“Be Holy, Because I Am Holy” — God

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A picture of a man reading his Bible so he can know how to be holy.

One very important thing to remember about today’s Bible reading* (and all of our Bible reading and study) is that God’s Word is written for God’s people.

When God says, “Be holy,” (Leviticus 19:2, 20:7, 26; 21:6; 1 Peter 1:16) He isn’t telling everyone in the world to be holy. He’s specifically addressing His people. All of God’s commandments are rooted in the context of a loving, covenant relationship with His people.

After Moses records God’s imperative to “be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2), he explains what being holy looks like. On the grand scale, we can summarize what holiness looks like as respect of God and respect of other people (both inside and outside the faith community).

In my summary, did you notice that the focus is on relationships? Holiness isn’t about words we use, activities we practice, and places we go. Holiness isn’t about words we don’t use, activities we don’t practice, and places we avoid.

Holiness is worked out in the ways we relate with God and other people.
Holiness is character-driven, not behavior-driven.

God’s call for us to be holy is based in the character of God. He wants His children to be like Him!


Now, I’m not saying that God’s Word doesn’t have practical application for lost people. In fact, many of our nation’s laws are based on biblical principles. Our Founders, many of whom were Believers, also knew that people needed a sense of right and wrong if they were to obey the laws the Founders codified. Second President of the United States, John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Unfortunately, I fear that in a great deal of our evangelism training, we’ve forgotten that our task is to focus on a lost person’s need for a relationship with God— not a behavioral change. If a lost person comes to faith in Christ, it will lead to a dynamic relationship with God and their behavior will change. And so will ours!

So how can you learn how to be holy?

To be holy like God, you have to know God!

The first thing that comes to mind is you need to read God’s Word, not just skimming over the ink on the page, but immersing yourself in it and developing a love and hunger for it. You also need to hear God’s Word preached and applied. And you need to learn God’s Word with other Believers from solid Bible teachers. All of this will lead to transformation into being more like Jesus. (John 17:17 [“sanctify” means “to make holy”], Romans 12:2, Ephesians 5:25-26)

So what do you need to read in God’s Word?

You need to gain a good grasp of the New Testament. The book of Hebrews demonstrates how the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant. You’ll also want to read John’s Gospel and Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

You’ll get to know God through what He says and the ways He interacts with His people in narrative and poetic parts of the Bible. The Book of Psalms reveals attributes of God and models how to praise and thank God. Proverbs presents wise principles for living.

In your reading, you’ll discover your favorite parts. But don’t forget to read the rest of the Bible, too! That’s what this year’s chronological reading plan is all about: giving us an overview of God’s unfolding story between God and His people.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
– Leviticus 19
– Leviticus 20
– Leviticus 21
– Leviticus 22

This devotional was originally published on February 21, 2021.

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