Summary: Holiness is not a popular subject these days. Maybe because there are so few people who count holiness as a goal, or even as a value. But the Bible says a lot about holiness.
Colossians 1:2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
Have you thought much about holiness? Probably not. Have you heard much preaching on holiness lately? Probably not. Holiness is not a popular subject these days. Maybe because there are so few people who count holiness as a goal, or even as a value. But the Bible says a lot about holiness.
When Isaiah had a vision of God, the cherubim on either side of His thrown called out to one another “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty! The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6)
God said You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45-Peter quotes this 1 Peter 1:16). We are God’s people, and should reflect His nature. He is holy, therefore, we should be holy. Paul says the people in Colossae were holy.
What does that mean?
1. They were set apart for God’s service. A brass cup is just a brass cup, but a brass cup set aside for use in the Temple becomes a holy thing-not because there is anything intrinsically special or spiritual about the cup, but because it has been set aside for His service. A chapel is just a building-nothing special about it-until people gather there to worship God. God has set us aside from the world-separated us-so we can be useful to Him, for His work, for His service. A sex worker who leaves the sex trade to serve God does not have a spotless past, but can be holy if he or she chooses to live his or her life for the Lord & His work from now on. From that point they become holy. Some people call this secondary virginity-not that the body has been pure from birth, but that it becomes pure when it is set apart, separated from the service of this world for the service of God’s Kingdom. So, holiness is not an issue of our past, it is a commitment of our present and a consecration of our future. Anyone and everyone can become a holy one, a saint, if willing to commit from now on to be a vessel of honor for God. Moses and Paul were murderers, Peter a betrayer and liar, David an adulterer, but most of us would think of them today as saints. They were not perfect vessels, but at some point in their lives they committed to becoming God’s instruments for His work. We can do the same.
2. They were pure. Purity is another one of those forgotten themes in world culture. In fact purity may have a bad name-people ridicule people who pursue purity, saying either they are backward and irrelevant or holier than thou-judgmental, unfit for a world that has moved beyond Victorian and outmoded concepts of right and wrong, morality and immorality. Consenting adults can do what they want-no one has a right to say otherwise, and if you choose to pursue purity you are by implication claiming those who don’t share your commitment are somehow impure. This is an unfortunate world climate. Virtue is worth pursuing and always has been. There have also always been very few who pursue virtue, because the virtues are difficult to develop. As they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it.
I think the biblical mandate for purity can be summarized with three main things-maintaining a clean mouth, clean hands, and a clean or pure heart. Of the three, the heart is the hardest to keep clean. This requires eternal vigilance, daily dedication-constant work. Our bodies and minds and hormones work against us developing purity (to be clear, as a side note, sex within marriage is considered pure-it is a holy thing. Hebrews 13:4 says the marriage bed should be kept pure-holy, it is already holy and should not be desecrated, so abstinence from sex within marriage can be thought of as the opposite of the pursuit of holiness. Holiness is not the denial of all the good things God has created for us; holiness is the embracing of all the good God has created for us in the context within which He has designed it for our greatest good). You have to want purity and work toward it, and if you fall in a ditch seven times, seven times you pick yourself up, clean yourself up and move on (Proverbs 24:16). But Jesus said “O how happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Seems the reward is worth the cost.
What do you need to change in your behavior and thoughts today in order to fit the description of ‘holy ones’? Prayerfully consider that today & all the week to come.