If you had to define holiness for an unbelieving friend, how would you define it? As a child who grew up in a Christian home, I used to think holiness was about keeping some rules from the Bible. However, when I became a teenager, my definition of holiness began to change. At the age of 14, I was so naughty that, one day, my parents, hoping that I could become a holy teenager, decided that I was going to live, for six months, with my uncle, a Baptist minister, in another town.
When you are kicked out of your house at the age of 14 by those who love you, it is time to think more careful about the way you live, right? Well, that’s exacly what I started to do. As soon as I moved to my uncle’s house I began to follow all the rules of the Bible, even though I didn’t understand why the Bible was full of “do’s” and “don’ts”.
During my first two weeks, living with my uncle, I became an angel, a proper holy boy. But everything changed when I made so friends in the town. Things got bad! So bad that I was known as Satan in town. My nickname was certainly a reflection of whon I was becoming like. Even though I moved to a new town and lived with a holy man, I was getting worse. What was wrong with me?
Well, many people told me that I had to be holy but never explained why. People told me what I should and shouldn’t do but never told why. We can only be holy when we understand the reasons why holiness matters to God. Today I am not known as Satan but as a Christian because I understood what it means to be holy.
In this talk I want to look at Leviticus 11:44-45 to give you two reasons why we need to be holy. I don’t want to tell you must do to be holy but rather what it needs to happen in your life before you try do things. So, I hope that you leave this place today transformed. So, why does God want us to be holy?
First, holiness strength our relationship with God.
- Holiness strengthen our relationship with God (verse 44)
In Leviticus 11, from verses 1 till 43, God gives a list of forbidden food to his people. In verse 44, God says that they should restrict eating those food simply because He is holy.
What is the connection between holiness and food? How could this food restriction help God’s people to be holy?
When you invite someone to go out on a date, the most important thing is not the food but the relationship you are about to start with the person invited, right? Therefore, God was not simply giving new rules to be followed by His people, but giving them an opportunity to have a relationship with Him. God wanted his people stop eating out with Satan to start eating out with Him. Food was not the end but a mean to an end. Let me unpack it giving you two examples.
One, in Genesis 1 and 2, Adam and Eve lived in a perfect place created by God and enjoyed a perfect relationship with Him there. In this place, they could eat whatever they wanted, with only one restriction. They could not eat the fruit from tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the Garden of Eden, they had perfect meals with the company of a perfect being, God. However, one day, Adam and Eve decided to eat out with Satan and the forbidden fruit was the meal chosen. Having had the forbidden meal with Satan, mankind got separated from God to start a relationship with Satan.
Two, in Matthew 4, during Jesus’ temptation, we see Satan trying to start a relationship with Jesus. After 40 days and 40 nights without food, Jesus was tempted by Satan to change a stone into a loaf of bread. How could that be a temptation? If Jesus had the power to do that, why didn’t he do it? Is it a sin to eat when you are hungry? Not at all! Food was not the problem but the relationship that Satan was trying to build. However, Jesus never wanted to be separated from God. He replied, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that come from the mouth of God”. Jesus was saying, “I only have a relationship with my Father and I only do what my father asks me to do”.
Sin separates us from God and connects us to Satan. Holiness separates us from Satan and connects us to God.
How can I be a holy person if Satan is always around, tempting and provoking me?
Before I met my wife, I was part of an unhealthy relationship with a girl. I went through a lot with her until we finally broke up. I then met Aluanna, my wife, at university and we began a relationship. We both spent a lot of our time together eating out. Food was certainly part of our relationship. One day, we went to a restaurant with friends to keep strengthening our relationship. As soon as we began eating and drinking my ex-girlfriend arrived in the place. We tried to pretend she wasn’t there but we couldn’t pretend for a long time. Why? Because she decided to join us. Yes, she sat with us without being invited.
She wasn’t there because of the food or drink. She was there to provoke my future wife and to tempt me to come back to her. What an awkward situation, right? What would you do in our shoes? Well, I don’t what you would do but my wife and I simply ignored her. And as a result, my ex-girlfriend left us alone when she realised that the relationship between Aluanna and I was much stronger than any temptation or provocation.
In a similar way, Satan is like an old girlfriend who hates your new relationship with God. He will tempt and provoke you to break the relationship you now have with God. But when if he realises that your relationship with God is stronger than any temptation or provocation, he leaves you alone.
