In Leviticus 10:1, it was called “strange fire”, or “unauthorized fire”. Aaron’s sons were offering something unto God at a time they were not appointed, by means they were not authorized, and in direct disobedience of God’s specific directions.
While they may have been burning fire as a supposed sacrifice before the Lord, their actions went against what He had originally commanded them. To the eyes of those unfamiliar with the Law, the men may have seemed justified in what they did. However, to those who held the Word of God in their heart, they knew that what the priests had done was offensive in the sight of the Lord.
1 Timothy 4:7b tells us, “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”
See how Paul says “godliness” instead of “goodness”. You don’t have to be a Christ-follower to be what this world would consider a “good” person. But you see, God is not pleased with or honored by someone with good intentions or good choices. God is glorified when His sons and daughters choose to live in godliness and obedience.
Yes, being a “good” person requires some amount of discipline, but godliness requires dying to yourself and carrying your cross. Goodness reaps temporal benefits, whereas godliness reaps eternal benefits.
Our goal should not be to appear as a good Christian, but rather to live in communion with the Father, listening to His voice even when you don’t understand all of the details. His ways are edifying and purifying. He longs to refine us like gold in the fire. That means we may go through the heat and the discomfort of cleansing, but living in godliness is how we draw closer to the Lord and learn His heart.
*If you didn’t hear the sermon I taught at High Point about “Strange Fire”, you may click the audio recording below!