Holiness is not really a concept bandied about much in our culture today. If the term is used, it would most likely be negatively, as in “Stop being so holier-than-thou!” Meaning, “stop being so self-righteous”, or “stop judging me for my bad behaviour”.
‘Holiness’, as far as our culture understands it, is something we think we ought to avoid in order to make others feel better about themselves. Even exercising a free choice, like not drinking alcohol, not swearing or not sleeping with someone can be construed as some sort of super-spiritual behaviour depending on the company, and elicit an accusation of being too ‘holy’.
In the Bible, however, the word ’holy‘ in the Hebrew language means ’things belonging to God‘.
Things and people are ’made holy‘ by dedicating them for use by and for God.
When God shows up somewhere, like in the Jewish temple or at Moses’ burning bush, He transforms that space into a holy place. Even coal shovels and candlesticks can be holy, because they are set aside for use in God’s service.
Other words that convey that special use for God’s purposes are ‘sanctified’ or ‘consecrated’.
The New Testament calls Christians “a holy people”.
Looking around at those who follow Jesus that you know, you might disagree. But the point is that they are not holy because of what they do, they are holy because they belong to God and God is using them for His purposes.
Christians should indeed act in a manner that is upright and sin-free, but that comes out of the identity of holiness that God has already given them by forgiving their sin and accepting them as His children, not out of a striving on their part to become ‘good enough’ for God.
The Christian God, Yahweh, is perfect, sinless and all good. God’s standards are high and holy. Apart from Jesus’ atoning [paying the debt] sacrifice on the cross there is no way humans could meet them.
However, with Jesus as both Saviour and Lord of their lives, Christians are empowered to live holy lives — not sanctimonious lives, but lives full of humility, love, kindness, patience and self-control.
You too can be holy and live holy, no matter how you have lived up to this point. You can change the script of your life by committing yourself to God by means of a simple prayer such as the one on this page.