by Mike Ratliff
45 For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Leviticus 11:45 (NASB)
The resistance in today’s version of the Church of Jesus Christ to commands such as the one above is rooted in rebellion. Yes, I know that is a blunt statement. Yes, I know that there are huge segments of the church in America that believe that the Old Testament is not for them. However, the truth does not stop being the truth simply because people refuse to believe it. I run into this quite a bit. I teach something or write something that is a clear command of God that we must obey and someone will say or write something like, “well everyone knows that that can’t mean that because God isn’t like that.” Excuse me but since when does what people believe about God change what God is like or diminishes the veracity of His commands?
Part of the problem, I believe, is “dispensationalism,” which leads believers to interpret the Bible dispensationally, separating it into multiple dispensations that actually end up teaching that there are multiple ways to be saved depending upon which dispensation one is living in. The teaching that God’s commands to be holy are irrelevant for the New Testament believer who comes from this type of interpretation. Those of us who believe and teach that God is a covenant God know that the moral Law in the Old Testament is very much in effect and the commands to be holy, to not murder, to not steal, et cetera are for all believers in every generation. Peter believed this as well.
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:13-25 (NASB)
Each of us who are in Christ must still obey God’s command to be holy even though Moses wrote it into the Law before Israel completed the Exodus. It is still applicable to us today. Okay, what does it mean to be holy as God is holy. Holiness is the central attribute of God that all of His other attributes spring from. There are angels in Heaven that eternally proclaim God’s Holiness. We should as well, but we are also called to be holy. To be holy requires first that our sin to be covered by the blood of Christ. Good News! All in Christ are in this condition. All in Christ also have the Holy Spirit who is constantly guiding us into the truth, proclaiming to our Hearts the works of Christ on our behalf. These facts mean that we have the “ability” to obey God, but before God washed us clean and sent the Holy Spirit to be with us forever we could not. With this ability we now have no excuse to neglect our personal holiness.
To be holy as God is Holy requires us to be continually working on keeping our hearts undefiled, clean and pure before the Lord. This means that we should be constantly working on not just sin avoidance, but also working on our obedience to God’s commands. This includes giving to those have nothing, forgiving those who don’t deserve it, being patient with those who are unworthy, preaching Jesus to all who will listen, et cetera. Read Matthew 5,6 & 7 and Romans 12 for starters. Obey what the Lord places on your heart. Doing this makes us holy. Living lives of genuine worship in spirit and truth before the Lord makes us holy. It is far more than keeping a set of rules. It is living the Christian life empowered by God to walk in the Spirit in complete obedience to His will. Those who do this are those who have entered by the narrow gate and are Pilgrims on the narrow path that leads to life. These have lost their lives for Christ’s sake and conversely have found true life. They are poor in spirit, mournful over their sin, meek, constantly hungry and thirsty for Righteousness, merciful to the undeserving, pure in heart, constantly bringing people to peace with God, enduring persecution while being exceedingly glad. They are not of this world. They are new creations whose character is growing ever more Christlike.
No one else is holy as God is Holy. If anyone claims to be a Christian, but their life does not resemble what we have discussing then we should be concerned. Notice, the denomination we belong to or the church we attend has nothing to do with this. Only genuine regenerate Christians are His people and only they can be holy as God is Holy and that has nothing to do with church affiliation. If you have felt convicted that you may not measure up to this then I say rejoice because conviction of sin is a marker of someone whose heart has been touched by the Holy Spirit. Go to the Lord in prayer, seek His face, read His Word, obey what He shows you. This is the essence of personal holiness and how we become holy as God is Holy.
Soli Deo Gloria!