What Does it Mean to Be Holy?


I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45

… it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." I Peter 1: 16

Today's culture gives us permission to do pretty much whatever we feel like doing. "I'm okay, you're okay," we posit, even in Christian circles. Compromise is everywhere— moral compromise, behavioral compromise, an "It must be okay--everyone does it. It's not that bad" mentality.

Holy: Set Apart for God’s Purposes

One of the goals I have in my life is to search out people, books, and places that will cause me to want to love God more, to live a more excellent life, to want to devote myself to ministry. I want to focus on those areas that cultivate in me a desire to be holy, to be set apart for God's purposes. I have three older friends I specifically spend time with because they are stalwart, seasoned, mature women. I know that when I am with them, I will hear something from the Word. I will be challenged by their thoughts, their lives, their convictions and the ways they are living.

I am far from perfect. But I am an idealist and I can imagine and desire far more than I am able to live. I regular disappoint myself and as Paul said, “ I do the very things I do not wish to do.” And yet, the more time I spend pondering Christ, His creation, His ways, the more deeply I desire to live the way He designed life to be—set apart for Him. This is what holiness means—to be dedicated, to be set apart for God and HIs purposes.

I know from many years that God wants me to push through the self-condemnation and move forward the habit of moving forward, taking one step at a time toward Him, in spite of the bumps in the road when I am either hurt or distracted by the disappointments of others in my life or when I fall short of what I would like to be or do.

Yet, I have learned to have walk with God for many years and to have been challenged to hold fast to Him, amidst all of my struggles. Jacob, in the old testament, is a picture of what it looks like to hold fast to God. He wrestled with God over a night of God’s presence and wrestling with him, and yet, steadfastly, he would not let him go until God blessed him,. This has been my heart's desire, to hold fast to Him until I see Him face to face—a choice to keep going, keep holding on, keep following one step forward at a time.

I seek to find others who are also seeking to please Him, to learn from Him, to walk with Him. It is a rare privilege to meet someone who has determined to be holy--truly set apart for the Lord. A holy person listens to His voice, seeks His word, and prays for His guidance. I believe that God is so willing to work in great ways in and through the lives of any person, but the requirement is a heart set on holiness.

Some of the Requirements of One who is Holy

1. A person who is set apart for God's purposes has learned to view their lives in light of eternity.

Seek first the kingdom of God … lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven and not on earth … teach us to number our days that we might present to Thee a heart of wisdom … Two commandments--love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor.

2. We must put away the sin inside our hearts where no one but God can see.

Is there an idol in your life? It could be money, television, Facebook, Twitter, acceptance from others, popularity, romance novels, food, the need to be right,— anything that replaces God in our hearts as our primary source of satisfaction or joy is an idol. God will not tolerate idols.

Is there any bitterness, insecurity, fear, anger, condemnation of others, critical attitude, judgment, involvement with pornography, lust, etc. that we are holding onto rather than repenting of? God and sin cannot dwell together in the same space—our hearts. Whatever we practice, we become--we cannot love God and practice bitterness or hate or fear; we must choose our master and yield our heart to Him when the Holy Spirit puts His finger on an attitude or practice. The more we ignore His voice, the more we train ourselves in listening to the wisdom of the world which is all around us.

3. One who is focused on pleasing God must spend time in His word.

I am surrounded by people who say, "God told me this or that" or “Why did God do that to me?" Lots of God talk with no basis in scripture. I look for those who are listening to the voice of God. Psalm 1 says, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in this law He meditates day and night.”

4. A holy person is humble--meek, compassionate, and giving grace to others and admits faults and wrong doing when they have offended others..

Jesus said, "I am humble and meek. Learn from me." A proud person cannot be used by God. He gives grace to the humble but is opposed to the proud. I have not met an older person who is godly who has not been humbled in her own eyes over the years.

Humility leads a person to say, "Life is not about me or my pleasure or my happiness. It is about Him and His ways. Be it done to me according to your will, Oh God." As I look at all the obstacles of my life, all the difficulties and deeply painful times, I see that God was leading me on a course to train my heart, so that I would understand the struggles of others, have more compassion for them, and learn to extend His grace to them. A holy person says, "God, have your way in my life, and I will look at everything that happens to me as a lesson or place where I might be faithful to You or where I might have something to learn about ministry."

5. A person who is holy is committed to growing in love, because this is what pleases God.

Loving means putting away anger and harshness toward the one you love. Love means seeing the other person with the intention of serving and encouraging them, not asking what the person can do for you. Love means generously pouring out life-giving words and messages--I believe in you. I appreciate you. I accept you. I will help you. I love you and let there be no doubt, I will be committed to you and seek your best my whole life.

Love does not come easily, but matures over time. But without love, we cannot please God. He cares not so much that our theology is perfectly in line, but that we serve others in love. (The Good Samaritan is one example.)

6. Holiness requires that we choose to believe in God's presence, purpose, and attention in every moment, every day.

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. We believe in the dark times of life. We worship and sing to Him every day. We wait as long as it takes to see His answer to our prayers. We wait on God and God only.

I want to be faithful and holy until I see Him face to face. All of life, it seems, works against my faithfulness--I am weak and vulnerable. I am surrounded by voices of the world. I am tempted regularly. I am lazy and tired and undisciplined at times. But I have made commitments that are at the front of my mind to call me to my ideals. These commitments speak to my heart, call to me to keep going, and give me personal accountability.

What commitments have you made that keep you going? What are your ideals, your hopes, your goals that keep you going? No one can make you be faithful or strong, but God is cheering for you, hoping you will be one of those who stands fast, holds on, chooses Him, desires in your heart to be holy and faithful to Him.

To be set aside for God’s purposes and to follow Him in obedience also provides us with the deeply satisfying fruit of soul satisfaction, deep fullfillment from finding a centeredness in life. in I What will you choose today?