How are holiness and righteousness described in the Bible? What do they mean and how can one pursue them? Learn more about these answers and even more in this article.
Christians talk a lot about the necessity of being holy in our everyday lives. It was God’s command to us as well as His own primary characteristic. Let’s see what the Scriptures say about holiness and how can we pursue it with our lives?
The holiness definition
According to several dictionaries definitions, we can say that holiness is the state of being perfect, separated from any sin or flaws, as well as having divine and righteous nature. Since only God is absolutely holy, He is majestic and exalted. Here are several verses from the Bible which tell us what holiness of God truly is.
“There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)
“Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (Psalm 96:9)
‘Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
“Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3)
“And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME." (Revelation 4:8)
The first thing that comes to your mind when you think about God is that He is holy. We usually view holiness as something clean and white. And from the verses mentioned above, we can see it. God has nothing to do with the sins. He is perfect in everything He does. People will tremble before Him, as He is holy, and they are far from it.
Can sinful people live in the presence of God?
God being holy also means that nothing less than perfect cannot be in His presence. It is unnatural and contradictory to the notion of holiness.
However, apart from being holy, God is also merciful and loving. Thus, He lets certain people in His presence despite their sins. Who are these people?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:9-10)
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As a result of Him forgiving us our sins, we become His children who can now dwell in His presence.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1)
Do all people get to be God’s children?
No, only the ones whom He called and forgave according to the verse mentioned above. He gives them strength to pursue holiness and righteousness in all the decisions they make in their daily life. They do not stop sinning but they can if they ask God for wisdom and guidance.
Now, as you know the meaning of holiness, let’s see whether people need to be holy and what the difference between holiness and righteousness is.
Holiness and righteousness
Now, there are two different terms in the Bible: holiness and righteousness. See these two verses to feel the difference.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
From these two examples, we can see that righteousness is something corrected or made right. Thus, people who use to be the children of sin and slaves to all kinds of wickedness can be made right through the sacrifice of Jesus. When they come to Him realizing that they are sinners in the eyes of God, and they can do nothing about it as well as cannot pay the price it takes God to forgive them, the only solution here is to admit that the blood of Christ, holy and perfect, is the only reason God can choose to forgive us.
That is when they are forgiven, and now God views them differently. He changes them, gives them the new heart and makes the right.
However, on the contrary, holiness is something Christians are commanded to pursue. Check these verses about it:
“But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living.” (1 Pet. 1:15)
“For God did not call us to be impure, but to be holy.” (1 Thess. 4;7)
“unto the congregation of God which is at Corinth, to those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:2)
“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by this mercy of God, to offer your bodies in a living sacrifice that will be holy and acceptable to God; that is your rational worship.” (Rom. 12:1)
It is every Christian’s responsibility to do everything in his power to be holy. How can you do it? And is it at all possible? Here is what the Scriptures say about it.
How to pursue holiness?
First of all, you have to realize that all the sin comes from your heart. So, we should now focus on pursuing holiness in the depth of your real motives when you do something. There is a verse the Gospel of Mark which shows us what sins come from our hearts:
“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:19-23)
Everything starts in our hearts and develops there. So, if want to fight the sin and live holy lives, then there are several things we should do.
- We are to be serious about our desire to fight sin. Sin is not an unfortunate dead or a consequence of some circumstances. It is something we should be afraid of as it offends God. We must be serious about God and sins, and see them with His eyes.
- We should remember that God wants us to admit to our sins and ask Him for forgiveness. We do not just sin against other people, though very often we hurt other people with our evil doings, but before anything else, we offend God. He does not turn a blind eye to what we do and how we don’t listen and obey Him. He takes it seriously.
- We should do our best to be obedient. Even though it is against our sinful nature, we should try our best to be holy and stay away from sins. Make a decision in your heart to follow God’s commands and be more like Him.
- Refuse to follow the paths this world wants you to take. You need to pay attention to what this world recommends you doing and choose to stay on God’s path instead of stepping on the way which will lead you to sin in the end.
- Finally, even if some pleasures and things will promise that by doing them you will be content and happy, stay away from them if you know that by following them you disobey God and break His laws.
All in all, such principles are described in two Bible verses which you can take for your next Bible study.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11-12)
In your pursuit of living a holy life, we would highly recommend you starting holiness and purity Bible study. These two notions come together. God wants Hus children to remain pure and untouched with the worldly passions and desires. So, if you want to live a life which would be pleasant to God, save the Bible quotes we mentioned in this article and start living according to them.
But before you start working on being holy, you need to make sure that you have peace in relationship with God. Repent of your sins, ask Jesus to be you Savior from the just punishment for your sins, and let God be Your Heavenly Father. That’s when the real journey begins! There is no bigger joy in fighting for the holy living especially if you love God and do it for Him.