‘HOLINESS’ is NOT an OPTION but a REQUIREMENT: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God…And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you’…Therefore you shall consecrate him (priest), for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy." (Leviticus 19:1-2; 20:7-8; 21:8)
The key verses selected (above) comes from each of the three chapters that we have read today, where God details various moral and ceremonial laws regarding the conduct of the people (Lev. 19), the penalties for breaking these laws (Lev. 20) and the regulations for conduct of the priests (Lev. 21). A dominant theme of Leviticus is that of holiness, both of God (inherent to His nature and person), and also of His people (acquired through maintaining discipline in life).
God was leading the children of Israel from one pagan culture (Egypt) to another pagan culture (Canaan), both of which followed many despicable and unholy religious/social practices. It is not surprising that God wanted to stress again and again to the Israelites the importance of maintaining a holy and sanctified life for the simple reason that ‘God is holy’. Holiness is the essence of God and so God demanded and reiterated time and again that His children should also be holy. The basis of all holiness is found in the words “I the Lord your God am holy” (v. 2).
Israel’s fundamental calling was to be a “holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). They were to be “separated from sin” and “to cling unto the Lord”. Israel was required to be holy because God is holy. God’s holiness served as the model for the entire Israelite congregation. True holiness manifests itself in more than ritual and sexual behavior. Indeed, it pervades all of life both vertically (toward God) and horizontally (toward others). God’s holiness and subsequently human holiness must provide the bases for all human behavior.
Let us understand that holiness originates from God and emerges in our relationship with parents and children. We too must imitate God in holiness by practicing numerous duties that reflect Him. It affects the way we worship and treat the poor, the stranger, a neighbor, women, animals, the soil, and the aged. Just as these are all mingled together, so Peter exhorts Christians, "As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
I have read somewhere that God the Father’s passion, God the Son’s pattern and God’s the Spirit’s presence are all sufficient for us to pursue holiness in all areas of our lives. God the Father proclaims “Be Holy”, God the Son presents the model “Be Holy as I am Holy”, and God the Holy Spirit promises to help us: “I will make you Holy”. Does the fact that we serve a ‘holy’ God make any practical difference in our day-to-day lives?