One of the major themes of the Bible is God making a broken people holy. Holiness is a characteristic of God; in fact, God is repeatedly called the “Holy One of Israel” throughout scripture. But, what is holiness? “The Hebrew word for “holiness” is qōdes, a word that highlights the realm of the sacred in contrast to everything common and profane.” (See here for more info.) Holiness describes what is sacred or set apart. God is the ultimate holy one, and he sets the bar for what is holy or sacred. We can determine if something is holy by comparing it to the standard that God has set for us.
Unfortunately, after the fall, we were not a holy people anymore. We would die if we were in the presence of God because of this fact. God’s ministry of reconciliation which we read about yesterday is all about God bringing us back into relationship with him. God cannot lessen his holiness, but he can redeem us and make us more holy. This is what the whole Bible is about. God making his chosen people holy. In the Old Testament, God made his people holy through sacrifices and the law. The law could not completely redeem us though. So, in the New Testament, the new covenant was establish in which God was making us holy – reconciling us to himself – through Christ. We are saved through this reconciliation (2 Cor. 6:2).
At the end of the chapter we read today, we see some important warnings that Paul gave to the Corinthians encouraging them to remain holy. In verses 16-18, it says,
“As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
We are called to be set apart, called to be holy. Our lifestyles should reflect that. This requires discipline and an awareness of our habits. Are we living in a way that shows we are set apart? Or are we living just like the world? When we live a holy life, we have the promise of a deep and personal relationship with God. He will walk among us. He will be a Father to us. That promise is worth all the sacrifices that we make.
~ Cayce Fletcher
Questions for Application:
- When you read the word ‘holiness’, what kind of feelings does it stir in you? Do you think that become holy is a worthwhile pursuit?
- What does a holy lifestyle look like?
- One characteristic of being holy described in this chapter is in verse 14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” What do you think this verse means? Why is this important in our pursuit of holiness?