Monday, February 3, 2014

What is Holiness?

All scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The Hebrew and Greek meaning of the words mentioned are from Strong's Hebrew Greek Dictionary.
I love that old chorus, To Be Like Jesus. Maybe you don't know it. The words are as follows;
     To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus
     On earth I long to be like Him,
     All through life's journey
     From earth to glory
     I only ask to be like Him

The Bible in 1st Peter 1:15-16 says, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." So what is holiness? Strong's Hebrew Greek Dictionary gives this meaning to what Apostle Peter said; "ἅγιος, hagios, (pronounced) hag'-ee-os. From ἅγος hagos (an awful thing) compare G53, [H2282]; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): - (most) holy (one, thing), saint." Certainly the Lord Jesus was all of the above. 1st Peter 2:22-23 says The Lord Jesus, "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously..." And we are called to be as holy as the Lord for in the previous verse (1st Peter 2:21), "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps..."

I sometimes ask myself the question, how does one become as holy as God? Just following a certain standard is not holiness! The Bible speaks of "true holiness" in Ephesians 4:24 which says, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." The word "holiness" here has the meaning of piety according to Dr. Strong. According to the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary, (, the full definition of the word piety means,
:  the quality or state of being pious: as
a :  fidelity to natural obligations (as to parents)
b :  dutifulness in religion :  devoutness
:  an act inspired by piety

:  a conventional belief or standard :  orthodoxy
Looking at the above definitions, item 1:b and item 3 stands out to me. Being dutiful to religious obligations such as church attendance and giving, e.g. tithing, etc and/or the conventional belief or standard is being pious. 

The term holiness is found 43 time in the King James Version of the Bible. It is found 13 times in the New Testament. Holiness translated with piety as it's meaning is found only 2 of the 13 times in the New Testament. That brings me to my subject, holiness standards. There are those who take exception to the term "holiness standards" apparently believing they are only man-made standards. Based on the above, we are called to be holy as the Lord Jesus is holy and true holiness includes holiness standards. Granted, there may be differences of opinion as regards what holiness is but never-the-less holiness is not optional. So what was the Apostle Peter's point of reference? Of the Old Testament references to God saying to Israel "Be ye holy; for I am holy." the first instances are in Leviticus 11:44-45. God said, "...I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy... For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."

Whatever your view of holiness may be the Bible is clear, you and I are to be holy in our living. And remember the admonition of Hebrews 12:14, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord..." That reminds me of another old song we used to sing in church the chorus which goes as follows;
     Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face,
     There to sing forever of His saving grace;
     On the streets of glory let me lift my voice;
     Cares all past. home at last, ever to rejoice.

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