Did you know that you are in control of whether or not you enter the presence God? Yes, you heard that right. You are in control. Now before you start ranting that I have lost my mind, or that I am a heretic, let’s examine the scriptures.
In Isaiah 59 we read, “Adonai’s arm is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Rather, it is your own crimes that separate you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he doesn’t hear.”
Then in Leviticus 9 and 10, we learn about Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, who died while serving the Lord. Do we know why? There is a lot of speculation, but what we do know is that the scripture says, “they offered unauthorized fire, something that he had not ordered them to do.”
Sin, ritual impurity, and any other ceremonial or moral defilement repels the presence of God. Sin is missing the mark. Anything that is not perfectly right and true repels the presence of God who is all holy, all righteous.
What is God’s perfect standard of righteousness?
Believe that God is who he says he is – the Creator of all things, the one who saves.
Don’t have any other gods but him.
Don’t take God’s name lightly.
Keep the Sabbath.
Honor your father and mother.
Do not murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.
Do not covet.
Yeshua summarized God’s standard when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now before we go thinking, “Oh, that’s easy – just love”, we have to know what love looks like. In Exodus 20, God says that he displays his grace to those who love him and obey his commandments. Yeshua said the same thing, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” What commandments? Those found in the Law and the Prophets – because as he said, love is the summary of it all. Love is obedience.
You see, Yeshua taught that the standard of God’s law is not merely an outward display, but an inward reality.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua said that it was not enough to keep from killing someone, but we had better not even hate that person. It was not enough to keep from committing adultery, but we had better not have lust in our heart. He said that our righteousness had better exceed that of the Pharisees, if we wanted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
As his astonished disciples asked, ’Who can enter the Kingdom?’ we too, should be asking, ‘Who can enter God’s presence?’
In Leviticus 16, we see God telling Aaron exactly how to do that. In order to avoid another death (like his sons), the high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies one day a year, offering atonement for the whole nation. However, before he could enter, there was a whole series of cleansing and atonement.
Now let’s look at our great High Priest, who offers not the blood of goats and bulls, but his own precious blood. We know he did it once for all. His sacrifice and offering allow us – mere mortals, non-Levites – to enter the presence of God. In fact, his sacrifice and offering bring God’s very presence into us!
But what if we sin? We procure the blood through repentance.
But what if we don’t repent? What if we continue to sin, relying on his grace to understand that we are merely sinful creatures? What if we continue to make excuses for ourselves and our own desires?
We repel the presence of God.
So it is up to us. Do we accept Yeshua’s sacrifice and focus on his Spirit to lead us to think, do, and say righteousness? Or do we go our own way, nullifying his offering and sacrifice?