How is your relationship with God? Are you giving him all your attention or are you sharing it with Satan? Spiritually speaking, are you having meals with Satan or God? What are the sins in your life that separate you from God? What are the godly things that separate you from Satan?
Holiness strength our relationship with God but also strength our faith in God.
- Holiness strengthen our faith in God (verse 45)
In verse 45, God gives us another reason why his people should be holy. He says that they have been rescued from Egypt.
What did he mean by that? What’s the connection between been rescued and holiness?
As soon as Adam and Eve finished their meal with Satan, they realised they had made a huge mistake. Their food was poisoned, they were about to die spiritually and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. However, in Genesis 12, God calls Abraham and promise to give him a new kind of new Garden of Eden, a place where people could have a relationship with God. Abraham believed in the promise but died without seeing it fulfilled. But that is not all, some of his descendants didn’t see it either. Others even end up in a different land, Egypt, where they worked as slaves for more than 400 years. Would you believe in the fulfilment of this promised after such a long time?
God’s people were about to lose hope in God’s promise but one day, He chose Moses to tell Pharaoh, a kind of king in Egypt, to free more than one million slaves, God’s people. As you might have realised, to free this number of people would result in an economic crisis in Egypt so Pharaoh had no intention to let them go. God then sends plagues to Egypt to change Pharaoh’s mind but God harden Pharaoh’s heart so he wouldn’t be able to grant Moses request. Would you believe in the fulfilment of this promised when everything seems to be getting harder and harder in your life?
After nine attempts, Pharaoh was still convinced that God’s people should remain as his slaves. But God was about to send a plague that was going to change Pharaoh’s mind and soften his heart. Moses then meets Pharaoh and says that he should let God’s people go free, otherwise, at midnight, every Egyptian’s oldest son would die. Pharaoh didn’t listen to Moses. God then instructed Moses to tell the people that the only way to escape this plague was to take a perfect lamb, kill it and put the blood the door-posts of their houses so death could pass over them. On the other day, all first born of the Egyptians all died and Pharaoh finally allowed God’s people to go to the promise land.
Why didn’t God fulfil his promise while Abraham was still alive? Why did he take so long to fulfil His promises? Why didn’t God harden Pharaoh’s heart instead of softening it? Why did he choose the hard way? To teach us a lesson…
God’s promises are always fulfilled at His time, in His way, for His own glory and our spiritual maturity.
Why should I trut Him? But why should I have faith in God if He never gives me what I need?
The Hebrews spent a long time wondering why God was taking so long to fulfil His promises. Some doubt that God would even fulfil his promise. Howerver, in the end, they God was glorified and their faith was much stronger. In the same way, we all get discouraged when life is hard and we keep waiting for God’s help, but we need to keep in mind that God is in control. Our lives can only be what God intends it to be with faith in Him. God is our spiritual father and we are His spiritual children. Our father God wants us to trust Him and rely only on Him. We need to understand that God is working in us while we wait in faith. Let me give you an illustration of what I’m trying to say.
A pastor who I admire said that when his 4-year old son learned how to ride his bike without the training wheels, said, “Dad, I’m doing good on my bike. Now I need a motorcycle.” Okay? The pastor said, “You are four. You do not need a motor. Maybe later. Maybe later.” So, he’s thinking like, “Later today.” “No, much later than that.” And the pastor tried to explain to him, “You’re not ready yet.” So, as you get to know the Father, sometimes you will feel like, “Father, I need this.” And Father says, “not yet”. Trust your Father. Wait. In time, you’ll see that your Dad was right.
What are the promises that God didn’t fulfil in your life yet? Are you ready to see them being fulfilled in God’s way and at His time? Are you willing to glorify God no matter how hard life is for you now?
Holiness is much more than following some rules from the Bible, it’s a life changing process that connects us to God while separates us from Satan. Holiness is about faith in Jesus and a relationship with Him.
If you are a Christians, are you living a holy life? Have you separate all your life from the things which don’t separate you from Jesus? If you are not a Christian yet, why is it so hard for you to separate and distance yourself for the things which brings you to the most important thing you could ever be connect with? Only Jesus can help you to be a holy person. Don’t wait anymore! Repent from your sins and separate yourself from them. Have faith in Jesus and start today a relationship with Him in holiness.