When we were missionaries in a southeast Asian country in the ‘80’s most of the people were not wealthy enough to own their own vehicles. However, if they needed a vehicle for their work, the company or government agency they worked for would provide a “service.” This was a vehicle marked “For Official Use Only” that they were to use only for business related tasks.
However, as we would return late at night from an evangelistic outreach or other events, we would sometime pass a discotheque or a bar and see at least two or three of those vehicles that were “For Official Use Only” parked in front. One time we saw a vehicle that sported a more honest “For Official Use Also” emblazoned on its door!
In his first epistle, Peter repeats for his readers the command God gave His people in Leviticus 11:44 – “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). The semantic field for “holy” (hagios in the New Testament and qudas in the Old Testament) gives the idea of something that is ceremonially clean or separated for use in the temple.
You might even say that being “holy” is being “For Official Use Only.”
“Holiness” is a term that has unjustly inherited a bad reputation in modern Christianity. It’s centrality to the Christian life has been clouded by accusations (sometimes justified, but in my experience not so much) of “legalism.” But when it comes down to raw holiness – holiness in its most basic form – it is living our lives, in every area, for “official use only.”
In the past, the High Priest was commanded to wear a mitre with a gold plate that proclaimed “Holiness Unto the Lord” – setting him apart from all other pursuits. Through Jeremiah, the Lord reminded a backslidden Israel they were once “Holiness unto the Lord” like a woman who was engaged to her husband and had eyes only for him. The prophet Zachariah prophesied that in the future (during the millennial reign of Christ) that same inscription was going to be on everything because, at that time, everything will be be for “official use only”(even the bells on the horses and the pots in the kitchen!)
But what does “being holy” look like today? It is a lifestyle that reflects a decreasing “Me” and an increasing “Him.” It is a personality that buds and blooms with what Paul calls the “Fruit of the Spirit.” It shows itself through lips that speak life not death, ears and eyes that are simple concerning evil while being wise about things that are good, and a body that comports itself modestly.
Holiness is not something we achieve, it is something the Holy Spirit produces in our lives through His Word. As we obey the light we have – He gives more. As we trust Him through the crises of life, we find a strength is manifested through a growing sense of quietness and confidence.
And it all begins with a simple decision to change one word in the motto of our lives from “For Official Use Also” to “Official Use Only.”
Explore on your own!
These are scriptures that are alluded to in this post. Take some extra time and look up these passages. Read them in context. Do some word study with an expository dictionary, follow cross-references, and even invest some time memorizing and meditating on some of them. Write down what you learn – you will be surprised how this will “congeal” Scriptural principles in your heart and mind!
Leviticus 11:44-47; 1 Peter 1:13-16; John 1:19-28; 3:25-36; Jeremiah 2:1-8; Zechariah 14:20,21; Exodus 28:36-38; Galatians 5:16-26; Romans 16:17-20; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; Romans 12:1,2; 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1; Isaiah 30:15-17.