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Section 7. Living The Faith...
The Biblical Command to Holiness and Perfection

 

   003white Index to   Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian       >        Holiness       >      What Is Holiness... Part I

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What Is Holiness?
Part I

Carol Brooks
Edited By Vicki Narlee

The typical Christian today survives on a diet of Christian quotes, inspirational messages, daily doses of wisdom from Proverbs, and uplifting (and probably out of context) Bible verses, conveniently delivered by e-mail. Add to this a 15-20 minute sermon every Sunday, and the modern Christian is suffused with a warm glow of "spirituality". He basks in the fact that he has done what God expects of him. He is wrong, and could very well be dead wrong.

Index To All Three Sections

001orange Part I ... God is The Standard of Holiness. Holiness Is Not Optional. An Unholy Person Cannot Approach a Holy God. The Instructions to Be Holy

Part II ... Separation is a Timeless Spiritual Principle, Come Out From Among Them,  A “Holy Nation" has its own Citizenship
Modern Day Pharisees and Practically Applying The Principles Of Separation

 Part III ... Moral Perfection, The Consequences Of Sin, Three Resources For a Three Sided Battle. The Flesh... Practical Steps to Win The Battle Between Persistent Sin and The Spirit. The World... Cultural Contamination of People and Entertainment. The Devil... Using The Armour of God In The Battle.
 

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Part I

The Holiness of God..
God does not conform to a standard of holiness. He is the standard of holiness.

Holiness Is Not Optional
An Unholy Person Cannot Approach a Holy God
The Instructions to Be Holy

 


The Holiness of God..
God does not conform to a standard of holiness. He is the standard of holiness.

In today's day and age, churches go to extreme lengths to ensure that their congregations are 'comfortable' with God, who is defined as this wonderful loving God that would never hurt a flea [See The Wrath of God]. And, if He did so in the Old Testament, well! We are under the new covenant now. All that matters is that we establish a "relationship" with Him.

Yet, we seem to know next to nothing about this Being we wish to have a relationship with.

One of the primary attributes of God, is that He is holy. In Isaiah 6, the vision the prophet had of the "Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple", was accompanied by the cry of the seraphim

    And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. [Isaiah 6:3]

The repetition is significant, for when the Bible repeats something, it signifies its importance. However, even in the Scriptures, it is rare for a word to be repeated three times, therefore, we need to sit up and take notice, because the thrice repeated word indicates strong emphasis. God is "holy".. God is thrice "holy". Also, unless we consider that we are, in some way, better than the prophet Isaiah, we need to pay attention to his first response to the vision. He does not fall on the floor, burst into uncontrollable laughter [LINK], immediately make his requests known, nor strike up a conversation. Instead the first words out of his mouth reflect an overwhelming conviction of his own unworthiness...

    Then said I, 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 mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. [Isaiah 6:5]

In the New Testament, Peter had a similar reaction when confronted with visible evidence of the power of the Christ. After a night of unsuccessful fishing, the disciples were instructed by Jesus to put their boats out again. When they did so, they caught so many fish that their nets were in danger of tearing. However, what is particularly instructive about this incident is Peter's reaction to this miracle. He immediately fell at Jesus’ feet, and said, "leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man."


Holiness Is Not Optional
Sadly, in today's day and age few people, even among those who name the name of Christ, seem to take the Bible seriously. According to a survey conducted by the Barna research group, four out of ten born again Christians do not read the Bible in a typical week. [1]. The typical Christian today survives on a diet of Christian quotes, inspirational messages, daily doses of wisdom from Proverbs, and uplifting (and probably out of context) Bible verses, conveniently delivered by e-mail. [See Context is Crucial] Add to this a 15-20 minute sermon every Sunday, and the modern Christian is suffused with a warm glow of "spirituality". He basks in the fact that he has done what God expects of him.

He is wrong, and could very well be dead wrong.

I dread to think what would happen if someone in a modern church were to preach that you have to attain to a certain level of righteousness to be saved. The hue and cry would be deafening with the preacher soundly denounced, from one end of the Christian world to the other, as a false teacher who is teaching salvation by works. But, consider for a moment Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount

    "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20)

According the doctrine that that preach up one side, and down the other, many Christians would have to write Jesus off as a false teacher, especially considering the fact that He also greatly stressed the fact that obedience was indispensable in salvation. In the closing verses of Matthew 7, He said [All Emphasis Added]

    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. [Matthew 7:21-25]

Never once did Jesus say that all we had to do was believe. Instead He taught that we had to do the will of the Father... as did the author of the book of Hebrews

    and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation; [Hebrews 5:9]

Yet, In spite of this and many other passages, the most common dirge heard from the pulpit today is that all a person has to do to be guaranteed a place in heaven, is believe. I call it a dirge, or funeral song, simply because it is exactly that ... a funeral song for those that hear, believe, and structure their lives according to this message. As a result our churches have been lulled into a false sense of security. They...

    "profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work" (Titus 1:16).

Too many modern day preachers say "just believe". The Bible says "Pursue... holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

Who are you going to believe?

One has to wonder whether those that claim to read the Scriptures with some regularity actually absorb the words they are reading, or does the reading resemble putting on a comfortable old sweater, which one scarcely notices the rest of the day. Have the words become so familiar that they are no longer taken literally, or even seriously? And, if not, then why have we not noticed that, in the Bible, holiness is not optional. We are instructed to lead holy lives: "You shall be holy because I the Lord your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2), a commandment we dare not ignore, simply because...


