Be Holy as God is Holy

by: Bill Bratt


A Christian is to walk in newness of life without sin. Letís see what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Church of God in Rome: Romans 6:1-8,  "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? {2} Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? {3} Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? {4} Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, {6} knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. {7} For he who has died has been freed from sin. {8} Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,"

Did you notice that the apostle Paul said that we are not to sin in verse 1 and 2? In verse 6 he says that we are not to be slaves of sin.

Letís continue in verse 12: "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. {13} And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." The apostle Paul says that we are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies. In verse 13 he says that we are to be instruments of righteousness to God. What is righteousness? The answer is found in Psalms 119:172,  "For all Your commandments are righteousness."

Letís look at two more verses in Romans 6:18-19,  "And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. {19} I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented

your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness."

In verse 18 Paul says that we are set free from sin. How are we set free from sin? We must repent. The apostle Peter gives the answer in his inspired message on Pentecost when the New Testament church was founded: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

Throughout this passage in Romans 6 Paul has been contrasting sin with not sinning, righteousness with unrighteousness then he introduces the new term of "holiness" by saying: "present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness."

What is Holiness?

Websterís dictionary defines "holiness" as: "the state of being holy." Websterís dictionary defines "holy" as: "1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred. 2. Living according to a religious or spiritual system.

3. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose."

Now letís see how the word "holy" would be defined in the Hebrew and the Greek. The Hebrew and Greek words translated as "holy" are also sometimes translated as other words, such as: sanctify, sanctified, sanctuary, holiness, dedicated things, hallowed, holier, consecrate and saint. There are four Hebrew words and four Greek words that have been translated as the word: "holy" in the Bible.

The word "holy" is used 611 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

The Hebrew word "Qodesh" is used in the Old Testament 458 times and is defined in Strongís Concordance as: (H6944) a sacred place or thing; sanctity, consecrated, dedicated, hallowed, holiness, holy, saint, sanctuary. An example is found in Exodus 3:5 where Moses was standing on holy ground.

The second Hebrew word is "Qadowsh" and it is used 117 times and is defined as: (H6918) sacred (ceremonially or morally); an angel, a saint, a sanctuary, holy, saint. An example is Exodus 19:6 where it says that Israel was a holy nation.

The third Hebrew word is "Qadash" and it is used 174 times and is defined as: (H6942) clean (ceremonially or morally): consecrate, dedicate, hallow, holy, purify, sanctify. An example is in Exodus 20:8: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."

The fourth Hebrew word is "Miqdash" and it is used 74 times and is defined as: (H4720) a consecrated thing or place, especially a palace, sanctuary (whether of Jehovah or of idols) or asylum:--chapel, hallowed part, holy place, sanctuary. An example is in Psalms 68:35 talking about Godís holy places.

In the New Testament the Greek word "Hagios" is used 231times and is defined as: (G40) sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, consecrated): holy, saint. An example would be Matthew 1:18 where it says that Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

The second Greek word is "Hosios" which is used 7 times and is defined as: (G3741) hallowed, pious, sacred, holy, mercy. An example is found in Acts 2:27 referring to Jesus as the Holy One.

The third Greek word is "Hieros" and is used 2 times and is defined as:(G2413) sacred, holy. An example is found in 1 Corinthians 9:13.

The fourth Greek word is "Hagion" which is used 10 times and is defined as: (G39) a sacred thing, holiest (of all), holy place, sanctuary. An example is found in Hebrews 9:12 referring to Christ entering into the most holy place.

What is Holy?

Now letís lay a foundation for what is Holy and see what the Bible reveals. We will begin in the New Testament: God is holy: John 17:11, ""Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are."

Jesus is holy: Luke 1:35, "And the angel answered and said to her (Mary the mother of Jesus), "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

God's name is holy: Mary the mother of Jesus was praising God and she said: Luke 1:49, "For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name."

God's word the Bible is holy: Romans 1:2, "which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures."

God's law and commandments are holy: Romans 7:12, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good."

God's spirit is holy: Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

God's angels are holy: Matthew 25:31, ""When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory."

The Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the Temple was holy: Hebrews 9:24-25, "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; {25} not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another."

Things in the Temple are holy: 1Corinthians 9:13, "Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?"

The New Jerusalem will be holy: Revelation 21:2, "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

God's apostles and prophets are holy: Ephesians 3:5, "which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets."

God's church is holy: Ephesians 5:27, "that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."

