|Artist's rendition of the holy throne of God as John saw it|
We rarely hear the word “holy” in the church any more. Very few preachers are preaching about holiness. Most believers in Jesus Christ treat this topic as old-fashioned and obsolete. But it is not obsolete. In fact, the word "holy" appears 581 times in the Bible, and "holiness" appears 21 times, including the New Testament! Let’s look at a few of the Scriptures about this.
God is Holy
All throughout Scripture, God is described as holy. Webster’s dictionary states: “Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character.”
When Moses stood in God’s presence, he was instructed to take off his shoes, because the place he was standing was holy ground. Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." (Exo 3:5)
Isaiah the prophet had a glorious vision of the Lord in His holiness. He wrote: “In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” (Isa 6:1-4)
This is a sight that very few people have ever seen while still in their earthly bodies. The holy angels were around the Lord, calling to each other, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!” When Isaiah saw all of this, he was undone. He cried, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isa 6:5)
The apostle John also saw the Lord on His heavenly throne, which a graphic artist has attempted to depict in the image above. John wrote: “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.’” (Rev 4:1-8)
What an awesome sight! The same angels Isaiah saw in his vision 700 years earlier were still around the throne saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” They never cease to say this!!
The Word of God says that we are called to be holy in body and spirit, just like the Holy One, in all our behavior. According to Webster’s dictionary, when we use the word holy to refer to a person, it means, “Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections.”
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1Co 7:34)
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (Eph 1:4)
“That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:27)
"For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit." (1 Thes 4:7-8)
Peter also instructed us to make every effort to be spotless and blameless: "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." (2Pe 3:14, NIV)
“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” (1Pe 1:15)
“It is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’" (1Pe 1:16)
We are to serve the Lord Jesus in holiness. “To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” (Luk 1:74-75)
We are to conduct ourselves in the world in holiness. “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.” (2Co 1:12)
We are to cleanse ourselves from all defilement and perfect holiness in the fear of God. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Co 7:1)
Our new self has been created in holiness, and we are to put it on. “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph 4:24)
God disciplines his children, so that we may share in His holiness. “For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” (Heb 12:10)
The writer of Hebrews goes on to exhort us to “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
We are to be perfect. "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat 5:48)
“And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jam 1:4)
We are not to be conformed to this world, but to prove what the perfect will of God is. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
Even Paul did not claim to be perfect already, but his passionate aim was to lay hold of that. “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Phi 3:12)
If you don’t stumble in what you say, you are perfect, because your tongue reflects what’s in your heart and it controls everything else in your life. “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (Jam 3:2)
So it's clear from Scripture that the disciples of Christ are to be holy and perfect, but how does that look practically? Does it mean we have to live in a cloistered community, standing around wearing white robes with our hands folded in prayer, chanting prayers in Latin? Not at all! The Lord expects us to live "in the world" without being "of the world." Let me give you some examples of God's standards of holiness that are disregarded today.
So many in the church today are living immoral lives, and others accept it as normal. The church today often tolerates it. However, the Lord spoke against the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira, because they tolerated sexually immoral people in their midst (2:14, 20). The Scriptural standard is still complete sexual purity.
We are not to associate or even eat with any so-called brother who is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.” (1Co 5:9-11)
We are to flee immorality. “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1Co 6:18)
No immoral, impure, covetous, or idolatrous person has any inheritance in God’s kingdom. “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph 5:5)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (1Th 4:3-5)
For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. (1Th 4:7)
There must be no immoral or godless person among those who are the disciples of Christ. The writer of Hebrews wrote: “that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” (Heb 12:16)
The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, immoral persons, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will inherit the lake of fire, not the kingdom of Christ. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev 21:8)
Those outside the holy, eternal city include dogs (homosexuals), sorcerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” (Rev 22:15)
Another popular pastime is drunkenness. According to Matthew Henry, “Drunkenness is excess in drinking of wine or strong drink, whereby the stomach is overcharged, the mind is intoxicated, and the body enfeebled and unable to perform its office.”
Drunkenness is a work of the sinful nature (Gal 5:21). The apostle Paul wrote, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18).
