KEY THOT: The Lord said to Israel that they are to be holy because their God is holy. So, holiness is God-likeness. Holiness of God is his moral essence that separates him from all that is imperfect and unclean. Anything that is unclean will be consumed by God's holiness. God's holiness is like a consuming fire that burns away everything that is unlike Him: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matthew 3:11). So Paul speaks of divine judgment in terms of fire: "If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:14-15). On one occasion, when Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu used unauthorized fire for their incense to offer to the Lord, fire came out of the Holy of holies and consumed them: "And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord" (Leviticus 10:2). We worship a holy God that cannot co-exist with sin and moral uncleanness except by way of the atoning blood of Christ. The fact that we are cleansed and shielded from God's holy fire by the Blood of Christ does not change his holy character. If we are to be live in His presence, we have to be holy (free from sin) as He is holy.
The conduct that is considered holy are listed from verses 9-18: care for the poor and aliens, honesty, not using God's name in vain, not oppressing others or stealing from them, not cheating on your employees by failing to pay them on time, not cursing the deaf or putting stumbling block in the path of the blind, fearing God, giving justice to the poor and powerless, no slandering, no resentment against others in our heart, no taking revenge against others, but instead to love our neighbours as ourselves.
To be holy is to be God-like in moral uprightness and freedom from evil.
Father, help us be holy as You are holy. Amen.