The Apostle Peter wrote: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to to the desires of your former ignorance but as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ 1 Peter 1:14-15 HCSB
We understand that God wants us to be like Him; He is in the process of re-creating us in His image from within. But it’s easy to get off track in our thinking as to why God wants us to be Holy, set apart, and pure, for Him.
The answer lies at the heart of the Pentateuch. The first five books of Moses tell the story of creation, fall, flood, and the formation of the people of God. God chooses the descendants of Abraham, forms them into a people for Himself, brings them to Mt. Sinai, where He reveals Himself to them, gives them the Torah, and enters into a covenant with them.
At the center, or “summit” of the Torah is Mt. Sinai, and the 16th chapter of the book of Leviticus–which gives the Laws concerning the Day of Atonement. It shows that God’s plan for cleansing His people from the guilt of their sins, is so that God may dwell with His people! With the completion of the sacrificial offerings, and the construction of the Tabernacle, God’s presence, His shekinah glory, comes to dwell in the very heart of the Hebrew camp! You could sum up the entire story of the Bible by saying that it reveals God’s purpose and plan for His creation; the heavens and the earth were created to be a “temple,” a “house,” in which God will dwell with His people!
It’s easy to misunderstand why God wants us to live holy lives. We have a tendency to think that personal holiness is like a scorecard that God will add up at the end of our lives and give us a grade based upon our degree of holiness. But that’s missing the point; the reason God wants us to live holy lives is so that He can dwell with us, and we can dwell with Him! To dwell with Him means that He will reveal Himself to us, and we will dwell in a loving relationship with Him–in this life, and even more so–in the age to come!