Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Art of Holiness

"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy..." Lev 11:44

What does God mean when He asks us to be Holy? I only ask because, of late, it is a question that has occurred to me. Most Christians I know fall into one of two categories: they are either 'too holy' or 'not holy enough'.

The 'too holy' Christians quote scriptures any time you ask them for advice, wish everyone a 'blessed' day and talk about how 'blessed' they are, call on the name of the Lord loudly and regularly, send you 'Christian' emails, post Christian sayings on their desks and instruct Satan to 'get thee behind' whenever anything isn't going their way. The 'too holy' Christian often comes with a bad case of a holier-than-thou attitude, is very judgmental, strait-laced and morally uptight.

On the other hand, you'd be very hard to identify the 'not holy enough' Christian as a Christian at all - he or she curses regularly, drinks with the best of them, has one or two significant others, loudly and publicly discusses his or her love affairs and dresses and conducts himself or herself exactly like everybody else. If you are lucky enough to be driving down the right street at the right time on a Sunday morning, you might see this person sneaking guiltily into church service - which is probably the only indication he or she is a Christian (or, at the very least, a spiritual seeker).

Luckily, however, there is a third category of Christian believers. This type of Christan seems to actually have figured out what God meant when He asked us to be 'holy'. According to Strong's Concordance, the 'sanctify yourselves' in the above scripture means " be clean (ceremonially or morally): appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow....proclaim, purify..." And 'holy' means "sacred (ceremonially or morally)...(noun) an angel, a saint, a sanctuary..." When we think of 'holiness', we mostly think of the airs we put on to convince others we are truly living the Christian life. The third type of Christian actually is 'holy.' They consecrate (set themselves apart) in the service of God. They seek to please Him with their actions. They 'clean' themselves through regular prayer and repentance, seeking to absolve themselves of the sins that are committed by each of us every day.

This third category of Christian is 'sacred' to God - they live at a higher standard than the rest of us. They take God's commandments seriously and search their hearts regularly to see if their actions are in accordance with His Word. They are led and guided by the Holy Spirit and take heed to His admonishments to watch their language, guard their hearts, pray for others and take on the burdens of others. They don't necessarily visibly display their 'sainthood' by the wearing of specific garments or religious icons, but their actions, demeanor and speech reflect their deep moral convictions. They embody the very qualities of God. As Jesus said in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." They are known by their love for God and by their love for other people. This is what it means to be holy.

Holiness is a state of being. Being holy means a lifelong commitment to purification, renewal and communion with God.

God asks that we be holy. It is only reasonable that we be obedient to His command.

God Bless.

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Anonymous said...

This is a really great post~so glad I found ya today! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

Unknown said...

Thanks for the thoughts.

John Evo said...

"God asks that we be holy. It is only reasonable that we be obedient to His command."

I would suggest that when you you the word "reasonable", you not associate it with anything to do with god, since that is a matter of "faith", not reason.

But to address your confusion about why some are "not holy enough" and some are "too holy", it's simply a matter of interpretation. Obviously, if you are going to base your life on a book and claim it is the inerrant word of god, and that book leaves room for interpretation, you are going to have these problems.

Chris Perez said...

Hey there,

I came across your blog today and was glad to read this entry! Holiness, in my opinion, is doing all that God asks of you while constantly maintaining your walk with the Lord. The people that are "too Holy" have it all figured out in their minds while the people who "aren't holy enough" probably have no clue where to even start: they say God, but don't live God, if you know what I mean. None of us are perfect, by any means, but as Christians we constantly have to tweak our lives and upkeep our faith in order to hold fast to the Lord! God bless and I'll continue reading your blog!


Stan said...

I suppose I see "holy" as somewhat different than the common perception. Biblically, it means "set apart". Now, that means "set apart - from sin" obviously, which gives us our standard understanding of the term. But it means "set apart" from so many other things as well. The primary concept of "holy" is found in God's command, "Come out from among them and be separate." It means a "set apart" way of thinking, a "set apart" way of living, a "set apart" relationship with God and your fellow human beings. It means separating from sin and the world and walking a different path. When my path is not separate from the world, I will be "not holy enough", and when my path is separate from the world but separate from God, it will be "too holy".

Unknown said...

why have you not posted since the end of August?

kathydarnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kathydarnell said...

I like your post especially concerning the third "Holy Christian" I believe that all Christians can be Holy "set apart" unto the Lord if we all live as if before an audience of "ONE". If we live vertically instead of horizontally. If we live not to adhore sin, but to love righteousness.

If Holiness is defined to an individual as "not sinning" they are fighting a loosing battle, because even if an individual accomplishes to live life not committing any sinful "act" they are still covered in sin because our Nature is sinful and we can never act above and beyond our nature.

Now this by no way mean that becuase of our sinful nature, then we are to willfully or habitually sin. NO NOT AT ALL. But it does mean that in order begin down the road of true holiness it will take a change of heart that will automatically manifest in outward "Holiness".

Human beings by natural fallen nature exalt our selves over and above GOD. We are by nature "idol factories and covenant breakers" If a believer wants to live up to the holiness that GOD calls for then that person must increasingly become more and more aware an recognize there own sinful, fallen, deprived condition, and that is the only way we can adequately begin to EXALT God.

Look in scripture at what happens each time fallen "man" comes into the pressence of a HOLY GOD. Isaiah said "WOE IS ME, I am undone". Many people miss this but notice in John 18:5-7 what happen when the Pratorian Guard came to arrest Jesus and they asked Christ was he Jesus of Nazareth, When Jesus said 'I am he" they drew back and fell to the ground.

