What does “holy” look like?

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. – Ephesians 1:3-4

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:25-27

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. – Colossians 3:5-10

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:12-13

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. – Galatians 5:19-26

We have a wholly holy God who tells us he wants us to be holy also because he is holy. That takes me back a bit. I think of myself as so far from being holy as God is holy that it could be considered a joke. I do think I am what most people would consider a “good” man, but holy? I don’t think so. You see, I think of holy as perfect, absolutely perfect (that is actually a redundant statement, but you get it). I am not perfect and don’t suppose I will be in this life. However, I am called to be holy because God is holy. Fortunately, we will arrive (Eph. 1:4).

There are two dimensions to this holiness. One, we are the righteousness of God in Christ. That is positional. I am in Christ and therefore seen as completely holy and righteous. That is not the dimension I am writing about today. The second dimension is a practical holiness; a holiness that we actually live out today in this contrary world. This is the dimension I am writing about today.

So, what does “holy” look like for us?

In many church circles, holiness is a matter of keeping a certain set of rules of conduct that generally have to do with tobacco, alcohol, dancing and movies, none of which are prohibited in Scripture. This is modern day Phariseeism, the adding of extra-Biblical demands on Christians. There is appropriate wisdom around those topics, but let’s be clear, those are not Biblically prohibited activities. The real Biblical stuff is much harder to deal with.

Being holy in our conduct is a plus and a minus deal. On the one hand, we take away certain kinds of conduct, and on the other hand, we are to add certain other conduct. We take away things like, “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another…” As the country Deacon was known to say, “You just quit preaching and went to meddlin’.”

We are also to add to our lives things like, “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other…” Holiness is a product of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he who is holy indwells me and enables me to live holy. He produces in me his fruit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” That is what holy looks like.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a reputation like the church at Rome, “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. ?”