One of the first things that comes to our minds when we start talking about holiness is the Ten Commandments. Just about everyone comes face-to-face with what they think is the only forceful way that God has to make us do what he wants.
Most people have a problem with one or more of them. If it’s not them, it’s the rest of the Old Testament laws and commandments concerning how to live with other human beings. They like to find a negative command that seems to not make sense anymore.
Negative commands throughout the Bible refer to what I would call “negative holiness.” These are all the things we are told not to do because they lead to actions and thoughts that displease God. The Ten Commandments are only one example.
But people may not realize that there are also positive commands, what I would call “positive holiness.” These are the things we are encouraged and exhorted to do that please God. One of these, although there are many, might be a combination of negative and positive commands such as “Do not get drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Something must be said about the negative commands in the Bible. I know it seems like an overbearing God is telling us what to do but it’s more about what he is trying to prevent. When parents tell their children not to do something, it is because they know that they may hurt them.
It is no different with God. Because he designed the universe and everything in it, he knows the very best things that we can do to make our lives great. When we listen to him, whether the commands are negative or positive, he is trying to set us up for success.
Farmers put fences around the fields for two reasons. Sure, it limits the movement of the cattle, but it also protects them from the dangers outside of the fence. God’s laws do the same thing. Also, while we may think of the limitations of that fence, died is thinking about our safety and success.
In the same way, his positive commands encourage us to live in ways that honor and please him. When all is said and done, God will be our judge. He does not want to send us to an eternity in hell. He wants us to be with him in heaven. But that requires holiness because a holy God cannot dwell with an unholy people.
Because God wants us to be with him, he gives us these two approaches to holiness. Each one of them shows us his desire and his heart for us. Each one of them shows us his Fatherly desire to become like him.
Perhaps this has changed your perspective on the laws of God. Perhaps it has shown you another way to look at the positive and negative holiness commands in the Bible. Tell me what you think and leave a message in the comments.