Holiness. It sounds so unattainable…kind of like perfection. Perhaps I would prefer to think of holiness as unattainable perfection. That way, I can say, “no one’s perfect,” and I can skim over the word when I read it in the Bible.
But Leviticus chapters 20-22 will not let you skim over the word “holy” or the concept of “holiness.” Holiness is at every turn throughout these chapters, so let’s deal with it.
As I said, we often see holiness as synonymous with perfection. It’s true, when speaking of God, that perfection is part of His holiness. But holiness is not perfection. If it were, God could not have commanded us to be holy (Lev. 20:26), because He knows we are going to sin (1 John 1:8). God would not call us to be something He knows we can’t be.
So what is Holiness?
Holiness carries the idea of being different…set apart from the common… set aside for special use. (Think of the good china that is set aside for special occasions.)
God is holy. He is different from all other so-called gods. He is different than humans or anything else in creation. God is holy different and beyond our comprehension.
And God makes us holy. (Lev. 21:8,15,23.) He has chosen us (John 15:16) and called us to be different from that which is common around us (Lev. 20:24), so that others may see His holiness and be drawn to Him. (Phil. 2:15)
Because God is holy, and because He has made us holy, He calls us to be holy. (Lev. 20:7) The word “be” in that verse refers to and ongoing action or way of life. We’re not to be perfect. We’re to be different, in a way that reflects our God. We are to be God’s calling card, and this is accomplished through our call to holiness.
Holiness is something we just can’t skim over!
Bret Legg is the Teaching and Counseling Pastor at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, GA.