UNDERSTANDING God’s STANDARD of HOLINESS: "For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Lev. 11:44-45)
One of the key themes of the Book of Leviticus is ‘holiness’ and “You shall be holy; for I am holy” is a recurring theme in Leviticus (11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26). The basic idea derived from ‘holiness’ is ‘separateness’. When applied to God, ‘holiness’ denotes God’s uniqueness and separateness from everything earthly and wrong; when applied to man, it denotes a life of purity and obedience.
In the Old Testament, God instructed the Israelites not to pattern themselves after the nations around them. As God’s people, they had to be separate from everything that God called unclean. Instead, He asked His people to consecrate themselves (or, set themselves apart from others) and be holy, for He, the Lord their God, was holy. One of the main ways that the Israelites were to be different was in the way they worshiped God. The closing song at the end of Leviticus, Israel’s manual for ritual and worship, says: “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Lev. 26:12).
Later, the New Testament church also came to define itself as belonging to God first and foremost, with a responsibility for holy worship and living. Even today, God challenges us not to be like everybody else. Those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God are to live separated and holy lives (1 Pet. 1:13–19; 2:9–10). As God’s followers, we should be holy because we should reflect God’s character. He is our Father. He has created us. He has chosen us as His own. Therefore, we should be like Him as that is His ultimate plan for us (Rom. 8:29–30).
The basis of God’s laws listed in Leviticus was grounded in the holiness of God. God’s people are to be set apart unto Him. We can now disregard all of these regulations because Christ nailed them to His cross (see Col 2:14; I Tim 4:3–5). But we are still today commanded to be a separate people from the world (see Romans 12:1–2; II Corinthians 6:14–7:1; I John 2:15–17). God desires our conduct to exhibit His nature, because we are His children. To be separate to God is much more important than to be separate from other things.
As God’s people who are separated to God, we become more and more conformed to the image of God, and we become the persons that God intended us to be when He created the first man and the first woman in His image (Gen. 1:26, 27). We imitate God by living lives according to His code of holiness!
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24), demands perfection from us as well (Matt. 5:48). By His perfect sacrifice, Jesus has removed our sins forever (Heb. 9; 10), and has inscribes His moral law on our hearts by His blessed Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:3; Jer. 31:31–34) so that we will emulate God’s standards of holiness. Without that level of holiness no one will see God anyway (Heb. 12:14), so let us live holy and blameless lives upon this earth.