Hebrews 3:1() "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus."

Ephesians 2:21, "in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord."

1 Timothy 2:8, "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." Notice that when we pray our hands are holy.

2 Timothy 1:9, "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." Notice that when God calls us our calling is holy (John 6:44).

Colossians 1:22, "in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight."

Our faith is holy: Jude 1:20, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit."

A holy kiss: At the end of Paul's letter to the Roman church he was extending greetings to many Roman saints and he said: "Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you" Romans 16:16,. Let me give you a warning about this one. Years ago a fellow in our church was going around kissing all of the little old ladies on the lips. Perhaps they enjoyed it but perhaps their little old husbands may not have enjoyed it. There is nothing wrong with a good handshake or a hug, but be careful with kissing because you may end up in a confrontation.

Now letís take a look at what the Old Testament reveals that is holy: the ground where Moses stood before God was holy (Exodus 3:5), Aaron the high priest wore holy garments (Exodus 28:2), with a holy crown on his turban (Exodus 29:6), the priests used holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:25), the grain offering (Leviticus 2:3), trespass offering, (Lev 7:1), and sin offering (Leviticus 10:17-18) were holy.

The Jubilee year was holy (Leviticus 25:12), the priests used holy water (Numbers 5:17), the show bread in the tabernacle was holy (1 Samuel 21:4-6), the furnishings in the tabernacle were holy (1 Kings 8:4) including the Ark of the covenant (2 Chronicles 35:3).

The tithe of the land was holy (Leviticus 27:30), Israelís camp was holy (Deuteronomy 23:14), the first-born of the cows, sheep and goats were holy (Numbers 18:17), Jerusalem was the Holy city (Nehemiah 11:1).

Godís temple is holy (Psalms 5:7) and heaven where He lives is holy (Psalms 20:6), His throne is holy (Psalms 47:8), His promises are holy (Psalms 105:42), His arm is holy (Isaiah 52:10), His courts are holy (Isaiah 62:9), His words are holy (Jeremiah 23:9). God is called Holy, Holy, Holy (Isaiah 6:3) and the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 55:5).

The Sabbath and Godís seven annual Sabbath festivals are holy and are called HOLY convocations (Leviticus 23:3-37). There are nine scriptures referring to the weekly Sabbath as being holy or a holy convocation (Exodus 16:23, 20:8, 31:14-15, 35:2, Leviticus 23:3, Deuteronomy 5:12, Nehemiah 9:14, 10:31 and Isaiah 58:13).

I think we can safely say that any-thing that is involved or associated with the worship of God is holy and that includes us, the church (Ephesians 5:27), the saints (Daniel 7:18), the elect (Matthew 24:31). Since God has made us holy, He has set us apart, consecrated us and sanctified us.

Since God has made us holy we must remember not to be "holier than thou". We are to be humble and realize that we are no better than anybody else. God commands that we love our neighbors (James 2:8), the stranger (Deut. 10:19) and even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We must appreciate God calling us (John 6:44) but we must be humble (James 4:10) and realize that He is the potter and we are the clay.

Be Holy for God is Holy

The apostle Peter commands us to be holy in all of our conduct because God is holy. Letís pick up Peterís account in 1 Peter 1:13: "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Peter said to "gird up the loins of your mind". The apostle Paul said this a little differently: Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

1 Peter 1:14: "as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance." How are we to be obedient? By keeping Godís Ten Commandments! Jesus said: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

1 Peter 1:15: "but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, {16} because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." We are to be holy in our conduct and our behavior.

1 Peter 1:17: "And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear." 

Notice that God expects each of us to produce works and to conduct ourselves in fear. In fear of what? We are to fear God and reverence Him. (Hebrews 12:28).

1 Peter 1:18: "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:13-19). 

Peter is referring to Jesus being our Passover Lamb that was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).

What Do We have to Do to Be Holy?

The phrase that Peter used in verse 16: "Be holy, for I am holy" is used two other times in the Bible and is quoted from Leviticus 11:44-47: "'For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. {45} 'For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. {46} 'This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, {47} 'to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten'"" (Leviticus 11:44-47).

The entire chapter of Leviticus 11 deals with clean and unclean meats. God is saying in this chapter that He does not want His people who are to be consecrated and holy to eat unclean meats and defile themselves. It is like faith, we must have faith to please God and He will reward those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). We should desire to please God and diligently seek Him by eating clean meats that He has said to eat if we want to be holy.

