Be Holy for I am Holy

A couple months back, I shared some of my thoughts on what it means to be set apart in an Instagram post. I was fresh off a women's conference and was reminded "that holiness is not just a standard of moral purity, but it is to be set apart." Following that conference, I've become more aware of the fact that God calls me to be holy for He is holy. He is calling me to be set apart.

One day as I thought through the fact that God has commanded me to be holy for He is holy (Leviticus 20: 26), I realised that this means the Bible is telling us to be set apart because God is set apart, which led me to a question. What does it mean to be set apart? I can't confidently say I have the definitive answer to this, but for now I can say that I know it means to be different, to be distinct, to be separated. The phrase to be set apart gives me Romans 12: 2 vibes, where it says, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." And I was comfortable with those vibes. I can easily live with the understanding that to be set apart means to be different from the world.

Even beyond that, I was even more comfortable with the idea that I am already different from the world. I don't listen to the same music, I don't watch the same things or do the same things. Can I say that my life is completely different to someone that doesn't know God as their Lord and Saviour? No, I probably can't. However, I can say that it is substantially different. In fact, it is different enough that I was about to be comfortable in my works and the idea that my life is set apart. And then came another question. Even if I am set apart from the world, does that necessarily mean that I'm set apart to God?

That might seem like a redundant question, but here's my thought process. To be set apart from the world is to be different from the world. It means to operate outside of the culture of the world and to be separate. However, I found myself wondering could I do all that and still not know God? My answer was yes. For example, think of the pharisees in the bible, they were set apart from other cultures in that they were dedicated to living by the law. Even within Jewish culture, they stood out in their practice of Judaism and from a human perspective they would be considered to be the most holy within the community. However, when they came face to face with God himself in human form, they did not recognise Jesus Christ. And when Jesus spoke about them, He did not call them holy as most of their community would have. Instead in Matthew 23: 13 - 15, He calls them hypocrites and declares that they are not in the kingdom of God.

In contrast, you have the disciples who followed Christ. Even though the disciples were dedicated to upholding the law, like the pharisees, such as in Acts 10: 14 - 15 where Peter is hesitant to eat unclean food, we can see that they were set apart to Christ first and foremost, unlike the pharisees. In this very same example in Acts 10, Peter was willing to change and obey God's leading when directed to do so. He put aside legalistic traditions in the place of God's direction.

Beyond that, we also see that the disciples were set apart in their dedication to following Jesus. If you've read my first post on the sermon on the mount, you'll know that I have spent hours considering the distinction between the disciples and the multitude. In Matthew 5, we see that the disciples were willing to distinguish themselves from the multitude by being willing to follow Jesus up the mountain and learn from Him. We even see they were distinct from other godly disciples such as the disciples of John the Baptist, who wondered why Jesus' disciples didn't fast like they did. And you'll see that while they valued the law, they were not under the law, such as when they chose to pick some corn to eat despite it being the sabbath (Matthew 12: 1). Most importantly, when Jesus spoke of the disciples, He said He would prepare a place for them in His Father's house (John 14: 2); this is a stark difference to the words Jesus spoke about the pharisees.

And now all these observations, takes me back to Romans 12 and the realisation that before we are told to not conform to this world, we are firstly told to present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. And I don't know about you, but for me that's the hard part. While it might be difficult to not conform to the world and follow rules such as not lying, not fornicating, not gossiping, etc., what is even harder is dying to myself and presenting myself to God as a holy and acceptable sacrifice. In fact, that feels impossible, but here's the good news.

In Mark 10: 27 Jesus explains that while there are some things that are impossible based on human effort, "with God all things are possible". My prayer is that God who makes all things possible will separate us both unto Him and away from the world.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12: 1‭ -‬ 2 (NKJV)

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