I have talked about spiritual sacrifices and what that means when practicing holiness. But how can we practice holiness if we have not yet fully grasped what that entails?
Over 45 years ago, holiness (or what I perceived as holiness) was something I experienced on a regular basis when I stepped into my church every Sunday morning. At that time, I attended an Anglican church. Back then, you could hear a pin drop on a Sunday morning as the sanctuary filled with worshippers. When I came into the church, I would see the cross ahead of me, and before I entered the pew, I would bow my head, not in worship of a piece of wood but in remembrance of who had hung on that cross. Jesus was given my respect, worship, and praise as soon as I entered the sanctuary.
As I kneeled in worship, I would evaluate the previous week and confess any sins the Lord brought to mind as I prepared my heart for the coming service. I stayed this way until the first strands of the pipe organ announced the beginning hymn. I was ready to praise my Lord in song, and my heart was prepared for the rest of the service.
When I married into the Baptist church, I encountered something entirely different on a Sunday morning—noise—and lots of it. I soon discovered a vast difference between Anglicans and Baptists. While Anglicans spent the time before the service in quiet contemplation, Baptists concentrated more on fellowship. In vain, I tried to pray before the service but soon found it impossible with people talking and laughing all around me. It took me many years to get used to this form of (what I considered) disrespect for God.
What Happened to Quiet Contemplation in the Church?
Fast forward to today, and it is rare to find a church without a worship band that may just be loud noise to the older generation, but beauty to younger ears. It is important to note that different forms of worship can still be reverent and holy. While silence, meditation and contemplation are not things you will easily find in an Evangelical church, holiness does not mean you have to be quiet before God.
The experience of approaching God both corporately and alone should be done with reverence, respect, and awe because God is holy. Some may see the exuberance of dancing and leaping as blasphemous, but the Bible shows us that praising God with our whole body was common (Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:14; Psalm 30:11-12; Psalm 149:3; Acts 3:8). There are many ways we can approach God with reverence, respect, and awe.
- Music/Singing (1 Chronicles 13:8)
- Dancing (2 Samuel 6:14; Psalm 149:3)
- Lifting our hands in praise (Psalm 134:2)
- Kneeling in prayer (Psalm 95:6; Revelation 19:4)
- Meditation both in thought of God and on His Word (Psalm 19:14; Psalm 119:15; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:16)
- Prayer (Matthew 6:6; Psalm 141:2)
King David danced before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14), and the Bible speaks about raising our hands towards heaven (Nehemiah 8:6; Psalm 28:2). Indeed, we are even called to make a joyful noise before the Lord (Psalm 91:5, 98:6). So praising God with our whole body has been incorporated into our worship since Old Testament times. But is praising God and worshipping Him “holiness?”
God Explains Holiness
The first mention in the Bible of the word “holy” was by God Himself, and it was to Moses in Exodus 3:1–6. Note how Moses reacts:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover, He said, ”I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.Exodus 3:1-6, NKJV
“Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
In Hebrew, the word “holy” is “qodesh,” which means “sacred, hallow, set apart.” The ground itself was set apart or holy because God was near. Moses was afraid to look upon God, and so he hid his face. In other words, he knelt or prostrated himself before the Lord. Moses immediately recognized how unworthy he was to stand before God, let alone approach Him. There was a separation between humans and God because light and dark are never more apparent than when we are standing before a Holy God.
We Are Not Worthy
The holiness and majesty of God bring an immediate sense of unworthiness to anyone in God’s presence. We know how sinful, weak, and insignificant we are in the face of His grandeur. But, it is to us, lowly sin-stained sinners, that God offers a way to climb up out of the pit, to join with Him, and to be united with His holiness by the gift of His Holy Spirit through Jesus’ death on the cross. Light indeed came into the world so that we would not have to live in darkness (John 8:12). Now there is no separation, and we can boldly come before the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).
The Creator of heaven and earth has commanded us to be holy like Him as His priests (Leviticus 11:45, 19:2, 1 Peter 1:15–16). But how can we actually put this command into practice? How do we become a light for those around us without becoming self-righteous?
We remember that light separates the darkness, and we were once part of that darkness, so we have nothing to be self-righteous about. For our freedom in Christ, our faith is a gift from God Himself!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:-9, NKJV
God Lives In You!
The “holiness” of God is the light of Christ. That light now lives within you through God’s Holy Spirit if you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour. Do you understand the implications here? God inhabits you. You are now set apart, holy in His sight. As the ground around the burning bush was holy, so to does God look at you as holy to Him. Holy in God’s eyes because of His Spirit. But, do people who meet you see that?
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”1 Corinthians 3:16
According to a 2020 Pew Research Poll, 57% of U.S. Christians believe sex between unmarried adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable. And just over a third of Christians in the U.S. say it’s sometimes or always acceptable for two consenting adults to exchange sexually explicit images of themselves.
“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”1 Corinthians 3:17, NKJV
If you are a new Christian reading this, God’s Holy Spirit might be convicting you that your current way of life is more dark than light. This is your wake-up call. Maybe you are a long-time believer, but you’ve never given much thought to being “the light of God” here on earth. And so when people meet you, they don’t see anything different in you. You’ve hidden the light of God and grieved the Holy Spirit with your choices. There is still time to repent and allow the Holy Spirit to renew righteousness within you. God is ever willing to bring lost sheep back into His fold.
Practical Ways to Live Holy Lives
- Pray and praise God without ceasing. Always be talking to God. He loves to hear from you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Read His Word daily, it is our guidebook for living (Joshua 1:8; 2 Timothy 3:16).
- Confess your sins should you fail and God will forgive you (1 John 1:9).
- Love your neighbour, even the difficult ones. Be kind to them. Turn the other cheek and let them see Jesus at work in your life. If you don’t love others the Bible says you do not know God (1 John 4:7-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-7).
- Live to honour God in all you say and do. If we are to walk like the Lord we must be quick to forgive, patient, slow to anger and be kind to each other (Colossians 3:12-14; Ephesians 4:32).
- Watch your language! (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 5:4).
- Serve each other (1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 John 3:17-18).
- Obey the ten commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17).
- Avoid sexual immorality and temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:2-5.
Our standard of behaviour in this world means we do not bring the world and all its ugliness into our lives. This is excruciatingly hard to do, as we live in turbulent times. Politics (or rather politicians) dominate the 24-hour news cycle not only with their antics but with the antics of their supporters (on both sides). Keeping our opinions on some things to ourselves is hard. So we must look to Jesus as our example of holiness.
Let Your Light Shine!
We must strive to be the light until He returns. We are living in the last days, and so it is all the more critical that we remember who inhabits us. Let your light shine for all to see! We must live each moment mindful of our union with the God of the universe. Our behaviour is a reflection of Him to those around us. The Holy Spirit of God Himself lives within you. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), and so we must live our lives accordingly.