“For I am the LORD your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44)
I know. I’ve tried. And I’ve failed every single time. So I try harder. And I still fail. So I vow to try even harder. And still I fail.
I know I will never be able to perfectly holy. That’s impossible. Why would God command me to do something that’s impossible? That’s so cruel. God knows better than anyone else I will fail. So, why even command me to do something I will absolutely fail? That’s just cruel.
It’s easy to be dismissive with a verse like this. I mean, why even bother when we’re only going to fail.
But that still doesn’t make the command to be holy go away. In fact, God commands this same thing at least nine times in the Bible (Leviticus 11:44, 11:45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26, 21:8; Deuteronomy 23:14; 1 Peter 1:15, 1:16). A quick research will reveal that the word “holy” occurs 1282 times in the Bible!
So what’s the deal? How can we be holy?
I think the key to holiness has less to do with our effort and more to do with God’s presence.
Pastor Walt of First Baptist Church of Lakewood, Jim Pledger (finance elder at the Little Church), and I normally play golf on Mondays. Sometimes, they will pair us up with a single. Every once in a while, we will get a single who is a wee bit colorful with his language. A few holes in the round, the conversation turns to what we do for a living. It’s astonishing how apologetic the person gets once they find out who we are and how the entire language and behavior changes for the rest of the round.
Now, multiply that by infinity. Because that’s what happens when we become more aware of Christ’s presence with us. Christ is Immanuel – God with us. The more aware we become of Christ’s presence, the more we change, the more his presence makes us holy.
God calls us to be holy and he enables us to do it.
The key to holiness has less to do with our effort and more to do with God’s presence.