They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. Ez 44:23
The holy and the common, the sacred and the profane. You know what I remember when I think of this? I remember the movie “Fantasia.” Here’s how Disney artists pictured the profane and the sacred —
The illustration of the profane is dark and blatantly evil. The rendering of the sacred culminates in brightness and the beauty of creation.
So are these illustrations accurate? If I’m going to explain the difference between the holy and the common, I have to start by making sure people understand what holiness is.
The holiness of God is goodness, beauty, purity and glory. The International Standard Bible Dictionary calls it the”absoluteness, majesty, and awfulness of the Creator.”
It includes moral qualities of righteousness and love. Holiness is a state of being so pure that people would die in its presence. ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. Ex 19:12
It is important that the world sees God as holy. “‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel.” Ez 39:7
God makes us holy. We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb 10:10
Because God is holy and we are holy, it matters how we live. Although we are saved by grace, we cannot go around doing whatever we want, being lackadaisical towards sin.
- What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Rom 6:2)
- Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.(I John 2:6)
How we live can be a positive testimony to the world that God is real, and he is holy.
Matthew Henry said in his commentary on Ezekiel, “We sanctify God before others, when our conduct invites and encourages them to glorify and honour him.” I like this. I want to sanctify God before others. I want others to see in my life the evidence of a holy God. My life should resonate with God. My acts can be a reflection and a manifestation of his working.
I think of I Peter 3, and how wives can save their husbands through the way they live, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” (I Peter 3:1-2) This principle can be true any time we fear God and live in a holy manner. We can influence people wherever we go.
But if we don’t honor God as holy, it has a negative effect.
But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Num 20:12
God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would give the people water. But Moses was frustrated with the people and called them rebels, and struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it. It always seemed extreme to me that Moses couldn’t see the Promise Land because of this one little deviation from God’s will. Was that real disobedience? The same purpose was accomplished. Why would it matter whether Moses said something, or used his staff?
We are so prideful. We always want to put our own twist on things, and say it’s still honoring God. It just feels so good to obey our way instead of his. And then instead of resonating with God, we’re like a note out of tune.
Why does it matter if we change things up a bit? Because it shows that we think our opinion is more important than God’s opinion. As God so adroitly put it in the book of Job, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” We take the finely drawn blueprint of God and scratch out a part of it and scribble in our own variation.
Thus, there must be a reverence to the way we live, and a profound respect for God.
- As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” I Peter 1:14-16
- Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. II Cor 7:1
- But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Eph 5:3
- we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Cor 10:5
The holy and the common, the sacred and the profane. If people cannot distinguish between the two, they cannot distinguish who God is or what their relationship to him should be.
This year, my son asked me if there was something I wanted for Christmas, and I told him I would like a some used replacement china for pieces that had gotten broken. As my children have gotten older, I’ve started to enjoy using my fine china. The common dishes are for every day. But the china is for special times.
We are like fine china. We are made for something special. We are sacred, not profane. We are a temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor 6:19)
- In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. II Tim 2:20-21
Today, Father, may I realize how special I am, how you have shaped me for noble purposes. May I be useful for you. May I honor you by believing that each encounter and action has significance.
May I teach others your Word, that they may be see what holiness is.
- Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
May I teach others that respecting divine holiness is the most important thing.
- “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” I Peter 3:14