When you hear the word, “holiness,” what comes to mind?
Scripture tells us that holiness means being set apart to God, for His exclusive purposes and use.
In the Book of the Law, God gave specific instructions about being holy and maintaining holiness – to help the Israelites understand it, He gave them specific things to do and to avoid; foods they could eat, and foods they couldn’t; He even gave restrictions about who they should hang out with, and who they shouldn’t.
At the same time, God also challenged Israel with the idea that holiness was MORE than this. That God’s main hope & desire for His people wasn’t just that they had the list of “stuff we don’t do” memorized; further, He told them that the holiness, the set apart life, wasn’t merely a set of exterior behaviors. It involved a ‘set apartness’ of heart, mind, thought, & purpose. It wasn’t just for temple/church times, but was a 24/7 manner of living.
Knowing the Rules: what we’re not supposed to eat, where we’re not supposed to go, & who we’re not supposed to hang out with is easier than living fully dependent on the instruction of the LORD, & direction of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Peter was holy – he’d never knowingly eaten forbidden food; hadn’t gone where he wasn’t supposed to go; didn’t hang out with ‘unclean’ Gentiles.
And so his world was rocked when God told him in a vision – “Don’t call unclean & unholy what I’ve made clean & holy.” If that wasn’t enough, God gave him instructions to immediately & without hesitation go with 3 Greek men to the house of another Greek- Gentile man & to await further instructions.
To obey & do this was a huge risk – at the very least it meant a loss of reputation, & at worst, he could have been prosecuted (or worse) for doing something so “unholy.”
But something clicked. Peter got a glimpse of what it truly meant to be holy; it wasn’t just the externals. Rather, it was the willingness to be directed & redirected by the LORD; to be willing to have his mind changed, to go where he’d never gone before in obedient response to the Holy Spirit.
And he saw the LORD move. The Holy Spirit poured out. He gained brothers from among a people that beforehand he wouldn’t have even been willing to be seen with.
May we be holy, set apart to God for His purposes & directions, no matter what.