What is Holiness? {Some Friends Weigh In}

I’m following the restoration of the beautiful Chataeu de Gudanes, a 94 room 1700’s chateau {read: mansion, hello!} in southern France that has seen better days.

An Australian couple bought the place and are restoring it to its former glory. Not only are the pictures breathtaking, but the process of finding bits of hidden carvings here and original artwork there is fascinating! {I get excited when other people are excited about happy happenings in their lives!}

This Chateau is stunning, but each day of restoration makes it more amazing and returns it to the image that the original builder had in mind years ago.

It’s the same with holiness.

We were created in God’s image, but after the Fall, sin left us in disrepair. When we are saved, God begins the restoration process. He gives us new life (think DNA) in Christ, which enables us to be like Him.

God’s desire is that we would be restored to the image of His son. He’s not going to leave us in shambles. He’s got better plans for us, if we’ll cooperate.

The process of restoration includes painful things: chiseling away, sanding off, getting rid of rot and dead wood, polishing, painting, tearing down, building up. But the final product looks beautiful.

How do we keep that restoration/sanctification process headed in the right direction?

“Be ye holy, for I am holy.” This is a right now, present tense calling. And it also includes a continuing into the future tense. Keep on being holy.

My life, lived out in a holy way, is the most beautiful Christian life I can live, whether we have misconceptions about it or not.

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I asked some of my iron-sharpening-iron friends {some pastor’s wives, some ministry wives} to explain holiness. They’re a great group of women (serious about doing the right thing before God and others!) and I really respect their insight so I wanted to share some of their thoughts.

This is a longer-ish post, so grab some coffee and come back and read what they have to say!

What is holiness?

“I would say that I look at holiness as a progressive and continuing work that God does in us and is not complete until we are in Heaven. We are “holy” before God because of Christ…but our life is pursuing holiness continually.

The one infallible test of our holiness will be our humility before God and others. Humility is the bloom and beauty of holiness.” In contrast: “The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility”.

My biblical understanding: Separate from worldly views in living and in thinking and in lifestyle.”

“I think a holy person is someone who knows God and takes time pursuing Him. The closer they draw to God the more they reflect His holiness. I know my life reflects what I spend time doing…easy to be consumed with living up to others expectations when i keep Facebook, pinterest, tv…in front of my face. But if my mind is meditating on who my God is throughout the day and putting into it God’s Word, my life will reflect his holiness more. This is how I think holy people can be truly beautiful. I guess the sense of holiness that is ugly is a life of self imposed holiness…trying to be like God through your own strength.”

Holiness in the Bible is to be set apart and sacred. I think holiness is showed by a person who has great self-control because they don’t fly off the handle and sin at every turn of event.

Holiness is not how many standards you have but how you keep yourself “unspotted from the world”. I know plenty of people who are not anywhere close to holiness but have enough standards to make the Pharisees think it’s ridiculous! (Okay, maybe not that bad! :P)

Holiness is dependence on God because you know how wicked and sinful you are. Holiness happens when you keep the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments. Holiness happens when you keep short accounts of your sins with God. Holiness happens when you don’t have a fear of man but when you trust God. 

God wants our worship (what we revere, adore, honor, pay homage to) to be something different, set apart. God wants how we worship to be something set apart. 

God wants us to be sober-minded and set-apart. We aren’t to be like the world and its philosophies. We were ignorant of what we were. We were blind and lost. BUT now we KNOW and we desire to be like Christ…HOLY. So in every aspect of our lives, we are to be set-apart. Many times we like to compartmentalize. “This is the church part of my life, and this is the rest of my life.” We can’t  put on “Christianity” on Sundays and then live however we want for the rest of the week. All of life is worship. What we think, what we do, what we say is all revealing what we worship. So how we do all of those things needs to be holy…set-apart.

For me holiness first makes me think of being and doing what is right. Holiness also stirs up thoughts of not following after what is wrong but seeking to be above mediocre living. For me, my understanding of holiness is living a life that is always striving for what is good and pure and can often come across as self righteous (holier than thou) whether it’s meant to seem that way or not.

A holy person is one who is living out Philippians 4:4-9. Quiet confidence, pure mind, vibrant prayer life…a person who is very much in the world, but not affected by it because of close fellowship with Christ. I personally love Berg’s example of sin to a holy God being like vomit to us as moms. I don’t want to be in the same room with it, I hate even the smell of it, I clean it up thoroughly and immediately even though it’s usually the middle of the night. That example breaks down a bit since kids don’t choose to throw up, but as far as understanding how much God abhors sin, it resonated with me.

I believe the BEAUTY of holiness comes when a woman apprehends that she is separating herself TO GOD/unto good works more than FROM others who have chosen sin. Isaiah 1 – 5 is pretty harsh and judgemental. We can sense his frustration with the carnal Israelites of his day. But then Isaiah 6 happens, he sees God, sees his own sinfulness, and the whole tone of the book changes. The unto/from paradigm is beautifully illustrated by a bride. She is focused on one man, and all the others fade to the background. Dozens of New Testament verses refer to the same principle. There is a separation, but it’s towards God/ Jesus Christ, not a contest to see who can be the most separated from the world.

As a parent, I want to teach my children that God calls us to be holy and we should be striving to live a holy, different, set apart life. I want them to know Scripture and apply it to their lives. As they make choices……..what does the Bible have to say about that? How can I best please the Lord in this choice or situation?

 

When I think of a holy person, I think of someone who is trying to please the Lord in every area of life. Someone who is in the Word, someone who is striving to be like Christ. And, considering the circles I have been in, I do tend to think of someone on the more conservative side. We have various friends who are such a blessing to be around because it seems like every time you are with them, and even have just a small conversation, you end up encouraged in the Lord. Scripture just comes out of their mouths….it is normal, it is just “flowing out” because of their time in the Word and meditating on it. So I am thinking of some specific friends who I would consider holy because they are so focused on the Lord, and it just “comes out” all the time in their conversation and daily living.

I think a holy woman is one who is in constant communion with God. We must have a clean conscience before God or that conduit of communion is broken. Holiness is hindered when we have unconfessed sin in our life. Holiness is not a one-upmanship game “standards-wise”, because it focuses on God and not on competing with other people. We’ve all known people who are really obnoxious/outspoken in their displays of “holiness.” Self-focus instead of God focus is pride. So is showmanship in the church. In some circles, Christians love to use holiness for self-promotion (we’re so separated, my kids would never do that, we don’t wear THAT!) (Pride-in-disguise!!) That should make people RUN! :P) Humility and the mind of Christ and inner peace are the outcomes of a truly holy life and mind.

Don’t I have insightful friends!? :) I hope you were blessed by their wisdom as much as I was!

Feeling defeated?

Remember, Holiness is not something you do entirely on your own. It’s not you pulling the whole load and trying really hard. It’s not you doing your best and calling on the Lord when you find yourself in a “jam.”

The Christian life is lives by a series of choices, but the key words here are ENABLED. We are enabled to live as we should. Yes, we make choices. Yes, we choose  holiness or disobedience, but we never go this thing alone. Isn’t it great that as Christian women, we’re never on our own?

We have enabling power through the Holy Spirit to live consecrated (not sinless!) lives!

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

 

 

One comment

  1. I agree completely that holiness is seeking unity and communion with God. That in itself doesn’t make us perfect, but we must look holy when we are striving to be conformed to the image of His Son. Thank you for this post!

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