Holiness in the Bible

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What does “make you holy” mean in the Bible?

The concept of making a person holy is one of the main themes of Scripture. It falls under the subject of sanctification, a theological word describing the process of becoming holy. Holiness is one of the chief attributes of God.

Out of his holy character, God acts in righteous ways toward humanity. A refrain of Scripture is God’s desire to have a people for himself. Over and over he says, “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

But a holy God cannot dwell with an unholy people. God works in the hearts of Christians through his Holy Spirit to conform them to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). He makes each Christian a holy person, and the church a holy and blameless people.

God declares every Christian righteous the moment they are saved. But then he works in their lives and hearts to make their holiness a reality. It’s a process that takes our entire lives to complete.

The Bible includes three concepts of holiness. The first is separation from the world. Jesus calls Christians to come out from among the world. We live in the world but we are not of it. He makes our nature brand-new and we are not like the people who don’t know Jesus.

He calls us to stop sinning and love and serve him instead. Second, Christians are called to purity. This is when we avoid mixing Christian and godly lifestyles with the world and its values. Finally, holiness is the opposite of worldliness.

We can’t ride the fence between a holy lifestyle and worldly values. James calls out the church to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8). In the context of that same chapter, he calls the church away from worldly living (James 4:4-6).

Some people believe that holiness is an impossible goal and not worth trying. Other people believe that holiness is attainable but only by the power of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to him. The Holy Spirit guides us into the godliness and holiness that God expects of his children.

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