The word “holy” in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word hagios. It means: sacred, pure, or blameless. The usage in the Scriptures is often made in reference to God. It encompasses the purity of God and the sacred nature of Deity. God is not common, nor should he be approached as such. Instead, he is described as completely holy, nothing lacking.
It is relatively simple for most people to grasp an understanding of the holiness of God. It is generally much more difficult to understand the holiness of man. There are a number of passages that show us the necessity of being holy. We are to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). We are to present our bodies as a sacrifice of holiness (Rom. 12:1). We are to be new men, created in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). Finally, we must be holy if we wish to be in the presence of the Lord (Heb. 12:14). All of these things denote the necessity of the holiness of man. The problem, for many people, is in endeavoring to understand how that holiness is obtained.
Some individuals are lead to think they must be perfect in order to be holy, thereby never committing sins or making mistakes. The problem with such a philosophy is that it is an utter impossibility (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). On the other hand, there are those who profess that man can do nothing to be found holy in the sight of God. It is all laid upon God’s shoulders to miraculously make man holy and there is nothing man can do to affect that standing. However, the very statement, “be ye holy; for I am holy,” (1 Pet. 1:16), opposes such a philosophy. God does not tell man to be holy because God has made him such; rather, man is to live his life in such a way as to be found holy in the sight of God. Therefore, the emphasis is placed on the conversation (lifestyle) of man in verse 15 of that same chapter. As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
The holiness of man is made possible by the gelling of both ends of the spectrum. First, man is made holy by the blood of Christ. Our Lord gave his life, that by means of his sacrifice we might be sanctified (Heb. 10:10). The chapter continues by showing that those who have been sanctified (made holy) have also been made perfect (Heb. 10:14). It is understood that without the blood of Christ there could be no forgiveness of sins, no sanctification, and no salvation (Heb. 9-10). Hence, the first factor necessary for men to be holy in the sight of God is a means by which man’s impurities can be removed: the blood of Christ.
Second, man becomes holy by dedicated service to God. God, having done his part in the sending of Jesus to die for our sins, also requires that man fulfill his portion of the requirements. For this reason Paul wrote to the Roman Christians these words: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). We are able to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices. To do so, our lives must be modeled after the attributes of our Creator. Putting forth his desires and commandments as the most important things in our lives. If we follow his pattern, we will present ourselves holy before the Lord, which is described as being our “reasonable service.”
The requirement of mankind to be holy in the sight of God is undeniable, but it is not unattainable. God has laid before each individual the means by which it can be attained. It is now our decision as to whether we will heed the call or neglect it. The call to be holy as God is holy will ring to the end of time; may we ever be ones who answer that call.