The idea of formally setting apart certain things, people, days, and times was an important part of Old Testament worship. Take a look at Exodus chapter 29 where we see a detailed process by which priests were to be consecrated so that they could serve. It involved a special anointing oil, ceremonially laying hands on the animal to be sacrificed, sprinkling the animal’s blood, and a number of other steps. Similar processes were followed for consecrating the temple’s contents. Among the purposes for these acts was to remind people that God is Holy. So holy that anything used in His service is special.
Under the New Testament, the emphasis isn’t placed on objects and formally consecrating people and times. It’s now up to each individual to be set apart. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1). “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”(I Corinthians 6:19-20). The only reason, however, that our offering can ever be acceptable is that a perfect sacrifice has been offered in our place.
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
As those imperfect priests were made pure by the divinely prescribed acts, the blood of Christ consecrates us.
It’s is right and good that we’re used to focusing on the setting apart of the WHOLE person…heart, mind, and body. But here’s an extra thought regarding our possessions. I’m not presenting this as a command from God, but as something I’m trying to do that might just help you too. What if we formally set apart for God’s service EVERYTHING we ever bought or otherwise acquired? When I buy a car, I’ll take a moment to pray over it and commit to God that I am dedicating it to His service. When I get my paycheck, I hold it in my hands and promise the Lord that He will be first in all my decisions regarding how I spend it.
If I don’t feel like I can set something apart for God, why not? Is it something I really need? Is it worth my time or money? This process helps me to remember that my belongings are not my own, but have been loaned to me by God. Then, in those moments when I’m tempted to misuse my blessings, maybe that extra second of thought will be the difference between sin and virtue.