What is Holiness
. . . as obedient children,
not fashioning yourselves
according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
but as he which hath called you is holy,
so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
because it is written,
Be ye holy; for I am holy
~ 1 Peter 1:14-16.
How do we, “Be ye holy for I am holy?”
Ye is a plural form of you, so we can be assured that everyone who has repented of their sins and put their faith in Christ are being commanded to be ‘as obedient children and be holy.’
God would not command us to do something without providing a way.
He has already told us that those that follow Christ are not to remain in sin and that there is a way out of every temptation leading to sin. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.
We are not considered servants in God’s eyes. Nor does He consider us His slaves. He looks at us as His children. Like His son, Jesus Christ, we are to be holy, if we continue to grow in His word.
Then said Jesus
to those Jews which believed on him,
If ye continue in my word,
then are ye my disciples indeed;
~ John 8:31
This high honor is given to those who hear and receive the doctrine as taught by Christ and the apostles. We must learn His ways and retain what we learn by walking in them.
When we become His sincere and diligent disciples we begin to realize what it means to ‘be holy’.
Sin no longer has power over us, we are not longer its servant, and should no longer serve it.
Faith in God for the forgiveness of our sin is where holiness begins.
What is Sin?
If we answer this question incorrectly, we get our whole Christian walk off kilter and may not fully realize what it means to please God and walking holy according to the scriptures.
Sin is a term taken from archery meaning to miss the mark. But what is the mark? The mark is the Law of God.
A more accurate and biblical definition of sin is, ” The willful transgression of a known law of God.”
This is recorded in scripture in various ways.
because the law worketh wrath
for where no law is, there is no transgression.
~ Romans 4:15
Wherefore then serveth the law?
It was added because of transgressions,
till the seed should come to whom the promise was made;
and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
~ Galatians 3:19
but if ye have respect to persons,
ye commit sin,
and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
~ James 2:9
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:
for sin is the transgression of the law.
~ 1 John 3:4
The bible also says that unrighteousness is sin.
All unrighteousness is sin:
and there is a sin not unto death.
We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;
but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself,
and that wicked one toucheth him not.
~ 1 John 5:16-17.
Neither yield ye your members
as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
By understanding what holiness is not, we get closer to understanding more clearly what holiness is and how we can obey Jesus to, ‘go and sin no more.‘
The apostles also provide a convicting question, ‘How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?‘
If we know what the law of Christ is then we know what to do and how to avoid transgression of this law.
We also can learn from what not to do learning by what the apostles mean by ‘unrighteous transgression of the law‘.
What the Law is Not
What shall we say then?
Is the law sin? God forbid.
Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law:
for I had not known lust,
except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
But sin, taking occasion by the commandment,
wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.
For without the law sin was dead.
~ Romans 7:7-8.
The law is not sin. Neither is it the ceremonial commandments. Here Paul is referring to the 10 commandments because they are holy and reveal all manner of sin.
The law is to be written in our hearts the moment they are purified from sin. This transformation by the indwelling Spirit is shed abroad in our hearts enabling us to love God and to love our neighbors as Jesus Commands.
The Biblical Nature of Holiness
Holiness has a composite meaning. Some of the words used in the Bible that clarify the meaning of holiness include; holy, hallow, and sanctify.
There are other words that further break down these components such as purity, dross, and light. All this terminology is used to indicate an absence of sin or corruption in the presence of God.
We will focus on the words that define holiness: sanctify, hallow, holy. These terms also reflect the nature of God and the what He desires to bestow upon us as He transforms us into His image.
The Scriptural meaning of Sanctification and Hallow
The first occurrence of the word sanctify culminates the creation story and the purity in which it existed. There was no sin to be found and Satan had not yet made his presence in creation.
I wrote a post on the possible instance of Lucifer’s fall while in the Garden of Eden. This is based on evidence found in scripture and is further supported by the description of God seeing all that He made in the heavens and the earth was very good in Genesis 1:31.
And God blessed the seventh day,
and sanctified it:
because that in it
he had rested from all his work
which God created and made.
