Thursday, November 03, 2011

Spiritual Scorecards and the Sacred Diadem of Jesus Christ

 There are a few things in professional Christendom that peave me.   At the top of the list is the tendency for Christian people to keep score of how holy they are compared to others. It's never outright stated that "I'm a better Christian" than so and so, but you can't miss the arrogance of those who measure their holiness by what they do or don't do in this life. From tithing to abstaining from alcohol, from attending church visitation to avoiding movie houses, the checklists and scorecards for Christians vary from church to church and denomination to denomination. The words "godly man" or "godly woman" are thrown around as if what makes a person godly is their performance morally or religiously. I'd like to show the dangerous consequences of trusting in any personal activities, no matter how moral or good they are, for the guarantee that you will never be cut off from the goodness of God.  The Scripture is explicit that there is only One person considered "Holy to the Lord" and this Person, Jesus Christ, is our holiness (I Corinthians 1: 30).

 “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord." (Exodus 28:36-38). 

This golden plate, or the Sacred Diadem ('holy crown) of the High Priest had two Hebrew words enscribed on it. Translated into English these words mean "Holy to the Lord." Or in more precise language, "You alone are holy to the Lord."  The ancient High Priest of Israel is a picture (type) of the Great High Priest Jesus Christ. The Scripture is clear that there is none like the Son of God, nor will there ever be any like Him. He alone is holy to the Lord.  The High Priest of Israel represented the people of Israel before Yahweh by having their names  emblazoned on his breastplate and their names engraved on the precious stones on his shoulders. So too, Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest whom the ancients priests foreshadowed, represents His people before the throne of God. The sacred diadem of Christ reminds us that He alone is holy to the Lord, and therefore we should remember ...

  I. The holiness of Christ (the sacred diadem) is the only thing in which we may boast as a believer.

 The Hebrew word translated “plate” in Exodus 28 is tsits, elswhere translated “flower” or “blossom”  in the Old Testament.   Flowers (tsits) adorned the inner walls and the pillars of Solomon’s Temple, adding beauty, grace, and charm to the Temple. So too the holiness of Christ, to which the sacred diadem points, is Christ's  glory and beauty. Apart from Christ's holiness, man has none.

Let me show you:

The word tsits is also found in Psalm 103:15: “As for man, his days are like grass, he  flourishes like a flower [tsits] of the field.”  Likwise, the prophet Isaiah likens man’s glory to a fading flower and says: “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers [tsits] of the field.  The grass withers and the flowers [tsits] fall…” (40:6-8). Whatever glory you perceive in your holy acts is like a flower that fades in direct sunlight.

Your righteous acts are like filthy rags. There is nothing that you do in this life that is not in one way or another stained with sin before God. Everything you do, no matter how wonderful you deem it to be, is in some fashion tainted with your selfishness or some other type of sin.  The Bible is very clear that there can be no holiness scorekeeping in the Christian life because we never can get on the scoreboard. We are unholy people. “You alone, my eternal High Priest, are holy to the Lord.” When we come to faith in Christ HE (the Lord Jesus) becomes your holiness. Listen to these verses:

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption. " (I Cor. 1:26-30.)

 II. The holiness of Christ (the sacred diadem) is the guarantee of every spiritual blessing we have from God.

The diadem rested on  “Aaron’s forehead.” Leviticus 13:42-46 teaches that a severe form of leprosy (a type of sin) appeared on the foreheads of people in the form of reddish-white sores.  The infected person had to wear torn clothes and let his hair be unkempt. He was required to put his hand to his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean!”    He also had to live in isolation outside the camp or city.

In 2 Chronicles 26 there is an astonishing story of King Uzziah contracting this leprosy. He reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem and did a great many noble and honorable things for which he was commended by all the people. But spiritual pride took hold of him and he entered the Temple of the Lord to burn incense. The priests alone held the exclusive right to enter the Temple, but Uzziah felt his actions made him worthy before the Lord.  Azariah the priest tried to talk sense into the king, reminding him that that the king was unworthy before the Lord. The king became angry. We read: 

And while he was raging at the priests in their presence…leprosy broke out on his forehead…so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house – leprous, and excluded from the temple of the Lord.”

