How can anything holy be sinful? It seems contradictory doesn’t it? …… But it’s not.
In Exodus 28:38 we’re shown that the High Priest Aaron (Moses brother and an Old Testament type, who prefigured Christ) had to offer blood atonement for God’s people even when they offered “holy things.” Because in the O.T. even their holy things (service to God) had to be purified before they could be acceptable to God. He is completely pure and holy, so that NOTHING less than perfect holiness can enter His holy presence.
This O.T. scenario was only the shadow of what Jesus as High Priest does for His people today. He’s always in the presence of God the Father, interceding for His people and pleading His blood on their behalf. He has sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat of heaven in the “Holiest of all” (Heb.9:8). And there in the presence of God the Father, He pleads His finished work on the cross, where He took upon Himself the guilt, not only of sins actually committed but the guilt of our corrupted sin nature, which has alienated us from God.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa.53:6). Jesus came to earth to live the perfect life we could never live because of our fallen condition, which is why Jesus came to fulfill all righteousness on our behalf. Because even when we’ve done all He’s commanded (including baptism), we’ve still fallen short of His glory. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23, 9-20; 7:18, 20).
Yet, many believe we’ve not fallen so far from God that we can’t still please Him. Their motto is “we’re not that bad, so God’s not that mad.” They don’t believe God expects perfection and so doesn’t hold us to that standard. They believe that if we “just do the best we can” our good works will somehow outweigh the bad. However, Jesus said, “be perfect, for your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt.5:48). And, “be holy for I am holy (1Pet.1:16). Again, NOTHING less than perfect holiness can enter His holy presence.
Jesus said that even if we did all that’s commanded and required of us, we should say to ourselves, “I am an unprofitable servant” (Lk.17:10). Because nothing we “DO” could EVER possibly save us. Even good works (holy things) must be repented of, for they fall short of perfection, which is what God’s perfect holiness requires. He hasn’t lowered His standards just because of our sin, which is why we need a Savior. James 2:10 makes it clear that if we sin only once in a lifetime, it’s enough to earn an eternity in hell, for sin is an eternal offense with eternal consequences. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ” (Rom.6:23).
Jesus bore the “iniquity of holy things,” by taking upon Himself the guilt of any error, mistake or wrong motive His people would ever have while offering service to God. Our holy things can only be accepted by God thru the perfect holiness and righteousness of Jesus Christ. We must be born again by the Holy Spirit, Who alone can apply the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice to our account. We can offer God NOTHING acceptable apart from having Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us thru the gift of faith (Rom.4, Phil.3:9).
So remember friend, any attempt to appease God by works is an abomination to Him. “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa.64:6). . Instead we must put all our hope and trust in Jesus Christ, Who alone can present us holy and unblameable before God (Col.1:22). Just as the High Priest in the O.T. figuratively bore and took away the “iniquity of holy things” by sacrifice and intercession, Jesus as High Priest does this today, as He presents His own holiness to God the Father on behalf of His people, so that they can “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1Pet.2:5).