What Do You Think About Holiness?

What Do You Think About Holiness?


Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP

Holiness is an interesting concept. Scott Underwood wrote a song entitled, “Take My Life,” that includes the following lines-

“Holiness, holiness is what I long for.

Holiness is what I need.

Holiness, holiness is what You want from me.”

I have heard many teachings of what holiness is. The one that makes the most sense to me is that holiness is separateness. It is being different than the general population.

Unfortunately, many of us have defined the call to holiness as a call to perfection in our behavior. And, when we are unable to pull it off, we feel “less than,” defeated, worthless, and unusable.

Shame will kill our spirit quickly. Fear of failure and fear of rejection will short-circuit our willingness to venture out and be used by God in His great mission to love others. Holiness, as defined by pure and perfect behavior, will not happen in our lifetime here on earth.

Holiness that is defined by our choice to live life obviously different from the general population can begin at this very moment. As you are reading this article, you could decide to move from being “locked up” with shame and fear to being relieved and excited that God is just asking for an intentionally open and committed heart. A heart willing to think differently than the general population. And, behavior that is clearly actively loving and sacrificial because it is being motivated from within by an actively loving and sacrificial God.

This kind of holiness is what we were designed for. It is important for it to be obvious to those who watch us that we are different. And different in an attractive way.

Pious holiness is not attractive at all. In fact, Jesus, himself declared that obvious public acts of giving for the sake of being noticed and valued by others was a sham. He called His followers to tangible acts of love and compassion that were directed by God from within, rather than acts of generosity that resulted in society’s praise and acclaim.

It is OK for God-directed acts of love to be noticed by others, it is just important that our motivation for doing the acts of love come from a heart that wants to be different than the norm and actively obedient to the urgings of God from within.

Should we long for holiness? Of course we should. Being different in our beliefs, motives, and behaviors is part of our original design. Although we will be different than the general population, keep in mind the general population lives without a sense of genuine purpose and meaning to life.

Is holiness what we need? Yes. The kind of holiness we have just reviewed is a calling to our best selves- our original design. Sadly, we have allowed ourselves to be pulled into the mainstream of beliefs and behaviors and wonder why we feel that life seems so meaningless, purposeless, and without genuine sacrificial love.

Is holiness what God wants for us? Absolutely. Remember, He originally created us with beliefs and behaviors that gave us peace and strength. We are the ones that have decided to modify our beliefs and behavior to fit in with and find the favor of those around us.

What do you think about holiness?