, depraved and corrupt in Adam. Even as believers, we sin all the time in our attitudes and motives and would fall away every ten minutes if it was up to us.

When I referred to deliberate sin, I was talking specifically about a believer who knows that to follow through on an action would be an affront to a holy God, yet they ignore their conscience and the prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit and do it anyway. For example, a believer who ignored their conscience and looked at pornography on the internet on Saturday night, then comes to church on Sunday morning to worship the Lord with a conscience and heart that are unclean due to their deliberate, unconfessed sin.

My original point is that we can approach the holy place with confidence because of the shed blood of Christ, but we need to come carefully, with a clean heart and a clean conscience, lest we trample His grace underfoot and risk His discipline.

Pastor Michael said...

Thanks for the sobering post. I’m one of those in the “all of life should be worship” camp, and so the questions of propriety you raise are all the more consequential.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

Perhaps when we sin now we don’t immediately die physically, but is not each sin a little death to the person we might have been? Or degradation to the glory God might have gotten?

I’m majorly convicted here.

Daniel said...

Strong Tower asked, Daniel, ever wonder how many craftsmen died building the Ark?
You know, at what point did it become Holy? When the Holy articles were placed inside, or when the lid was sealed?

I expect that it became "holy" in the moment it was consecrated when the blood of the covenant was sprinkled on it covenant.

I expect therefore that no craftsmen died making the ark for until it was thus consecrated, it was little more than a fancy gold box.

If Uzzah's error was reflex (and for one expect that it was), does that excuse him? I don't think so. If a man swung an axe so that the head came off and killed another - even though it was an accident, the kin of the slayed man had the -right- to shed the blood of the unintentional murderer. That is, the fellow who accidently slew the other was under a death sentence that could be carried out if he was found by any relative of the slain man.

So even if it was unintentional - it would not save the fellow from the consequences.

I know that some will think of that as entirely "unfair" - but that would be reasoning from a humanistic perspective.

Least that's how I see it. I am open to instruction.

Michelle said...

Perhaps "willful disobedience" would have been a less cloudy term to use than "deliberate sin".

Strong Tower said...

pastor michael- "Perhaps when we sin now we don’t immediately die physically, but is not each sin a little death to the person we might have been? Or degradation to the glory God might have gotten?"

We all do die, and it is not without justice that we do. It is not without mystery either. Paul's admonishment to contentment is always frustrating, but then again, when learning to keep the Sabboth Rest of God, trusting in and leaning on his providential sovereignty, the flesh still wants what it cannot have. So, the, "By the grace of God I am what I am." It is frustrating to want what we cannot reach, and even more so that we struggle to be content with the gift he has given.

Daniel- I don't think any died either. The sealing and consecration set the Ark apart-

It is not unfair- the created order is under the curse, and beyond that it is God's to do as he wills. I am one that believes that our responsibility does not derive from us, but it is the way that we were created. All our actions carry with them the effects on us and those around us. Centurion mentioned Eve's sin. And, it did not matter whether or not it was intentional, and it is hard to see how deception can be intentional, yet, she was held responsible even though. Christ takes the responsibility upon himself, as sinless, even though.

I do not know if Uzzah is a type of Christ, could be. But, anyway, his responsibility is fully displayed no matter the motivation. His death was faulted to others who God did not kill. Then, because of the sin, a man's house is blessed? What's that?

Solameanie said...


Good responses.

ezekiel said...

"To put the ark on a cart was irreverent enough - I mean, seriously, that was not how God commanded the ark to be moved - but to actually reach out and touch it when God Himself warned that to do so was death - to treat the ark as though it were some mundane piece of furniture that any old person could manhandle - had God -not- put Uzzah to death God would have been painting Himself (at the very least) as having made idle threats, if not an outright liar.

God wasn't being mean in meting out the clearly stated penalty for touching the ark - He was being just."

Anybody else ever wonder what happened to the guys that loaded the Ark on the cart to begin with?

ezekiel said...


" I do not disagree that the body of Christ should carefully examine our worship. I'm just not sure that we live under the same threat of death any longer. dt"

You may want to spend a little time in Rev 2 and 3. Removing lampstands and warring against the church with the sword of His mouth seems decidedly deadly to me.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Yo Daniel! Thanks for the comments! I never knew the insights that you shared! Thanks a bunch... that story was one of the things that kept lingering around and bothering my soul.

Ezekiel, maybe they lifted the ark unto the cart without using their hands.

P.S. Now that we're on this subject, I kinda wanna re-watch Raiders of the Lost Ark again.

Daniel said...


The poles by which they carried the ark were covered in gold (c.f. Ex 25:13) - and remained inserted through the rings even when the ark was in the tabernacle (c.f. Ex 25:15). Even if they ignored the commandment and removed the poles for transit - they would certainly have brought those gold covered poles along with them and would have had to remove them physically as they had remained attached to the ark ever since Aaron and his son's inserted them.

It is unlikely therefore that the poles were absent, or that the ark was resting with the poles removed. Scripture states that ends of the poles could be seen protruding out of the Holy of Holies and into the Holy place (though not visible from without the Holy place) in the tabernacle (c.f. 1 Kings 8:8)

Given therefore that once inserted the poles were not to be removed, the most likely scenario is that they were attached to the ark (as they had always been) when they came to put the ark onto the ox cart - and as such I doubt they would forgo using them to lift the ark onto the cart.

That is, I don't think (once informed of these things) we have any room left to imagine they lifted the ark onto the cart using their hands. The only reasonable scenario is that they raised the ark onto the cart using the poles that were already inserted into the rings, and by which the ark was most easily lifted.

ezekiel said...


That makes sense!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...


Between your receding hairline and Centuri0n's winking eye, I don't know which one is worse.

Ya both give me the willies.

Bryan Riley said...

The story is, like all other stories in the bible, radically relevant for all time. And it demonstrates all too well the holiness of God and the import of obedience. Although our disobedience doesn't usually manifest itself in immediate spontaneous combustion, we are slowly but surely drying up as we stray from God's direction for our lives. Praise God He is patient with us, knowing our weakness.