If repetition makes something important, then there are three points in our reading this week that God wants us to fully grasp.
Two times we are told, “You must be holy” (Lev. 19:2; 20:26). That’s fairly straight to the point. What does God want from us? He wants us to be holy—without sin. The word “must” cautions us that being holy is not a suggestion, it’s a command. So God has made it perfectly clear what we are to be, but why? Why is it so important that we be holy? God answers that question in the second half of these verses: “because I, the Lord, am holy.”
So how do we achieve being holy? Leviticus 20:8 tells us how to do this: “Keep all my laws and obey them, for I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” The need to obey God’s instructions is found throughout Leviticus 19–22. And yet the directive to be obedient in these chapters is balanced by God’s acknowledgment that we must look to Him to obtain holiness.
God knows that even with the purest of intents and the deepest of desires, we are incapable of obeying to the extent that we would be considered sinless. And so we are told seven times it is actually the Lord who makes us holy (Lev. 20:8, 21:8,15,23; 22:9,16,32). And that is the whole crux of the matter. We can’t be holy without Jesus. It is impossible. Our desire to obey is a sign of our alignment and relationship with God, but it is only God who makes us truly holy. It is God, through Jesus Christ, who makes us sinless and worthy to be in the presence of our holy God. (See 1 Cor. 1:2).
God does not take His holiness lightly. He says, “Do not treat my holy name as common and ordinary. I must be treated as holy” (Lev. 22:32). God’s name and God Himself are not common but awe-inspiring. We need to sense His magnificence and acknowledge the greatness of our God. Twenty-seven times God states, “I, the Lord, am your God” or “I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:3,4,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30-32,34,36,37; 20:7,8,24; 21:12; 22:2,3,8,9,16,30,31,33). Twenty-seven times of anything says pay attention! We need to get this thought firmly established in our minds—the Lord is our God! And with that simple acknowledgment we come to admit that He is worthy of our worship, worthy of our trust, and worthy of our obedience.
Where does each of us stand in our desire to be obedient to God? Without question, if we are seeking to obey God, there are going to be many times when we will be doing what God wants rather than what we want. It seems hard to subjugate our will to God’s until we’ve practiced for a while and experienced the pleasure of obedience. For there can be joy in obedience, and that joy makes obedience seem not only natural but desirable.
Without question, the obedient person is going to stand out. It can’t be any other way because God’s standards are vastly different from this world’s standards. And the differences that obedience makes may cause us to be rebuffed by people we associate with and even by people we love. But it will also draw other people to both us and to God—people who want to know why our actions and words are different.
With the desire to obey and be holy comes a constant awareness of God. And with that awareness comes more love for God’s character, attributes, and nature. And with that love comes more thankfulness to Jesus, the One who makes us holy before God.
© 2010 Arlina Yates