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The word 'holy' is, in the Greek text, the same word as 'saints', which means 'holy ones'. Its literal meaning is 'set apart'. Biblically it is 'set apart by God for God'.

As we saw in the previous meditation the description 'holy' applies to those whom God has saved in and through Jesus Christ [Ephesians 1:4]. It is part of that total blessedness that is ours in Christ. This identity as 'holy' is the purpose and result of God's saving action in Christ. God designates those who believe in Christ 'holy in his sight' [Colossians 1:22]. He has made us his own special possession. He has declared us his own special treasure. He has set us apart, reserving us for and dedicating us to his own special use.  We are his. In his sight we are no longer 'common'. We are 'holy'. We are sacred.

This is not something we are in ourselves; it is not something that is automatically obvious for everyone to see. It is not about who I am, what I am, what I do. It results only from God's declaration. It is made possible only by God's action. It derives only from who God is, from his identity and being, not from mine. All that he claims for his own, all that he declares his own, is by that claim, by that declaration, pronounced, indeed, made 'holy', because he to whom we now belong is the Holy One.

Thus the New Testament states:

'But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light' [1Peter 2:9].

'... for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple' [1Corinthians 3:17]. 

Along with this new identity and this new relationship with God in which he declares us uniquely his, there is a well-defined flow-on: that this holiness, this being set apart by God for his unique and special use, has an in-built expectation and responsibility: that we will no longer live for ourselves but for him.

Thus the scripture also says:

'Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."' [1Peter 1:15,16].

'God ... has saved us and called us to a holy life' [2Timothy 1:9].

'... offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God' [Romans 12:1].

And, as the flow-on from the statement quoted previously,

'Live such good lives among the pagans that, thought they accuse of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us' [1Peter 2:12].

Because we are holy by God's declaration and God's action, he commands us to be holy. Because we now belong exclusively to God, he commands us to live exclusively for him [1Corinthians 6:19,20].

Copyright Rosemary Bardsey 2007, 2017