Without realizing it, we Christians tend to make up big words that new people were people in the world don’t understand. It’s hard to talk about holiness without using these words for us. So I wanted to take a moment in our blog series and talk about these big Holiness concepts.
These concepts are at the heart of discussions on holiness. We see them all the time throughout the Bible. Each one of them has to do with becoming more holy as we follow Jesus and walk with him.
So what are these big holiness concepts?
- Righteousness – This word appears many times over throughout Scripture. Righteousness means to do whatever God sees is right and glorifies him in every situation for every person. Righteousness has to do with our character, thoughts, words, and actions. It is the background reason we do what we do. The Bible teaches that our own righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus gives us his righteousness like a coat we wear. It covers us from head to toe.
- Justice – Justice is righteousness awarded to a person. The word for justice often has the idea of judgment attached. Righteous judgments are the holy and appropriate judgments we give others. Often times the Bible talks about justice not being given by wicked people. People who demonstrate holiness give proper justice to the people who should have it. In the New Testament, the original language word for justice is in the same family as the word for righteousness.
- Perfection – Jesus told us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). But what does he mean by perfect? The one behind “perfect” gives it away. The idea is to be complete or whole. It has the idea of reaching maturity. Christian maturity doesn’t have to do with knowing a lot of stuff. It’s not about not having any flaws. Maturity means to become the person God wants you to be. It is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). As God develops each of us into the people he has created us to be, we become perfected.
- Sanctification – This really been word refers to the process of becoming holy. At the moment we are saved we begin this journey, or process. The idea of sanctification is that we are guided through a process of listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit. He will address issues in our character and behavior that he wants to change. Sanctification is the roadmap for becoming holy as God declares us at the moment of salvation. It is becoming in reality what we already are in his eyes.
- Character – Character is the “being” of holiness. It contains all of the traits that we carry inside. Character is the part that people can’t see in us until they spend a lot of time with us. It is the internal person. It contains our motives, intentions, thoughts, emotional responses, perceptions, and attitudes. These are all of the things in us the Holy Spirit is working on “under the hood.” As he changes us on the inside, the outside of our person will also change. He changes who we are and what we do changes also.
- Integrity – The best definition I’ve ever heard of integrity is to be the same person in public that you are in private. The idea of integrity is that our character and actions match. There is no “double-mindedness” as James would say (James 1:8; 4:8). We don’t waver from idea to idea, changing my mind every few minutes. We are steadfast in who we are and what we do. We don’t say one thing and do another. Everything lines up between our being and doing. If people can see our thoughts while they observed our actions there would be no controversy or contradiction. We do not work through deception, falsity, or lying. People often label those without integrity as hypocrites. Only Jesus can make us people of integrity.
- Behavior – Behavior is the outward actions that everyone sees. These are the actions people judge us on. Behavior includes our habits and actions. The Old Testament law often placed rules on the things people did. Because people can’t see the intentions of the heart or the inner thoughts of a person, they can only judge a person on their actions. As we get to know people we begin to understand their heart, but at least at first we must judge them on their behavior. Jesus works first on our character, on the inside, and then our actions and behavior begin to line up with that character.
These are only a few of the concepts I have chosen to define. There are many more the deeper you get into discussions on holiness. But the key is to realize how Jesus works in us and what he is doing to make us more holy.
Would you think about my definitions of these words? Do they bring clarity for you or do you think I missed the boat? Leave a comment and tell me what words you think are most important when we talk about becoming holy.