God said I am looking for those with a broken and a contrite heart. What kind of brokeness is he seeking? It is not the broken heart that we all have felt from a ended relationship. It is the broken heart of pride. Pride is the GREATEST sin of fallen humanity. Pride keeps us from truely appreciating how severely every part of our being was affected by the fall.

We are ALL the walking wounded, severely, crtically, and traumatically damaged. Everyone knows the passage " our righteousness is to God like filthy rags" look at the etymology of that passage Isaiah 64:6 if you look at the true rendering of that text in the orginal Hebrew 'ed Stongs# 5708 the true translation is "our righteousness is like a filthy MENSTRUAL CLOTH". That is how GOD see's our attempts at righteous, like us handing him a "bloody pad" with amen tacked on the end of it.

Now does this mean that we are to in turn try to sin even less. NOT at ALL, that would be missing the point. This is intended to break our heart so that we can see ourselves as God truely see's us and then we can begin true Holiness.

What stands between many Christians and God? A exateration of our own goodness. The only way we as Christains can begin to be Holy is to first appreciate how truely deserving of HELL we truely are and that is when we can begin to properly exalt God.

This is how we love righteousness instead of seeking to adhor sin. When we love the first the latter will automatically be adhored. Many of us unfortunately go about it backwards. The only way we can break the deep rooted behavior of naturaly exalting ourself over GOD is to begin to naturally exalting GOD over ourself. Only when we begin to see that there is NOTHING in us to exalt, that is when GOD will take to proper seat in our life. Unfortunately because many Christians only know "of" God but not "know God" they think that just being saved will automatically accomplish this task. Regretfully that is not so.

When we are saved, just like men and women bring past relationships and hurts and pains into new relationships, we bring bad habits, hurts, pains, emotional scar, wounds and all into our new relationship with Christ. Jesus is not going to just "POOF" make it go away just because you are saved now.

A friend of mine said to me "I just can't understand why I don't make time to study the bible like I should" I ask her well how much time did you make to study for your classes when you were growing up in school?" She was amazed when she realized that the same study habits she had all her life was still present in her new relationship with Christ. This is why salvation is a life long process. Just like my friend, we bring to our new relationship with Christ our damaged psyche from the fall of Adam and Eve. For eexample if you was terrible at budgeting your money when you were a stranger to God you will be terrible at budgeting your money when you become a friend to God, This may be why a person struggles with tithing, not necessarily because their heart is not in it but it may be they need to learn how to be a proper steward with the money God has blessed them with. He will have to work on that through prayer and the word. If you had a problem trusting people when you was a stranger to God, then you will have a problem trusting when you become a friend to God. This may be why a person is having problems even trusting God. Not neccessarily becuase they don't want to. A person may grew up in a fatherless home or a home where the father was a abuser when they was a stranger to God, and now in their new relationship with Christ they may stuggle with loving God as a father. That person will have to let the Holy Spirit work on that through prayer and the word. This is why the only way to begin to be Holy and "set apart" is to heal the wounds from our fallen nature, and one of those wounds that needs healing in ALL of humanity is to learn how to naturally exalt God over our self and for fallen humanity the only way this can be done is by recognizing just how sinful, naked, deprived, and deserving of Hell we are. For an example, Look at Paul. Do you know that is was at the END of his ministry before he was Martyed that he made the famous statement. 1 Timothy 1:15 I am the Chief of all sinners. Many Christians believe that the mark of Christian maturity is when you sin less and less, that is a result of Christians having a secular view at life rather than a biblical veiw. Secualar society says maturity is related to perfection. If you are better at acomplishing your task then you are more mature, therefore if you are seeking to be sinless maturity is committing less and less sin. This is the result of the secularzation of the westernized church. True Christian maturity is not committing less and less sin, even though it is a sign of a changed life, but maturity is becoming more and more aware of our sinfulness and Gods Holiness. That is why Paul made that self evaluation at the end of his ministry. See our Chief primary Goal is to Worship God (and not in just the Praises)and the only way for fallen man to Worship a Holy God is to become aware of how much God deserves to be worship and how much we owe him our Worship. This is how we are to be HOLY "set apart" Many Christian can say that we are to not be like the world, but the Question "why is the World not like God?" You learn that then you can not be like the world. The world hates God. Why becuasue the world looks at it self and see no need for God. How do you be Holy "set apart"? Look at your self and see a DESPRATE NEED FOR GOD. Now whats the prescription? for the unsaved its the cross of Christ for the saved its Joshua 1:8 "study this book of the law continually, meditate on it day and night, be sure to obey all that is in it, only then will you succeed" In the word we learn not only who God is but also who we truely are. The more and more I mature in the Lord, the more and more I say as Paul said "oh wretched man (woman) that I am who will save me from this body of sin and death"

"I see the SCUM that is me and I marvel at the HOLY, HOLY, HOLINESS that is HE, and I am undone"

Thanks for alll that took the time to read. God Bless and be encouraged.


Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

Very nice photo and interesting blog.


The Hair Gospel said...

Great post Ms. Sonya,

how do we say we love God truly and don't want to tell others about what he did to save us and continues to do for us daily? Some people are even afraid to take their Bibles to work.
Whose zooming who? Or Whose fooling who?

Everyday we rise with the sun, God allows us to do “Good Works” and “Sow Seeds” into peoples lives through the love he has for us. We have the opportunity to smile,show the love of Christ, motivate, inspire, share testimonies, and cancel any negative thought that raises it head against the word of God.

If each one of us could just try to do one these acts every day-we truly love God. Talk gets Tired after a while. Lets show our love for God-you might just get addicted to it.