What is holiness? Is holiness simply a term for self-righteousness or an obscure sense of pious righteousness? Or is it the living reality of a set-apart disciple of the Messiah?
In today’s article, we’ll explore seven observations from Scripture about this topic.
- God is holy, holy, holy.
And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory?” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 6:3-5)
When Isaiah saw the King for Who He truly was, he saw himself for who he truly was. The first step toward a holy life remains: to see the LORD as holy, holy, holy and to see ourselves as unholy and defiled without Him.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
- A desire for holiness incurs a healthy fear of God.
Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever. (Psalm 93:5)
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9)
Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:2)
Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
Our understanding of the holiness of God brings about a healthy fear of Him. In addition, this realization brings us to worshiping and glorifying the King.
- Holiness needs to be a Christian’s pursuit.
Jesus calls His people out of this world and to Himself. In order to accept this high calling, we must be set apart, holy for Him.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “O will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters,” Says the LORD Almighty. 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 6:14-7:1)
- Holiness is not unattainable, but comes through being set free from sin and the cleansing of self.
If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24)
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not, conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Putting off our old man, girding up the loins of our mind, and placing our full hope in God’s grace leads to renewal and the new man, created in true holiness.
- Holiness is the fruit of a righteous life.
For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10-11)
What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. (Romans 6:21-22)
Becoming slaves of God produces the fruit of holiness. Our Master’s chastening is for our profit, that we may become partakers of His holiness, the One Who is holy, holy, holy.
- Holiness changes us from an alienated sinner to a member of God’s holy nation.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy nut now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
God’s call for holiness brings us to Himself, to become His people. His work gives us mercy where before, we had not obtained it. Instead of isolated darkness, we experience marvelous light and fellowship.
- Those who reject holiness reject God.
For God did not call us to uncleanness but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)
Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)
These verses leave us with a sober warning. Following God’s pattern for holiness is the way to eternal life. But embracing the filthiness of sin is a rejection of God and His Holy Spirit.
Lastly, I will share a prayer from 1 Thessalonians that I hope will encourage you in your quest to become an instrument of holiness.
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)