What is holiness?

Many Christians have hear of the term holy.  It is mentioned throughout the Bible.  Such as in Revelation 4:8 where the four living creatures said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”  We know from this and other passages that God is indeed holy.  However, few of us stop to think about what exactly does holy mean.  Also, we are told in Romans 12:1 that, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  In this passage, we are clearly told that we are supposed to be holy.  Since we need to be holy, it makes sense that we should figure out what it is means to be holy.

So what is holiness?  There is a common misconception among believers that holiness is synonymous with righteousness.  The think it merely means to be pure in God’s sight.  However, this is not true.  The true meaning of holy is: to be set apart to something.  In the Old Testament, all the articles of the temple were holy to the Lord.  This means then, that they were set apart for God in the use of His temple.  They were set apart from normal everyday use, and were specially set apart to God.  But then, if this is the true definition of holy, how can God be holy?  Because, God is set apart to Himself.  He is unlike anything we know, and is not set apart to any of His creation.  He is set apart to Himself.

But what I would more so like to focus on in this post is how we as Christians should be holy.  The Romans 12:1 passage told us we need to be “holy and acceptable to God.”  So what does this mean?  As I mentioned earlier, holy means set apart.  So we must be set apart from the world, to God.  How is this lived out?  We must search the Bible to know what God desires us to do in obedience to Him.

Paul goes on to say in Romans 21:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  God tells us through Paul, that we are not to act like the world.  Instead, we should discern what the will of God is in every situation and do what is good, acceptable and perfect in His eyes.

A good place to start in determining what God wants us to do is to first know what must not not be done.  Galatians 6:19-21 says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkeness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such thinks will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  2 Timothy 2:22 also says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  These are all things that God detests, and they are things that the world does.  Thus, we must not do these things.  Of course, alone we stumble and disobey, but by God’s grace, he will cause us to walk in His ways. (Ezekiel 36:27)

Instead, what should we do.  This is where the Bible, and in particular the New Testament is very helpful.  It is chock full of instruction of what a Christian must do to be separate from the world and be set apart to God.  I will only mention a few such places.   Galatians 5:22-25 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  Romans 12 also contains a good passage telling us how we must live.

In conclusion then, we are called to be separate from the world.  Instead we must be set apart to God and for use in His kingdom.  We are not to live as the world does.  We are called to flee youthful passions and the lusts of the flesh.  Instead we must live pure, upright lives for the glory of our Savior!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1) 

Soli Deo Gloria!

~Tee-Kaye

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