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What Does It Mean to Be Holy?

There was once a group of blind men who touched an elephant to learn what it was. One man touches the leg and concludes, “Elephants are like trees.” “Oh no,” says the man gripping the ear. “Elephants are like huge fans.” “You’re both wrong,” says the man feeling the tail. “Elephants are like snakes.” I believe that this is the picture many of us get when we try to describe the word, “Holy.” We may have a part of what it is but not the whole picture.

One of the main reasons we don’t understand this meaning is because we put the emphasis on the outward rather than the inward. Holiness is not what you wear, what you drive, or how long you pray. It is a work of Grace. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary holiness is from the Saxon word, “halig” which means, “’whole, ‘sound[1].’” God has placed us in Christ where we are complete. There is a void inside all of us that only God can fill. The word holiness also means, “‘separation,’ or ‘setting apart[2].’” We are in this world but not of this world.

What is holiness? It is the combination of a couple things. The best way I can describe it is being set apart while whole and complete. God is set apart from sin while being absolutely complete. The Bible proclaims, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10) (NIV). Never look to your behavior to see how holy you are. Instead look to Jesus, and see how holy you are in Christ. He has cleansed us of all of our sins.

It is time to open our eyes and see the finished work accomplished for us on the cross. 2,000 years ago there was a holy night. It was the night Jesus was born. The day was set apart from so many other days because it was a message of hope. Because of the cross, He has set us apart from this world and made us complete. Now we can rejoice that He has made us holy!

[1] Unger, Merrill F., R. K. Harrison, Howard Frederic Vos, and Cyril J. Barber. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody, 1988. Print.

[2] Ibid

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