Torah reading: Leviticus 16-20
Haftorah reading: Amos 9:7-15
God has given us an explicit command regarding how He expects us to live. It is a commandment found in this week’s Torah portion. Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 20:26 say: “You must be holy because I am holy.”
You must be holy because God is holy…But what does it mean to be holy? What is holiness?
Let’s make it simple, shall we? Holiness is the fruit of a life wholly devoted to God and His purposes.
For some people, “holiness” is viewed as too difficult to achieve.
Depending on our upbringing and religious background, we can have legalistic notions of holiness or we can have moralistic notions of holiness. We can behave as if holiness is either outdated or something that only needs to effect a small part of our lives. Yet, God has commanded us “You must be holy because I am holy.”
When you think about being holy what comes into your mind? Thoughts of outmoded ways of dressing or the shunning of fashion and makeup? Or do you rather think in terms of morality, purity, integrity and commitment to a personal relationship with God?
What does really God expect of us?
The biblical idea of holiness, while it includes private morality, also means much, much more. Holiness is about living the life God has planned and purposed for us. It is about living according to God’s standards and precepts, not by the world’s standards, not by our own standards, living by God’s standards. Holiness is not just for the advanced spiritually-elite. The call to holiness is to everyone, regardless of status.
We are daily inundated with attitudes, principles and values that are diametrically opposed to the principles and values of the sacred Scriptures. In order to successfully steer the direction and decisions of our life according to godly principles, we must know the Word of God and choose continually to live in accord with its teaching, which is the path to holiness.
Psalm 119 offers us tremendous wisdom in this regard.
You are only truly happy when you walk in total integrity, walking in the light of God’s Word. What joy overwhelms everyone who keeps the ways of God, those who seek Him as their heart’s passion. (vs. 1-2)
God has prescribed the right way to live; obying His commandments with all our hearts. (vs. 4)
How can a young man stay pure? Only by living in the word of God and walking in its truth. (vs. 9)
Give me revelation about the meaning of Your ways so I can enjoy the reward of following them fully. Give me an understanding heart so that I can passionately know and obey Your truth. (vs. 33-34)
Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of Your Word makes my pathway clear. To live my life by Your righteous commands has been my holy and lifelong commitment. (vs. 105-106) All quotations from the Passion Translation.
Holiness is neither a scary calling, nor is it impossible. Holiness is not an event but a journey which encompasses our entire life. It is a way of life marked by progress, not perfection. It is a calling that picks us up after we’ve failed and draws us forward after we’ve been stagnant.
Holiness is simply this: living each day with the intent of pleasing our heavenly Father in our thoughts, words and deeds.
Andrew Murray of South Africa said it this way over a century ago: the greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us. In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility. The holiest will be the humblest.
Elizabeth Elliott: God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.