If you were playing the word association game and someone said the word holiness", what would you think of? You'd probably associate holiness with God. But did you ever stop to think about what God's holiness really is? What does the Bible mean when it says, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty" (Isaiah 6:3)?
The word translated "holy" in the Old Testament means, "separated" or "cut apart." God is holy in that He is absolutely separate from everything He has created. He is a cut above everything in the universe. He is perfect, pure, and separate from the slightest hint of sin, error or evil.
We've played a word-association game; now let's play an imagination game. Try visualizing perfection. It is not easy, is it? Try visualizing purity. That's just as difficult. But how are we to understand God's holiness if we can't picture what it means?
God provided a Way for us to understand Him, a model for us to picture. Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). If we want to "see" the holiness of God more clearly, we need to look at the life of God's Son. Jesus was holy in that He was perfect. He never made a mistake. He never miscalculated, misspoke, or misjudged. He always did the right thing at the right time in the right way. God is like that.
Jesus was holy in that He was and is pure. He never sinned (can you imagine that?). Yes, He walked among sinners. He mingled with them, ate with them, laughed with them, cried with them, healed them, and loved them. But He never became attached to their sinful attitudes or actions. And, with love and care, He called them to leave their lives of sin (John 8:11). God is like that.
Think about this: We are called to get our minds lined up with God-His Way, His precepts, and His plan. Q: What do you think about that?
Holiness does not mean we set ourselves apart from others whom we do not like, or whom we consider sinful, because we are all sinful. Remember, Jesus Himself had direct contact with the sinners of life, and called the worst sinners, like Paul, to spread His Gospel. Yet, we are not to yield to or undertake their sins and temptations. Being salt without losing our saltiness, or being light not hidden under a bowl means being there in love and care without becoming like the world (Matt. 5:13-16). As A Christian, we all called to reach out and be effective to those around us, so our salt will remain salty and our light can shine (Duet. 30:1-10; Matt. 5-6; Eph. 4:17-5:14; 1 Pet. 1:13-22).
But that's not all. Our holy God Expects us to be holy too: "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy' " (1 Peter 1:15-16).
That's a tough standard--so tough that we'll never reach it in this life fully, but we must try anyway. But we can get closer to God's standard of holiness every day by following Christ in our prayers, devotions, and relationships. And we can rejoice that a day is coming when we too will stand in God's presence as holy people singing "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty"!!!!
Our Holiness is to reflect our gratitude and love for what He has given us, for His rescue of our soul. This is a response to His great gift of atonement and salvation. Because He saved us, we should live a life pleasing to Him. This does not mean we are perfect, but we can strive our best to be our best for His glory!
What effect will Holiness have on me? When we grasp the incredible Holiness of God, and start to realize the inconceivable magnitude of the forgiveness we have received by what Christ has done, it takes hold and our lives are changed forever (Eph. 3:18)! We are humbled, and motivated to yield our will to His, causing us to hate sin, and preparing us to take our faith seriously with more conviction and passion, as we have a deeper sense of reverence for God. It helps conform our character to His standards and we begin virtuous living, embracing the beauty of the holy life. It allows us to proclaim His glory to others with excitement and confidence. We will realize that we are called to be of noble character, set apart for His purpose. We are no longer of this world; neither do we desire its distractions or causing others to be distracted from perusing Christ (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Heb. 12:10-17; 1 John 1:5-2:1).
The Good news: This is why the work and cross of Christ is so essential for us. Without Jesus, we could never know God, because Jesus covers our sin and allows that separation to become an intimate relationship. Christ covered us so we are now clean and pure (atonement). Our responsibility is to live a righteous life, which will reflect what Christ has done for us!
A deeper thought: Life is not about our wants, needs, and comfort; it is about Christ working in us more powerfully and triumphantly. The key to turn on this engine of our spiritual formation is our willingness to pursue, endure, and grow. Allow the holiness of our Lord, His grace, His patience, understanding, faith, loyalty, goodness, and love to be exhibited in you-not by imitation, but with gratitude and submission, kept by His power (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; Gal. 5:21-23; 1 Pet. 1:5)!
So let us go out and live as our life belongs to our Lord, as it does, and strive our best to be our best for His glory!
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 1:15-16:
1. What would you think of holiness?
2. Do you think that you need structure and discipline? Why, or why not? What happens to children when they are not disciplined? How does this compare to adult Christians?
3. Do you strive to keep yourselves pure as a reflection of who Christ is and what He did for you?
4. What happens to our relationship with God, and with others, when we become pursuers of strife, rather than pursuers of holiness?
5. What issue is in your life that would improve with being more Pure?
6. Think through the steps you need to take to put Purity into action in a specific instance. What is in your life that needs a 180-degree turn, from corruption to holiness?
7. How can you reject the improper thoughts that come to mind?
8. What do you need to do to place a shield from sin around you, to help you embrace holiness and not cave into temptations?
He who obeys instructions guards his life, but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die. Proverbs 19:6
More passages to consider: Exodus. 3:1-6; I Samuel 2:2; Psalm 99:1-9; Isaiah 6:1-12; and Revelation 4:1-11
© 1986 R.J. Krejcir http://www.intothyword.com/