Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.
Holiness is a two-way street. And this passage captures that truth well. God asked Israel to commit to relationship through Him through the covenant of the Law. They were to do so primarily through the motivation of worship. If they truly were God’s people and loved Him, they would do as He said for them to do. They would consecrate themselves and they would be holy because they would want to please God. That is a fine and wonderful reason to be sanctified.
We set-apart ourselves to God only if He first does something for us. A convicted man cannot find the graces of his judge be merit of his charms. Only the judicial decision can ever create anything better for him than his crimes deserve. And the same is true with us. We have sinned against a holy and just God. And only if He makes a move toward us can we move toward Him. That is exactly what the last phrase of this passage told Israel: “I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” They would be helpless in holiness if God had not decreed a righteousness for them out of the relationship with the Law that they would enjoy. They obeyed, but it was God Who made them holy.
Lest I forget this truth, God repeats this truth throughout the Old and New Testaments. The scriptures I could cite would be more than I could list right now. The New Testament makes it clear that I “work out” my salvation, making holy living a personal choice. But I can’t do that unless God first saves and sanctifies me. He makes me holy and clothes me in the very righteousness of His Son. So I am moved to holy living because Jesus is my Savior and I have a relationship with the Father through the Son. I am enabled for this task not because I am so good, but because God has sanctified me and given me truth for holy living in His Word. The Bible continuously shows me the choices that I must make that are pleasing to God. God makes me able to come to Him. But I must still choose to come to Him. God makes me able to live a righteous and godly life, but I must still make the right choices to live that life in Christ. I must allow Jesus to live in me if I am going to live a holy life.