A Voice in the
Wilderness

site navigation

free newsletter

" What is Biblical Holiness ? "

"...just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be HOLY and without blemish before Him in love," (Eph1:4)

"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He who called you is HOLY, you also become HOLY in all conduct, because it is written, Be HOLY, because I am HOLY. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, behave yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your vain way of life received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1Pet1:13-19)

"And he said to me, Do not seal the Words of the Prophecy of this Book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is HOLY, let him be HOLY still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to what his work shall be." (Rev22:10-12)

Exactly -WHAT- is holiness? According to the opening passage it is one of the purposes in being a Christian. In the second, it is what God is, therefore as His followers we are to be also, and if we are not we can expect judgment. And in the final analysis, when God gives that cut-off signal for all time and eternity, holiness is one of the criteria by which a person is judged.

And so, naturally, since it is so important, satan has made sure that the world has many substitutes for it; all of them seemingly worthy of consideration to those who are in awe of them:

If God or some other mythological deity is seen casting a lightning bolt, or wreaking havoc in judgment, such -power- is called "holy". The anger that precipitates such power is called "holy wrath".

There are things called holy father, holy mother, holy matrimony, holy communion, holy baptism, holy water, holy this, holy that, holy something-else. Objects, people and rituals that are considered worthy of veneration and worship. Why? Merely because some organization's traditions say they are. These people and objects are genuflected, crossed and kissed.

Others, being lazy and not wanting to actually work for a living, go on a quest, to live a particular beggar lifestyle as a monk, living off the hand-outs of the gullible. They may give up certain pleasures of life in order to experience 'hardship' upon their own person. Some will wear rough undergarments and/or pebbles in their shoes that chafe and irritate them physically in order to suffer physical discomfort and pain. And this way of life is called "holy".

Likely the most common misconception of the word is the thought (according to dictionary definition): "REGARDED OR DESERVING OF SPECIAL RESPECT OR REVERENCE." All the above items typically include this last aspect. Something that is considered to be "holy" is also something or someone to oooo and aahhh over, perhaps swooning slightly, and coming under an imagined (or real) state of spiritual 'tingliness' at merely being in the presence of such imagined (or real) grandeur; "to be seen by men" (Mt23:5) It is that, formerly depicted in Renaissance art, the 'halo'. A sense that a special 'light' shines down upon this person or object that is considered holy. (keeping in mind who appears as an "angel of light" 2co11:14) And in most minds the concept of holiness is totally -mystical-. Being in the presence of something holy makes the person -feel- "holy" through this spiritual mystical experience; and perhaps some of this holiness also "rubs off" onto the person merely being in the presence. (The way George Bush claims in his testimony that Billy Graham's holiness rubbed off onto him for salvation, merely being in BG's presence for a period of time.) To this definition, holiness is not something the person can put their finger on and define, because it is considered to be out-of-this-world, beyond the grasp of human mental cognitive evaluation, reasoning or definition.

The dictionary definition most people ignore and bypass, also happens to be the same one found in Scripture: "SPECIFIED OR SET APART FOR A RELIGIOUS PURPOSE: A HOLY PLACE"

Most people think of -other- people and things as being holy. But according to our opening Scripture, notice that the Christian is commanded to be holy. In other words, if you reading this know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you would use words like "I" and "we" to define holiness. "We", as Christians, are holy. "I", a follower of Jesus Christ, am holy. "called saints" (Rom1:7, 1Co1:2) That's what we are: "saints".

And so, the things we need to investigate to know, by definition, are:

  1. How/where am I "set apart"?
  2. What is my purpose?
  3. What is my place?
This is not like that one CMA church I visited once, years ago, where in the place of where Baptists typically have their 'invitation' after the sermon, this pastor was pumping up emotions in the congregation, to leave the service -feeling- "holy". There was a lot of swooning, moaning and groaning going on. One might have almost expected little halos to be following everybody out to their cars, with little cherubs happily fluttering their wings, cooing and smiling down upon them!

