What is Holiness?

Holiness is a misunderstood concept. Since the church is confused about it, then the world has no idea what it is. 

1 Peter 1:15-16: “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.’”

What is this scripture telling us about holiness?

First, the scripture tells us to be holy in the same way that God is holy. How is God holy? God’s holiness is the essence of His character.

Many of us see holiness as a way that we dress or look. But, holiness is not real if it doesn’t first rule in the heart. The scripture instructs us, “Be holy for I am holy.”

It doesn’t say, “Do holy” but it says to “be holy as God is holy.” It will help to define what biblical holiness is.

Holy: Greek – hagios which means “different” or “unlike” or “otherness”

To fully describe how God is different from anything else we know would take pages and even then, I’m not sure that words can do His uniqueness justice.

One of the characteristics of God is that He is completely pure – without any hint of impurity in motive within Him. This type of purity is difficult for us to understand apart from a revelation of it from God. We are used to living with ourselves and others in the Body of Christ. At best, we still see times when motives are convoluted and responses are tainted by sin and selfishness. We get used to this being our “reality” and can forget that God is not like the best that we see around us.

Purity: freedom from adulteration or contamination.

God is the definition of purity. He is the plumb line to which we measure purity. In Him, the mixture that we see, even in believers is not present.

God could not be defined as pure if He allowed any impurity. He is the essence of purity and the force that confronts and destroys all that is impure.

The scripture tells us that we are to be holy as God is holy. So, since God is holy in character, we are called to be holy in character.

Let’s think about this a moment:

Thank God that He has covered us in the unchanging holiness of Jesus. It is the only way that we can be in a familial relationship with God. If it were not for Jesus, we couldn’t be used by God or be His friend because we would constantly be running up against His opposition to our impure, sinful nature.

But with that being said, God still calls us to possess a holy nature, not just hold a “trump card” to judgment.

That leads to point two: the scripture states that we are to be “holy in our conduct.” We don’t just go to confession, then go out and live like we want and claim that we are a new creation because of a label we carry. We are not just forgiven but changed!!

The evidence of this change is seen in conduct that increasingly reflects the character of God.

Hebrews 12:14: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

Holiness: Greek – hagiasmos which means “progressively transformed into God’s likeness.”

A Christian who is not becoming like Christ is a devil dressed in religious garb.

If you truly know the Lord, you will be unlike you were at the time before your salvation and you will be increasingly becoming more like the One who saved you.

2 Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Perfecting holiness means to progressively be cleansed from adulteration and contamination.

You cannot possess the Holy Spirit of God unless you are set apart to God and are exclusively His.

You are possessed by a Holy Spirit!

What does it mean to be possessed?

Possessed – to occupy with the intent to control.

Satan controls through fear and intimidation. God controls through revelation and partnered submission.

If your conduct is not under submission to Christ, then your heart is not either.

To be holy means that we are different and unlike that which is common. We are “otherworldly”; like God in heart and motive. If in any way it is revealed that we are not acting according to holy character, we quickly repent and make a conscious move toward the actions that make us like our God.

We live in two realities at once; both beautifully defined in Hebrews 10:14:

“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”

Thank God for the perfection of Jesus! If not for that, I would remain an enemy of God. But, it is by His death and through the perfection of His Spirit that I am being molded into His image through sanctification; the removal of all adulteration and contamination of flesh and spirit by the unchanging purity of His Presence!

Is your relationship with Jesus changing your behavior and attitudes?




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