When they see me, do they see you?
The first time Moses encounters God is in Exodus 3 when God famously appears to him in the form of a burning bush. As Moses nears the bush, God tells him, “Do not come any closer.” (Exodus 3:5a). Now why was God concerned that Moses maintain social distance? It wasn’t because of the danger of COVID; it was because of the danger of nearing the presence of a holy God!. There are expectations of those who want to draw near to God. (Exodus 3:5b). God is holy! (Leviticus 11:44)
One of the names for God, captured in Leviticus 20:8, is Jehovah Mekadesh, which means “the Lord who sanctifies or makes holy.” Have you ever considered the fact that, not only is God holy, but He wants us to be holy too! That may seem daunting, unsettling, maybe even impossible for you… and it would be, if it were up to you; but the Bible makes clear it is God who makes you holy.
Have you ever read the book of Leviticus? It isn’t a book most people clamor to read, but it is a very important. It was written during a time when the Israelites were preparing to enter the promise land. That land was inhabited by people who did not follow the One true God. Leviticus would offer ways the Israelites could maintain distinctive, God-honoring attributes in a land inhabited by people who did not know God. Do you think Christ-Followers face the same challenges today? Absolutely! So how can we “be holy”? How does God make us holy?
The idea of holiness is to be “set apart.” It is to not be like others; to be like no other. I read once that holiness is the essence of God’s “otherness.” He is like no other; He is holy! God’s holiness is often tied to purity, which is why dozens of times in the Bible, we see God’s presence associated with fire. God’s very being is without any trace of sin, which makes Him holy and pure.
What does God expect from us? Believers are called to a life that values and pursues holiness. The Apostle Peter quotes Leviticus 11:44 in his first epistle: 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16.
Does that sound like a high calling? You may feel like you can never measure up to that! You may say, “I thought holiness was for priests and preachers to pursue, not me!” You may think, “I am a long way from holy!” How can I get there?
Remember to be holy is to be “set apart.” That is there should be something different about Believers than those who may not yet believe. This was what God meant when He called the Israelites to be Holy; it is what the Apostle Peter meant when He challenged Christ-Followers to be holy.
Remember, Leviticus was written to instruct the Israelites on how to be holy in a land that was filled with pagans and unbelievers. God did not want the Israelites to be corrupted by these pagan nations. God expects Believers to be distinct, different and set apart!
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
God’s will - His desire - is that we live a life that honors Him. The Apostle Paul uses words to describe God’s desire for our lives that reflect the same words used in Leviticus to describe sacrificial animals… 20 Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf. Leviticus 22:20. In other words, God expects us to live in a way that is morally and spiritually spotless - in the same way that the animals brought to sacrifice to Him as payment for sin were expected to be spotless.
The world we live in doesn’t necessarily pull us toward God… it pushes us away from Him. We tend to conform to the patterns of this world and when we do, we aren’t living in a way that is spotless or holy. When Paul wrote this to the Believers in Rome, He was concerned that they were conforming to the world’s standards, not God’s. That they were not pursuing holiness.” In fact, the word “conform” actually implies they were merely “masquerading” as Believers. We are wearing masks these days that are meant to keep us and others safe; as Christ-Followers, we never want to wear a mask that makes us “appear” to follow Christ.
How can I “be holy”? Allow God to transform you from culture’s character to Christ’s character. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2. This word transformed is where we get the word for “metamorphosis.” It means to change our outward appearance to reflect who we are in Christ. That is, as Believers, as Christ-Followers, we are transformed, changed to act in a way that expresses God’s divine, holy nature. To reflect, not culture’s character, but Christ’s character.
Metamorphosis is an amazing process… transforming a creepy, crawly caterpillar into a majestic, beautiful butterfly! Can you believe that? When you see a caterpillar, it is hard to imagine that creepy thing could ever be transformed into something so glorious. But, it can! You may look at yourself and think I am a caterpillar. I am destined to be a caterpillar. There is no way I can ever be anything more. There is no way I can be transformed. But you can be! God can and will transform you into a beautiful creature, reflecting His holy, pure nature. This is what it means to sanctify…. This is who Jehovah Mekadesh is… The Lord Who Sanctifies.
Reflect on these practical steps for living a holy life:
1) Admit your sin and commit to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
2) Trash the behaviors in your life that don’t reflect holiness. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1
3) Develop a hunger for God’s Word! 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2
Our God will make you holy… will you allow His Holy Spirit to work in your life?