In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Tim 2:20-21.)
In these verses from 2 Timothy God is talking about His church. Within His church are two types of people. The first are those made of wood and clay. They are made of common material and are not special. The second type of people are those made of gold and silver, made from precious material and set apart for God’s unique purpose.
Paul explains that the reason for the difference in the two types of people within the church is that one type has chosen to cleanse itself from the world and its ways, and one has not. When Christians choose not to separate themselves in their hearts from sin we are no different from those in the world. We become a common people made from common material, and God is not able to use us for His purpose.
Those who do walk away from sin and set their hearts upon God will be instruments of His special purpose. They will be the salt of the earth, (Matt 5:13,) a holy and pure people put aside and ready to be used by God. When we as His people set our hearts and lives upon Jesus alone, we become that special treasure, people who manifest His glory and His character.
A church that does not seek nor look to follow Jesus looks no different from the world. It has no real love, no power, no light and no authority. It will only ever have a counterfeit of these works of God. One of the reasons that the church today is so disdained by the world is that people recognise that it has so little that is real to offer. The church is looked upon as a place of hypocrisy that uses God’s name and yet carries little of His truth or authority. It uses the words of God but yet does not display Him. The more the church attempts to please the world the more it becomes a poor copy of what the world is, devoid of any of the true life of God. It is the same for us as individuals too. When we take on the title of Christian and yet do not follow Jesus’ commands we become that common material of wood and clay, no different from anything else in the world and unable to do the work of God. This is why Jesus said that many are called but few are chosen, (Matt 22:14.)
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matt 5:13.)
The calling on God’s people is to seek God’s heart, set ourselves apart for Him and obey Him. A church that sets its heart upon Jesus alone will be unlike anything else on this earth. It will be used by God to carry His goodness, power and holiness. This is a church that may be hated by the world, but will also be recognised as something different than what the world has. For those who want it it will offer real hope that nothing else can.
Genuine holiness cannot be forced by the rules or religious works of man, but instead it is something that we walk in when we set our hearts upon God and look to obey Him. No man can make us holy, nor can we become holy by following external rules. Holiness can only be found by Jesus cleaning our hearts as we repent and turn to Him. If we have really met Him and been washed by His blood we will naturally desire to follow and obey Him. Authentic holiness is a response of love that comes from our heart.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matt 23:25.)
God is calling His church to become seekers of Him alone, to set its heart upon nothing but Jesus Himself. He is not calling us to think up new schemes to impress or attract people, nor is he calling us to chase the latest fashion in the church, but instead He is calling us back to Him, to become a holy and unadulterated people who long for Him alone. The call to pursue holiness is the call to abandon our lives and our own ways and follow Him.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33.)
“You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” (Lev 20:26.)