What does Holy mean?

A pastor I used to serve under and love very much recently posted that He was doing a sermon entitled “Lessons on Holy Living.”

This is kind of a conundrum because this particular pastor downloads sermons from the internet and passes them off as his own and has for quite some time. I have watched him use sermons that he downloaded and preach them word-for-word from the download while throwing in phrases “When I studied this text, I arrived at” and then he would continue to preach word-for-word from the downloaded sermon.  It is one of the reasons that I stopped serving under him even though I do truly love him (The wife and I helped him buy a car when his car broke).  He also continually talked about his worldly passions from the pulpit.

Both of these things alone are the opposite of Holy Living.  I have thoughts on Holy Living and how Holy Living and Worldliness are moral opposites as you will see in this study.  It is this that I present my following:

(From Sermon Central and the graphic used for this sermon that caught my attention)

To understand how to live Holy, one must first understand what Holy is.  In the Newer and Better Covenant (New Testament), we come across the following verse:

Matthew 1:18 (CJB) 18 Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place.

When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef,

before they were married,

she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

The Greek word for Holy (Kodesh) is hagios.  HaKodesh means “the Holy.”  Before we go into the Greek understanding for Holy, we need to go to the Hebrew word(s) that inform it.  We start with the Hebrew word qādhash.  We first find this Holy in the text in  B’resheet (In the beginning) aka Genesis:

Genesis 2:3 (CJB) 3 God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy;

because on that day God rested from all his work which he had created,

so that it itself could produce.

However, based on the Sermon Central title above, we are more concerned with the adjective qādhôsh or Kodesh from above which deals more with making someone Holy to God.  Joel Chernoff has a wonderful song about this called Holy Unto You from his album The Restoration of Israel.  The lyrics are as follows:

Holy unto You, Holy unto You,

Hear this humble prayer,

And make me Holy unto You,

Kadosh Kadosh L’cha, Kadosh Kadosh L’cha,

Hear this humble prayer,

Make me Kadosh Kadosh L’cha.

Lord I come to You, with a humble heart,

Seeking more of You, wanting less of me,

Wanting more of You,

From my deepest parts, God of mercy hear,

Comes an urgent prayer,

That my heart’s desire is to You draw near.

I give myself to You, on the alter lay,

Spirit come and fill, so that I can more, follow and obey.

Let your Light more shine,

In this wounded heart,

Clean and purify, so that you can more,

Of your light impart.

Holy unto You, Holy unto You,

Hear this humble prayer,

And make me Holy unto You,

Kadosh Kadosh L’cha, Kadosh Kadosh L’cha,

Hear this humble prayer,

Make me Kadosh Kadosh L’cha.

Holy unto you or Kadosh L’cha.  This song is a good example of what that means, but lets go to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament to gain some understanding (I have bulleted some of the important points to understand):

1990a †קֹדֶשׁ‎ (qōdesh) <H6944> apartness, holiness, sacredness.

qādôsh. Holy, Holy one, saint (ASV, RSV similar). The adjective qādôsh (holy) denominates that which is intrinsically sacred or which has been admitted to the sphere of the sacred by divine rite or cultic act.

          • It connotes that which is distinct from the common or profane.

God is intrinsically holy and he calls his people to be holy, providing for them the standard of obedience whereby that holiness may be maintained (Leviticus 19:2ff.). Because God is holy, he is free from the moral imperfections and frailties common to man (Hosea 11:9) and can be counted on to be faithful to his promises (Psalm 22:3-5). This aspect of God’s character forms the basis of Habakkuk’s hope that his people would not perish (Habakkuk 1:12).

The title “The Holy One of Israel” is applied to God numerous times in the OT, but is especially frequent in the prophecy of Isaiah (in all parts). It serves to place the sins of Isaiah’s society in stark contrast to God’s moral perfection (Isaiah 30:11) and expresses God’s absolute separation from evil (Isaiah 17:7).

The inviolability of the spheres of the sacred and the profane forms the ground for the ethical aspects of the concept of holiness.

Their call to holiness was based on the fact that they had become God’s possession by virtue of his separating them from the nations (Leviticus 20:26; Deut. 7:6; Deut. 14:2; Deut. 26:19).

It is unthinkable that a holy God could condone sin; such a concept would involve a diffusion of the sacred and profane, thus destroying the nature of holiness.The call to be holy was accompanied by the imposition of certain restrictions that served to ensure the continuing holiness of those who believed (Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2ff.; Deut. 14:2, 21; Numbers 15:40).

Various aspects of the cultus were denominated holy by virtue of their being conceived of as belonging to the realm of the sacred and were not to be treated as common. This included portions of the sacrifices (Leviticus 6:16; Leviticus 7:6), the temple and its aspects (Psalm 65:4 [H 5]; Leviticus 6:16, etc.), and the priests (Leviticus 21:6, 8) and Levites (2 Chron. 35:3).

The presence of God within the world delineated a sphere that was holy, for God’s holiness cannot be diffused by the common (Deut. 23:14).

