All those who lead the congregation of the Lord in worship services are to be men who live holy lives. In Leviticus 10, the Lord struck down the sons of Aaron because, in part, they did not regard the Lord as holy as they should have. Notice: “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD has said: “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified”’” (10:3, ESV). The word “sanctified” in the ESV is “holy” in the NASB. Consider what this means for those of us living today. The sons of Aaron (and Aaron himself) presented themselves to the Lord under the direction of the Law of Moses, as Moses gave them instructions. Moses spoke on behalf of the Lord. Thus, when the sons of Aaron offered “strange fire” they offered that which was not authorized by the Lord.
This meant their approach to the Lord was all wrong. The New English Translation has a “translator’s note” wherein they say,
“The infraction may have involved any of the following or a combination thereof: (1) using coals from someplace other than the burnt offering altar, (2) using the wrong kind of incense, (3) performing an incense offering at an unprescribed time.”
Whatever the precise problem was, the fact is the Lord looked upon what they did as not regarding Him as holy, thinking they could do as they wanted. This is nothing short of arrogance and the Lord responded with force toward them.
My focus in bringing this to your attention is on the word holy in our worship services. Under the old Law, in Leviticus 9 and 10, the Lord focused on the holiness of those who serve Him, how they must make a distinction between the holy and ordinary (10:10). When we serve the Lord each Lord’s Day morning / evening, how do we approach Him? Do we approach Him in a cavalier manner, thinking to ourselves “The Lord knows my heart” so what I say or do is not as important as how I think / feel? Ask Aaron’s sons about that!
When we approach the Lord, our lives need to reflect holiness. We have no option in this matter and, more importantly, we should entertain no other option. What this means in a local congregation setting is this: serving the Lord as one leads the congregation is not a right for “baptized males” but a privilege and a serious responsibility. Failing to understand this moves us in the direction of Nadab and Abihu. So, when we sing, let us take seriously the responsibility of having songs of praise that convey an accurate teaching of Scripture. This also means the song leader does not gather a bunch of songs just before services because he had no time before to get prepared. Imagine the preacher doing that.
When one leads in prayer, let that prayer reflect the heart, and not one who needs to fill a time slot because we always have a prayer after the second song. Additionally, under no circumstance is the closing of the prayer to be a trite “in Jesus’ name, amen” as if one is traveling on the racetrack in Indianapolis!
When we participate in the Lord's Supper, let us not be distracted by non-sacred things, such as playing with children, looking at our electronic devices, getting up from one’s seat to the bathroom. Intended or not, these are disrespectful to the Lord. Instead, let us insist on revering the sacredness of the occasion; let the heart reflect the seriousness of what we’re doing.
Each male who stands before the Lord’s people also stands before the Lord. You may not feel as if you are holy, but if you love the Lord, obey His will, and seek to serve Him – you are. RT