Hagiasmos [Greek}: Separated unto God.
Hagios [Greek}: Separated from sin, and therefore consecrated to God.
Qôdesh [Hebrew]: A sacred, consecrated, dedicated, hallowed thing or place.
Qȃdȃsh [Hebrew]: To appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, prepare, purify, sanctify.
It has become a habit in my family to attach a ribbon, or some other colorful piece of cloth, to our luggage, so that we can pick it out from the hundreds of other bags at the airport. When our bags come out of the chute, they look like many other bags, but when we see that red and white ribbon attached to the handle, we say to ourselves: “Aha! There’s mine”, and we walk towards it to retrieve it. And even if it has gotten torn, worn out or soiled, there’s still the satisfaction of knowing it’s there...it came!
I can imagine that a similar yet much more overwhelming feeling is the one experienced by the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, when he sees his son off in the distance. From that standpoint, one can say that in repenting/returning home, the Prodigal Son was sanctifying himself, consecrating himself to his father.
At the end of the day, holiness, sanctification, is an issue of ownership.
Leviticus 19:27-28, Genesis 17:11-13, Leviticus 12:3, Deuteronomy 22:11-12, Numbers 15:37-41
(all of Leviticus and Numbers for that matter)
We wear uniforms at work, in private schools, and in sport teams. They give us a sense of identity, especially to those “on the outside”. They serve to state, at least partially, “this is where I belong”, or “this is what I do”. God had asked the Israelites to dress a certain way, and eat certain foods, and treat their bodies in such a way as if to be wearing a uniform – the uniform of holiness; one that says “I live this way, and wear this, and eat this, because I belong to God”. Wedding rings make a similar statement. In the New Testament the concept remains, but it is somewhat less specific: We are to be clothed with Christ (Colossians 3:12-13, 1 Peter 5:5, 3:3-4, Romans 13:11-14, Galatians 3:23-29).
God is Holy – period.
Regardless of our conduct, the Word of God is still the Word of God; it is still true, and it will still have the effect that it was designed to have. God loves us, yes, and because He loves us He will do many things for us; but it is not thanks to our merit and our righteousness that things go well for us. Rather, it is because of His Grace, and the Holiness of His Name, which He wants to present and preserve. God’s grace upon us, and His righteousness, when contrasted against our sinful attitudes, will have these effects:
- It will cause us to realize how sinful we are, and lead us to repentance.
- It will cause others who don’t believe, or don’t care about God to wonder, and be amazed, and question.
- It will be evident that it is all the work of God, and not ours, so nobody can take the credit from Him. True repentance cannot be achieved without Jesus. It is a result of God’s grace, and it’s therefore God’s workmanship. Holiness is a gift of God (Exodus 31:13).
Leviticus 11:45, 19:1-2 (which follows immediately after 18:24-30), 20:7, 20:26, 1 Peter 1:15-16, Matthew 5:48
God is Holy, and He expects us, as His representatives, to be Holy as well.
God did not let Moses or Aaron enter the Promised Land because they did not uphold His Holiness at Meribah. Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13 are similar, but differ in a very important point: The first time, Moses obeyed (struck the rock); the second time he disobeyed. Perhaps he was fed up with the Israelites and their constant complaining, but that was still no excuse. He took the credit for himself and did not honor God. God still provided the water, and He did not kill Moses on the spot, but He still had to teach Moses the importance of recognizing God’s Holiness before the people.
Neither title, nor position, nor accomplishments give us the right to be profane, unholy. We must be very careful not to adopt a casual, irreverent, overly-familiar tone with God. He is God.
Now, if we have been made holy, or are being made holy, we no longer belong to ourselves. We have given ourselves up to God. Jesus is the ultimate example of this. The body of the true Christian does not belong to the Christian; it belongs to God (1 Corinthians 6:13-20). Offering the members of our body to [the works of] righteousness leads us to Holiness (Romans 6:19-22)
Just as God expected – even demanded – that any sacrifice made to Him under the old covenant be
- from the first fruits of one’s labor
- without blemish or defect
so he expects the same from our sanctification. In other words, if we are to offer ourselves to God’s service we must do so completely and sinlessly. If we are going to live for God, we must continually strive to stay away from temptation, and in doing so, from sin. To pretend to do otherwise is to insult God. Sanctification (the way to holiness), therefore, is a continual process to which we are called, and repentance is part of that process.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:8
Every day we make a series of decisions - some of them worldly, others with God in mind. The latter ones lead us to a closer relationship with Him. They lead us to holiness. Paul reminds us to consciously, intentionally select the righteous decisions in our daily living. Strive for (i.e., pursue, work hard towards) justice, peace, love, etc. Don’t just comfortably fall into a default mode where decisions will be made for themselves, or made by someone else. Choose wisely; choose righteously. The succession of righteous choices will help you become a holy man or woman.
Sometimes we are forced to make certain decisions because of unwanted circumstances forced on us. This may be God’s way of preventing us from falling into the aforementioned “default mode”. If we don’t discipline ourselves, with holiness as the goal, God may chip in and impart the discipline Himself – with the same goal in mind.
Children, for example, can change our life radically. One of the first things that changed when we got kids was our vacations. It used to be that we would pack and go somewhere and be spontaneous with our agenda. We’d get on our “vacation mode” and relax if we felt like it, or sightsee, eat when we were hungry, or whatever. When the kids arrived, packing became much more complicated, activities had to be scheduled, eating and napping times had to be adhered to, and forget about relaxing!
Life’s circumstances are what they are, some of them pleasant, others uncomfortable, even painful. But the opportunity to select the path of holiness remains. The end result is glorious, for Him first, but also for us.
Holiness demands excellence (Leviticus 22:17-25).
We are supposed to be set apart, and in that way, through our lives and in our lives, we are expected to set God apart. People believe in many deities, many “gods”, but looking at us and in the way we live, people should see that our God is different. He brings us a peace that no other deity can, and the world does not understand (Philippians 4:4-7); He expects us to love and forgive our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48); He wants us to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him (Matthew 6:5-18); He wants us to trust Him, and not wealth (Matthew 6:19-24), and therefore not worry (Matthew 6:25-34). What other god is like that? If we truly live like He (our God) says, people will notice the difference, and God will be glorified.
Purity and holiness go hand in hand. When God is not in the center of our lives, falling into impurity is not too difficult (2 Samuel 11:1-15). We must use the freedom we have in Christ to choose purity, for the sake of His name. If we persevere in purity, it will lead us to Justice, and justice to holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1).
This must be our initiative. God’s promises are our motivation. Impurity, by definition, pollutes. To be holy, just as God is holy, we must get rid of thoughts, fight the feelings, flee the temptations, stay away from the things that entice us, confess our sins, and pray, pray, pray (Exodus 4:22-5:5).
Holiness is hard work – it takes focus, it involves sacrifice, choosing humility instead of “our rights”; but without holiness we will not see God (Matthew 5:8). We will not only not see Him “on the other side”, but we won’t see Him in this life either. Because only through our practice of holiness will we be able to identify/detect the impact and influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in the lives of others. In other words, if we don’t know what holy is – because we don’t practice it – we won’t be able to see it, even if it’s right in front of us. If then we cannot see holiness, we will not be able to see God either.