Have you noticed that sometimes the word “holy” is used in a negative way? Has anyone called you “Holy Roller” or “Holier than Thou?” That’s happened to me.
I confess at times I’ve been trapped in legalism which is a false holiness, but there have been other occasions when I’ve truly been seeking to live a holy life and people have put me down—even Christians.
It seems many Christians want some godliness, but they want to put a limit on seeming holy as if holy is not cool. I’ve been tempted in that way. Those of us who say we have a heart to follow God sometimes want to look like the world. We resist embracing holiness.
David Palmer writes in his article “Be Holy For I am Holy,” “We are made holy when God calls us out of this world and gives us of His Holy Spirit in order to live as He does. His Holy Spirit gives us understanding of God’s purpose for creating us, and sets us on the road of overcoming the carnal way of life and living His way in obedience to Him.”
Mr. Palmer goes on to say: “To be holy simply means to be set apart for a special purpose by God, because holy means that God is present.”
God’s Word challenges us with the command to be holy. It is not a suggestion:
Say to all the assembly of the Israelites, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2
…I am the Lord, Who consecrates and makes you holy, Leviticus 22:32
I notice that in the previous verse it says that God makes us holy. Sometimes I try to “act” holy. This is not the same as being holy. Holiness is not about starting with actions. but it’s about the condition of our hearts.
Moving toward holiness is about having a willing heart. I have to ask myself as I move along on this process of becoming holy, “Am I willing to have God transform me?” or do I resist His desire to make me holy? Do I see holy as something bad?
So why do we see being called holy as a putdown? Next time someone says something against our quest for holiness perhaps we should say “thank you.”
Maybe you believe that being holy is only for certain people—like pastors or people in full-time ministry. God’s Word challenges all of us to live holy lives.
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.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV
I pray the Lord will give me the courage to continue praying what can seem like a scary prayer, “God, make me holy” which really means, “Make me more like You.”