What comes to mind when I say “holiness”? Do you picture a fire-and-brimstone preacher? A stuffed shirt whose face is contorted into a permanent frown? A guy in West Virginia dancing around a box of snakes?
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be “holy” a lot lately. God said “Be holy, for I AM holy.” (Lev. 11:44). If God said it, me thinks I should try to be it. Historically, I have tied my “holiness” to how little I sin, or how “good” I am. And while there is certainly a connotation of this in being holy, the word really means “apartness or sacredness.” In essence, it means to be set aside for a special purpose.
“[God] hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” 2 Tim. 1:9
Being holy implies being totally given over to God. It means to be “set aside” for His use. It means to be different from the world around us. Not to be cut off from the world, but to be in it, but not of it.
This poses a problem for me. God calls me to holiness, to be different, to be “set apart,” yet, some days, I’m no different from someone who doesn’t even believe in God. Some days, I’m worse. Some days, I wonder how God could love someone like me.
That verse I quoted above gives me great peace, however, because it shows that it’s nothing that I do that earns God’s approval. He has called us! He made the move towards us, not the other way around! He chose US “according to His own purpose and grace…BEFORE the world began!” I don’t know about you, but I look at that and go “whoah!” That means that my being set apart depends not on anything I’ve done, but on Him alone.
Having said that, does that give me a license to live any way I choose? No! In the words of St. Paul “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2) Since we’ve been given this grace, it should change the way we live.
What does that mean? It’s different for everyone. Somethings that I struggle with wouldn’t faze my brother, and vice-versa. The point is that, when we come to Christ, we are no longer our own. We are “set apart” for HIS purpose. If I feel Him leading me away from a certain thing that I’ve always done, then I need to obey that leading. He’s leading me away from death and sin and into life! LIFE! Abundant life! (See John 10:10)
A holy life should be a joyful, joy-filled life lived wholly for God. It’s not about counting sins and brow-beating ourselves, because if we’re focused on our sins, our focus is NOT on Christ. If we live for Him, according to His purpose, the “holy” thing will take care of itself.
Perspective. That’s the key.
Where is your focus?
11 thoughts on “A Perspective on Holiness”
I think you are not alone when it comes to relating how good or bad we are to being holy.
I really never gave being holy too much thought. I always believed that if I try my best(even in failure)that God saw me as his own and because of that I was blessed.
Now the last five years of my life have been quite hard and in my mind I keep thinking it is because I was not as good of a person as I could be or a good christian, but if that were the case that would make God vengeful and I cannot believe in a vengeful God.
So, to go back, holiness … it is within us all, it is if we choose to accept it that matters. Remember … we were given free will.
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the thoughts. The realization that I can’t be holy on my own merit, but only by Christ’s sacrifice, is something that I’m trying to live in light of every day. Walking in His grace, and letting Him change me through His grace…that’s my hope. To be holy because HE is holy.
::thinking, thinking, thinking… realize Scott is right. I need to go buy supersize floaties before commenting::
Oh come on! You can swim!
Mattie, we’ve discussed this before; wondering how God could ever love us, knowing ourselves as only we do. Be he does! I want to open my heart more and more to His love, so that as I realize I am accepted and loved, I can have the courage/strength to do the things God calls me to or not do what he calls me away from.
Max Lucado says that God loves us just as we are, but He loves us TOO much to leave us that way; He wants us to be Just Like Jesus. Encouraging, yet daunting, at the same time.
I’m so thankful for Grace.
::still thinking. Might have to go buy innertube as well.::
While I ponder, thanks for the birthday present little brother, it was exactly what I was looking for.
Oh yes.I got more of the stuff I like today:-) I love it:)
Sis, I agree with you. I often tell Amanda that I’m not the man I want to be, but neither am I who I used to be. It’s a process, no?
Big Bro, glad you liked it. You’re a tough one to shop for. I wanted to get you the complete works of Charles Spurgeon, but I decided on the baseball book, instead. Tough call.
Rev run,Amen! We tend to want to ignore holiness as old fashion or constraining. But it is what prevents ” cheap Grace” from taking over. We don’t do as we feel and then say , oh well grace covers everything anyway.
Tofu, it’s about time for a sentimental, reflective post on Caroline turning one. Has this not been the fastest year of your life? Not to depress you, but they only speed up from here. 😦 Sorry.
Sis, that one’s coming. Right now, I’m working on another deep-ender about a “hot topic” in the news right now. Line up, all you Repulicans! I’m going to ruffle some feathers!