          • That which is “holy” is not only distinct from the profane but in opposition to it as well.

God, therefore, hates and punishes sin (Joshua 24:19; Isaiah 5:16, 24). In the light of God’s holiness, Isaiah saw himself and his people as sinners (Isaiah 6:3; cf Isaiah 6:5).

R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Bruce K. Waltke, ed., “1990: ‏קָדַשׁ‎,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 788.

We can also go to an interlinear for a full explanation as well (Again, I have bulleted important concepts):

7202.קָדוֹשׁ‎ qādhôsh

adjective

holy

The adjective qādhôsh is used in the ancient Near East to describe the gods as unapproachable, fearsome beings with power over humans. Holy things, places and people were those which were dedicated to the special service of the gods.

          • In the OT, qādhôsh refers to dedication to the exclusive use of the Lord.

It is also used of the Lord himself, but with a great difference from the ancient Near Eastern attitude.

In Leviticus, where holiness is the central theme of the Book, the famous call to be holy as the Lord is holy is given four times: 11:44f; 19:2; 20:7, 26.

          • The context gives the content of this holiness as avoiding all evil and things associated with evil and death called uncleanness.

What is evil or sin is defined by God’s character revealed in his laws and instruction through Moses, summed up in the Ten Commandments.

          • Thus, being holy as the Lord is holy means living in accordance with his high moral character revealed in his Word.

This is unlike the ancient Near Eastern view of their gods and holiness. They did not associate morality with deity or holiness. Their gods were more evil than they were. Part of the temple personnel were prostitutes called “holy girls” (Gen. 38:21; cf. male cult prostitutes in 1 Ki. 14:24).

Qādhôsh is first used of God’s people, Israel, in Exo.19:6, where He says they are to be a holy nation.

            • That meant that Israel was a nation that belonged to the Lord, and so their whole purpose for being was to carry out his mission in the world.
            • They were to be a living testimony of Who God is and the relationship He wants to have with people.
            • This is elaborated in Deut. 7:6; 26:19, and especially 28:9, where they are told that the condition of the covenant relationship is to obey his Word and walk in his ways.

In Deut. 28:10, holiness is associated with other people being able to see that Israel is called by God’s name, meaning they demonstrate allegiance to Him, reflecting his character and carrying out his purposes. Leviticus 20:7f equates being holy with sanctifying themselves, and it calls for people to be holy because the Lord is the One sanctifying them. In v. 26, God says the call to holiness is because He has set them apart, or distinguished them, from the other peoples to be his people. Thus, they are a kingdom of priests. Priests were mediators chosen by God to minister between Him and the people. No one else was allowed to come near to his holy presence (cf. Num. 16:7; Lev. 21:8; 1 Sam. 6:20; 2 Chr. 35:3).

Israel had a special privilege for a special responsibility of bringing God’s offer of salvation to the world and the world to God.

Elisha, as a prophet in special communication with God, is called “an holy man of God” in 2 Ki. 4:9.

A Nazirite was one who made a special dedication to the Lord for a period of time, during which he was said to be holy (Num. 6:5, 8).

This showed God’s ultimate intention that all his people live as holy and totally separated to Him as priests did. God’s people, in general, are called holy ones in the Psalms (e.g., 16:3). Angels are also referred to as his holy ones in Job 5:1; Ps. 89:7; and Dan. 8:13. Both humans and angels are probably meant in Zech. 14:5.

            • It should be noted that there are two different roots used in English for the same Hebrew idea: one is “holy” or “hallowed” and the other is “sacred,” “saint,” “sanctification,” “to sanctify.”

The place where God meets with people is called the holy Place, used especially often in Leviticus. The camp was to be holy (Deut. 23:14). Holy water is referred to in Num. 5:17. The only other use of the adjective, besides for God, is of special days. The Sabbath is called “my holy day” by the Lord in Isa. 58:13, and it was to be honored. Nehemiah 8:9ff calls Israel’s celebration of New Year’s Day a holy day, or sacred to the Lord. The day was not to be a time of grieving.

As stated previously, the Lord says four times in Leviticus that He is holy. In Isa. 6:3, He is called by the seraphim “holy, holy, holy,” which means the infinitely holy one, the supreme authority in the universe, the only God Who is ultimate in moral purity. Hannah said, “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside you” (1 Sam. 2:2). Isaiah’s favorite reference to God, used throughout the Book and far more than any other OT writer, is “the Holy One of Israel.”

            • Joshua says the Lord will not tolerate sin and rebellion because He is holy (Josh. 24:19).

The holiness of the Lord as revealed in the Scriptures involves moral purity and separation from sin.

            • Holiness in people means a faithful relationship to the holy God, which reflects his moral character values.

He is the One Who sanctifies, that is, Who makes people able to come into his holy presence and fellowship with Him by taking away the effects of their sins toward Him (cf. Lev. 20:7; 21:8). He did this by providing the ultimate substitutionary sacrifice for sins (his Son), for all who will repent and believe. His name is holy, according to Ps. 111:9 and Isa. 57:15, which means all that He is is holy. His reputation is awesome and all that He has done is to be praised.

