"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled." Hebrews 12:14-15
Time and time again in the Bible, God declared “I am holy, therefore be holy”. God's holiness is one of His most defining characteristics. Holiness is a word we tend to only associate with purity, but the true meaning of holiness is much broader than purity. Holiness does not only challenge how we approach and relate with God (purity); but also challenges how we relate with others, and for us to really understand the true meaning of holiness, we’ve got to look at it from God’s view point.
Leviticus 20:26(NIV)- “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”
In Leviticus 20:26, God identified Himself as a holy God, and as I mentioned earlier that holiness also means to be pure. God is pure. He is perfectly good. But in this case, God is also identifying Himself as set-apart. God is essentially saying, “I am holy. I am different. I am set-apart from any other gods. In the category of gods, I am the only true God. I am God and God all by myself. I am supremely different.”
“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 1:14-16
God is holy. And from His calling of Abram as the father of the Nations to His call on Christ-followers today, God desires for His people to be holy as well. God wants a people who live in line with His character. This was the reason for giving the Israelites the Law so that they would be separated from the surrounding god-less nations. However, the Israelites couldn’t perfectly obey God’s commands and neither can we. Our sin nature keeps us from holiness. But God knew our sin would separate us from Him and made a way for our good standing with Him to be restored through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, all who believe in Him are made holy by God’s grace. And this fact changes everything. When God looks at us He sees us as holy people.
When God set the Israelites apart as His own, He was marking them as His own people and expects them to live in such a way that they were identified with Him. This is the heart of what it means to be holy as God is holy.
The burden our culture places on looking or acting a certain way can be overwhelming. The culture of this world and age has sold the lie that to be valuable and successful; you have to meet its contrived standards of evil and treachery ways, if you’re not, you have to fight to make up for it. When you don’t add up to these absurd (and wrong) standards, you can feel beat down, rejected, and left out. You can feel unwanted and worthless.
In Exodus 3:1-6, Moses had amazing encounter with the God of holiness and his life was changed forever. With the burning bush, Moses realized that with God; the Holy one in the mix, the expected order or outcome of things isn’t the “norm” anymore. The ordinary becomes extraordinary because of God’s presence. To live a holy life means choosing to identify with God instead of the world.
According to Hebrews 12:14-15, the call to holy living is nothing more than becoming more like Christ and less like the world around us. Not only does this way of living put us in line with God’s will for our lives, but it sets our lives and values firmly on the unchanging things of God, not the ever-changing ways of the world. Being holy in all we do means we have to make choices. We have to choose whether or not we will identify with the world or with God in what we say, think, or do.
Holiness challenge how we approach relationship with God and others.
Holiness helps keep our relationship with God and with others healthy.
Holiness helps us to grow closer to God and helps us know people better.
Holiness helps us grow in our trust in God and unconditional love for others.
Holiness helps us to live in such ways that identifies us with the holy God.
Holiness is allowing God in the mix of whatever we do in life.
As holy children of a holy God, our lives must reflect our identities. It’s not enough to be Christians in name only. Our daily interactions must say to the world that we are set apart for God. Rarely do our choices have zero effect, but by seeking holiness and choosing to identify with God, we can have a powerful, positive impact on the people in our lives. They will notice. And not only will your life be pleasing to God, you’ll be drawing others to see the amazing difference God makes in the lives of His children.