holiness misunderstanding

Living a holy life begins in your closet

The secret to living a holy life is in your closet. That’s right, if you want to know how to live a life that demonstrates the holiness of God you need to look in your closet.

In an earlier blog post I established the fact that from a Christian perspective, holiness is a gift from God and not a product of self effort. Holiness like salvation, comes through faith in Jesus Christ. When we open the door of our heart to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes in to take up residence in our lives and declares us holy by virtue of His holy presence within us.

He does not stop in the entry way or just in the living room, but makes His way into every room of our spiritual house. And surprisingly, the first place He makes a bee line for is our closet. Why? Because He has a whole new wardrobe He wants to hang there to insure that we begin to look like the child of royalty that we have now become. And as He begins this thorough house cleaning of our lives He has a Salvation Army truck waiting at the curb to dispose of all our old, tattered and filthy garments of sin and self-righteousness. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) At any rate good riddance to the old, bring on the new!

And what an amazing ensemble of clothes He provides. First there is “the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” which we are encouraged to put on when we put off the old self. (Ephesians 4:22-24) There are also the “garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10) And as holy people whom God loves He provides us with the clothes of “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) But that’s not all. For our spiritual battles He also stocks our closet with the six piece full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11-17)

The biggest misunderstanding about holiness

The word holy and its derivative holiness are two of the most misunderstood words in the Bible. It is surprising because they are used over 460 times in the Old Testament and 230 times in the New Testament. The problem however is not in understanding the meaning of this important concept. Everyone would agree, including Merriam Webster, that to be holy means to be set apart and devoted to God and His purposes. Both the original Hebrew and Greek words for holy clearly convey this.

Where there is confusion is in understanding how someone or something becomes holy. Most people think that holiness is a result of something we do. It is a common belief that holiness is what happens to us when we conform our attitude and actions to God’s holy will. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To begin to comprehend any Biblical truth or concept it is always insightful to go back and look at the passage of scripture where it is first introduced. This is called the principle of first mention. When we go to a concordance we discover that the word holy was first used in the book of Exodus. It is a very familiar passage of scripture where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and called him to be the deliverer of the Israelites. “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5 NIV)

Now we need to ask the question. What made the ground holy? Was it Moses’ response? Was it his final acquiescence and conformity to God’s will? No, the ground was holy before Moses arrived. In this instance, it is obvious that it was holy because a) God said so and b) He, the Great I Am Who Am, was there.

It could go without saying, but it is important to note that wherever God chooses to be is holy, simply because He is holy.

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