In todays world a lot of believers often consider themselves 'set apart' or holy but what does that look like? Does it mean we go to church and bible study? More importantly does the bible show how we are to be holy? Let us consider this well known scripture...
"but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy."
1 Peter 1:15-16
Now the passage in 1 Peter is quoting a much earlier scripture in Leviticus 11...
"For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves,
and you shall be holy; for I am holy..."
So what is the definition of holy?
Holy in Strong's concordance defines it as... H6918 קָדוֹשׁ qadowsh/qadosh meaning sacred, holy, set apart. The root word of qadosh is qadash H6942 קָדַשׁ which means to consecrate, sanctify, be separate, to keep oneself apart or separate to God. The Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon states holy as pure, clean, free from defilement of crimes, idolatry and other unclean and profane things; pure from the defilements of sin. In these we start to see a pattern of not engaging in disobedience but obedience, not sin but righteousness, not iniquity but good works with faith. The word holy in scripture is used when referencing God and/or a righteous person; a person who is set apart for a special purpose. Now what information can we get by going back to the ancient/paleo Hebrew? Paleo Hebrew is the written picture language in which later Hebrew was derived so lets look at qadash in that pictorial language...
The first letter קָ is the Hebrew letter quph - our letter Q comes from this letter. In the paleo Hebrew it is a picture of the 'sun on the horizon' with the meaning of condense, circle & time. The second letter is דַ is the Hebrew letter resh - our letter P comes from this letter and it is a picture of head of a man meaning first, top, beginning, authority. The last letter is שׁ is the Hebrew letter shin which is a picture of teeth meaning sharp, to press, destroy. If we look at these elements we can expland the words associated with them. For example...
The sun on the horizon brings to mind, light, rising, setting, life (because all life needs the sun), the dispersion of darkness, etc. The picture of a head brings to mind authority, Father, King, leader, Messiah, etc. The picture of the teeth shows action and it brings to mind destroy, eat, separate a part from the whole, etc. So if we arrange a sentence we could shed more insight on the word holy such as...
The Father who brings light and life by separating us from the world of sin to Him who has not sin. Or... Rising out of darkness to walk under the authority of the Father. To rise out of the darkness which our King destroyed by His life. Or... The King who brings light into the world, etc, etc.
You see we can come up with a lot of active defintions that give us a pictorial description that we can see and better appreciate what holiness is. Its a fact that the more senses we use when we learn the more we retain what we learn. With that said we get a better understanding of the word holy. Now while this might seem a bit of an unorthodox way to help explain a word, we have to check the scriptures to see if it does not cause any conflicts. Do we see where being holy is being separated from the rest, acting under the authority of the Father, walking in light & life, etc? Lets look at the scriptures and see...
Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."
Proverbs 6:23 "For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life"
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
Isaiah 60:19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon givelight to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.
1 Peter 2:9 "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"
"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Matthew 28:18
Some take this to say that Yeshua/Jesus did away with the Old Testament law, commandments and instructions of God. However we must look at other scriptures so we don't take what Yeshua said out of context. Let us look at the following scripture...
"For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." John 12:49
This verse shows that Yeshua came not to do away with God' instructions but we are to repent and live a life in the Spirit and in walking out the instructions of God. All the words of Yeshua were not His own but of the Father's. Matter of fact the first part of John states that Yeshua IS the word of God and we cannot do away with a part of the Messiah any more than we can do away with a part of our own body (imagine giving up your heart, lungs or some other necessary organ).
Leviticus 11:44-45 `For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. `For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.'"
Leviticus 20:26 `Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine."
Deuteronomy 7:6 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth."
We know from new testament scriptures that we are not supposed to be engaged in this world and its wickedness, to not continue in sin, which is the transgression of God's law. If we continue in sin then we are no longer strangers in this land.
How to walk in Holiness
These are just a few scriptures to help show that God does call believers out of the nations of sin to His light and life. Now the question is HOW do we walk in the light? How did those who were set apart under the authority and leadership of the Father act & behave? That is the big question. You see the Hebrew language is a language of action. It is not like the Greek/English mindset which deals with concepts, ideas and little personal action. One thing we do see in scripture is that those who follow God show evidence in their walk has good fruit. Can we find scritpures showing walking in the light and what that entails?
King David, a man after God's own heart shows this quite clearly...
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn and confirmed tha tI will keep Your righteous judgments... teach me your judgments. My life is continually in your hand, yet I do not forget your law... I have inclined my heart to perform Your statues forever, to the ever end."
You see David after all his sinning against God and his neighbors, finally understood that instead of breaking the instructions/commandments of God, and if he truely followed Him from the heart, then he would not continue in sin like he did before. Remember that 1 John 3:4 states sin is the breaking of God's law, transgressing His commandments. Remember we are not talking salvation but after salvation. Lots of scriptures show that the evidence of salvation and that of being a new creature in Christ is not continuing in sin. Its about good fruit that comes from a changed heart. What is interesting is that we see in both the old testament and the new testament a pattern of believers obeying the commandments of God, i.e. not continuing in sin to satisfy the flesh again and again.
