A sign of a healthy church is it believes every member has been made holy. This affects every part of its life together.
We learned in the book of Exodus that God’s ultimate purpose was that His people would be a kingdom OF priests, not a kingdom WITH priests (Exodus 19:6). Humans were designed to be representatives of God’s character and rule in the physical realm.
God had invited one family to be His people and His representatives to show the rest of the world what God is like. They were invited to be an example of what it’s like when God is King on the earth.
They signed up for this “covenant relationship,” but there was a major problem. They were sinful humans that couldn’t keep the covenant (Exodus 32), and sinful humans can’t represent a holy God. Holiness and sin are like oil and water. They cannot be in the same space together.
God made a way
The book of Leviticus is all about how God took a sinful, unholy family and created a way for sinful humans to become holy so they can be in His holy presence again. He gave the family a way to both receive His grace and satisfy His justice for the evil they chose to do in the world.
Specifically, He gave them rituals to practice, priests to mediate their relationship and purity laws to keep.
The rituals were to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry,” and they were to have seven annual feasts that would remind them of God’s faithfulness and who they were in His plan.
The priests would mediate the relationship between the family and God as they lived with superior moral integrity and ritual holiness. They would make sacrifices that would atone for and remove sin from the family.
Finally, the purity laws would show the world that God’s holiness affected this family’s whole life.
If they followed the instructions, they would be made holy and able to be in God’s presence and represent Him to the world.
A temporary workaround
Now remember this…this was all a temporary solution to continue the covenant relationship. It wasn’t God’s ultimate purpose and intention for them. He did it because of their inability to keep the covenant with Him.
He was giving them a temporary workaround in order to advance eventually to His ultimate purpose and intention. It was a temporary way to live with sinful people in peace. And it worked. Moses couldn’t enter God’s presence at the end of the book of Exodus, but he can by the end of Leviticus (Numbers 1:1).
God’s holy people
The Church has been made holy once and for all through Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10). When it comes to our condition or ability to live in God’s presence, it’s been totally and completely taken care of. Take a look at how Paul addresses all the churches his letter called “Ephesians” would make it to…
To God’s holy people…(Eph. 1:1)
The churches he was writing to had problems. They weren’t perfect. But no matter what, they were holy. He knew that the degree to which they believed that God had made them holy was the degree to which they would behave that way.
He spends the first half of that letter explaining more about their identity to them. Then, in the middle of the book, he says “Therefore” (Eph. 4:1) and writes the rest of the letter about how their new identity should affect every area of their lives.
When a church understands they are holy, every area of its life is affected. It changes the types of decisions they make and activities they do. It changes their life together in ways that show the world God’s holiness in them is something to be respected and lived in.
Put on the new self
Later in Ephesians, Paul writes that holy ones are to “put on the new self,” (Eph. 4:20-24) meaning they choose to believe they have been made holy no matter how they feel or what their circumstances are.
A sign of healthy church is a real sense of understanding its new identity before and with God. You can sense a freedom from guilt and condemnation when you’re around them. They don’t talk about how they need to sin less. They constantly remind each other that they are holy ones.
Because of this, they know that it’s not their real new self when they sin. God has made them into priests.
When they do wrong, they know it’s habits of the old self that have stuck around that are slowly being transformed. They work hard to facilitate the transformation process of God’s holiness infusing their souls over time.