Today the sermon is on the fourth commandment. And as we gather for worship, I want to urge you to think particularly about the requirement to make the Sabbath holy. This is related to God’s command that His people be holy, as He is holy. When Moses first meets with God, the presence of God consecrates the ground around the burning bush, making it holy ground. God’s presence is holy because God’s presence is perfectly safe. There is no shadow of turning with Him; there is no blemish, nothing harmful. But sin is a virus, a poison, nothingness breaking into God’s good creation. Sin and guilt and death are black holes that suck the goodness out of this world.
This happens both individually and corporately as a body. Individually, it can be tempting to think that sin is just like coloring outside the lines. It’s not good, but not really that bad either. It’s a mistake, a mix-up, like spilling your milk. Oops, I got drunk last night. Oops, I looked at porn again. Oops, I was really harsh and critical. But the Bible says sin is a dangerous poison that destroys. Telling lies, being stingy, holding grudges, refusing to forgive, losing your temper with your wife, speaking harshly to your children: this is like a leak in your gas line, like letting your exhaust run with the garage door closed. Most people would never dream of leaving their kids in the car under those circumstances, or staying in the house with a gas leak, but your individual sinful habits are poisonous like that.
Corporately, we fail to be a holy people in so far as we don’t uphold one another. Do we pray for one another like we ought? Do we remind one another of the promises of God? Do we encourage one another in obedience? Hold one another accountable for godly disciplines or repenting of sin? Or if we see someone slipping, see someone getting into trouble do we pull them aside and gently correct them? If someone is in a bad relationship, is hanging out with fools, wasting time with stupid movies, holiness in community means speaking up. Holiness means working together to form habits and rhythms of life that protect one another, that guard against sin for one another, that give life to one another. But if we just assume that we’re supposed to mind our own business, this is a failure of holiness.
Being holy, and being a holy people is practicing being the presence of God in this world, being the life-giving presence of God for and to one another. This isn’t presumption because we have been given the Holy Spirit. God dwells in you. His presence is with you wherever you go.