The fact that our holiness derives from God is something we’re all likely taught in church. However, while it is “head” knowledge, it often isn’t heart knowledge. What I mean is while we might be able to give the correct answer if someone were to ask, “Why are we holy?” the truth is we don’t live and act like the answer we’ve been taught. Instead, we’re trying to be holy on our own efforts. We’re trying to be holy based on what we accomplish, what we sacrifice, what extra effort we put in. This is nonsense. None of that makes us holy.
You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. – Leviticus 20:26, ESV
We are holy because God chose to set us apart. That is the only reason we’re holy. That is the only way we can be holy. I’m not saying to abandon missions projects or service to the needy or giving of your tithe. Those are important. However, the point is that we shouldn’t be doing them because we feel like that’s what makes us “better” or “more good” or “less sinful.” We should do them simply because we’ve been asked to by our Lord. I know we can’t always do them with full gratitude, but that should be the heart we strive to have when we do the things we do.
Without God, none of us are holy. So without God, none of us are any better than the worst of sinners. As a matter of fact, if Paul referred to himself as the worst of sinners, what does that make us? It makes us sinners in need of forgiveness and redemption, the same as we always were. Just because we’re saved doesn’t mean we are suddenly elevated above anyone else. If we start to think that way, we’ve fallen into an insidious trap. We aren’t any better. Our sins aren’t any less than someone else’s. We’re just as wretched, just as wicked, and just as feeble. Feeble? Yes, feeble to save ourselves. Feeble to make an eternal difference. Feeble to change our destination from hell to heaven. Feeble is probably giving ourselves too much credit. A better word would be helpless. We are helpless just like the person we may look down upon – the person we think doesn’t get it because he or she doesn’t come to church or lives a life we personally find unacceptable or distasteful.
Why am I making a big deal out of the obvious? I am because though its obvious, we don’t live it. As a group of believers we don’t live it. Not as individuals, either. Sorrowfully, I must find myself guilty of this charge, too. I then must remember that holiness comes from God and therefore my actions don’t change that. I am completely reliant on God to fulfill His promise through His Son. The times I get this in my heart, when I seriously and soberly consider this simple fact, I find that I respond to people differently. I start to see them the way God likely does. That means I need to more frequently dwell on the fact that my holiness is due to God alone. I need to do this so I can better see the people around me. I need to better see the people around me so I can respond with His love through me. We all do. There are too many hurting around us and our churches aren’t doing what they could and what they should. We need to change that. We can’t make anyone else change. However, we can choose to allow God to change us. One person can make a difference. Even if it’s only to one other person, it makes all the difference to that person. Let us remember that we are holy only because God has chosen to set us apart. And let us then lead the humble, serving life He has called us to.