Distinguishing Between Holy and Common

Distinguish between holy and common

10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.” (Leviticus 10:10-11)

The basic idea of "holy" is separated or set apart. In religion it is separated unto God, set apart unto HIM. Many things were said to be so set apart or holy. They were common things UNTIL they were set apart (sanctified), THEN they were holy unto the LORD.

The difficulty is to tell the difference because they all LOOK common. This is why God commanded them to distinguish or discern between that which was holy and that which was common. It becomes holy because God said so, not because it looked different.

We can see the difficulty with this in the 'strange fire' that Nadab and Abihu used in the offering of incense unto God. What they offered was unto the LORD. As such it was an act of worship. However, 'strange fire' was in fact fire that was common and hence 'not holy'.

Once sanctified, it was not then to be used AS COMMON. In the making of the incense they were to regard even the recipe as holy and thus they could not make more of it for common purposes. This TYPE of incense was to be set apart unto the LORD. It was to be used ONLY in worship unto God.

The problem of failing to discern between the common and the holy is that it reflects our failure to sanctify God. Such treatment of that which God made holy is to treat God himself as common. It fails to set God apart. At the death of Nadab and Abihu God said: "I will be sanctified by those who come near me" (Lev. 10:3) To sanctify God is to treat His teaching as special. Holiness does not take God's word as something WE can take or leave or change at OUR discretion. God is not man. God's word is not to be ignored, added to, or changed (Deut. 4:2, 12:32; Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 30:5-6; Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19, etc.). God is to be sanctified, set apart, considered HOLY.

Holiness is a major part of the teaching of the New Testament. This is particularly seen in regards to God's people. We are holy unto the LORD. We are called saints (Rom. 1:1-2). We pursue holiness in our lives (Heb. 12:14) . We are to be holy because our God is holy. We are to be holy in all of our conduct (1 Peter. 1:14-16). We are to come out from worldly living and be separate (2 Cor. 6:17-18).

Yet there are things that are still 'ours'. Concerning that which is contributed, 'while it was yours, it was yours' Peter told Ananias (Acts 5:4). Hence, once it was 'given' it was NOT theirs. As such is was holy and separated unto God's regulations. In eating of the Lord's supper the church at Corinth had taken the Lord's supper and made it into a common meal. Paul's reaction: "WHAT? Do you not have houses to eat and drink, or do you despise the church" (1 Cor. 11:22). Their coming together and what they did when they came together was holy unto the Lord.

There is still a great need for people to discern between holy and unholy, between clean and unclean.