The pride of man is revealed in the leprosy on the forehead. The holiness of Christ is revealed in the sacred diadem on the High Priest's forehead. Christ exchanged his holy diadem for a crown of thorns and bled at the very place mans' sin is revealed. The reason spiritual scorekeeping of any kind is so deadly is because when a man boasts in his actions for the Lord, he is infected with Uzziah's disease. There is nothing worse than believing yourself holy before the Lord when the Lord emphatically has stated throughout Scripture that nobody but His Son is considered holy to Him.

III. The sacred diadem is the reason we are called ‘co-heirs’ with Jesus Christ.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

The Scripture does not call us secondary heirs or sub-heirs; the word is specifically co-heirs of Jesus Christ. This means that in this life and in heaven, you are not rewarded as an heir of God based upon your performance. You are rewarded every spiritual blessing due to Jesus Christ and His obedience to God. As a believer in Christ, His holiness has become your holiness.

So, the next time somebody tries to tell you that the favor of God is due to your obedience to any command, you remind that well-meaning person that God's favor is yours because His Son's holiness is yours.

Christ exchanged His sacred diadem for a crown of thorns so that your leprosy might be given to Him at Calvary and His holiness might be granted to you eternally.


Bob Cleveland said...

I like this post. We need to read this .. or things along these lines .. now and then. To remind us that Jesus is ALL the righteousness we will ever have.

Jesus said (within my knowledge) His reason for coming, in two places. I'm sure there are others, but the ones I know are:

A) Seek and save that which was lost, and :

B) That we might have life, abundantly. As I understand it, that means a superabundance in quantity and quality.

It hit me a few months ago that when I buy someone a gift, I want it to be something they want. I want them to want it!

I rather think Jesus wants us to lead abundant lives. And I think He wants us to want that kind of life. So all the instructions about what to do are not to make us more holy, but to enable us, as the means, to have that abundant life that He came to provide.

I always thought that idea, of wanting it, to be selfish .. until God told me that was why Jesus came. And that He wanted me to have an abundant life.

That's been a life-changing thought for me.

Rex Ray said...

Is there a fine line between bragging what one has done for the Lord and letting your light shine by not putting it under a bushel?

I fear that Christians—especially me, take comfort in NOT telling what we’ve done for Jesus (as this post MAY be interpreted) because we’ve done so little and plan to continue doing so. said...


In my experience, those who feel they have done so little for the Lord, and those who feel weak and feeble to do anything more for the Lord, are precisely those who wind up, when all is said and done, in glorifying the Lord the most.

B Nettles said...

Thanks for the post. We all need to have more exposition on what Christ has done.

It strikes me that the high priest was required to have the plate not to be good enough, but to acknowledge that he must be covered by what God has ordained. Without the "covering" of "Holy to the Lord" he was just another man who would be destroyed by the holiness of God.

I also love the whole story of Uzziah. Is. 6 starts out "In the year that King Uzziah died ..." I don't think this is merely time keeping. Uzziah got his leprosy when he entered the temple apart from God's permission to burn incense. Now, where did Isaiah find himself? In the presence of God, with "smoke" (I believe from "incense") filling the space. No wonder he was terrified. The difference: God brought him in.

Garen Martens said...

One time I had a man tell me "The reason you are having _____ trouble is because you aren't spiritual enough. You should be studying the book 'Experiencing God' like I am and your troubles would disappear." That happened 15 years ago and I still take precautions to avoid that man.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful post!

It cuts to the very essence of salvation.

There was a time when we were reminded almost weekly that as soon as we try to put axe to altar we destroy it.

Salvation is all of God, not points we earn.

Again, thank you!


Abrahams @Ciputra-Group said...

So.. the one who work for the Gospel and the one who spend on Netflix all day.. get the same status.. and same reward...

That is so Comforting... thank you.