The Holy and the Profane

The LORD then spoke to Aaron, saying, “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.”

Leviticus 10:8-11

I’ve been bothered by something I ran across recently. A Christian, who happens to be a musician, was talking about the whole idea of Christian music and claimed that there is no such thing. He kept going and said that we have an artificial divide of secular and sacred in our minds. There’s a problem with his line of thinking.

I ran across today’s verses while in the course of regular reading. I love how God will answer my questions if I just keep listening. See, there is and there isn’t a divide between the secular and the sacred. Here’s what I mean.

God tells Aaron, in these verses, that he should not drink wine or other strong drink when coming in to perform temple service so that he can differentiate between the holy and the profane, the clean and the unclean. If no such division exists then Aaron could not be faulted for not being able to see it. God’s own words tell me that some things are holy and some are not. Some things are clean while others are not. Can music be holy? Yes. Can housework be sacred? Yes. When the believer obeys the command to “do all to the glory of God” then everything the believer does becomes sanctified because everything is being offered up to God. It’s like the wave or heave offerings. Those offerings were waved to God or heaved upward as a gesture of them being offered to God, but they came back and were put to use — viz., the priests ate them. Can I tell, from the outside, what was “offered to God” by another believer? Not always. But I think God wants to put that kind of discernment into His children; to be able to listen to a song and know whether or not it is holy to the Lord; to be able to look at the housework and know that is was done out of love for God.

For the believer, however, there is no action that must be any more or less sacred than any other. Writing these blog entries is no more or less holy than striving to write documents that are as perfect as I can make them at work so long as I am doing both to the glory of God. This is where I think scripture bears out the falsehood of the dichotomy. The believer’s actions should all be holy to God. I should be obeying the command to “do all to the glory of God.” Eating, drinking, playing with my daughter, working at my job, going to the gym, everything can be done with an eye toward furthering the kingdom and glory of God. That is where the divide crumbles: in my life.

What’s the conclusion, then? The outcome, at least for me, is that there should not be any distinction between holy actions and profane actions in my life. Every action should be done to further God’s kingdom and glory and thereby be sanctified. However, things which are done by others should be looked at with discernment and considered carefully so as to distinguish between the holy and the profane. Music made to aggrandize the musician is profane. Music made to bring glory to God is sacred. And God is able to give me the discernment to tell the two apart. Work done for advancement and to receive the praises of men is profane. Work done to please God and as it would be done were He the immediate supervisor is holy. I need to be doing everything—whether eating or drinking or whatever I do—for the glory of God and I need to be discerning about things not done by me. Vigilance to my own actions. Discernment to others. And love. Always love.

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