How can I possibly be holy?
Over the past several days my daily Bible study has come from Exodus. In particular, I’ve been reading page after page of commands, descriptions, accumulation, building, and consecration of the holy items for the tabernacle. God’s attention and demand of detail is amazing, and quite frankly, a bit frightening. I feel for ol’ Bezalel. The Word of God says that he was gifted in all manners of crafts and artistry so that he could accomplish all that God commanded.
Nearing the conclusion of the book of Exodus, I was suddenly struck by verse 9 of chapter 40, “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it along with all its furnishing so that it will be holy.” I began to think about this. What made these ordinary objects “holy”? They were built by human hands. Sure they were made of gold and silver, but so was the calf Aaron made. The golden calf was not holy but unholy.
It’s not even that they were made according to God’s specifications. God described what was to be made in very detailed specifications, but even after Bezalel and his team created them according to God’s command, they were not holy. What was it that made them holy?
You and I have been commanded through Peter’s writing in the first chapter of his first epistle, “13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Peter tells us our conduct, or actions, should be holy. How can I possibly be holy? Well, God has given very specific details about how we are to live, but trying to follow these laws will only demonstrate how unholy we are. Or as Paul writes in Romans 3:20, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” So, just as Bezalel could not make holy items, we cannot make a holy person. Just as his masking of the wood with beautiful gold and silver could not create true holiness, we may wear a mask of self-righteousness, but it cannot and will not make us holy.
Again, how can I possibly be holy? What made these simple items holy was the anointing of oil and consecration, being set aside for God’s use. As these items were used to worship God, by God, He made them holy. They became holy because no matter what they were made from, they were now only used by God for His glory. This is how ordinary, sinful people like you and I can be holy. We are not simply anointed with oil, but when we accept the atoning sacrifice of Christ we are anointed and sealed into the family of God by the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we consecrate ourselves to His use for His glory. This is what Paul means in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” We do not become holy because of our actions, but rather through His action in us. Sure, we have specifications for our life just as Bezalel had specifications for the items. They had to be made right before God could use them, but that was not what made them holy. They became holy, just as we do, because they were God’s own to use. Have you set yourself aside for God today?