What does it mean to be holy? It’s a question that’s come my way a lot recently. I’ve always just had it in my mind that it means to be like Jesus. It means to be Godly. It means to be pure.
I think those things are certainly accurate. But I feel like, for me, it’s easy to toss those definitions around, use Christian-ease, and never really understand how serious holiness is.
I see in Scripture so much of the time that the word is very weighty. To be holy is not a simple admonition. That God is holy is awe-inspiring, a command of worship.
Holiness is a serious thing.
In the old testament, even a certain incense was to be holy. “…it shall be holy to you for the Lord (Exodus 30:37).” If anyone tried making the same incense to use as perfume for themselves, they would be cut off from their people. The incense was to be holy. Again, a serious thing.
The dictionary will tell us that holy means consecrated, or sacred. Consecrated means declared sacred. Sacred means connected with God, or dedicated for a religious purpose. Something that is holy is dedicated, sacred, connected with God, set apart for God.
The incense that God directed the Israelites to make was to be dedicated to God and set apart for Him.
It shall be holy to you for the Lord. It shall be dedicated to the Lord. It shall be set apart for the Lord.
The Lord is holy. We are not like Him. We can do all kinds of things, but we are not — and never will be — like the Lord. Who is like the Lord (Psalm 113:5)? The Lord is sacred. He is set apart.
And we are set apart for Him. So while we are not like Him, nonetheless, we are to be holy.
We are not like Him or able to do what He can do. And we are not to be like the world. We are set apart for the Lord. We are dedicated to the Lord. We are set apart from the world. And we put off the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2).
We may be able to do what the world does, but why would we want to? And yet we get tempted. But in those temptations, He gives us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). He is our way out. We cry out to Him and He provides. And we renew our minds in Him (Romans 12:2).
God said it: be holy because I the Lord am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:16). Be set apart. Do not be of the world (John 17:16). Cry out to the Lord and live in holiness, set apart, and dedicated to our God.
We are not God. Yet He said to be holy because He is holy. Be sacred, dedicated to Him, set apart because He is sacred.
He is dedicated to us. He is set apart. He is God, worthy of all worship and praise.
He is holy.