Quietness, proper behavior, and avoidance of reveling
Another aspect of holiness is to lead a quiet life, to behave properly, and to avoid carousing. The apostle Paul wrote, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.” (Rom 13:13)
The word carousing comes from the Greek word komos, which means carousal, reveling, or rioting. According to Matthew Henry, “Reveling is excess in feed, nocturnal riotings in eating, drinking, dancing, singing, chambering and wantonness. The Syriac version renders it, זמרא, ‘lascivious singing’; and the Arabic version, ‘songs’ which are a part of the nightly revels: and such like which are of the same nature and kind.” To put it in modern terms, reveling is jamming to worldly music, nighttime dancing, partying, “kicking,” singing lascivious songs, “rocking,” letting loose, etc. It means to make a racket, make whoopie, make merry, make happy, whoop it up, jollify, wassail, “kick” it up, or participate in orgies.
While many believers condone reveling today, according to the Bible, it is a work of the sinful nature, and has no part in a life of holiness (Gal 5:21). That is why Paul instructed us to pray "for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (1Ti 2:2)
Don’t love the world
We need to take care that we do not love the world. The apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1Jo 2:15)
If we love the world, the Father’s love is not in us, and we become His enemies. James wrote, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?’” (Jam 4:4-5).
What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of movies, TV programs, and videos do you watch? Are they ones about lust and sexual immorality, murder, stealing, lawlessness, and drunkenness? Do they mock true Christianity and model a compromising, watered-down form of Christianity? Are they secular, worldly ones? If so, then you need to make some hard decisions, in order to eliminate compromise and chose that which pleases the Lord. In Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, the Lord showed her that those who watch such things end up in hell. Also see my article about The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, in which a famous bishop missed heaven due to worldliness and covetousness.
Holiness in Spirit, Soul, and Body
The Lord requires holiness in every part of our lives, including spirit, soul, and body:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thes 5:23-24)
"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. 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.' Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.' And, 'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty.' Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2Co 6:16-18; 7:1, NIV).
"...The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit..." (1Co 7:34b)
Yet many Christians fail to realize that there are areas of their lives that are not holy. In summary, the following are some of the most commonly overlooked sins, some of which I have already mentioned: not keeping Sundays holy, watching secular TV, women wearing trousers, jewelry, artificial things like wigs and fake eyelashes, and/or make up, tattoos, body piercing, smoking cigarettes, addiction to drinking alcohol, worldliness, masturbation, immoral practices on the marital bed, divorce, abortion, using contraceptives, idolatry, rock, rap, and reggae music, dancing that does not glorify Jesus or the Father, embezzling money and accepting bribes, gossip, abortion, keeping boyfriends and girlfriends, failing to evangelize, as well as witchcraft, video games, movies, art that does not glorify God, and secular cartoons. This is by no means a complete list, but it's a good place to start allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything in your life that must go.
Putting it All Together
The Lord is holy, perfectly pure and immaculate. He is on His heavenly throne right now with angels surrounding him that never cease to cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”
When we come to Christ, He makes us holy from a positional perspective. But then He expects us to walk that out practically and to be holy, as He is holy. That means we need to be perfect, in a moral sense.
While the topic of holiness may not be popular in the world or even the church today, it’s still God’s way for His people to live. We’ve got to be holy in all our behavior, like the Holy One who saved us. He’s called us to be perfect, even as He is perfect.
While we can’t say we’ve attained to this yet, we should passionately strive for it in our lives as disciples of Christ. Our orientation must always be one that is moving forward toward this goal. Playing church doesn’t impress God and neither does religion.
If we want to be perfect, we need the Lord to do a deep work in our hearts. Give Him permission to bring His discipline to bear in your life, which is the only way he can make us holy practically speaking. Then listen to what comes out of your mouth. Once you become perfect in what you say, then you can control your whole being.
Today in the church, immorality has become acceptable. So have carousing or reveling, idolatry, loving the world, drunkenness, and many other sins. But the Word teaches us that people who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and you have come to realize you’re not living a holy life, then here is what James tells you to do: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam 4:7-10). It’s not too late to repent and change the way you’re living.
If you are not a disciple of Christ, then let me explain something to you. You can never earn God’s love. You can only accept it. You can never obtain His acceptance by trying to be holy. Rather, you need to admit you are a sinner in need of Christ’s salvation. You need to repent of your sin, which is a total change of mind, and ask Him to forgive you.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The artist's rendition of God's throne as the apostle John saw it in his Revelation is taken from Lighthouse Missions.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Garments of Godliness, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Keeping Sundays Holy, Faith Works!, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Two Divine Revelations, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Tattoos and Body Piercing, and One Thing. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Purity painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.