Keeping Godís Commandments Produces Holy Conduct

Now letís look at another passage of scriptures that says that we are to be holy as God is holy. Letís begin in verse 1 of Leviticus 19: "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {2} "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. {3} 'Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. {4} 'Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God."

From verses 3 and 4 we see that we are to keep the fifth, fourth, second and the first commandments.

Leviticus 19:9: "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. {10} 'And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God." 

Verses 9 and 10 deal with the welfare system in ancient Israel. The story of Ruth and Boaz comes to mind where Boaz told workers to drop more produce on the ground so Ruth could have it. Boaz fell in love with Ruth and eventually married her and they became ancestors of Jesus Christ who was born many years later. If a Christian has the opportunity to help someone less fortunate he should try to do so (Matthew 19:21).

Leviticus 19:11: "You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. {12} 'And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. {13} 'You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning." 

From verses 11 to 13 we see that we are to keep the eighth, ninth, and the third commandments.

Leviticus 19:14: "You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD." 

This would be horrible conduct and behavior to curse the deaf or put a concrete block before the blind so they would stumble and hurt themselves. We should fear God in that He might severely correct us for such horrible conduct and behavior.

Leviticus 19:15: "You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor." 

If you have the opportunity to judge an injustice then do it with impartiality and based upon righteousness. Remember righteousness is based upon Godís Ten Commandments (Psalms 119:172).

Leviticus 19:16: "You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. {17} 'You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him." 

We are not to be a talebearer and gossip about our neighbors. If we hate or are angry at someone then our attitude is like that of murder (Matthew 5:21-22).

Leviticus 19:18: "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." 

We are not to take personal vengeance on anyone. If we have a personal problem we should go to that person and talk to them about it and try to work out a solution. Jesus gave us specific instructions if a problem arises among church brethren (Matthew 18:15-17).

Leviticus 19:26: "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying." {31} 'Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God." 

God is a jealous God and He does not want His people messing with the occult, mystics, psychics, fortune tellers, mediums, witches or trying to foretell the future by means of trances, visions or by magic. If you want to know the future then read what the prophets recorded in the Bible.

Leviticus 19:32: "'You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD." 

God expects us to honor and respect the elderly.

Leviticus 19:35: "You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. {36} 'You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God." 

A Christian who is holy must be totally honest in all aspects of his business and that includes being honest in filling out your income tax. Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17).

Christians are to be Holy to God

Now letís go to the New Testament and see what the apostle Paul tells us to do to be holy. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom 12:1-2).

The blood of the animal that was sacrificed at the Temple was used to make atonement for the remission of sin of the person offering the sacrifice (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). The apostle Paul is telling us that we are to be a living sacrifice. We are to be willing to give up our lives and live as God wants us to live. We are to put God and Jesus first in our lives and let Jesus live His life in us (Col. 1:27). We are to be holy and acceptable to God.

The apostle Paul continues in Romans 12:9 telling us how to have holy behavior. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good." Hypocrisy is a hypocrite who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion when in reality he is only acting or putting on a show. To be holy we are to love what is good and hate what is evil (Amos 5:15).

Romans 12:10: "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; {11} not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." 

We are to love our church brethren (1 John 3:14) and serve God with our whole heart (Hebrews 12:28).

Romans 12:12: "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; {13} distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." 

Notice that to be holy we must pray fervently and extend hospitality to our church brethren.

Romans 12:14: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. {15} Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. {16} Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. {17} Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. {18} If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." 

Notice that to be holy is to set a right example and to be good and not to do evil, to live peaceably with all men and to be humble.

Romans 12:19: "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. {20} Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." 

The apostle Paul also mentions that we are not to take personal vengeance on anyone. God does permit national vengeance (Numbers 31:1-3) and the war in Iraq in the spring of 2003 is an example. After the bombs fell and Baghdad was defeated by the United States and Britain, we then as a country set a right example and fed our enemies and provided water for them to drink.

We have covered many of the scriptures in the Bible related to being holy and yet we have to remember what Jesus said: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Mat 4:4).

In Conclusion: We must take time to be holy. We must take time for prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, keeping the Ten Commandments, keeping the Sabbath and Godís seven annual holy day festivals. By taking time to be holy is how we draw closer to God and renew our mind. We are to live our lives unleavened without sin.

Letís renew our mind with the attitude that "I do NOT want to sin! Then - we can be holy as God is holy.