Holiness, What does it look like?

Holiness, What Does it Look Like?

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

 IHS

May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ build your confidence in their work in your life!


May Your Children Grow up

Rumor has it, that someone in this sanctuary may have uttered the following blessing once or twice.

“I hope you children grow up to be just….. (like you!)”

Now, I know some may have said it with less intent than a blessing.  But there is One here, who would has indeed said it as a blessing, as a prayer.  That they desired the children of the One they were talking to, as they grew up to resemble Him in every way.

Indeed, that is the very reason Jesus came, to make sure that the children of His Father, would grow up to resemble God.

That is why we hear the words today in two readings, “You must be Holy, because, I, the Lord your God am holy.”

You must be holy, you must resemble your Father in heaven.  There is no maybe, it is not just a challenge, a goal for us, it is truth.  It is reality,

You must be Holy, for you Dad in heaven is, and His children, grow up to be just like Him.

And that, my brothers and sisters, is a very good thing!

So say it with me, “I must be holy, for my Father in heaven, the LORD, my God, is Holy!”

Now say it like you mean it!

“I must be holy, for my Father in heaven, the LORD, my God, is Holy!”
So what does that look like, in real life in Cerritos in 2014?  What does Holiness look like, lived out our lives?

I am the Lord

As we look at the Old Testament reading, there is going to be a temptation to define holiness by the “do’s and “do not’s” listed there.  It is a great list, which we will look at in Bible Study, but there is more to holiness than just those behaviors.  Holiness is more than just the attitudes we hear described there.

Don’t get me wrong, those behaviors need to describe us, but the key to our holiness, to our being just like our Father, isn’t found there.

It’s found in His name.

That’s why it is repeated five times throughout the passage.

I am the LORD.

Slight tangent for a moment.  It’s one of my frustrations with English translations, that instead of putting God’s name in scriptures, we cover it up with LORD, in all capitals. I understand it, but the result is we often overlook it, and what it means for God to give us His name. 6000 times in scripture, the Name of God is there, for us to hear, and know He is, and He is with us!

So five times, in this list of behaviors, God reminds people He is the LORD, He is YHWH, He is the I AM.  It is the same way He starts every list of commandments, every time He describes how the people of God should live life! A life set apart in a relationship with Him, for God is, and He is with you!

Here, like in the 10 Commandments, God describes how we are not to use His name, We aren’t to use it falsely, or bring shame on it.  Which means, Luther points out, that we are to use it, to praise and glorify Him, to bring honor to His name, to use it in the way that pleases Him, calling out to Him as a child calls out to its Father.

Each time that name is used in scripture, it should call to mind that God has taught us to depend on Him, to call out to Him, for yes, He is our father.
That is where Holiness begins, dwelling in His presence!  No wonder the psalms encourage us, telling us of the joy it was to be going up to the house of the Lord!

Or why Paul writes,

18  All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (TEV)

If we are transformed into His likeness, that likeness includes the holiness of God, that we must be!.  For you must be holy, even as YHWH God is Holy!

So what does holiness look like?

Jesus.

Incarnate, Crucified, Risen.

with whom in baptism we are united.

We are holy, we must be holy, for in Christ, we are made to be so.

So you must be Holy      

So these words that surround God telling us He is our God, that He is at work in our lives, that we have a relationship with Him and therefore are holy; what about those words?  Do we ignore them?

Or, are we not holy, if they do not describe us?

It is a heavy list, if we see it as requirements, if we hear it as God’s law.

If indeed, it is law.  But there is a problem there, we can’t make these changes on our own.  Even if we just look at the bottom line, the command to love all our neighbors as ourselves – I know I struggle just to know mine, but to love them?

To look out for all that would gladly settle for the leavings? To provide extra for them, the poor and the foreigner?

What about the challenge of not causing the blind and deaf to struggle?  We may think we do not do it, but what if it is that they are deaf and dumb in regards to knowing the love of God?  Do the actions we take towards them, or the actions we don’t take, become a stumbling block in their responding to God’s call to them, to come and find the healing they need?

The option is to do what our church vision is, as we find ourselves healing in Christ, to help others heal. CLICK

You must be holy isn’t just a command, it is a statement of Christ’s effectiveness, in coming and saving us!

That is why holiness happens, not by a force of our will, but by being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, of realizing these qualities define Him, and therefore, as we are transformed into His likeness, they begin to define us even more.

For He is the LORD, our God, our Father, and the work of Christ is to present us perfect complete in Him.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit as well, transforming us, sanctifying us, making us holy… to Him.

The secret to Holiness?

Look to God, look to Christ’s love, shown at the cross, united to youn in your baptism, the love we share in, the Christ we share in as we take and eat His body, as we drink His blood, as we proclaim His death for us, for all of us, until He comes again.

Call on Him, remember His call to you, remember His work, and then you will begin to love others as He does… and His sense of justice, His sense of mercy will become yours.

For apples don’t fall far from the tree…

and children grow up to be just like their dads…. And you will grow up to be like your heavenly Father, because of Jesus

Holiness?  What does it look like?

You as you dwell in Christ,, for you must be holy, for your Father in Heaven, YHWH your God, is Holy

Knowing His holiness, that peace which can’t be described in words, yet in which you dwell, your heart and mind guarded by Jesus Christ.  AMEN?

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on February 24, 2014, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Dustin. I really enjoyed reading this. Recently, its been impressed on my about seeking God first and everything else will be added to me. I find its impossible to be holy without doing so first.

    • Craig, exactly – one of the problems we have is the tendency towards separating justificaiton from sanctification. This leads to the idea that we aren’t holy until we grow into it somehow, or experience a second infilling of grace.
      But holiness is living transformed – and that transformation happens as God promised back in Ezekiel 36:25ff and of course 37 – when God transforms us, when the Spirit breathes life into us. When we are identified with Christ’s death and resurrection – for we are there with Him.
      It’s realizing that transformation that is more the challenge.

      Thanks for reading!

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