Tuesday Night Bible Study at Church of Divine Guidance. "Holy, Holy, Holy", Main scriptures Leviticus 20:26 and 1 Peter 1:16. These are the notes of that study along with the recorded audio.
I want to start with a question.
What does it mean to be holy?
Holiness is not something that we talk a lot about in the church. We talk about salvation a lot. We talk about forgiveness a lot. We talk about God’s promises a lot. But we don’t talk about holiness a lot because I think it makes people nervous. It makes pastors, preachers, teachers, evangelists, and some prophets nervous so we just avoid the subject. It makes us nervous because we know that God told to the Israelites when they were in the wilderness, and us Christians, through Peter, to be holy because He is holy and we’re afraid that we don’t meet that standard.
Well we are going to talk about holiness tonight.
Are you holy?
You don’t have to answer that one publicly is are you holy?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary - dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred
The Hebrew word for holy is “qodesh” (ko'-desh),and means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness” In the New Testament, the Greek word for holy is “hagios” (hag'-ee-os), and means set apart, reverend, sacred, and worthy of veneration.” This word applies to God because He is totally separate, sacred, transcendent, reverend, and set apart from every created thing.
The phrase "holy, holy, holy" is an important one that occurs only twice in the Bible. On both occasions, the phrase comes from heavenly beings and they are indicating God’s being like nobody or no thing. In Isaiah it was from the seraphim, which are angelic beings, to Isaiah.
Isaiah 6:1-3 (NKJV)1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"
In Revelation it was the four living creatures.
Revelation 4:8 (NKJV)8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"
Repeating a word three consecutive times is very important in the Hebrew language. The repetition makes it stand out as important. The fact that the word holy is repeated three times indicates completion or absoluteness. In both Isaiah and Revelation, the word holy is used three times to emphasize God's holiness and completeness. We have a similar practice in English, for example we say "far, far away" to emphasize something being a longshot or in the distant future. It’s like saying Attention, this is important. Jesus often said verily, verily for emphasis.
John 8:58 (KJV) Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
John 14:12 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
John 3:3 (KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
The emphasis of the phrase "holy, holy, holy" is clearly on the holiness of God, it refers to His being "set apart" or distinct from all of creation. He is separate from sin, corruption, and impurity. He is perfect in all ways; He is exceptional, in a category all by Himself.
The word holy is used more than 600 times in the Bible. It describes something or someone set apart from anything else. For example, the seventh day was called "holy" and set apart as special by God
Genesis 2:3 (NLT) And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
The garments of Israel's priests who served in the tabernacle and Temple were considered unique and holy.
Exodus 28:2 (NLT) Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful.
The entire nation of Israel was set-apart by God Himself.
Exodus 19:6 (NLT) And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
Leviticus 20:26 (NLT) You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.
When God gave the instructions about clean and unclean animals, how to deal with leprosy, mold in clothing and in houses, relationships between parents, neighbors, foreigners, how to worship, all the regulations we read about in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, including the Ten Commandments, which are in Exodus, He was instructing them to be different from the other nations in their lifestyles.
Like Israel, Christians (the church) are commanded to be holy or distinct, set-apart. Peter repeats the words of Leviticus;
1 Peter 1:16 (NLT)16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Sounds a lot like Exodus 19:6 doesn’t it?
Exodus 19:6 (NLT) And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
God isn't calling us to be perfect, but to be distinctly different from the world.
The difference between God and us is that He is inherently holy while we, on the other hand, only become holy when we have a relationship with Christ, through His shed blood, and we increase in holiness as we mature spiritually. We have to pursue holiness, in other words, we have to work at it. Not work for it because we were set apart to God at salvation and that was free because it was by God’s grace, but we do have to pursue holiness.
Hebrews 12:14 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
We won’t obtain complete holiness until Jesus returns and we will be like Him.
1 John 3:2 (NLT)2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.
It is a fact that as God’s children we are separated from the world; but we need to live out that reality in our day-to-day lives.
Here’s how we live it out
1 Peter 1:13-16 (NLT)13 So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
We have to be on guard for things like pride, arrogance, greed, revenge, lust, things that take our minds off the goal of serving God.
Never Forgetting the Hope of Salvation
The hope of salvation is eternal life in God’s presence. If it is your hope (desire, plus expectation) to live with God in heaven when this life is over and to be resurrected when Jesus returns to the earth, it will then be much easier for you to live holy.
