“What does the Bible say about holiness? What does it mean to be holy?”
To be holy is to be pure, to be set apart or separate and to be dedicated to God. (When things are made holy, when they are consecrated, they are set apart unto purity). Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”
“Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11). 2 “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, nor is there any rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:2).
There is no one like Thee among the gods, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Thine. 9 All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; And they shall glorify Thy name. 10 For Thou art great and doesn’t wondrous deeds; Thou alone art God (Psalms 86:8-10; see also Psalm 99:1-3; Isaiah 40:25; 57:15).
In 1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter writes to believers, 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 19:2.
First, let’s look at God’s holiness. What does it mean that God is holy? Passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 6:3 are just two of many examples of passages about God’s holiness. Another way to say it is absolute perfection. God is unlike any other (see Hosea 11:9). His very being is completely absent of even a trace of sin (James 1:13; Hebrews 6:18). He is high above any other and no one can compare to Him (Psalm 40:5).
Christians should be more like God from day to day and then in the first resurrection be literally like Him (I John 3:2).
Next, what does it mean for us to be holy?
When God told Israel to be holy in Leviticus 11 and 19, He was instructing them to be different from the other nations by giving them specific rules to govern their lives. Israel is God’s chosen nation and God has set them apart from all other people. They are His special people, and consequently they were given standards that God wanted them to live by so the world would know they belonged to Him. When Peter repeats the Lord’s words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to believers. As believers, we need to be “set apart” from the world unto the Lord. We need to be living by God’s standards, not the world’s. God isn’t calling us to be holy and different from the world. 1 Peter 2:9 describes believers as “a holy nation.” It is a fact! We are separated from the world; we need to live out that reality in our day-to-day lives, which Peter tells us how to do in 1 Peter 1:13-16.
God wants a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27). He wants perfection. He wants us to change, to live holy lives. That means a new way of living, which every day is more the kind of life that Jesus Christ lived. We need to walk holiness, not just talk holiness.
God has selected His servants and called them to come out of this world, to be different and separate from the rest of the world. Jesus said, “I have given them Your word: and the world has hated them because they are not of the world just as I am not of the world I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).
Christians need to be different from the rest of this world — to say no to sin, to evil and to wrong things, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:l).
The Christian must live in this present evil world, but his life must he different from the lives of other people in the world. He or she must come out from any of this world’s ways that are sinful or evil out from the religious and spiritual “‘Babylon” that is this whole world (Revelation 18:4).
Christians should be different because, as Paul said, “You were bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:20) That price, Christ’s sacrifice, makes it possible for us to be forgiven of our past sins and to receive the Holy Spirit. But, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9).
How can we become holy?
Holiness only results from a right relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ as Saviour (accepting His gift of eternal life). If we have not placed our faith in God’s Son alone to save us from our sins, then our pursuit of holiness is in vain. So, we must first make sure we are born-again believers (John 3). If we truly are believers, then we recognize that our position in Christ automatically sets us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9). After all, we have a relationship with the living God! Then we must daily live a set-apart life, not trying to “blend in” with the world, but instead living according to God’s Word as we study the Bible and grow in it.
Posted by Fay-Ann Swearing
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