“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11
The word holiness means apartness, sacredness, or separateness. God is holy because He is apart from everybody and everything else, in a class all of His own. There is nobody like Him. As Creator, He is not part of creation, but is above every created thing.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. Isiah 6:1-6
God spoke through Moses and commanded the Israelites to be holy, because He is holy. They had to abstain from the sins and idols of the nations around them. While living among them, they had to be separate from them. The gods of the gentiles were not their gods, their worship was different, their culture was not the same, they followed a different diet, and were governed by different laws.
God’s demand for holiness is not unique to the Old Testament with its laws and regulations. The apostle Paul makes a clear case for holiness in the New Testament:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 6:14- 7:1
When we answered the Lord’s call to come out of spiritual darkness, we became a different tribe, a new creation. Old things passed away and all things became new, with no connection between the new and the old.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
The Bible teaches us how to transition successfully from the old to the new:
Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect. Romans 12:2
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 ~The Message
Instead of conforming to the world, and trying to fit in with the culture in which you grew up, your new life is an ongoing process of transformation, growing away from the old, and walking toward the new.
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24
The holy lifestyle begins in the mind – you have to think differently to live differently. See yourself as a new creation person. Walk away from your old life by changing your carnal appetites and habits, cleaning up your language, and resisting the temptation to please the flesh. Discover your new identity in Christ and live up to it – there is a rich treasure laid away for you to enjoy.
For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:7
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14
We are in the world, but not of the world. The reason for our presence here is to represent the Lord as ambassadors, and to promote immigration to heaven. Our stay here is temporary, therefore we do not settle down or get involved in matters that might compromise our diplomatic mission. Jesus made it clear in His last recorded prayer on earth:
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is the truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for Your sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:15-18
Sinners will never get to know the Lord when our lives look like theirs. You are not easily noticed unless you are different – and that difference is what sets us apart from the world and to the Lord. That is holiness.
God is a jealous God, and He wants us for Himself. Since the church is truly the bride of Christ, He will not share us with the world, just as a man will not share his wife with another. He sees a cozy relationship with the world as adultery.
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2
God is serious about holiness, and so should we. But, looking at our lives, we sometimes feel we don’t make the grade; we fail often, and get our feet dirty as we walk through life in the world. Instead of accepting failure, let us take comfort in the words of Paul to the Philippians:
…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (See Philippians 1:6)
Sanctification is a work in progress; it is a process that can be measured. We are growing in holiness until we stand before Him blameless!