But -NO-! Godly Biblical HOLINESS is a very TANGIBLE thing. It is something one can point to and say, "This is holy" or "this is not holy". And it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with genuflecting, crossing, kissing, moaning, swooning, fluttering eyelashes, sighing, halos, bright beams of light, fainting, pebbles in shoes, etc. It is God's command:

"YOU SHALL BE HOLY" (Ex22:31)
Context: Laws regarding servitude, marital relations, murder, kidnapping, injuring another person, liability laws, theft, property damage, fornication, sorcery, bestiality, idolatry, welfare, eating of clean foods. (Lev11:44)

"YOU SHALL BE HOLY" (Lev19:2)
Context: Honoring of parents, keeping the sabbath, rejecting idolatry, keeping God's rituals of sacrifice, welfare, theft, lying, extortion, all sorts of laws on righteous living.

"YOU SHALL BE HOLY UNTO ME, for I, Jehovah, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that you should be Mine." (Lev20:26)

Notice the expression: SET YOU APART FROM THE PEOPLES. Consider what the (so-called) church is today, and then consider this expression. It's somewhat like being in a grocery store. You go along shopping, you look over the various brands and grades of (let's say) fruit juice. You make a decision, picking the cans/bottles you want and "set apart" the ones you chose, by putting them in the shopping cart. By definition, those objects in the cart are now "holy"; set-apart. You have hand-picked them, and set them apart from all the rest on the shelves. Eventually you will go out the check-out stand and pay for them. If somebody were to come along and lift them out of 'your' cart, you would say, "Uh, excuse me...those are mine." (because you have set them 'apart' from the rest on the shelf, designating them as unique to you) You do not put them back on the shelves, shuffle them around a bit so nobody can tell, and then go to the check-out stand and say, I want to buy those bottles I picked out. 'Which' ones? Well, 'those' over there on the shelf. Well, I can't tell which ones...they all look the same.

The Christian has been SET APART from the world, into God's shopping cart called The Church. The world lies, but the Christian is to "speak truth" (Eph4:25) The world murders, but the Christian has "love" for the brethren. (Jn15:12) The world lives lives of perverse sexuality, but the Christian is to "flee sexual perversion" (1Co6:18)

Get it?

What the world is, is what WE ONCE WERE: "..being dead in trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world.." (Eph2:1-2) But God did -NOT- 'accept us as we are'; but He changed us, putting us "in Christ" and giving us a "new" nature by the birth that is "from above". (2Co5:17, Eph2:3-5, Jn3:3, etc)

"..you also become holy in all conduct.." (1Pet1:15)


The shopper is in the produce aisle, and finds the fresh fruit to be way past its prime, but sorts through and finds -one- good apple, chooses it, and sets it aside. That apple, being set aside, is "holy". Now, what happens if that apple is put back in the pile? Will those other apples become good, through the 'witness' of the good apple? No. But the 'holy' apple will become rotten, due to being next to other rotten apples!

"If one carries holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and touches his skirt to the bread, or boiled food, or wine, or oil, or any food, will it become holy? And the priests answered and said, No." (Hag2:12)

The world does not come to Saving Faith in Jesus Christ from the fellowship and sinful behavior of a Christian participating in the world's behavior and methods! But this is something 'Laodicea' has been falsely claiming for decades, to salve its own conscience for wallowing around in the world's lusts because it doesn't want to separate itself from the world; as it has "returned to its wallowing in the mire" (2Pt2:22)


"holy" (Ex3:5) (qodesh) == apartness, separateness, set-apartness

Related words: Sanctify, Consecrate, Dedicate, Devote, Taboo

"And when the tabernacle sets out, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. The stranger who comes near shall be put to death." (Num1:51, 3:10)

However, the church has done like Israel did: "Her priests have violated My Law and defiled My holy things; they have not divided between the holy and profane, nor have they declared between the unclean and the clean (Ezk22:26) "When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it; My house; and when you offered My food, the fat and the blood, then they broke My covenant because of all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of My holy things, but you have set others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you." (44:7-8)

The temple worship was set up in holiness to God: "And he stationed the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of Jehovah, so that no one who was in any way unclean could enter." (2Ch23:19) ...as it will be again during the kingdom: "...He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around...to separate the holy from the profane." (Ezk42:20)

With all the profanity regarding God's things, God proclaims regarding His sanctuary: "Depart! Depart! Go out from there! Touch not the unclean. Go out of her midst; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of Jehovah." (Is52:11)


Three questions were asked:

  1. HOW AM I "SET APART"?

    Just as the shopper "sets-apart" their item into the shopping cart, and then goes and -PAYS- for it, so too we have been purchased:

    "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us... knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your vain way of life received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (Ga3:13, 1Pe1:18-19)

    And so now we are Christ's "purchased possession" officially "sealed" by the Holy Spirit. (Eph1:13-14) We are no longer on the 'shelf'. We do not belong to the world; we are 'owned' by Jesus Christ.

