Why Holiness Matters

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Confession, Holiness, Worship 11 Comments

When I think about the books in the Bible that encourage and inspire me, the Old Testament book of Leviticus would rank near the bottom. Not kidding. It’s a tough read.

But it’s important to approach God’s Word holistically, so I have to take the good with the bad… the easy-to-read chapters with the hard-to-get-through chapters. And I’ve found that in doing so, God reveals powerful, life-changing lessons.

Here’s a doozy He taught me recently that will change the way you approach your day.

Leviticus is a historical narrative that reveals God’s holiness in ways large and small. It’s intense. Full of complex instructions (detail upon detail, instruction upon instruction) given from God to Moses so the sins of the Israelites could be covered through a sacrificial system. So that God’s people would learn to recognize, respect and revere His power, righteousness and majesty.

The long and short of it is this, offerings were to be brought to God on behalf of the Israelites, mainly: Burnt Offerings, Grain Offerings, Fellowship Offerings, Sin Offerings and Guilt Offerings. The priests made these offerings, in strict adherence to the law established by God himself, so that the Israelites could be forgiven and restored in God’s sight.

As New Testament believers, we are free of these requirements. Jesus died on behalf of all mankind so that our sins could be forgiven, making these offerings no longer mandatory. He poured out his love and life for us in crimson sacrifice. The Bible tells us that when you and I confess our sins and place our faith in the finished work of Christ, that we are fully forgiven and restored to the heart of God.

After Moses had told his brother Aaron all that God had instructed, the Israelites gathered to worship the Lord and present their offerings according to the Lord’s instructions. (Leviticus 9) The ceremonies of sacrifice began near the Tent of Meetings and God met them there with fire.

After the sacrificial ceremony was well underway, Aaron’s sons decided to do their own thing. They stepped outside of God’s revealed will and brought offerings in a way that they wanted to.

And God consumed them with fire.

On the spot.

Struck them dead before all of the people.

Oh. My. Heart. Knowing how often I set aside God’s will for my own, I read this and struggle to process.

Following the deaths of Nadab and Abihu the Lord gave further directives to His people. The one that stopped me in my tracks was found in verse 10:

And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, “…You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.” (Leviticus 10:8-11)

Distinguish between the holy and the common.

Between the unclean and the clean.

I read this chapter and am gripped with a fresh awareness of God’s holiness. His words ring loud in my ears. Holiness is important to God, so it needs to be important to me.

I’m left wondering how I can distinguish the holy from the common today.

How can I sift through the mundane and dust off the majestic in practical ways?

What would it look like for me to separate and set aside the common from the holy in my marriage and mothering, at my work place, in my friendships, on social media…?

Some answers rise in my soul as obvious. Others loom nebulous. I want all to align my street-level-life with God’s sacred will, so I turn to Him in prayer and ask Him to show me.

I ask Him to help me to see the holy and the common for what it is. To choose the best. His best.

I ask Him to help me turn from the unclean toward the clean. I hand over my limited perspective, selfish intentions and stubbornness.

Pray with me?

Dear Lord,
You are holy and worthy of all praise and honor. Forgive me for all the times I bend toward the common over the holy. Lead me in Your ways today. Guide me with Your Spirit to choose words, thoughts and deeds that bring you glory.
In Jesus’s Name, amen.



Quiet your heart before God for a few minutes, then ask Him to reveal the common things, behaviors, thoughts and relationships that you’ve been settling for. Make a fresh commitment to pursue holiness and ask the Holy One to lead you in the pursuit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Leave a comment on the wall of my blog or shoot me a direct message on Instagram.

How are you doing in this time of quarantine, friend? In light of all that’s going on in the world, now more than ever it’s important for us to open up our Bibles and get with God one-on-one. To encourage you in this direction, ALL of my downloadable Psalm Adventure Study Journals are now deeply discounted and my entire store of helpful resources is marked down.

Blessings and love to you,


PS.  Jeremy Camp joined me on the newest GRACEOLOGIE episode, along with his beautiful wife Adie, for a fascinating and rich conversation you won’t want to miss! Also dropped new shows with author/speaker Lisa Whittle and business coach Jennifer Allwood!

PSS. Coronavirus has us all quarantined. How can we process this new reality and make the most of our time inside? Kathi Lipp joins me on the GRACEOLOGIE podcast for a conversation about ways to sift through, organize and strengthen our minds, hearts and homes in a season of quarantine, loss and confusion. Listen here.

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Comments 11

  1. When God calls me to Holiness He is calling us to Himself as He alone is Holy. And to Him the most important thing Is our relationship with Him. He longs to talk with us and for us to talk with Him and in His Holiness it changes us.

  2. Ow! Convicting! I really haven’t thought much about this before, even though I have heard it, I now realize, many times, & I guess I have chosen to ignore it. The arrow hit me in the heart, & with God’s help I am committing to dwell on living a holy life & think of ways I can change to do this! I love the Lord, & I so want others to see Him in me! This sure will help! Thank you for your insight into this passage. Read it many times & it didn’t sink in! It did tonight!

  3. thank you Gwen for a good article we are all staying home now with the Corina Virus going around it’s all in God’s hand he will take care us. it’s good to have family time.

  4. Hi friend: Way to allow God to speak from all of His word, including the tough stuff. That is often where the true treasure is. Interesting selection of words you used in your “Reflection” challenge. It reminded me of a book I read in my early single days as a young believer. In “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges, he challenges us on how we are called to a life of holiness because that is the intention of the blood of Christ. It was one of my most influential, life transforming reads. Thanks for sounding the trumpet my friend in this area. The body of believers will be blessed if they respond to His calling of clean over common.

  5. Gwen, this called me to the surface for sure. I am wrestling with some sibling issues involving our parents. I always read the corresponding proverbs for the day and have been pointing the fingers of my filthy heart at them instead of myself. Holiness is worth the effort, but pride will not give up without a fight.
    Thanks, friend, for your awesome revelation and insight. Have a blessed day!

    1. Post

      Judy, Girl… family is complicated! Love your heart in this. Thanks for your honesty. Real conversations and confessions take us all deeper toward the hope we need.

      Love to you!

  6. This showed up in my email during a night when I could not sleep. Visions of “what if” were flooding my mind. The virus. My loved ones. Grandchildren who practically live at my house in normal circumstances can only wave and throw kisses in FaceTime. Such heaviness. And your words come to challenge me to sift through my feelings and images to find the HOLY!? At first I thought “how does this help me get through this time?” And then I see it. As a child of God I can choose the common response of fear and grumbling, or I can choose to commit anew to the holy calling to pray and read God’s Word and sing His praises during this strange dark time. There is a definite holy calling on all our lives right now, to be a candle of light in this world. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Post

      What a powerful takeaway, Becky! So grateful the Lord impressed this on your heart! We are surely all sifting through different layers of heaviness and anxiety. And through it all, we have options in how we respond. Jesus invites us to His rest and His best. Holiness is at the center.

      Thanks for sharing this, friend!

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