Our Sin and the Holiness of God
"But he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them." Leviticus 21:23
Our heavenly Father is both entirely full of love and completely holy. And in the greatest tragedy of all time, our sin caused the love and holiness of our God to be at opposition with one another. His greatest desire was for unadulterated, perfect relationship with us. And with Adam and Eve that longing was fulfilled. He could enjoy communion with us without separation. But when sin entered the grand narrative of human history God’s unshakable, holy nature could not allow him to walk in perfect communion with us any longer. Our sin caused a rift between us and him that his love could not yet overcome.
So great is the holiness of our God and so great was the depth of our sin that a veil was placed between us and our heavenly Father, a veil signifying the horrific separation of God and man. In a description of the veil, Exodus 26:31-33 says, “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.”
Only one man, chosen to go before God as Israel’s representative, was allowed to pass through the veil once a year on the Day of Atonement. And so great was God’s holiness and our sin that if anyone else was to enter, the power of God’s holiness would kill them. In Leviticus 16:2, God commanded Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.”
In order to appreciate the power of Christ’s sacrifice, we must acknowledge the status from which we have been redeemed. In Luke 7:47, in reference to the depth of a prostitute’s love for him, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” You have been forgiven much regardless of what lifestyle you have come from. So great was the chasm your sin created that you were incapable of communion with your Creator. Without the sacrifice of Christ you would have no restored relationship with God, no Holy Spirit dwelling within you, and no grace, mercy, or total forgiveness.
So that you might greatly love your heavenly Father today, spend time in prayer focusing on the depth of your sin, which has been sacrificially redeemed by the love of Jesus Christ.
1. Meditate on the depth of your inherited sin. You were, by nature, completely separated from the love of your heavenly Father.
“We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
2. Take time to reflect on what your life would be like without relationship with your heavenly Father. What would it be like to be without God’s grace and forgiveness? What would it be like to be without his presence for all of your days?
3. Take time to thank God for the abundance of his goodness. Worship him for his sacrifice. Love him greatly in response to the depth of your sins.
“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” Psalm 138:1-3
“So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:2-4
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Psalm 145:8-9
Seeing our sin in light of God’s holiness is a difficult but wonderful reminder of how greatly God has loved us. Jesus sacrificed everything when we were deserving of nothing. May you live today in response to God’s unmerited favor and grace on your life.
Extended Reading: Romans 5