A subject which seem to have been all but forgotten in America today is Holiness. As a matter of fact, in some circles it has almost taken on a negative connotation. I'm sure you have heard phrase "holier than thou" used before to speak of someone. Perhaps that person was really trying to have holiness in his/her life. But because of negative thoughts and attitudes of others, it was perceived as an undesirable trait rather than an admirable one.
What is holiness? Is it something that we as Christians should strive for, or is it something that a humble person would not want to be considered?
In scriptures, when something was referred to as "holy" it was set apart for service of God. These things were dedicated and used exclusively for God's glory. For example, temple was holy because it was place which was set apart exclusively for worship of God. We read of beauty of Solomon's Temple and we can see devotion which nation of Israel had (at that time) for temple as a holy place.
"Then he said to them, 'This is what LORD has said: "Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to LORD. . ."'" (Exodus 16:23) There were days or seasons which were also holy. The Sabbath was a holy day because it was set apart as a memorial of God's creation. God had created universe in six days, and rested on seventh. He therefore established that seventh day as Sabbath and a day of rest for nation of Israel as well as a day to remember that God was our Creator.
"And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation..." (Exodus 19:6) The priests which conducted various functions in temple and tabernacle were also set apart for service of Lord. They were holy.
"And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty." (Exodus 28:2) Objects were holy. Garments, anointing oil and other objects used in temple were set apart for service of worshiping Lord.
The nation of Israel was also holy. It was nation of Israel which God had determined would be nation through which He would bring His Son into world as our savior.
So, is it then possible for us as Christians to be holy? Can we be set apart to glorify God? Let's see what Bible has to say about Christians and being holy.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1) We are certainly expected to be a holy people. Paul admonishes us to do those things which will make us acceptable to God as being set apart for His service. We are to live our lives as "a living sacrifice" or in other words to conduct ourselves in such a manner that we could be considered a living sacrifice. When we consider that we are to make our bodies a living sacrifice to God we understand that our physical being is to be dedicated to live a life which will bring glory and honor to god. This means rejecting all those things which do not bring glory to God: obscene, vulgar, immoral and profane behavior as examples.
"If anyone defiles temple of God, God will destroy him. For temple of God is holy, which temple you are." (1 Corinthians 3:17) "Or do you not know that your body is temple of Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19) We see here command from God to keep our bodies as a holy temple of God for indeed Holy Spirit indwells each Christian. This is further evidence that we are to consider our bodies as holy or set apart for service of and glory to God. As a matter of fact, we as individual Christians are a part of church which is also described in Bible as dwelling place of God. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
We have seen in previous paragraph that we are to keep our bodies as a holy temple to God, but what about our actions? Can and should they also be holy? "Therefore, as elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is bond of perfection." (Colossians 3:12-14) We can, indeed we must, have conduct which is holy if we are to truly serve God. How can we be a Christian and not have those qualities which this Scripture talks about? Tender mercies, kindness, meekness, patience and love is what a Christian has in their lives. You simply cannot be a Christian and not have these qualities. You can claim to be a Christian, go to church, say all right things, do all right things, go to all right places; but without truly having these qualities manifested in your life, you are not a Christian.