After the Lord rescued the people of Israel from brutal slavery in Egypt and delivered them from the powerful hand of Pharaoh, He called them to consecrate their lives. The consecration was not a prerequisite of Israel’s salvation, but a commanded response to God’s faithful love for His people. The Lord commands the nation of Israel to “be My holy people” in Exodus 22:31, to set themselves apart for worship and devotion to God. The command has not changed now that we are under the blood of Christ. Our salvation is still a work of total grace, based on the perfect righteousness of Jesus and not our own. At the same time, Jesus has commanded those who have been purchased by His grace to “obey all that He has commanded us” and to “be holy as His Father is holy.” In other words, we are still directed to consecrate ourselves before the Lord, not as a means of earning His favor, but as the appropriate response to His favor. What does this process of consecration look like?
First, we need to remember God’s grace in our lives. One of the most common commands in the Bible is to “remember” all that God has done for us. The festivals in the OT and the sacraments in the NT are means of remembering the gracious work of God on our behalf. A drift in our commitment to holiness is usually connected to a lack of awe and wonder at all that God has done for us. Start your process of consecration by writing down all the good gifts that God has given to you that you do not deserve.
Second, we need to remove our idols and distractions. As the people of Israel moved into the promised land, they found it full of other nations who worshipped other gods. This is a helpful picture of the church’s position in the world today – surrounded by people who worship everything and everyone else other than the one true God. And because our hearts are naturally bent away from devotion to God, we will drift naturally drift toward idolatry. This is why Jesus commands us to “seek first” the Kingdom of God ahead of everything else, and why God warned His people to not adopt the gods of the peoples around them. To consecrate ourselves before God, we need to recognize where we have adopted the idols of our surrounding culture and remove them from our lives. Continue your consecration by writing down the distractions that keep you from loving God first and most in your life.
Third, we need to repent of sinful attitudes and actions. When we turn from our idols to seek the Lord, we must confess the sins that have become second-nature to us. We must be mindful of the sins that we most easily excuse – the selfish attitudes, evil thoughts, and harsh words. We need to agree with God that our laziness and spite and lust and greed and apathy are sins against His holiness. We need to repent of our flippant attitude toward our own sin, and recognize the damage that our sin causes to our relationship with God and with others. As you consecrate yourself before the Lord, ask Him to show you the sinful attitudes and actions that are offensive to Him, especially those that you cannot see. And turn from those sins back to the Lord.
Fourth, we need to recommit our hearts to God. Consecration is not ultimately about clean living. It is about worship. We consecrate ourselves before the Lord not to prove ourselves to our neighbor or feel good about ourselves. We consecrate ourselves before the Lord for the Lord. We pursue holiness as an act of worship, out of a deep love and awe for the worthiness of God. In this way, true consecration seeks to bring the Lord the glory and honor that He is due. Finish your consecration process by declaring your love and devotion to God as your highest and greatest pursuit.