We usually associate the word “holy” with a pious individual. We think they walk on water, never sin or mess up. In other words, we look at “holy” as sinless perfection. But is this accurate? Lets take a look at the words used in the Bible commonly translated as “holy” so we understand what the Bible has to say about this issue.
The Old Testament word commonly translated “holy” is the word qedos . There are many forms of qedos. These different forms demonstrate the various nuances of it. These nuances vary from describing a person to describing a place. All these nuances mean the same thing: separateness, special, set aside for a specific purpose.
In the New Testament the term hagios is most commonly translated as “holy”. Like the Old Testament term, this word can describe a place or a person. It can also describe an action. It too means that something or someone has been set aside for a specific purpose.
So the idea of “holy” has less to do with conduct and more to do with purpose. Someone or something has been set aside for a specific purpose. But who does the setting aside? God is the One who sets us aside for a specific purpose. Christians, therefore, are “holy” people. Notice I did not say we are perfect people. Holiness must never be confused with sinless perfection. But this does not mean that as holy people we do not make progress in the expression of our holiness.
One of the uses of the term hagios is for the idea of sanctification. The idea of sanctification is again one of separateness or specialness. Theologians typically classify sanctification in three ways: positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, and perfective (or final) sanctification. Lets take a look at each one of these so we understand how I am applying them in this series on holiness.
The idea of positional sanctification has to do with our salvation experience. When we are redeemed by the sacrifice Christ made for us, we are immediately sanctified. We are set apart for a specific purpose. We can never lose this position since this is an act of God that is totally dependent Him and not on anything we have done.
Perfective (Final or future) Sanctification
This is still future to this writing. At some point in the future, every person who has Christ as Savior -each person who is a born again believer in Christ – will be fully sanctified. That is, there will no longer be sin in our lives, we will no longer even be tempted to sin since sin will have been consigned to the flames of hell. We will be perfect human beings. O what a day that will be!
This is the life we live on this earth in this age. We make progress in becoming Christ-like. We have setbacks. But our trend line should always be on an upward trajectory. Through the trials of life, God is drawing us closer to Him. We will continue to have sin burned out of us as long as we remain in this age. However, we will also continue to become more sensitive to sin. This is sure to happen because God will make it happen. But we have a responsibility in this part of sanctification. This is what “Habits of the Holy” is about.
As we are progressively sanctified – as we become more like Christ – we should develop some habits that aid in our development as a Christian. Let me be clear: our habits do not make us a Christian or cause us to be holy. No, please understand that these habits are the result of being a Christian and of being set apart by God.
But what are these habits? How do we develop them in our lives? In my next post, I’ll begin to unwrap what I mean by “Habits of the Holy” and how we can develop these habits.
One thought on “What does it mean to be “holy”?”
You are explaining this stuff very well. Great job!