The word holy is used over and over again in the Scriptures to describe our Creator and Messiah. As believers, we are called to be holy like He is. But do we have an accurate understanding of what it means to be holy?
Merriam-Webster defines holy as exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. Yahweh is holy as our supreme deity. He is worthy of our complete devotion, perfect in goodness and righteousness. Who is like our God?
Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11
The word used in the Bible for holy is Qadosh and it means to be morally and ceremonially clean (pure) and set-apart for the single purpose of serving Yahweh. Since we are called to live holy lives, we are to be set-apart and different from the world. We are not to do what the world does, love what the world loves, think how the world thinks, dress like the world dresses, eat what the world eats, act like the world acts, or worship like the world worships. We are to be holy – pure in goodness, pure in mercy, pure in behavior, pure in thought and pure in action.
For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be Holy, for I am Holy. Leviticus 11:45
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be Holy, for I the LORD your God am Holy. Leviticus 19:2
Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be Holy, for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 20:7
You shall be Holy to Me, for I the LORD am Holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. Leviticus 20:26
Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be Holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:4
But as He who called you is Holy, you also be Holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be Holy, for I am Holy.” 1 Peter 1:15
We are told in Hebrews that we are to STRIVE to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord! The word strive means to make great efforts to achieve or obtain something. We are to make great efforts to be holy.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the Holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
How then, do we achieve holiness? Hundreds of years of religion has told us that holiness is a quality, characteristic or virtue…. but Scripture tells us otherwise. The Bible clearly tells us that holiness is a result of obedience to Yahweh’s instructions. It is this obedience that sets us apart from the rest of the world. The verses below tell us how to be holy:
The LORD will establish you as a people Holy to Himself, as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. Deuteronomy 28:9
Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be Holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep My statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. Leviticus 20:7-8
You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be Holy to Me, for I the Lord am Holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. Leviticus 20:25-26
So you shall remember and do all My commandments and be Holy to your God. Number 15:40
So the Law is Holy and the Commandment is Holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:12
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is Holy; they do violence to the Law. Zephaniah 3:4
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the Holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:21
You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is Holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Exodus 31:14
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be Holy, for I the LORD your God am Holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:2
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as Holy convocations; they are My appointed feasts.” Leviticus 23:2
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit (sin), bringing Holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable (sin, lawlessness), he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as Holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21
We BECOME holy when we choose to DO the things that make us holy. DOING the commandments, including honoring the Sabbath, keeping the dietary laws and the keeping the appointed feasts, make us holy. If we aren’t obedient to the Father’s perfect Torah, then we are living in disobedience. Disobedience is also called lawlessness, unrighteousness and evil.
Our bodies are the temple of God. Just as the physical temple was to be built exactly as Yahweh laid out for Moses on Mount Sinai, we are also supposed to construct our physical temples exactly as God laid out for us in His Word. We are to be a living sacrifice, holy and blameless, glorifying God in our bodies. Thank goodness He gave us a whole book of instructions so that we know how to construct our temples in a way that’s holy and glorifying to Him.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, Holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is Holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:17
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Yeshua tells us in Revelation that the Kingdom of God is a holy place and nothing unclean will enter into it (Revelation 21:27). The author of Hebrews tell us that we are to strive for holiness; and without holiness, no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) What does it mean to strive for holiness? It means that we are to work at being holy. We are to DO the things that make us holy. What do we do that makes us holy? We obey the instructions given to us in His Word!
Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to His Holy habitation in Heaven. 2 Chronicles 30:27
The LORD is in His Holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in Heaven; His eyes see, His eyelids test the children of man. Psalms 11:4
Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer Him from His Holy Heaven with the saving might of His right hand. Psalms 20:6
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy habitation of the Most High. Psalms 46:4
Look down from Heaven and see, from your Holy and beautiful habitation. Isaiah 63:15
In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called Holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:2-4
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
The opposite of holy is profane. When you defile something that is holy to Yahweh, He calls it profane. The Merriam-Webster defines profane as: to treat something sacred with abuse, irreverence or contempt; to debase by wrong, unworthy or vulgar use. When the Israelites disobeyed His laws, Yahweh said that they were profaning His Name – treating Him with abuse, contempt and irreverence. The punishment for this profane treatment of Yahweh was often death. Do you profane the name of Yahweh? You do if you don’t obey His Torah!
