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What is holiness?
A Sukkot story
I remember when I visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was in 2014 around Sukkot— The Feast of Tabernacles.
That specific day I went into the hall that is alongside the Wall, where people usually go to pray protected from the heat outside. And walking inside I saw a few free chairs in the back near a man who was reading his Bible. I sensed I should go there and sit next to him.
I knew immediately that he was not Jewish by the way he looked. Also, because he was reading the Bible— the complete Bible with what we usually call The Old and The New Testament. And I knew an Orthodox Jew would not have a Bible with the New Testament. Therefore, I concluded that he was a Christian.
I sat next to him, and I took my Bible too and began reading. After a few minutes, I told myself I need to start a conversation with him. I introduced myself, and we talked a little bit. He was very friendly, and in the end, he told me that he was an American Pastor visiting Israel with a group of people- his name is Greg Violi. However, he wanted to spend some time alone at the Wall reading the Bible and praying. Our discussion was not long, and he told me he has to leave as the others were probably waiting for his return.
A word about holiness
Before he left I asked him one of my favorite questions: What can I pray for you? He looked a little surprised and said ‘pray Jeremiah 15:19 for me.’ I said OK, and he left. I told myself I better keep my promise and pray for the man. Therefore, I opened up my Bible to Jeremiah 15:19 and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Ever since then, this verse becomes one most essential scriptures that God used to impact my life. Let me share it with you:
This is Adonai’s answer: “If you return — if I bring you back — you will stand before me. If you separate the precious from the base, you will be my spokesman. It will then be they who turn to you, not you who turn to them.
Tree of Life Bible translation(as most of the other readings) is translating this verse slightly different:
Therefore thus says Adonai: “If you return, I will restore you, you will stand before Me. If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will be as My mouth. Let them turn to you, but you must not turn to them.
The words ‘separate the precious from the base’ or ‘extract the precious from the worthless’ hit my heart. I sensed God was trying to communicate something to me. I prayed for the American Pastor and then I prayed for myself the same scripture.
God loves holiness
Going back home from the Wall, I kept on thinking about this verse. Moreover, I sensed God leading me to start studying the meaning of this scripture in its context. By faith, I took this scripture and applied it to my life. I told the Lord that I would like to be one of His messengers for my generation of people. So, I began praying and asking revelation about the things that are precious and the things that are worthless from His perspective. I wanted to get rid of anything that was not pleasing to Him!
About holiness, the Bible says in Hebrews 12:14 (ESV)
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Also, in 1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV)we read another great commandment from the Lord
but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The Word of God is teaching us to be holy in all our conduct, in every area of life not only where we want or think. Matthew Henrycommenting the verses in 1 Peter 1:15-16 said
we must be holy, as God is holy: we must imitate him, though we can never equal him. He is perfectly, unchangeably, and eternally holy; and we should aspire after such a state. The consideration of the holiness of God should oblige as to the highest degree of holiness we can attain unto.
Perfect holiness for Christians here on earth? Is this biblical?
I do not believe we can be as holy as God is here on earth, even though many preachers teach this. Apostle John writing to the believers says in 1 John 1:8 (ESV)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Therefore, if you believe you are as holy as God is, it makes no sense to repent anymore. However, if you believe as a born-again Christian you are in the process of sanctification that will last all of your life then, please, keep reading this blog.
Sanctification is the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer through which He makes us more like Jesus. Alternatively, as Easton’s Bible Dictionarydefines it
sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man (Romans 6:13; Colossians 3:10; 1 John 4:7; 1 Corinthians 6:19 ). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the plan of redemption to carry on this work (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Th. 2:13).
Easton continuesto say that
perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1 Kings 8: 46; Proverbs 20:9 ;Eccl 7:20; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8).
[See also Easton’s definition for holiness here]
Holiness is something practical
J. C. Ryle explaining the verse in 1 Peter 1:16 makes a point in showing that the verse is not saying ‘you shall be holy just as holy as I am’, but you shall be holy, for I am holy. It is a command to imitate God! We cannot obey this commandment of God without the help of the Holy Spirit. However, with His support, it is possible. If it had not been possible, God would not have commanded us. Again, it is possible by the grace of God, and it is not an option for any of us.
Holiness is something practical and it means to separate oneself from the sinful things of this world unto God. We always have to keep in mind these two dimensions: separate from something unto Someone else. As we read in Joshua 23:8 (ESV)
but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day
This is my desire— to live a holy life, as this brings glory to God. Moreover, I am writing a book about pornography and sexual impurity because the Church needs healing in this area.
I do not plan to write everything that can be said about sin and holiness. I am touching just the tip of the iceberg here. In my posts, I will write more about pornography and sexual sin and show from the Scriptures that these are an abomination before our holy God.
Too many Christians fail to see the truth about sin and holiness and how important these topics are. Not many preachers teach about holiness today. And people are confused. However, if one is not making a change, he or she will lose heaven! I do not believe the words ‘once saved always saved’.
God and His heaven are holy
God used the verses I mentioned above to make me thirst for holiness. We need to pursue holiness as without it we cannot see God (Hebrews 12:14) and we will not enjoy heaven, as heaven is a holy place.
Let us separate the precious things of God from the worthless things of the flesh (or the base). Moreover, let us pursue holiness and remove the worthless things of this world from our life and cling to the Lord. As we read in Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Nobody will see God without holiness! We are either clinging to sin or to God. Therefore, let us choose God!
Do you agree?
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