Holiness Matters to God
44 For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44-45 ESV
Holiness really matters to God, much more than it does to us. In the book of Leviticus God gives much detail to the Israelites in how they are to live holy & distinct from the other people surrounding them. The basis for God demanding holiness from His people is two fold in Leviticus 11:44-45.
First, Israel was to be holy because God was their God & He is holy. God’s holiness is the basis for His people’s holiness. His people are to imitate & reflect God. That was God’s design for humanity from the beginning (Genesis 1:27). Living a life of holiness isn’t something the Israelites thought up themselves so that they can look down on others who aren’t holy. Because God had called them, chosen them & identified Himself with them as their God they too were to live with moral integrity & purity for the sake of God’s name being treated as holy among the nations.
Secondly, the Lord their God was the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt, redeemed, rescued them & freed them. This is something that God mentioned just before He gave the 10 Commandments to His people (Exodus 20:1) which were given as practical instructions for Israel to live holy & morally pure. Because God delivered them they were to live like a redeemed people. And the thrust of this reality of redemption ought to lead us Christians who live under the New Covenant into lives of holiness. Peter quotes this passage in the New Testament exhorting Christians to live holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:15). Holiness matters to God and it must matter to us who’ve been redeemed through Christ as well.
In Leviticus 10 we have this short account of Aaron’s two sons who were killed because they didn’t count the holiness of God as something weighty.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:1-3 ESV
I believe Aaron’s response was appropriate in that he held his peace. He could have accused God as being unfair, unjust & unkind but He didn’t. It’s seems that Aaron considered God’s act of judgement as a just action by a Holy God who deserves to be treated as holy, especially by those who represent Him & come “near” Him.
Well, perhaps you may be thinking ‘gosh that was harsh, I’m sure glad we live under the New Testament of grace’. I feel the same way yet even in the New Testament we see two people being dishonest about their offering and they were killed instantly (Ananias & Sapphira; Acts 5:1-11). That was New Testament! The effect of that example of the severity of God was that “fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things”.
I believe the take away for us as we look at these sobering examples is that we should worship God with reverence & awe for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29). We should hallow God’s name (Matt. 6:9) and treat Him as the holy God He is. And we too must deal ruthlessly with the unholiness in our lives through confessing our sins and not trying to sweep them under the rug so to speak (1 John 1:9). Praying about our sins and confessing them should probably be a more regular part of our prayer life if we are truly encountering the presence of our Holy God. Holiness matters to God and may it matter to us who speak His name with our lips.
Holiness matters enough to God that He had His Son die for you and me so that we might be made holy by Christ’s shed blood. Thankfully Christians aren’t left to themselves to try & figure out how to live holy or muster up enough will power to do so. God has made His people holy by the blood of His Son Jesus (Hebrews 9:14) & has given us His holy word which sanctifies us or makes us holy (John 17:17). He also empowers by the Holy Spirit to make war on sin and live lives of holiness (Romans 8:13).