The meaning of holiness and of being set apart for God’s purpose
Christianity is confusing. There are so many brands to choose from and so many ways we are shown to express it. For some of us, Christianity is saving the world here and now. For others, it is being charitable and kind. Then there are those who say that following Jesus is for our own personal peace of heart and mind. Still others proclaim that being a Christian is all about being blessed "in basket and in store." The big question with all of these approaches is simple. Where does being “holy” fit in? Let’s take a step further back to basics – what does it even mean to be holy? Unfortunately, a strong biblically-based answer to this question is sadly lacking in the lives of many who follow Christ. While grasping holiness is not an easy task, we fortunately have God’s own word to help us understand!
Holiness in the Bible has a fascinating history. The very first example of someone or something being sanctified (made holy) is right at the very beginning. God creates everything in the first six creative days (incidentally these are NOT literal 24-hour days) and then He proclaims the seventh day as a day of rest. The Bible said He “sanctified” the seventh day, which means he set it apart as “ceremonially clean.” This might seem odd – did God really need to rest? No. Isn’t everything he does already “clean”? Yes. So, why did He do this – what was His point?
God’s reason for this sanctification of the seventh day became evident when he gave Israel the Ten Commandments. The fourth of those commands was to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. God’s point was simple. For His people to be able to always remember Him, He required them to stop everything, sit back and look up. The Sabbath was holy because the day itself was about God. Being set apart did not stop there. God had them perform many rituals and sacrifices to refocus their minds on His role in their nation. So, holiness in the Old Testament was all about being able to come before their Creator in reverence and purity.
When we get to the New Testament there are a lot of changes. The whole approach is different, as there is no longer any focus on sacrifices and rituals. Jesus becomes the clear centerpiece of holiness, not only because he himself is set apart, but because he opens to door for his followers to a new and higher kind of holiness. This actually ends up being really dramatic. The system God had set up and used for thousands of years was now being overridden. What did that all mean? Check out our February 4, 2019 podcast, “You’re a Christian, But Are You Holy?” to find out more. Follow along with us as we uncover who is considered holy and how they get to be that way. Also find out who is NOT called holy and why. The answers to these questions can change the way you view your own Christianity!
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