November 7, 2013

{Day 7} Saved and Called: What IS Holiness, Anyway?

If you're just popping in on this November series, you can catch up here.

Before diving into the Word to explore God's commands and exhortations regarding the living of the holy life, we need to know what holiness means.  That is what we'll consider today.  What comes to mind for you?  Personally, my brain goes in two directions.  There is the holiness of God that is separate and other from anything we find on earth, the perfection, glory, and righteousness that are intrinsic to who He is.  Then there is the holiness I think of a person possessing that is demonstrated by righteous, yet humble, behavior.

Is there any connection between the holiness of God, that seems so difficult to define but that He opens our hearts to believe and understand, and the holy life to which He calls us?  I believe the answer is a resounding YES!  And I pray that what I'm about to share with you is a blessing to your soul this day.

Let's do this thing!

God is described as holy and worshiped because He is holy.  (Check out Isaiah 6!)  God is the very definition of holy, in fact.  What makes God holy is his "set-apartedness," His complete otherness from the rest of creation.  Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (EDBT) says this:  All of heaven's hosts, Israel, and the church ascribe praise to a holy God because that idea sets him apart from everything else ( Exod 15:11 ; Isa 6:3 ; Rev 4:8 ). Holiness is what God is.*

I don't know where that thought takes your mind, but pause for a moment and consider: Holiness is what God is.  Then consider the truth that that same Holy God popped in on humanity, meeting with Abraham and making wild promises to a man with a barren wife about building a great nation from his seed, only later to call upon Moses from a burning bush and set in motion the plan to set apart a people for Himself, starting by bringing them out of slavery.

Wow!  The Holy God interacts with unholy folk because (like Paul said to Timothy) it was according to His own purpose and grace.

Now, back to the holiness and what God's holiness has to do with us.  Another site says this:  Holiness is itself a drawing of a boundary, around that which is uniquely associated with God. ... "holiness" implies a setting apart for God's purpose.**  In Leveticus 20:26, God says, You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.  Then later in 21:8 He says, Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God.  Consider them holy, because I the Lord am holy -- I who make you holy.

God is the Holy One.  It is his prerogative, then, to set other things apart as holy if He wants to.  The mystery and wonder of history is that he does want to!  Why is Israel holy?  Because of what they've done?  Read Exodus, you'll quickly see that cannot be the reason.  No, they are holy BECAUSE GOD SET THEM APART AS HOLY.

Baker's EDBT goes on to say, Holiness is what God is. Holiness also comprises his plan for his people.*  This applies not only to Israel, but all who have, do, and will believe in the name of Jesus.  Christ's coming did not change the story or the way God works, it simply expanded its reach into all the nations.  And lie Isreal, I think there are two things we need to remember and meditate on about holiness.

  1. If we belong to God through Jesus, we have been set apart to God as holy.  God says to us, I chose you out of the darkness and I am bringing you into my light, not because of what you've done, but because of who I AM.  If that doesn't stop you in your tracks, please read it again.

In fact, I'm not even going to proceed with my second point at this time.  I'm feeling too overcome with awe by this truth, and I think until this sinks into our hearts a little more, I cannot move on.

Consider these verses for meditation today:
I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the Land of Slavery.  Exodus 20
I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined and heard my cry.  He lifted me up out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  Psalm 40
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Matthew 19:3

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins and by nature objects of wrath … But, because of His great love for us, GOD, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions.  Ephesians 2:1, 4-5


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