If I told you your typical understanding of holiness was wrong, would you keep reading this blog post to see what I’m talking about? The title of this post may have already thrown you off, but stick around for a few paragraphs and accept my challenge to be weird. However, I want to take a moment to challenge you on being in the world but not of the world. It sounds cliched, but let’s take just a quick blog post to analyze what that means, and then ask yourself, are you holy?
The word we use in the New Testament comes from 40 hágios – which defined properly means different (unlike), other (“otherness“). Holy for the believer, (hágios) means “likeness of nature with the Lord” because of being “different from the world.”
The fundamental core meaning of hágios is “different” –- thus a temple in the 1st century was hagios (“holy”) because it was different from other buildings, as just one example. In the New Testament hágios (“holy”) has the “technical” meaning “different from the world” because it’s “like the Lord.”
As a result, hágios implies something “set apart” and therefore “different (distinguished/distinct)” – i.e. “other,” because of its special nature and use to the Lord.
Not The Same – Literally
God is different, not the same as who or what? Anything and anybody in the whole universe. He is incomparable to anything or anyone else. There is nobody like Him. No other creator. No other saviour. He is unique, to put it simply. But those adjectives don’t even begin to cover it, but I hope you get the idea, even if slightly.
Sacrifices in the Old Testament were unique — the animal was called to be set apart and used only for the purposes of worship to the Lord and was kept alive not to be eaten or for any other purpose than sacrificed. The Israelites were to ‘set apart’ certain animals for the instructions Moses had given them.
Christians should be different because, as Paul said, “You were bought at a price” (I Corinthians 6:20) God can make an item or person holy when He claims it or becomes its owner. When an individual devotes or gives an object to God, the ownership passes to God and since He is now the owner, the object becomes holy. We ourselves are called to be set apart, ‘used’ for nothing else other than God’s purposes.
For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. (Leviticus 11:44, English Standard Version)
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV)
That price, Christ’s sacrifice, makes it possible for us to be forgiven of our past sins and to receive the Holy Spirit. But, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:9)
Are You Different?
Christians can easily quote how we’re “in the world but not of the world”, but do we really keep mindful of that in our jobs and daily lives? In our Facebook updates? If your unsaved friends looked at you, would they think you’re just like them, or would they say you’re weird? I don’t mean weird because you wear your underwear on your head and your pants only have one leg or something bizarre like that.
I mean, by their perspective, you’re weird because you turn the other cheek instead of taking revenge. You let others wrong you rather than suing the shirt off someone’s back who wronged you. You don’t just avoid all the obvious sins like drunkenness and sex outside of marriage, but your behavior in all of your life is… weird. To them, but not to The Lord.
Are you living a life set apart? Does his holiness permeate your entire being and life? If not, then let me challenge you to be weird.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, New Living Translation)
Think different. Trust me, it’s the weirdest thing you can do in this world.