At our 2018 church weekend away our guest speaker James Aladiran, founder of Prayer Storm, raised the bar around holiness and the call on us as the church to be set apart. We want to push into this some more, drawing out exactly what it means to be holy; speaking into it on a discipleship level and raising a generation who are set apart for the things of God. 'The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure' - Pete Greig.
In a series on holiness we must of course begin with asking the question of what this seemingly religious word ‘holy’ actually means. Do we really know what ‘holiness’ means, or what being ‘holy’ looks like? Culturally, holiness is probably the antithesis of what is celebrated. To be holy would be outdated, boring and irrelevant. Why be holy when you can experiment, blur the boundaries and be ruled by your flesh?
We cannot understand holiness apart from the scriptures. And yet our understanding of what holiness really means, and what God being holy means is somewhat limited. The Old Testament, although at times confusing and hard to understand, gives us an integral insight into what God’s holiness is really about and why sin is therefore such an issue to a holy God. What do we learn about God’s holiness through the Old Testament? Why did God have to use the sacrificial system? If we are saved by grace, how then do we get made holy?
God is holy. That means he is unique, pure and ‘other’ to us. We are all broken; we have sinned, do sin and will sin. Because God is holy, we cannot be in his life-giving, powerful, unique, holy presence in our sinful state. This is a tension because God made us for relationship with him but because of our sin we cannot enter into his presence; we can't be with him as he desires. In Jesus taking on our sin and shame, we finally have a way to be free.