Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why Holiness is desirable

Leviticus 18:1-5 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the LORD your God.

Why Holiness is desirable
We have explored in past blogs the necessity for holiness, as well as defining the nature of holiness itself.  However I have not blogged particularly on why holiness is desirable.  Leviticus 18-22, as well as other passages, bear out why holiness must be desired, and why it is desirable.  The following five reasons will be given for demonstrating why it is that holiness is desirable:

1. Holiness focuses on desiring God
2. Holiness fortifies marriages
3. Holiness frees us from unnecessary sorrow
4. Holiness is fundamental to Christian love
5. Holiness furthers the Gospel

With these five reasons, we want to explore the first, since desiring God is the most important reason for desiring holiness.

Holiness is desirable because it focuses us on desiring God
As Moses begins this section of Leviticus 18-22, he is told in Leviticus 18:2 - "speaks to the sons of Israel saying: I am the LORD your God."  In fact, by the time we get to the end of Leviticus 22, the phrase "I am the LORD" is mentioned some 40 times!  As much as this section is about avoiding sexual immorality, not defiling the land, loving one's neighbor and covenant faithfulness, the chief concern to to proclaim the message: "I AM the LORD".

Why does the Lord do this?  Why does He interject on some 40 occassions in five chapters the constant reminder that He is The LORD?  Because unless you and I desire to know Him, we will never desire holiness.

When we desire God in His Holiness, we are desiring what is most beautiful
David writes in Psalm 27:4 - "One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple."  1 Chronicles 16:29 in the KJV states:  "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."   

Think about why people love diamonds, or trips to the Grand Canyon, or big pieces of chocolate cake, or big bouquets of Roses.  Why do people expend large amounts of money for such things?  Because of that elusive quality we call beauty.  Beauty and Holiness are intertwined in the Bible because beauty is closely related to the purest quality of goodness, soundness, symmetry, proportion.  A beautiful object or person causes us to forget ourselves and direct our attention towards that thing or person. 

God is of course the source of all beauty.  His Holiness places Him in an unique category all His own. 

We need to be Marys in a Martha World
In Luke 10:39-42 we read the account of Jesus coming to visit a family of two sisters: Martha and Mary.  These two had a famous brother whom Jesus would raise from the dead in John 11.  Now the one interesting feature of Martha was that she was always busy - the practical realist of the family.  Meanwhile her sister Mary was very contemplative - the dreamer of the family.

In the account of Luke, Martha is busy trying to prepare the meal and the house for Jesus.  While Jesus is at the house, Mary is sitting at His feet, listening to Him expound the scriptures.  Martha suddenly blurts out in Luke 10:40b "“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” Jesus responds in Luke 10:41-42  "But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”"

Quite literally, Mary had chosen that which held "greater appeal, attractiveness, more benefit" - i.e "the better".  Mary was transfixed on the beauty of the holiness of Christ.  Because she desired the holiness of God and His Word, desiring holiness for herself was not an obligation - but the desire of her soul. 

Martha of course would learn this - since it was she who later on was taught by Jesus about He being "The Resurrection and the Life". (John 11:25).  To desire holiness is to desire God.  This first and chief reason is why we conclude: Holiness is desirable