Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Study on Holiness

Holiness, a topic I eluded to in my last post and one that has been on my heart for the last month. I've searched the Scriptures and dug into God's Word to attempt to study an attribute of God we're called to imitate. (1 Peter 1:13-16) Friends, this isn't something we will understand or do overnight, but I know this study has impacted my walk of faith and I pray it does the same for you!

So as we begin, let's pray...
Heavenly Father, you and you alone are holy. You are perfect. You have no flaw and can have nothing to do with sin. I am a broken sinner who seeks your forgiveness and longs to be more like you. You've called me to be holy, like you are holy. I realize that is a command, but I want to understand it better. I ask you to walk with me thru this study, open my eyes to see, ears to hear and heart to receive. Use your Word to convict and comfort, encourage and equip. Sanctify me with Your Truth Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen

What comes to mind when you hear the word holy? Who or what do you picture? Would you use this word to describe yourself?

How would you define holy?

Webster's dictionary states, "exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness, divine." A few different Bible dictionaries offer these definitions - "to be different, not common, clean, distinct, set apart, sacred, totally other, one without sin."

Holy is a foundational attribute of God. One of the most familiar verses connected to holiness is found in Isaiah 6:3. What do you read here? Now turn to Revelation 4:8, what do you read here?

In each of these verses we read of heavenly beings praising the Lord. How often is the word holy repeated? Is this significant?

This is the only time in scripture an attribute of God is repeated in this manner, which commentators say is of importance. Three is a significant number in the Bible and a word being repeated this many times signifies the passion and importance of it. Many believe holiness is a foundational attribute of God meaning all His other attributes flow from this - his love is holy, his mercy is holy and so on. The other significance of these verses is they show God is the same in the Old and New Testaments. God was holy yesterday, He's holy today and He will be holy tomorrow.

God is holy...see Exodus 15:11, Psalm 98:1, Psalm 145:17 and 1 Samuel 2:2, but what does holiness have to do with us as believers? The answer is much. This is a call and a command. God chose us to be holy. So friend, what does that mean?

I found myself asking the same question, so I started searching scripture and found that this little word or a form of it appears 611 times in the Bible. One of the places it occurs the most may surprise you...the book of Leviticus, the book that may leave us wondering what it has to do with our world today. This is a book of law, which plays a huge role in our quest to better understand and rightly pursue holiness.

The laws in this book are what set the Israelites apart. The 10 Commandments, which we find in Exodus, are important and a vital piece of our Christian faith, but many civilized nations accepted them because they have a similar code of conduct. These moral laws weren't that different, but the ceremonial laws we find in Leviticus set God's people apart. Take a minute and read a few of them - Lev. 12:1-5, 19:5-9, 20:6-8. What do you read here? Does this apply to your life?

Thankfully, we aren't expected to carry out these ceremonial laws, but that's no reason to avoid them. Leviticus has much to teach us about holiness. These are often referred to the clean and unclean laws. God is clear on what to do and not to do, but in many cases the reason behind the laws is not understood. There are many distinctions in what the Israelites were to do and not do, but they often came without reason and logic. It boils down to one simple truth - God defines clean and unclean, holy and unholy. In false religions, men create their own gods and design rules according to their own desires; in Christianity God makes the rules and they often go against our human desires.

Turn with me for a moment to Acts 10:9-15. Here we read of a vision that Peter has, make note of what he says in verse 14. This is a reminder to us of how serious the people in Bible times took God's word about clean and unclean. If God had labeled something unclean, the people saw it as detestable, they wanted nothing to do with it. How does that compare with our world today? How does it compare with your view on sin?

Does this give you a better picture of holiness? What does God declare as unclean or unholy today? I encourage you to take some time and pray about the following questions, ask God to examine your heart. What am I doing that is unholy? How am I living unclean? Am I calling something clean that God says is unclean? Write a prayer below asking God to purify your heart.

Friend, these aren't easy questions, but they are important. Remember God knows all and sees all. He cares about the details and in His eyes sin is sin. We must strive to live as God requires not how the culture encourages. God calls us to be holy and has set us apart for Himself...our AD (after death to self and accepting Jesus as Savior) life should look different than our BC (before Christ) days!

I'm praying for you as you study God's Word...may He comfort and convict and equip you for the high calling holiness! I'd love to hear what He speaks to your heart and teaches you through His Word. I also invite you back next week as the study continues! May you have a blessed Thanksgiving my friend!! Thanking God for YOU today!

If you want to add worship to your study, here's a song to get you started...

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