Tuesday, February 19, 2013

got holiness?

There has been much debate and discussion over the years, and even recently about the need for holiness in the life of the believer.  Christianity Today recently ran an article titled “Do American Christians Need the Message of Grace or a call to Holiness?”  Those on the holiness side of the debate feel that without holiness, we get “cheap grace” (I would argue that there is no such thing, only cheap law).  Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of "grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

There are varying definitions of holiness, but it is generally understood to mean perfection or flawlessness.  The religious definition many times is; “set apart” or “set apart for God.”   Since God himself is described as Holy, I don’t understand how the word can mean “set apart for God.”

The Greek word for holy is hagios.  The definition according to Strong’s concordance is;
“sacred (phys. pure, mor. blameless or religious, cer. consecrated), (most) holy (one, thing), saint.”

Saint?  Meaning those of our Catholic brothers who have passed the test of the miraculous and passed on?  Let’s see.

Look for the uses of the word saint in the New Testament.   There are 63.  And every one of them refers to the seemingly ordinary believer.  Just a few examples;

Acts 9:32
Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he went down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.

Romans 1:7
To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:25
But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.

1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

2 Corinthians 1:1
[ Greeting ] Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia

Ephesians 2:19
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Ephesians 4:12
for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Colossians 1:2
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I think it is clear that when the Bible speaks of saints, it is referring to the follower of Jesus.  As the Amplified Bible describes saints; God’s people.

But wait.  There's more!
Check this out -
The Greek word for saints is also hagios.  
The exact same word that is used for holy is the word used for saint!

So when Paul is addressing a letter to the saints in Corinth, he is calling them holy.  He is calling us holy.  This is confirmed in other verses;

Hebrews 10:10
And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One). 

1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God’s people), together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Colossians 1:22
Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence.

Acts 10:15
Again a voice came to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'

We don’t need a call to holiness.  We don’t need more self-effort to become holy.  Our holiness is imputed to us just as our righteousness is.  Let us not be sin conscious, let us be cross conscious.

Jesus has made us hagios.

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