The Message of the Law: Be Holy

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God’.” (Leviticus 19:1-4)

When any aspects of God’s law is being considered, what is its overall message? How could a person summarize the law of God? In this statement to Moses, the Lord mentions a few of the commandments from His holy law. He speaks of proper treatment of parents, observance of the Sabbath day, and refraining from idolatry. Then, He provides a two word summary of all His law: “be holy.”

In this call to holiness, the Lord holds forth Himself as the reason for, and standard of, living holy lives. “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” God is holy, so He wants holiness to be a distinctive trait of His people.

In our God there abides complete moral purity.

What is the holiness of God? It has to do with His character. Holiness speaks of that which is innate with God, as well as contrasting that which is absolutely foreign to His being. In the Lord God there is perfect righteousness. On the other hand, in Him there dwells no unrighteousness of any type. In our God there abides complete moral purity. Contrariwise, in Him there is not even a trace of moral evil. In fact, everything about Him is spiritually pure and morally unpolluted.

This holy character of the Lord God is the standard of life that the law holds forth for humanity. God’s chosen nation, Israel, was given this standard in writing. All others have this standard written on the conscience (Rom 2:15). Every one who is born into this world is measured by God’s law, which demands that the holy character of God be seen in their life before God, including how they relate to God and to one another. The message of the law is: “be holy.”


O Holy Father, I worship You for Your perfect holiness. None is holy, O Lord, besides You. You are pure and righteous in all of Your being and all of Your doing. Father, I am aware of, and convicted of, my lack of innate holiness. I confess that I could never produce a life that would measure up to Your holy standards. I thank You for the gracious forgiveness that is available in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I take comfort in, and find hope in, the righteousness that Your Son can bring into the lives of those who trust in Him day by day, in His name. Amen.

Copyright © 2004 by Bob Hoekstra. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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