Monday, December 21, 2015

What does holiness mean in our world today?

Holiness, for many people, is like this elusive thing that we know we should be grasping after (or we've at least been told we should be), but we aren't really sure what it is exactly we are grasping after or how to grasp after it.

Holiness is first, the defining characteristic of who God is. It is the characteristic that the seraphim call out back and forth over and over to one another about the Lord God in Isaiah 6, "holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is fully of his glory." Then out of God's holy character flow his acts...they are holy because his character is holy. And, because his essential nature is holy, all his acts are holy. Yeah, but what is "holiness"? Holiness is separateness, otherness. Holiness is purity, without sin, without imperfections.  

So, what does that mean for us when God says to us in 1 Peter 1:16, "you shall be holy, for I am holy". God calls us to be holy and expects us to be holy, set apart for himself and pure and undefiled by the world. What does holiness look like in our world today? And, if we aren't pursuing holiness, what does that say about the Christianity we profess (Hebrews 12:14)? How do righteousness and purity relate to holiness that we pursue? What about Christian liberty (Romans 14)? How does the concept of "distinctiveness within the culture" fit into the conversation?

Friday, December 4, 2015


Numbers 6 records for us God's instructions for those that would take a Nazarite vow. The phrase that caught my attention in these instructions was in Numbers 6:2 - "to separate himself to the LORD". 

This phrase is repeated in the chapter on a few other occasions. Even the footnote reveals that the word "Nazarite" means "one who separates" or "one who consecrates" himself. In Numbers 6:8, Moses makes the connection between this separation and holiness. He writes, "all the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD."

To be "separated to the LORD" and "holy to the LORD" carries with it the weight that we are "separated for the LORD" and "holy (consecrated) for the Lord". 

Paul, who himself may have taken a Nazarite vow in Acts 18, draws a couple of parallels for the NT believer in his letters.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul calls all believers to "present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." 

Then in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, he declares, "you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

Since we are the "peculiar" people of God (1 Peter 2:9-11), we are called and compelled by the gospel to be separated and consecrated to and for the Lord. Because He, in his grace through justification, has declared us righteous, we are moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit to pursue a consecrated life unto God.

But, are we really? Or, are we just playing church and playing religion? Do we just do enough to ease our conscience "until the next appointed time"?