~ Genesis 2:3.
This is the first time any word related to holiness is used in the Bible. God set aside a day and rested. By blessing the day, God is speaking good about setting aside a day of rest from our work. He is also speaking about the nature of our behavior in our work.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that He is the Lord of the sabbath, that it was made for us, and the royal commandment of loving others springs from the intention of the sabbath. He alludes to this in the story of in John 9:14.
Entering into rest from our work is a form of sanctification to God and is something we all should strive for with utmost importance.
Entering the promised land was symbolic of entering heaven as noted by Paul in Hebrews. We are given the same warning in Hebrews 4 that the Israelites were given in the wilderness about entering into God’s rest.
Our high priest wants to sanctify us in His rest:
. . . let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which
cannot be touched with the feeling
of our infirmities;
but was in all points
tempted like as we are,
yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need.
~ Hebrews 4:14-16.
We cannot rest in sin and wickedness, only in holiness. He promises grace for believers in time of need when the tides of sin or trouble come upon us like waves on an ocean shore.
Life brings with it all manner of temptations. Come boldly to Him, obtain His kindness, mercy, and strength, and stand against sin and father of lies.
We are to labor so we can enter into the Lord’s rest. We are to be sanctified and blessed in the fruit of His works. This is how we become holy. It is a work of God in us, not imputed to us by doing nothing.
For he that is entered into his rest,
he also hath ceased from his own works,
as God did from his.
Let us labour therefore
to enter into that rest,
lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
~ Hebrew 4:10-11.
When someone or something is sanctified, he or it belongs to God. He is to do the bidding of God, not the bidding of Satan. That means to live a holy life rather than one stained by servitude to sin.
Sanctify unto me all the firstborn,
whatsoever openeth the womb
among the children of Israel,
both of man and of beast:
it is mine.
~ Exodus 13:2.
And let the priests also,
which come near to the Lord,
lest the Lord break forth upon them.
~ Leviticus 19:22.
This means that the priests were suppose to completely devote themselves to the Lord. They were to separate from everything inconsistent with living a holy life.
For us, this means we to test everything we come in contact with, test it, and only hold onto those things that are holy. This applies to every act and thought, both inward and outward.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23a.
The Scriptural meaning of Holy
And he said,
Draw not nigh hither:
put off thy shoes from off thy feet,
for the place whereon thou standest
is holy ground.
~ Exodus 3:5.
The first time holy was used was in relation to the place where God called Moses. The ground had a special status because of God’s choice of coming near to it. Moses could not stand on it unless God allowed it.
Holy here stood for a mark of separation or being set apart from things that are not holy and being near to God.
It is important to keep in mind here that there is no neutral ground. Either someone or something is standing for God or against Him. You are either holy or unholy. That is a scarey but true proposition.
He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. ~ Luke 11:23.
The next occurrence of holy in scripture is related to sanctification of the sabbath.
And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation,
and in the seventh day
there shall be an holy convocation to you;
no manner of work shall be done in them,
save that which every man must eat,
that only may be done of you.
~ Exodus 12:16.
Now we see the intimate relation between sanctify and holy. Here holy refers to the calling of the Israelites together for service and dedication to God in remembrance of what has done for them.
Applying this today would relate to how we obligated to reverence the assembling of ourselves together and act accordingly while we gather together in church for worship and service in the Lord.
Remember the sanctuary, which comes from sanctify? The holy place? The holy of holies? Everything in the temple and tabernacle was considered holy.
The priest entering the holy of holies once a year would die if he was not properly prepared according to God’s instructions.
We too will not be considered holy if we do not obey the Law of Christ. Here are the scriptural proofs of the law we are to follow:
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault,
ye which are spiritual,
restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another’s burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
~ Galatians 6:1-2.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
doth not behave itself unseemly,
seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil;
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.
forbearing one another, and forgiving one another,
if any man have a quarrel against any:
even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
And above all these things put on charity,
which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to the which also ye are called in one body;
and be ye thankful.