            • Holiness is not just one attribute of God. It sums up what it means, according to the Bible, to be God—the One True God.

He is separated from all evil and is distinct from all else because He is the Creator of all; He spoke it all into existence. Thus, as holy, God is transcendent. Holiness sums up all that He is and that He is separated to himself. As a holy God, He is true to his character and nothing can sidetrack Him from his purposes, which are good for his creation. Often, in Isaiah, the Holy One is called the Redeemer of his people.

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “7202,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Pe-Resh, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “7202”.

That is a lot to take in.  Let’s bring the bullet points down and put them together so we can see a synopsis of the two study tools combined and succinct:

    • It connotes that which is distinct from the common or profane.
    • Because God is holy, the Israelites could not serve him when they persisted in their idolatrous practices (Joshua 24:19ff.).
    • They were to be separate from all that was unholy (Leviticus 11:11-15; Deut. 14:21).
    • Stipulations were imposed on them that they might not engage in practices common to other peoples (Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; Numbers 15:40).
    • The call to be holy was accompanied by the imposition of certain restrictions that served to ensure the continuing holiness of those who believed (Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2ff.; Deut. 14:2, 21; Numbers 15:40).
    • That which is “holy” is not only distinct from the profane but in opposition to it as well.
    • In the OT, qādhôsh refers to dedication to the exclusive use of the Lord.
    • The context gives the content of this holiness as avoiding all evil and things associated with evil and death called uncleanness.
    • Thus, being holy as the Lord is holy means living in accordance with his high moral character revealed in his Word.
    • That meant that Israel was a nation that belonged to the Lord, and so their whole purpose for being was to carry out his mission in the world.
    • They were to be a living testimony of Who God is and the relationship He wants to have with people.
    • This is elaborated in Deut. 7:6; 26:19, and especially 28:9, where they are told that the condition of the covenant relationship is to obey his Word and walk in his ways.
    • It should be noted that there are two different roots used in English for the same Hebrew idea: one is “holy” or “hallowed” and the other is “sacred,” “saint,” “sanctification,” “to sanctify.”
    • Joshua says the Lord will not tolerate sin and rebellion because He is holy (Josh. 24:19).
    • Holiness in people means a faithful relationship to the holy God, which reflects his moral character values.
    • Holiness is not just one attribute of God. It sums up what it means, according to the Bible, to be God—the One True God.

If you read all of my 3 part series on THE LARGEST CHURCH (EKKLISIA) IN AMERICA on WordPress https://evenifministries.wordpress.com/, you are well aware of what kosmos or “worldly” means from the biblical perspective.  Worldly is in direct opposition to God. You can NOT be worldly and be Holy (see any of the above explanations for Holy).

In case you haven’t read that series, it is built around the following verse:

Titus 2:11-12 (CJB) 11 For God’s grace, which brings deliverance, has appeared to all people.

 12 It teaches us to renounce godlessness and worldly pleasures,

and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives now, in this age;

Part 2 and part 3 are taking an in depth look at this verse biblically and expounding and amplifying it.

Okay, what is the point?  It is simple and it is not so simple.  If you teach a sermon on how to live a Holy life and understand what Holy means, then you teach that sermon based on the precepts of God as the foundation of that teaching.  However, if you teach a sermon on Holy living but DON’T understand what Holy means, or rationalize that Holy and Worldly are compatible, you pervert the Word of God.  You pervert His precepts, you pervert His commands, and you pervert Him!

If you live a worldly life loving worldly things while preaching on Holiness, what message are you sending?  If you are to be a light IN the world and NOT OF the world, how dim is that light when you are of it?

I will simplify even further:

If you don’t want to live a life lived for God here and now,

what makes you think you will want to later? Or after you die?

Will it happen by osmosis that you no longer care about worldly things after you die?

So much of the text is about 2 choices. Wide roads vs narrow gates.  Over and over and over in the text, you are presented with a choice:  God or the World.  Living a Holy life is renouncing and rejecting the world and choosing God.  As the text says, it is God’s grace, His chesed, that teaches us to do this. How?  I will add the expounded and amplified version of  Titus 2:11-12 that I put together in the last study so that you will know:

Titus 2:11-12 (CJB and Expounded combined) 11 For God’s grace, which brings deliverance, has appeared to all people. 12 It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, anything that is in active opposition to God or a behavior against God’s commands and to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with things that are considered morally reprehensible to God by humanity in its fallen and rebellious state – things which are a distortion, corruption, and perversion of the God-given, God-sanctioned desires of humankind which result in sexual, moral, and ethical rebellion against God and to live the kind of life concerned with life beyond a strictly earthly existence – a life that will not cease: a sensible life lived soberly, with self-control and in moderation:  A life lived correctly by coming to your senses regarding living your life in a lifestyle that fears and respects God, now, during this period where God is NOT revered – during this time which is driven by the evil one and the powers of darkness;

Blessings!

About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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