My friend Cindy left the confines of her life here two years ago, having succumbed to a vicious battle with breast cancer. She lost that skirmish, but certainly not the war. Never did she doubt the outcome for a moment, knowing full well that her absence from the body meant her presence with the Lord.
Cindy, a PK (Preacher's Kid), was raised with some biblical understandings that didn't come to me until much later in life. One in particular stands out, and it was from her that it made it's amazing way to my personal understanding.
The subject? Holiness.
I confess straight up that my lifelong view of holiness has been largely negative. It was not something I desired, much less sought because - in my book - it was sickeningly austere; and marked with all manner of audacious self-righteousness, if not utterly useless behaviors.
Then came that fateful day when Cindy and I were chatting casually (no doubt during one of our many lunches or shopping expeditions). In passing, she mentioned that she knew from her earliest recollections that she had been "set apart". Her knowing had arrived with her salvation; and that had arrived while she was yet a young girl.
I thought it a curious statement, so I asked her: Could you explain that further? What do you mean by "set apart".
In her simple & gracious way, Cindy connected the dots from "set apart" to "holiness". In that one moment it all began to get crystal clear for me as Cindy spoke of the incredible design of it. To her, holiness was anything BUT austere or audacious. It was lavish; a special placement - - as if in one fell swoop she'd been moved from poverty to privilege.
Cindy had no mis-directed beliefs to overcome. She was simply made an overcomer.
It was soon evident: Holiness was not AT ALL what I'd thought it to be.
Needless to say, the subject has not only been made clearer, but much dearer as well. Gone are the vestiges of my prior views. You might say a huge Paradigm Shift took place that day; and to this day I thank Cindy for telling me the truth. It was - and is - truth born in the very Word of God.
No doubt you've known these things for umpty-umpty seasons, but here's what I learned about the grand transaction that takes place when set apart.
In 1 Peter 1:13-16 the apostle tells us: 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 19:2.
In order for me to be holy like/as He is, I must at least have a rudimentary understanding of what His holiness looks like. Passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 6:3 are just two of many examples demonstrating it - His absolute perfection.
He is high above any other, and no one can compare to Him (Psalm 40:5). His holiness pervades His entire being and shapes all His attributes. His love is a holy love, His mercy is holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath are holy anger and holy wrath.
How then, being an imperfect mortal, can I be like that; like Him?
First ... it is He Who does the setting apart, the making of holy - not me.
I understand it better when first I consider the instructions given to the nation of Israel; then later to all believers.
When God told Israel to be holy in Leviticus 11 and 19, He was instructing them to be distinct from the other nations by giving them specific regulations to govern their lives. Israel is God's chosen nation and God has set them apart from all other people groups. They are His special people, and consequently they were given standards that God wanted them to live by so the world would know they belonged to Him.
When Peter repeats the Lord's words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to believers. As believers, we need to be "set apart" from the world unto the Lord. We need to be living by God's standards, not the world's.
Immediately we understand why friendship with the world's ways makes us an enemy of God. The world is not set apart; and the world's ways even less so! It and they are assigned to the ignoble.
God isn't calling us to be perfect in the absolute sense, but to be distinct from the world. 1 Peter 2:9 describes believers as "a holy nation."
It is a fact! We are separated from the world; we need to live out that reality in our day-to-day lives, which Peter tells us how to do in 1 Peter 1:13-16.
If we truly are believers, then we recognize that our position in Christ automatically sets us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9).
The day will come when Cindy and I will again take up this topic, for both she and I are set apart for His eternity. Come on along!
Resource: Got Questions?