~ Colossians 3:13-15
Scripture is full with descriptions of the Law of Christ. Below is one of the best descriptions that describes this law outside of scripture that have read:
“Love is longsuffering.” It suffers all the weaknesses of the children of God, all the wickedness of the children of the world; and that not for a little time only, but as long as God pleases. In all, it sees the hand of God, and willingly submits thereto.
Meantime, it is “kind.” In all, and after all, it suffers, it is soft, mild, tender, benign. “Love envieth not”; it excludes every kind and degree of envy out of the heart. “Love acteth not rashly,” in a violent, headstrong manner; nor passes any rash or severe judgment.
It “doth not behave itself in decently”; is not rude, does not act out of character. “Seeketh not her own” ease, pleasure, honour, or profit. “Is not provoked”; expels all anger from the heart. “Thinketh no evil”; casteth out all jealousy, suspiciousness, and readiness to believe evil.
“Rejoiceth not in iniquity”; yea, weeps at the sin or folly of its bitterest enemies. “But rejoiceth in the truth”; in the holiness and happiness of every child of man. “Love covereth all things,” speaks evil of no man; “believeth all things” that tend to the advantage of another’s character.
It “hopeth all things,” whatever may extenuate the faults which cannot be denied; and it “endureth all things” which God can permit, or men and devils inflict. This is the “law of Christ, the perfect law, the law of liberty.
A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley.
Moreover, holiness should be carried over into all aspects of life in the furthering of the kingdom of God.
It is clear that being holy requires transforming our internal nature into one like Christ’s.
This deliverance from sin unto holiness is the end of salvation when we abide, we will be able to stand on the day of judgment.
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians,
and how I bare you on eagles’ wings,
and brought you unto myself.
if ye will obey my voice indeed,
and keep my covenant,
then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people:
for all the earth is mine:
and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests,
and an holy nation.
~ Exodus 19:4-6.
The New Testament reaffirms this holiness unto the Lord we as believers are to live. It also refers to the deliverance from Egypt, which is closely related to sin and corruption.
But ye are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises of him
who hath called you out of darkness
into his marvellous light:
which in time past were not a people,
but are now the people of God:
which had not obtained mercy,
but now have obtained mercy.
~ 1 Peter 2:9-10.
For I am the Lord your God:
ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves,
and ye shall be holy; for I am holy:
neither shall ye defile yourselves
with any manner of creeping thing
that creepeth upon the earth.
For I am the Lord that bringeth you up
out of the land of Egypt, to be your God:
ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
~ Leviticus 11;44-45.
This is further explained in the New Testament.
but as he which hath called you is holy,
so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
because it is written,
Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Seeing ye have purified your souls
in obeying the truth through the Spirit
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,
see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
being born again, not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible, by the word of God,
which liveth and abideth for ever.
~ 1 Peter 1:15-16, 22-23.
The Meaning of Hallow
Hallow is used interchangeably with sanctify in scripture as noted below.
For in six days the Lord made heaven
and earth, the sea,
and all that in them is,
and rested the seventh day:
wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day,
and hallowed it.
~ Exodus 20:11.
The connectedness and interchangeability of the three words; sanctify, holy, and hallow signify the meaning of holiness.
The end of holiness leads to song, praise, and worship of the glory and eternal righteousness of God.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name:
bring an offering, and come before him:
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:29
And when he had consulted with the people,
he appointed singers unto the Lord,
and that should praise the beauty of holiness,
as they went out before the army,
and to say, Praise the Lord;
for his mercy endureth for ever.
~ 2 Chronicles 20:21
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
~ Psalm 29:2
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:
fear before him, all the earth.
~ Psalm 96:9
Some final thoughts from others on holiness:
Only as one responds wholly to the will of God does sin lose its power. Those who are so responding to grace, that grace is exercising increasing influence within the will, and they are prepared for whatever emerges. ~ Thomas Oden
The world, the flesh, and the Devil are put under his feet; thus he rules over these enemies with watchfulness through the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ John Wesley
God bless your journey