Posted by: JennyRain | June 20, 2009

Be Holy as I Am Holy

I have struggled with this passage for as long as I can remember. If holiness is reserved for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, how can I – a mere human – be holy? My devotional lesson a week ago ended with the statement about the church: 

You were born to be dangerous but the world has tried to make you safe. 

Then, God walked me into work that day with “Be holy for I am holy.” Are those two concepts connected? Danger and holiness? 

This is what I have found so far:
  • Leviticus 11.44 in the NASB reads “Be holy, for I am holy”
  • v. 45 reads: “you shall be holy, for I am holy”
  • and 1 Peter 1.16 (quoting Leviticus) reads: “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (Also seen in Leviticus 19.2; 20.7; 
  • Holy: in these scriptures is Qodesh (6944 – adjective from 6942-verb): sacred place or thing; consecrated; sanctified; dedicated, or holy thing.  

So to “Be holy” is a descriptive adjective – a state of being, hence the declarative “You shall be” holy. God has declared us holy. 

The scripture also describes God as already being in this state of holiness – Be holy FOR I am holy. Or, be holy, BECAUSE I am holy. 

So we cannot “attain” holiness – rather – it is a state of being. A condition of existence. God is saying to us perhaps “Walk in the holiness I have declared you to be.”

We can’t in all our efforts become holy (as God already is), so where does our holiness arise from? 

A couple of commentaries state the following:
  • God makes those holy whom he saves. (1Pe 1:17-25)
  • Our holiness arises from a state of BELONGING TO the divine. 
God’s Holiness made manifest

Holiness, to me, is the quintessential distinct “otherness” of God so I grapple with how it can relate to us as humans. It is something that I have sensed a couple of times in my life and both times it has been powerfully transformative. One time was five years ago when I was sitting on the porch of a friends house right before she gave her heart to Christ. I literally sensed the Qodesh of God – the weighty holiness of God’s presence descended and encompassed where I was sitting. 

God literally reached down to embrace my friend and I to make Himself known. It was as if the air we were breathing changed – it became heavy, tangible, weighty, sacrosanct. My friend sensed it too and within minutes had begun a conversation about God, about how He was drawing her and how she wanted desperately to be within His presence. We prayed, and she surrendered fully to the work Christ wanted to do in her life. I will never forget the holy touch of God that night. It was powerful. The only appropriate response was reverence and holy fear because it was all-consuming, dangerous, and compelling. I could not sit in the same space with holiness and remain unchanged. Neither could my friend. 

So if Holiness is “other” how can it involve me too? 

Perhaps when we embrace and accept the divinity of Christ and invite Christ into our hearts, that is where our holiness begins – it begins as a state of being related to the holiness of Christ. We enter a new family – the family of Jesus Christ – and in doing so, are then married to Christ’s holiness. 

How often, I wonder, do I forget this? God tells us in Exodus 28.36 and 39.30 to make a plate of pure gold (signet in some translations) and inscribe on it “Holy to the Lord” – as if He knows we will forget that we have been made holy, set apart, and in His holiness – can be an agent of change, love, transformation, and power on the earth. 

Tending to be a concrete learner, i wanted to etch this concept of being God’s upon my heart. I wanted to see a reminder of His holiness, of being His beloved bride upon my very being. So, what resulted was a tat of this concept of being his beloved, sharing in his holiness… below is an artistic rendering of part of it. 

Does it make me more holy? No. It helps me to remember that in Christ, I already AM, because HE IS HOLY. Can I fully grasp what that means? No. I just have to believe, and walk in it. And in believing that, I become a transformer in the world because I know that Christ’s divinity lives through me to touch others. 


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