“For I am the Lord your God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy…” – Leviticus 11:44.
If you’ve ever started reading Leviticus, you know how challenging it can be to interpret. The detailed procedures for sacrifices, lists of clean and unclean animals, and peculiar laws in the book of Leviticus may seem too complicated and irrelevant for us today and often leave modern readers scratching their heads in confusion or zoning out in boredom.
Leviticus 11:44 is a snapshot of the Book of Leviticus. There are many things in Leviticus that are holy. Twice, in verses 44-45 we hear these words, “be holy, because I am holy.” To understand what it means to be holy, we have to fully understand that God is holy:”O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” (Psalm 40:5). The psalmist tells us, “Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him.” (Psalm 96:9) Solomon writes, “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” (Proverbs 9:10)
Leviticus reveals Christ’s sacrifice to us through the pictures in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of one who walked in holiness. If we look at how He lived and exemplified holiness, we see a life committed to honoring God, showing love, honoring parents, and serving others. But being holy isn’t natural, and it isn’t something we can do under our own strength. Walking in holiness requires the Holy Spirit. Holiness is only possible when we are put on the new self and live life as the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) God wants us to be. Although holiness isn’t natural to us, we are instructed in scripture to follow or pursue holiness.
Leviticus 11:44 also talks about being consecrated. Leviticus 8 describes the instructions God gave Moses to consecrate and ordain Aaron and his sons so that they could begin their priesthood. “Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and on their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments” (Leviticus 8: 30 NIV).
When we consecrate ourselves to God, we wholly dedicate ourselves to Him. It is the act of setting yourself aside and dedicating yourself to God. We consecrate ourselves when we surrender our lives and will to Him as a living sacrifice and live our lives for the glory of God. Consecration is offering ourselves, our stuff, plans, wants, desires, and will to Jesus.
God’s ultimate purpose is to sanctify us – make us holy – to make us like Jesus. Holiness begins when we are born again but that is not the end-point of our life with Jesus; it is only the beginning of a holy and consecrated life.
- Can you define the word holiness in general and more specifically for your life?
- Do you believe a person can become holy?