Part 10 – To be holy
Paul wrote that we were “called to be holy” (or ‘saints’ – same Greek word hagios) in 1 Corinthians 1:2. And to Timothy he writes the same thing, that “God saved us and called us to a holy (hagios) life,” 2 Timothy 1:8-9. And in Ephesians 1:4, the Father “chose us before the creation of the world to be holy (hagios) and blameless in his sight.” So we were chosen, called, and saved to be (hagios) holy.
To give us a clue what (hagios) holy means, the Holy Spirit is the hagios Spirit of God. So it really means holy. Which puts the pressure on a bit, because in 1 Peter 1:15-16 Peter writes: “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (Leviticus 20:7).”
Which seems like an impossible task, because how on earth are we going to be as holy as God? And especially when God told Isaiah, “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me,” Isaiah 46:9.
But the “none like me” bit gives us a clue what being holy means. It means being stand alone different, nothing like anything in this world. Which ties in with Romans 12:1-2 when Paul writes, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” How? By “not conforming any longer to the pattern of this world.” Or as Jesus said, when describing his disciples, “they are not of the world any more that I am of the world,” John 17:14,16. To be a (hagios) saint, therefore, means being ‘stand alone different’ to anything in this world. Just like the Holy Spirit is stand alone different to all other spirits. That’s what being holy means.
But how long does it take to become that holy – if, that is, we ever can? Not that long, it seems, because the author of Hebrews 3:1 calls the people he’s writing to, “holy brothers.” So they were already classed as “holy” – despite some of them being in danger of “drifting away” too (2:1). So they weren’t classed as holy for their top marks in behaviour.
What made them holy instead, was Jesus “making people holy through his own blood,” Hebrews 13:12. So, in asking myself, “How on earth can I be holy like God is holy?” – the starting point isn’t what God expects us to do to be holy; it’s what he’s already done for us in his Son…(more on this tomorrow)