You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is Holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Exodus 31:14
And everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is Holy to the LORD. Leviticus 19:8
They shall be Holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. Leviticus 21:6
And you shall not profane My Holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. Leviticus 22:32
You have despised My Holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. Ezekiel 22:8
Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things. They have made no distinction between the Holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Ezekiel 22:26
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is Holy; they do violence to the law. Zephaniah 3:4
In perfect obedience to His Father, Yeshua showed us how to live a holy life. He lived and taught the Torah perfectly. Contrary to popular belief, Yeshua didn’t come to bring lawlessness. He came to demonstrate righteousness and holiness. He brought fullness to the law. He taught us how to not just obey the letter of the law, but how to obey the spirit of the law or it’s full intent – LOVE! When we believe in Yeshua as our Messiah, He gives us His Holy Spirit to live in us and guide us. It is only through His Spirit that we get the want to and the power to be set-apart. Yeshua died so that we could be cleansed of our lawlessness, not continue in it. Thank goodness that when we repent of our sins, we are forgiven and Yeshua’s blood cleanses us from our unrighteousness and unholiness. He then gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us into obedience so that we can live a holy and blameless life, pleasing to the Father.
But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you. Acts 3:14
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is Holy, you also be Holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be Holy, for I am Holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16
Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be Holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:4
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you Holy and blameless and above reproach before Him. Colossians 1:21-22
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, Holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1:7-9
Can the Holy Spirit live in an unholy body – one that is walking in disobedience to His instructions? Does holy mix with profane? Paul says…
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the LORD,
and touch no unclean thing;
THEN I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
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 6:14-7:1
Fortunately, Christianity gets most of it right. We try to be good people, but still do what is right in our own eyes. We obey the commandments that benefit us – “do not murder,” “do not commit adultery,” “do not steal,” etc. But the ones we don’t like, we don’t think they apply to us, such as honoring the Biblical Sabbath, keeping the dietary laws and celebrating the appointed feasts.
Believers over the last 2,000 years have been told that the Torah of Yahweh has been done away with – that all we need is to have a mental belief in Messiah. But believing mentally in Yeshua as Messiah is only the first step. Having only a mental belief may possibly get you into the Kingdom, but your reward and place in the Kingdom (as well as your blessings on this earth) are determined by your obedience. Yeshua said in Mathew 5:19… “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” He said in Revelations 14:12 that the Saints are those who “keep the commandments of God AND their belief in Yeshua.”
If you are not a law-keeper, then you are a law-breaker. In 1 Peter 2:4-8, Peter tells us that the opposite of believing is disobedience. Disobedience is lawlessness. Yeshua, upon His return, will say to the lawless, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Wow! I sure don’t want to hear that, do you? If our lives are defined by holiness instead of disobedience, then He know us and we have a guarantee that we will see God! Hallelujah!
Yahweh is removing the scales from believer’s eyes in these last days to prepare us for His Holy Kingdom. He is giving us eyes to see and ears to hear the Truth. Believe it or not, the entire Bible has the same message: True belief produces obedience (Hebrews 11), because belief without works is dead, right? (James 2:14-26) Obedience to the Torah of God is the end result of our belief.
The Kingdom of God is represented by holiness, righteousness, light and life – and we are to be the representatives of His Kingdom. If the Torah is done away with, then so is righteousness and holiness – since both are defined by obedience to the Torah. If we are not behaving with holy and righteous behavior, how can we represent Him? Yahweh wants His people to be set-apart from the world so that we glorify Him. If we are doing the same things the world is doing, are we living set-apart?
If we want to see our Master, we have to live like our Master – the Holy and Righteous One. He is calling us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. He is calling us out of Babylon and her sins (Revelation 18:4-8) – out of disobedience – to be holy. Will you hear His call? Yeshua says many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Who are the chosen ones? Those who respond to His call.
We are called to be different. So live differently!