  2. WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?

    Ac13:47 "I have set you as a light of the Gentiles (unbelievers), that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth." (we are supposed to be instruments for the world's salvation -- not joining in with its depravity!)

    Lu 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things" (judgments of the Day of the Lord)

    Ro1:11 "that you may be strengthened;"

    1Co1:8 "that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (We do not remain "just as we are". The world's filth has been washed off by Jesus' blood of the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" Tit3:5)

    1Co5:7 "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened." (This speaks of the church congregations, and those claiming to be Christians, but living like the world's depravity. Expell them from the fellowship!)

    2Co13:9 "that you may be made complete."

    Eph 3:19 "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

    Eph6:11 "that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

    Php1:10 "that you may be sincere and without blame unto the day of Christ,"

    Php 2:15 "that you may be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," (In other words, if we are without fault, but the world is crooked and perverse; that means we are -different- from the world. And if the world is "darkness" but we are light, again, that is a -distinction-. We are -different- from the world; we are no longer like them.)

    Col1:9 "that you may be filled with the full true knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"

    2Th1:5 "that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;"

    Jac1:4 "that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (Oh, you think you're "holier-than-thou"! Well...yes, as a matter of fact.)

  3. WHAT IS MY PLACE?

    We are "in Christ" (2Cor5:17) Having been made "alive together with Christ" our place is now to "sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (Eph2:5-6) the "inheritance" that is "reserved in Heaven" (1Pe1:4) for us by the "sealing" of the "Holy Spirit of promise" for which we are waiting for the "redemption of the purchased possession" (Eph1:13-14) this "redemption" which is our "hope" for which we "wait" with "perseverence" (Rom8:23-25) knowing that our "citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ," (Php3:20) who promised, "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (Jn14:3)

    Those who like to wallow in the world's filth and ways over the years have taunted the saints, "You're so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good!"

    Well, guess what? "..out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt12:34) Jesus called those He said this to, Vipers. The person who makes such a taunt has revealed their own true heart... -THEY- are so earthly minded, that they are NO HEAVENLY GOOD!

    "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and its lust; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1Jn2:15-17)

Of course, this discussion is to True Believers in Jesus Christ. The unbeliever is yet of the filth of this world, of its perversion and degradation; all those things of which the Believer is not to partake.

What is Biblical holiness? First, it is a -place- "in Jesus Christ". It is a place -different- from the world. Just as they had temple guards in the O.T. to keep the unclean 'out', and walls to make a distinction between the holy and profane; so too the Christian does not fellowship with the world, and when the world would seek to encroach the Believer says, "Get out!"

And then, holiness is -behavior-. If a person does etymological studies in the Greek (for the N.T.), one finds things similar to our popular dictionaries, by which we opened this article. But in-amongst the various definitions is also the word meaning "purity". You see, a holy -place- will result in holy -behavior-. If one is in the barnyard, one gets caked with manure, and goes along scuffing the boots to get rid of the stench. But when one is dressed up in a tux, walking around in a royal setting, one's manners are fitting to the 'station'.

Dear Believer: as the old song says, "I'm a child of the King" It is high-time that Believers "professing Godliness" (1Ti2:10) started acting like it! We've got princes and princesses going around acting like prison inmates and gutter bums! We are supposed to have holy associations, and holy behavior.

So, when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road: What is Christian Biblical holiness?

It is our "CONDUCT" ... "Behave yourselves..." (1Pet1:15,17)

Are we living such lives that, as God's children, we can respond to Him as my uncle was reputed to have responded as a wee-little boy (with mixed-up grammar), when asked, "Are you behaving yourself?"

"I'm being-haved!"

Amen!


Return to: Articles