HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
by Nell Stevenson
"Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, Heaven and earth are full of
your glory!" (Isaiah 6:3).
How often this little four-letter word appears in the Bible!
We read it and continue without giving it too much thought
because we assume that "holiness" belongs to God. We imagine the
vision of Isaiah with seraphs continually calling as he penned
the above verse.
He is God Almighty, the Lord of all the hosts in the
spiritual realm. He is the Holy one of Israel mentioned
innumerable times by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and in the
Psalms. The holiness of God is an awesome thing!
So, what does "holy" actually mean? The Oxford English
reference dictionary says this: 1) morally and spiritually
excellent, and to be revered. 2) belonging to, devoted to, or
empowered by God. 3) consecrated or sacred.
The first definition seems to pertain to God alone,
especially, "to be revered". The second and third definitions
could apply to certain people, e,g. a missionary or minister, but
do any of these apply to the ordinary Christian? Is it enough
that God's chosen Israelites are a "holy people" and a "holy
nation" in the sense that He has set them apart for the special
purpose of declaring his glory? (Deut.14;2, Ex.19:6, 1 Pet.2:9)
He expects much more from us.
Let's consider the Word of the Lord from Leviticus 11:44 and
Peter 1:16 which commands God's people to "be holy because I am
holy". Let me repeat those challenging words, "be holy because I
am holy". That is an overwhelming thought! Is that possible?
Through Salvation we are consecrated to the Lord and now we
must seek to be devoted to and empowered by God; the quality of
our moral and spiritual excellence will likely depend on the
level of our devotion and our willingness to be used for his
purposes. Becoming holy is a personal and individual
responsibility and one to be taken very seriously because
"without holiness, no one will see the Lord". (Heb.12:14)
The Apostle Peter asks the Christian Israelite believers
"What kind of people ought you to be?" (2 Pet.3:11) and we may
well ask the same question today. The answer is simple. "You
ought to live holy and Godly lives." How is it possible we ask,
to be holy?
At times like this the Bible becomes our even more valuable
companion, for "all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for
teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness".
(2 Tim.3:16) Yes, "training in righteousness". The prerequisite
is to have a humble and willing spirit to improve ourselves and
an earnest desire to be more Christ-like. The message of Paul to
the believers at Ephesus is equally valid for true Israelite
Christians today. "Renew the attitude of your minds; put on the
new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and
For this renewal we are dependent on the Holy Spirit within
us. If we willingly listen to His voice of guidance and
direction, then the awesome task to "be holy" becomes achievable!
But it is not an automatic process! We must strive to
achieve holiness through daily prayer and determination to put
off the habits and desires of our human nature and seek after the
things of Christ and his kingdom. Psalm 77:13 tells us that "your
ways, 0 God are holy". What are His ways? We can learn them
through prayer and diligent study of the scriptures.
As we draw closer to Christ we will become more aware of His
absolute holiness and our own lowly estate. We will want to
become holy like Him. We will be happy to join with Timothy in
"suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us
and called us to a holy life" 2 Tim.1:9). Yes, we are indeed
expected to be holy and live a holy life which is a Godly life.
Now we can better understand Paul's meaning when he urges
believers to "offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and
pleasing to God." (Rom.12:1) As we willingly consecrate ourselves
to Christ we will also be empowered by Him. Yet even then,
becoming holy is no easy walk. It is a very individual course.
There is no "instant" method, no "five easy steps" to follow.
The Holy Spirit will be at work in us, but it is up to the
individual to follow his lead and make the effort to change. It
is we who must choose to submit ourselves to God. "Resist the
devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) This is our part in
becoming holy! We must make the choice and decision to be
obedient. We must consult the Scriptures for "correction and
training in righteousness". As we progress in holiness we begin
to "delight in God's law" (Rom.7:22) and discover that his
commands are not burdensome". (I Jn.5:3) As his disciples who
believe in Him and trust in Him we want to heed Peter's
admonition to "live holy as Godly lives".
Discipline is the only way along with the prompting of the
Holy Spirit to correct ourselves and break sinful habits that
keep us far from God. Timothy's advice is well taken - "train
yourself to be godly". (2 Tim.3:4) Much advice is also given in
Ephesians (5:1) on how to "be imitators of God". There is a long
list of behaviours which we as Christian Israelites must strive
to eliminate because these are "improper for God's holy people".
(5:3) Unless we are obedient to the word of God, by faith, we
cannot "be holy" as is commanded and we cannot live holy lives in
an unholy world.
As followers of Christ, bought with the price of His own
precious blood, we must "live as children of light" and produce
the appropriate fruit of "goodness, righteousness and truth".
(Eph.5:8,9) Unholy people cannot please or glorify a holy God.
There is no option for us; we must "be holy" as he is holy.
As we grow in obedience and holiness we allow His glory to
fill these bodily temples and so we prepare for "the day he comes
to be glorified in His holy people". (2 Thes.1:10) At that
glorious time we will understand His holiness and sing with the
seraphs, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth
is full of His glory!"
Taken from "Thy Kingdom Come" (October 2007) a publication of The
Covenant People, Vancouver, B.C. Canada