You see the one thing that set apart God's people from the nations were their actions. They followed God, observed the sabbaths and His feasts which were perpetual commandments that continue through all time. However some of God's commandments seem strange to believers today so instead of researching and studying, they ignore those scriptures &/or make excuses. Case in point, Leviticus 19:27 which says...
"You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure
the edges of your beard."
To many believers today use this verse to support their claim that God's commandments have been done away with. They use the logic of "You don't have a beard but God's commandment says to not shave, so that proves those Old Testament commandments have been done away with!" While this may seem like a possible explaination if we deal with concepts and ideas but God deals with actions. If you research the surrounding pagan nations and their actions when they worshipped &/or make requests of their false gods, they did so by ripping our their hair and/or beards. You see the word 'shave' in Lev 19:27 is Strong's H5362 naqaph meaning to strike off, to destroy - from this we see the ripping out the hair. The word 'disfigure' in Strong's H7843 is shachath which means to destroy, corrupt, ruin. When we research the actions of those who worshipped false gods they ripped out their hair and beards. Pulling off the hair and beards, these 'ways of the nations' are were practiced by Assyrians, ancient Greeks, Muslims and other religions worldwide. Some even still do this today.
Another example is the misunderstood scripture Deuteronomy 14:21, Exodus 23:19 & 34:26...
"...you shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
Again many believers today have been taught if you have a cheeseburger your breaking God's commandments. They claim it proves that those old commandments have been done away with today but is that actually the case? Again research shows the surrounding nations who followed false gods would take a baby goat and boil it in it's mothers milk. Some times they took a pregnant goat and boiled the mother and kid all at once. Then it was offered to their gods and then that unholy soup would be spread on the fields in requesting a good harvest. Again we see God concentrating on the actions of people. In other words is was easy to see the bad fruit of the nations because they did certain things versus the good fruit of God's people who obeyed His commandments.
Be Holy but without God's commandments?
Now for some reason today many believers claim God's commandments have been done away with yet we are still called to be holy. When taught from the pulpit, or not even taught at all, many forget scriptures such as these...
“The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways."
"For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?" Psalm 56:13
Most believers assume they are holy/set apart because they said a prayer, go to church, attend youth group &/or go to bible study. Yet we need to look at how the bible defines how to be holy.
There are numerous scriptures showing what holiness is and specifically what things we are to do. Consider the following scriptures...
"And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a HOLY nation." Exodus 19:6
"And you shall be holy men to Me; you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs." Exodus 22:31
"Remember the Sabbath dat, to keep it holy" Exodus 20:8
"Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbat of rest, holy to the Lord..." Exodus 31:15
"You shall not make for youselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make for yourselves unclean with them (reference to what God says is good for food and what is is not), let you be defiled by them. For I am the Lord you God. You shall therefre consecrate yourselves (by eating what God tells you to eat), and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth" Leviticus 11:43-45
"The feast of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts... These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times" Leviticus 23:2&4
What we see are a variety of things in which God considers holy activites, after all we are supposed to be a holy nation. We see God's dietary instructions as holy, remembering His Sabbaths is holy and keeping the feasts of the Lord is holy. God said be holy as He is holy and these things were never done away with. Consider the following...
"It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever" Leviticus 16:31
The feasts of the Lord are also to be done forever, everlasting, for all times...
"So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance." Exodus 12:14
"So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened bread, for on this same day I have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance." Exodus 12:17
"Therefore the children of Israel (and we are grafted into Israe ref Romans 11) shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant." Exodus 31:16
Now many believers today say that doing those things, which God calls us to do in order to be holy as He is, have been done away with. Many say that gentile/foreign believers don't have to observe the Sabbath yet God's word gives a very special promise to those foreigners who do. Consider Isaiah 56:6-8...
"Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants - everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbat, and holds fast My covenant - even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer... for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him."
What is amazing is that God specifically states that He will gather others (gentile believers) and these people will be specially blessed if they observe His sabbaths. Wow!
In closing we have to consider the whole counsel of God and not cherry pick what we believe. Even Paul, the apostle to the gentile/foreign believers said we are to not be just hearers of the word, but also doers...
"for not the hearers of the law ae just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified." Romans 2:13
Also read about how important being holy is by observing the commandments of God are to everyone in the last days...
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God AND the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12
"Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the treee of life, and may enter through the gates into the city (of God)." Revelation 22:14
So when someone asks what is means to be holy or what we are to do in regards to holiness, fill them in on the truth found in God's word.