Preaching & Teaching

Holiness in the Bible

Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. 1 Peter 1:15 (NIV)

Some things people associate with the word holy are: beards, sandals, long robes, no sex or jokes, fasting, much prayer, and stained glass (to name a few!). The idea of being holy is clearly unattractive to many.

It may come as a relief to know that holiness in the Bible has nothing to do with these things. The root meaning of the word holy is “to cut, sever, or separate.” So if you cut off your thumb while chopping carrots, you could hold up your thumb and say, “This thumb is holy.” And by that you would mean: It is disconnected from the rest of the body. It is not bound up with everything else.

The Bible says, “God is holy.” In other words, he is not bound up with everything else. The God of the Bible is not a product of Judeo-Christian culture. He is the Creator, not a creation. He is who he is—separate, set apart, distinct.

God has called you to a new life that reflects who he is. A life that is identified with him will be clearly distinct from the values of this world. If you live a life that reflects God’s holiness, you will be out of step with the culture. You will be marching to the beat of a different drum.

Holiness involves leaving one thing in order to give yourself to another. When seniors graduate, they leave high school in order to go to college. The two things go together. When a couple gets married, they leave their parents in order to cleave to one another. When you begin a new life, there are old sins to leave behind and a new lifestyle to embrace.

Is holiness attractive to you? Why or why not?

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, a multi-campus church located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and president of Unlocking the...

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