The world today calls for the church to live in holiness and righteousness. God calls us as His people to maintain our connection to Him; to be a people set apart from the ways of society, and to use our lives to bring light into the darkness of the world. In the first of a 3-part series for “The Elders’ Corner,” Dr. Kenneth Hammonds discusses the meaning of holiness through linguistics, and through understanding the nature and wonder of God Himself.
What Is Holiness?
In order to study the meaning of holiness, we must start with God. God is the beginning of holiness. Before the beginning of creation was God, who existed in all of His splendor by Himself, of course in the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But some theologians assert that God’s holiness – or His “otherness” – is His key attribute; the central core and foundational attribute of His nature and character.
One pastor, Pastor Jim McClarty, made a great statement which said, “God is unlike any other, and His holiness is the essence of His otherness.”
Defining Holiness through Language
Let’s look at some of the basic concepts of holiness through linguistics, in both its Hebrew and Greek foundations in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In Hebrew, the word is Kadosh, which means “sacred or holy.” This word is used many times in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus. In the Greek (in the New Testament), the word is Hagios, which means, “to be holy; to be sacred, to be set apart by or for God as holy or sacred.” The Greeks used the word in their temples. A third word, Ekklesia means “church, assembly, congregation, convocation.” It is made of two words: ek which means “out of,” and klesia, from the word kaleo, which means “to be called.” The church is not the building! To be the church is to be called out as the assembly for God’s purpose.
Three words summarize the linguistic foundation of holiness and what it is. Holiness is:
- DIFFERENT – standing out from the ordinary
- SET APART – for purpose, mission, and service to God
- BEAUTIFUL – the splendor, the beauty of our life and of our witness; holiness is attractiveness
In other words, to live holy means that we are called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.
What Does Holiness Mean To Me?
Some questions about holiness we may ask:
- “How do we know God is holy?” We know because God reveals, proclaims, and declares Himself as Holy to mankind. Leviticus 11:44 says, “Be Holy because I am Holy.”
- “God is holy, but can He impart holiness to humans?” God says that it is possible, and it can be done. Indeed without Him, you cannot be Holy. His nature makes it possible. You can be different; you can be set apart, but it takes His impartation of holiness to be set apart to God.
- “Why is holiness required or indispensable?” Holiness is indispensable in the time in which we live, and in New Testament theology. It is absolutely required and indispensable to show God’s work in the lives of human beings. In you, as a holy human being, others have seen a difference in your life! The impartation of God’s holiness speaks to others about God’s work in our lives, which is for the benefit of mankind. Because others live holy, mankind benefits, simply because someone is set apart for God’s service. Most importantly, the reason we do anything and everything is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31 –
“We do all things for the glory of God.”
So, holiness is to be lived and enjoyed!
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. That is the holiness that God gives, and it is also the holiness of what God is. As you look at the words we’ve discussed above, you see that the nature of holiness is good. Holiness means being set apart. If you are a set apart being, then you are beautiful.
Be beautiful! Called-out! Set apart!
God Bless you!
Adapted from “Let’s Talk About It: Holiness,” by Dr. Kenneth Hammonds, Dr. Wilfred Graves and Elder Oscar Owens, 11/11/2015, at the West Angeles North Campus Sanctuary.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 2 Peter; Isaiah 6:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Romans 1:6, Leviticus 11:44 , 1 Corinthians 10:31. See also: Strong’s Concordance, and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon.
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