1 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT)3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
Our hope for heaven is secure because it is based on the unchangeable nature of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NLT)8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
Ephesians 1:14 (NLT)14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Hebrews 6:19 (NLT)19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
Don’t Slip Back Into Your Old Fleshly Ways
When we became Christians we broke some patterns of living and we shouldn’t go back to them and we probably need to break more patterns to get to the level of holiness that God has called us to, so that we don’t resemble the world at all.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Accept God’s Challenge and His Encouragement to Be Holy
God created man in His image which is completely holy. Adam blew it but God provided a way for us to attain it again through the shed blood of Jesus. Once we have been washed in His blood we should start to live a lifestyle which reflects that holiness. Pursue holiness.
Some people think that to be holy you have to run away from the world but you can’t really do that in fact Jesus said we are in the world but not of it and He never asked that we be taken out of it.
John 17:14-15 (NLT)14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.
That means we are physically present—but not of it, not part of its values. Remember holy is to be set apart. We shouldn’t participate in sinful activities the world promotes, like extra marital or premarital sex, pronagraphy, homosexuality, revenge, things against God’s will. We are to do what I said before from Romans this time the NLT;
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.2 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.
If we were taken out of the world then the world wouldn’t have any examples for what God wants for them The world wouldn't know how much God loved them if we were out of the world. There would be nobody to lead others to salvation if we were out of the world.
Some people think you have to be in church on your knees praying all day, walking around with a halo, not having any fun or enjoying yourself. They think to be holy you have to despise everything of this world. There are some good things in this world like burritos and cheeseburgers so everything is not bad, but you need to be led by the Holy Spirit and not you own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
So what does it mean to be holy?
Does it mean that we that we don’t drink, or smoke, or dance, play cards, or gamble? For some that’s what it means, and that’s okay. Does it mean that we maintain sexual purity, financial honesty, and commitment to private prayer? Yes. Those things are obviously things that set us apart from the world, but those things are not what Scripture is talking about with regard to holiness.
Again the most basic meaning of the word is to be "set apart" or "dedicated" to God—to belong to God.
Hebrews 8:10 (NLT)10 But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Leviticus 26:12 (NLT) I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.
How often a person a person goes to church, how many hours they spend in prayer, what good spiritual books they have read, or even the number of good things they do doesn’t make a person holy. The thing that makes somebody holy is the desire to become all God created them to be, It’s the commitment to do the will of God, and an concern for those who are not holy.
When God said “be holy because I am holy” that describes a unique and special relationship between us and God. This relationship has moral ramifications, but it the relationship comes first. Before we are ever called to be good, we are called to be holy. If we don’t understand that the relationship itself is the most important thing, we fall into the inevitable trap of reducing holiness to morality only.
The Lord saved us, cleansed us, and set us apart for righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Titus 3:3-5 (NLT)3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Holiness is not just about moral purity. It's about union with God in Christ and sharing in Christ's holiness. A lifestyle of holiness does not mean that we have a list of do’s and don’ts to live by. We are free from the letter of the law remember.
2 Corinthians 3:6 (NLT)6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
The law of Christ is under that new covenant.
Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
What exactly is the law of Christ?
Mark 12:28-31 (NKJV)28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
To love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves is the law of Christ.
Love is to be our motivation. When we recognize the value of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, our response is to be love, gratitude, and obedience. When we understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us and others, our response is to be to follow His example in expressing love to others. Our motivation for holiness should be love, not a desire to legalistically obey a series of commandments. We are to obey the law of Christ because we love Him, not so that we can check off a list of commands.
To be holy is to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-18 (NLT)16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
Living a holy life means letting our decisions be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness is surrendering to the will of God, and at the same time, it is grasping each moment and making it all it can be. Holiness is allowing God to fill every corner of your being. Holiness doesn’t stifle us; it sets us free.
Holiness is the will of God us
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 (NLT)3 God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.4 Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor
None of us will reach sinless perfection in this world, that won’t happen until Jesus returns, but God has made provision for our sin both before and after we were saved.
1 John 1:9 (NLT)9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
God’s ultimate desire for His people is that we be holy which is being conformed into the image of His Son.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Bible Study Audio