Worship Through Holiness
Open Your Bible
Leviticus 20:7-8, Isaiah 1:11-20, 1 Peter 2:1-10, James 1:19-27
BY Guest Writer
In third grade I got called to the principal’s office for saying an inappropriate word. In my defense, someone had written it on the chair in front of me, and I was reading it aloud to my friend. As I made the trek from my classroom to the office, I remember my heart beating through my chest and tears running down my face. “Failure!” That’s what I heard over and over again in my mind, and I hated it. I never wanted to experience that feeling again—and a perfectionist started growing in me.
When I met Jesus, my tendency toward perfectionism collided with my sinfulness, which then re-collided with the call on my life to be “holy” with my thoughts and actions. I don’t think I am alone in this struggle, and my prayer today is to break this whole “holiness” thing down and learn together how to worship God through it.
Leviticus chapter 20 speaks to this call to holiness: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am the LORD your God” (v.7). In this passage, God warns His people to stay far away from cultural practices that are not of Him. God lays it out very simply: If what is going on around us is not of Him, then we need to stay away from it, to stand apart from what the world is doing—not simply because we have to, but because we want to, as an act of worship. We are called to live holy lives because we love God enough to trust that what He asks of us is for our good and His glory.
It seems simple, right? We worship God by standing apart. But how do we stand apart?
We find the answer in the next verse, which says, “Keep my statutes and do them” (Leviticus 20:8a). At the onset, we might get stuck on that fact that we can’t possibly keep all of His statutes on our own; we will always fall short and fail. Instead, we need to step into God’s infinite grace and mercy to see how He finishes the verse for us: “I am the LORD who sets you apart” (Leviticus 20:8b).
In these places of perfectionism and failure, I sense God whispering to me, “Sweet child, you worship me through holiness by coming to me over and over again and allowing Me to make you clean.” This is why Jesus came: to make us holy and bring us back into right relationship with God. He has chosen us to be His own and calls us holy now, today. Out of His great mercy, He called us out of the darkness of sin and into freedom in Him (1 Peter 2:9–10).
What God asks of us is to do more than just hear and receive His word; we are to put our faith into action (James 1:22). He asks that we also pursue holiness and “rid [ourselves] of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1). In doing so, we “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is [our] true act of worship” (Romans 12:1, emphasis mine).
This is our true act of worship: to submit ourselves daily to our loving God, and to consecrate every part of our lives to Him and His ways. We are to set our actions apart from the ways of this world, because He has chosen us and has already set us apart for Himself.
Even this we cannot do this apart from the Holy Spirit in us. Let us then worship God freely, hands raised high and hearts wide open, knowing that both the holiness we possess and the holiness we pursue, He has made possible in us.
Maria Furlough is a wife and a mother to one amazing 11-year-old daughter, three rambunctious boys, and one baby boy who lives in the arms of Jesus. Formerly a full-time youth pastor, Maria now teaches women’s Bible studies and works as the Missions Team leader at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, North Carolina. Maria is the author of Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for You Anxious Heart and Confident Moms, Confident Daughters. You can find Maria on Instagram or Facebook @MariaFurlough or online at www.mariafurlough.com.