An Unholy Person Cannot Approach a Holy God
If we think back for just a moment, perhaps we would remember God's instruction to Moses to remove his sandals, for the very ground he walked on was holy ground [Exodus 3]. God did not try and put Moses at ease, or make him comfortable, but very bluntly told him to make the necessary changes before he was even allowed to approach.

In Exodus 19, at the foot of Mount Sinai, God made it very clear that sinful man could not approach Him.

    And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready against the third day; for the third day Jehovah will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: no hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, he shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their garments. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not near a woman. [Exodus 19:10-15]

    And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto Jehovah to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, that come near to Jehovah, sanctify themselves, lest Jehovah break forth upon them. [Exodus 19:21-22]

And only one man... the High Priest, was allowed into the holy of holies, once a year, and only after the blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.


The Instructions to Be Holy
From the New Testament, consider the following [All Emphasis Added]

    And the God of peace himself sanctify (hagiazo) you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 5:23]

    But flee youthful lusts, and follow after righteousness (dikaiosune), faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. [2 Timothy 2:22]

    Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification (Gk. hagiasmos) without which no man shall see the Lord: [Hebrews 12:14]

    But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy (hagios) nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. [1 Peter 2:9-12]

    For, He that would love life, And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips that they speak no guile: And let him turn away from evil, and do good; Let him seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (dikaios), And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon (Gk epi) them that do evil. [1 Peter 3:10-12]

      The Greek word epi, translated upon, in the quote from 1 Peter (immediately above), also means against, as in "And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father his child: and children shall rise up against (Gk. epi) parents, and cause them to be put to death". [Matthew 10:21]

    For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous (dikaios) is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner (hamartolos) appear?  [1 Peter 4:17-18]

[Other instances of the use of the Greek Hagios and Dikaios are in Footnote I below]

To imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world, but still be welcome in God's presence, is little more than fashioning a "god" of our own making. If you have really read, and absorbed, the verses above, perhaps you will realize that Christians are called to be different from the secular society around them... they are called to be holy, and unless they are, they will not see God.

Yet all too many Christians put on their "go to church on Sunday" or "ceremonial" holiness, which thinks of holiness only in terms of "holy" days, "holy" places, and "holy" activities. Ceremonial holiness divorces righteousness in everyday living, from religious activities and ceremonies. This hypocrisy started very early in the history of Israel and, although resoundingly condemned by the prophets of Israel, has persisted through the centuries. For example, the prophet Amos wrote...

    "Therefore, because you impose heavy rent on the poor And exact a tribute of grain from them, Though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, Yet you will not live in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine. For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes, And turn aside the poor in the gate. … I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:11-12, 21-24).

The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day fell into the same error. They were meticulous about ceremonial holiness, and yet they did not love their neighbors. They did not preserve justice and they did not protect the widows and orphans. They had the appearance of ceremonial righteousness, but they lacked practical holiness. As Jesus said...

    "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widow's houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation” (Matt. 23:14).

But the question does arise as to what exactly "holiness" is.

001orange Continued In Part II ... Separation is a Timeless Spiritual Principle, Come Out From Among Them, A “Holy Nation" has its own Citizenship. Modern Day Pharisees and Practically Applying The Principles Of Separation

 

End Notes

[1] Annual Study Reveals America Is Spiritually Stagnant. March 5, 2001.
http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/37-annual-study-reveals-america-is-spiritually-stagnant?q=read+bible

 

Footnote I... The Greek Hagios and Dikaios

The Greek Hagios (G40), translated into the English "Holy", means sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): saint. It is used over 200 times in the New Testament, often of the Holy Spirit. It is also used for God Himself, angels, Jerusalem, the law, and believers (in which case hagios is usually translated as saints.

    The Holy Spirit: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 1:18]

    God: And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy (hagios) Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are.  [John 17:11]

The word is also commonly used of both inanimate objects (Jerusalem, the law etc.)and people. When used of believers, it is translated "saints". 

    Jerusalem: Then the devil taketh him into the holy (hagios) city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple,  [Matthew 4:5]

      And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy (hagios) city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, [Revelation 21:10]

    The Angels: But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy (hagios)  angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: [Matthew 25:31]

    John The Baptist: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy (hagios) man, and kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was much perplexed; and he heard him gladly. [Mark 6:20]

    The Prophets: (As he spake by the mouth of his holy (hagios) prophets that have been from of old),  [Luke 1:70]

    The Ground Around The Burning Bush: And the Lord said unto him, Loose the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy (hagios) ground.  [Acts 7:33]

    The Law: So that the law is holy (hagios), and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good.  [Romans 7:12]

    Believers: that I may be delivered from them that are disobedient in Judaea, and that my ministration which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints (hagios); [Romans 15:31]

      Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints (hagios)? Or know ye not that the saints (hagios) shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? [1 Corinthians 6:2]

      For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the saints (hagios), [Ephesians 1:15]


The Greek dikaios
(G1342) means equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy, just, meet, right (-eous). Used over 80 times it is usually translated just or righteous. It is used of God, Jesus and people

    for true and righteous (dikaios) are his judgments; for he hath judged the great harlot, her that corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.  [Revelation 19:2]

    My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (dikaios): [1 John 2:1]

    as it is written, There is none righteous (dikaios), no, not one;  [Romans 3:10]

    For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous (dikaios). [Romans 5:19]

    having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.  [Acts 24:15]

    Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous (dikaios) man availeth much in its working.  [James 5:16]

    For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (dikaios), And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil.  [1 Peter 3:12]

    and delivered righteous Lot, sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked  [2 Peter 2:7]

    For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous (dikaios) is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?  [1 Peter 4:17-18]

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Index To What Is Holiness

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