Pastor P. T. Thomas Writer & Bible Teacher
Holiness is generally understood in terms of purity and cleanliness. But in the Biblical sense holiness implies much more than purity. When this attribute is related to God it has a unique sense as God is unique, His holiness too is unique. God’s holiness is inviolable and never changing. In heathen religions, their deities can get defined and their sanctum sanctoriums can get desecrated. But in the case of the true, holy God of the Scriptures, His holiness can never ever get violated by anyone. This inviolable and unalterable holiness of God is His divine attribute and is unique to God. Like God’s omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience of God, this unique holiness is non- communicable and unique. This unique holiness of God cannot be imbibed or reflected by any human being nor by any angelic being.
Then how can we speak of Christians reflecting the holiness of God? It is here that the second sense of holiness comes into consideration. In the person of Jesus Christ, the holy God humbled himself to be born as man. In John 17:19 we read Jesus’ words: “ for them I sanctify myself, so that they too may be truly sanctified”. Sanctification is setting oneself apart for a single cause. The omnipresent God humbled himself to be a human baby in the womb of a virgin for the very special mission of redeeming human race lost in sin. God who is the controller and sovereign ruler of the whole universe sanctified Himself for the exclusive mission of human redemption. This sanctified state of Jesus Christ is described as holiness of God here. Jesus sanctified Himself so that His disciples too may be sanctified unto Himself. That is to say, just as Jesus set Himself apart and gave himself over for us exclusively, we, His disciples too should set ourselves apart and give ourselves over exclusively for Him. This is what is meant by the holiness of God getting reflected in the Christians.
The redemption of mankind from sin was not wrought exclusively by Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion that lasted for about six hours. The shadow of the cross was over the Lord right from His very birth. This shadow hovered over Him all through His life. The very fact that Jesus was laid in manger at His birth points to the fact that He came as the scapegoat to take away the sin of the world. The great God set himself apart to be the perfect sacrifice and was born in the manger. Right from that birth started the journey to the cross. Even the shepherds who came and bowed down before the puny babe lying in the manger were specially assigned a great mission. They were the shepherds who were in charge of the pastures where lambs meant for the sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple were kept. Immediately after the birth of a lamb in that pasture these shepherds were to check them for any blemish and make sure of its worthiness to be sacrificed in the temple. These shepherds were commissioned by God to certify the perfect worthiness of the Lamb of God.Jesus was sanctified for us even from the very birth. Such perfect sanctification, Jesus said, was meant for our sanctification. At re-birth we set ourselves apart exclusively for our Lord.
We speak of one getting saved by accepting Jesus Christ as his saviour and lord. The ‘accepting’ part is over emphasised so that the part of giving oneself under the lordship of Jesus Christ is subordinated. We forget that we accept Jesus as Lord and master. It is as much as to say that we give ourselves over to His lordship. Just as Jesus’ sanctified state started with His birth, we too should get sanctified at the very time of our salvation. Atsalvation we give ourselves over to the Lordship of the Lord rather than accepting Jesus as our saviour. This is the beginning of our sanctification. That is to say the holiness of Jesus should start reflecting in our life even from the time of our salvation and re-birth.
An Exclusive Relationship
As large crowds were travelling with Jesus, He turned around and looking straight into their eyes said: “if any one comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters- yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). What exclusive a relationship is demanded by the Lord!. When one comes to the Lord he should submit himself with an exclusive loyalty and undivided love. This exclusive relationship is the holiness demanded from every Christian. Our God is jealous God; He will not suffer dividing His love and loyalty with anyone else. We are the betrothed bride of Jesus Christ. No bridegroom ever would suffer his betrothed bride to share even a fraction of her love and loyalty with anyone else. The example of bride and the bridegroom is used to highlight the exclusive relationship we should have with the Lord. No human being can ever plead ignorance of such exclusivity demanded from him because this example is enough to make it clear for any human being. This is the holiness of God. That should reflect from our life.
Holiness and Purity
Purity is the result of holiness. A pure person with a clean character may not be a holy one because holiness is setting oneself apart for a single cause. Being pure and clean does not qualify one to be the bride of the Lamb of God. According to the divine standard no one can be pure and blemishless to qualify for eternal life. But one who accepts Jesus’ sacrificial death as the only way for the propitiation of his sin and accepts Jesus Christ as his saviour by faith and gives himself over to the exclusive Lordship of the Lord, gets accepted as holy bride of the Lamb of God. Such exclusive submission of oneself to the Lord by faith purifies him and the holiness of God starts reflecting in his life. Thus holiness effects purification, not vice versa.