People tend to avoid the book of Leviticus. If you read it only as strange or different from your worship practice you surely miss much. Much in the first chapters of Leviticus is devoted to sacrifices dealing with sin.

God set out that sin requires some “sacrifice”, some act to complete forgiveness. Today religion has reduced confession to a set prayer spoken every Sunday, and forgiveness as words by the priest after the prescribed prayer finishes.

What’s missing?

Leviticus tells us. Forgiveness, the process which God “loves” to do, follows some cost by the person making the request to fix the mess. Sin is messy. It messes up Creator’s perfect plan. It messes up your own life and conscience. It messes up the lives of the others you lied to (about), used for sex, betrayed, stole from or showed contempt for or envied.

Fix it!

Fancy words rhymed off in worship don’t fix the mess you have made. Now, it could well serve as the first step. But as a pastor I have witnessed people repeating the prayer even while looking down their nose at the person across the room, or in active conflict, or having a promiscuous affair, or clergy killing, or…

Look at what God says: “If the whole congregation of Israel unintentionally does something wrong, without the assembly being aware of it, if they do even one thing that is forbidden by any of the Lord’s commands, they will be guilty. When the wrong they have done becomes known, the congregation must sacrifice a bull as an offering for sin. They must bring it in front of the tent of meeting. The leaders of the congregation will place their hands on the bull’s head in the Lord’s presence” (Leviticus 4:13-15 God’s Word).

Sometimes people justify the sin, or ignore it, sometimes so effectively they no longer notice the sin. Remember that “if any of you do wrong—even one thing forbidden by any of the Lord’s commands, but you didn’t know it—when you realize your guilt, you must be punished” (Leviticus 5:17 God’s Word).

Why? Creator says, “Be holy, for I the Lord am holy” (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:26; 21:8). Living for Jesus means reaching for the highest standard in the universe, namely, what God expects. Liturgy, sacrament, worship, praise music, audio-visual background or serving on a committee might make you feel good, but can’t make you holy.

Humility, reconciliation, justice, having only One Boss (and sharing submission to NOTHING else) and radical obedience to the principles and guidelines and teaching of Holy Scripture point anyone in the right direction.

True, Jesus alone can make someone holy, but do you act like you want to be?