Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
In reading through Leviticus, it becomes obvious that God has a priority. (actually I saw the same priority in Exodus) He desires there to be a distinction (holiness) between His people and the rest of the world. In His instructions to His priests through Moses, He requires strict adherence to His established guidelines. He is all about His Holiness not being tarnished.
Leviticus 20:23-24 (New Living Translation)
Do not live according to the customs of the people I am driving out before you. It is because they do these shameful things that I detest them. But I have promised you, ‘You will possess their land because I will give it to you as your possession—a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from all other people.
Leviticus 20:26 (New Living Translation)
You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.
Leviticus 22:1,2,9 (NLT)
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to be very careful with the sacred gifts that the Israelites set apart for me, so they do not bring shame on my holy name. I am the Lord. Give them the following instructions.
“The priests must follow my instructions carefully. Otherwise they will be punished for their sin and will die for violating my instructions. I am the Lord who makes them holy.
We see the admonishment to "be very careful"; to "follow my instructions carefully"...
When we read through Leviticus, it seems it would be nearly impossible to follow all the regulations and requirements of the law that God gave the priests. There was so much to remember, so many things to get right. Yet we know that there were priests faithful to minister before the Lord all the way up to Zechariah. He was doing his duties when he was visited by the angel of the Lord announcing the coming of a son whom he would name John (the Baptist).
So how does this relate to us today? What applies to us who are not under the old covenant? We know God hasn't changed; He is the same yesterday, today and forever...So we can conclude that He still wants His people to be distinct (holy). Look these words:
James 4: 4, 5 (NIV)
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
1 John 2:15-17 (New International Version)
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
They seem...severe...don't they? So were the consequences in the old covenant. Though we are not under law, and there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus, we still need to make our calling and election sure, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. These warnings are to keep us safe, to keep us on track. It seems we see much compromise in the church today. I believe it is mostly due to lack of reverence for God. Reverence for God came by way of His strictness in Leviticus. We know that God killed, or instructed His people to kill those who rebelled against Him. He was SERIOUS about obedience! We need to achieve a healthy fear of God. I don't know what does it for you, but for me, reading Revelation is a good place to get hold of the fear of God.
Revelation 3:15-17 (New International Version)
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Though God is gentle and His mercy triumphs over judgement, He remains serious about obedience... obedience is evidence of faith. (see previous post)
In the following passage, the Old Covenant mandate to be "set apart" (holy) is tied into the New Covenant. It is carried over to us...
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (New International Version)
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
There it is again, holiness out of reverence for God. If we truly have faith, we understand and know who God is, and we delight to do His will (loving Him), rather than our own will (loving this world).
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
So the question we are left with is, "are we being careful?" What are some of the compromises we see in our own lives? In our church? In our neighborhoods. And then, "How can my life show that I am His?" and this one we don't often think about, "What is my responsibility in helping others be holy?" Do we need to do a better job of being watchmen? (Ezekiel 33)
- Am I distinct in my entertainment choices? ~Do I watch or listen to things that would break God's heart?
- Am I distinct in my clothing choices? ~Do I want glory, or do I glorify God?
- Am I distinct in how I spend my money? ~Is it for me or for God's work?
- Am I distinct in how I spend my time? ~Is time spent in God's word & with His people a priority?
- Am I distinct in what I lean on or trust in? ~ There are many idols that we trust in such as: accomplishment (wanting the praise of men~popularity), drug & alcohol use/abuse, self-reliance~leaning on our own understanding, etc.
- Am I distinct in how I treat my husband, children and parents?
- Am I distinct in how I use my words?
I realize most people who read this are already walking in obedience to the Lord, loving Him with all your heart, but if there is anyone who comes across this post and your heart is unsettled, you have gotten a healthy "fear of the Lord" and want to know what to do to settle your heart...It is simple. Repent. Ask Jesus to forgive you, and redirect you, to help you walk His way. Be willing to forsake your own, and follow Him. Then get involved with others who are walking in The Way (following Jesus), and by the power of His cleansing, forgiving blood, He will present you faultless before God in the day of judgement. (Plus you get to enjoy a friendship with Him from this day forward!)I will close with this: We all deserve the wrath of our Holy God. None of us can measure up to His holiness, but Jesus came to make a way. He took our sin on Himself, and we can take His righteousness upon ourselves. His crucifixion satisfied God's wrath for anyone who will come to Him and recieve Him, and love Him with all your heart. Holiness is imputed to us, we don't have a chance without Jesus!
Loving God is the evidence of a gratefully saved heart!
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
1 John 1:9 (New Living Translation)
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.