God’s command to the Israelites was, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (Lev 20:7). Yet, the same command is repeated in the New Testament to born again believers, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Holiness was not just for the Old Testament people of God.
Holiness is important to God. In fact, holiness is the very essence of who God is.
So what does holiness mean? The basic meaning of the word holiness is to be ‘set apart’ or dedicated to God.
Sadly, being holy is not discussed very often in churches today because it seems to be outdated and too challenging to live out. It’s important to understand that holiness is not just a matter of what I do or don’t do which would then qualify me as being holy or not.
In fact, I believe obeying certain guidelines and rules would be ‘easier’ than actually having to explore what is inside of me in striving for holiness. Our Pastor mentioned the other day the Bible verse, our ‘heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?’ (Jer 17:9). That is where holiness occurs…in our heart…our mind, will and emotions.
So in our pursuit of holiness, examining our heart against God’s holiness is the right place to start. God’s holiness is found in the Bible. When you start to read on the subject of holiness in the Bible, you see that holiness is much more than just being morally pure. Morality is certainly part of holiness but that is not all that it is.
Holiness for you and I as believers is demonstrated through our day to day lives; our day to day behaviours including our thinking patterns.
God requires you and I to be set apart from the world. I don’t believe this means going and living on a compound somewhere away from society but rather that we live in the world by God’s standards and not the world’s standards. Marching to the beat of God’s drum rather than this world’s drum. In fact, when Jesus was on earth, He totally went against what the accepted religious believers lived and taught at that time. He was set apart.
If I am set apart – who am I set apart from? God is asking you and I to be set apart from the value system of this world. So much of what the world projects today is self interest, self preservation and self promotion. Yet, the holiness that God teaches us is so different from this. God’s holiness teaches us to ‘in love prefer one another’ (Rom 12:1), ‘deny yourself’ (Mat 16:24) and ‘humble yourself before God’ (James 4:10).
Holiness is not like a garment that you can put on but rather it is something that is cultivated in our lives through the choices we make. Choosing to spend time in prayer every day; reading and meditating on the Word of God every day; forgiving others; fellowshipping with other believers are the foundation of holiness.
Why is holiness so important? Firstly, because holiness is important to God, it needs to be important to me. I love God and I desire to obey His Word and please Him.
Secondly, the Bible says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” (Heb 12:14). So cultivating holiness in my life is imperative if I desire to be saved.
I don’t want to be like the Pharisees – Jesus said of them, “Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness,” (Mat 23:27).
I don’t just want to look the part on the outside but I want to be full of life (God’s power) and clean (through His righteousness) from the inside out! How is that possible? By allowing the Lord to cultivate in me His character.
Am I truly set apart from this world and dedicated to God and His Kingdom? An interesting question to ask ourselves, don’t you think?
This is a post from Jena Grech, the Assistant Pastor of The Pentecostals of Sydney and author of “Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction”