Holiness is a word that often evokes a sense of awe, reverence, and even fear. It is a quality that belongs to God alone, and yet it is also a call for every Christian to emulate. But what does it mean to be holy? And how can we pursue holiness in our daily lives?

The Meaning of Holiness

The word “holiness” comes from the Hebrew word “qodesh”, which means “set apart”, “separate”, or “sacred”. It implies a distinction between what is common and what is special, between what is profane and what is pure. In the Bible, God is described as holy in both His nature and His actions. He is holy in Himself, because He is unlike any other being in the universe. He is the Creator, the Sovereign, the Judge, and the Savior of all. He is holy in His actions, because He always does what is right, good, and perfect. He never sins, lies, or changes. He is faithful, just, and merciful.

As God’s people, we are also called to be holy. In fact, the Bible says that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). But how can we be holy like God? Does it mean that we have to be flawless, sinless, or perfect? Does it mean that we have to follow a set of rules, rituals, or regulations? Does it mean that we have to isolate ourselves from the world and its influences?

The answer to these questions is no. Holiness is not about external conformity, but internal transformation. It is not about legalism, but love. It is not about separation from the world, but separation unto God. Holiness is about having a heart that loves God above all else and reflects His character in every aspect of our lives.

The Pursuit of Holiness

The pursuit of holiness is not an optional or occasional activity for Christians. It is a lifelong and daily commitment that requires grace and discipline. The Bible gives us some practical guidelines on how to pursue holiness in our lives.

First, we need to understand that holiness is not something that we can achieve by ourselves. It is a gift from God that He gives us through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification. He made us holy by taking away our guilt and giving us His righteousness. He also sent us His Holy Spirit to live in us and empower us to live holy lives. Therefore, the first step in pursuing holiness is to trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and receive His grace by faith.

Second, we need to realize that holiness is not something that we can maintain by ourselves. It is a process that God works in us through His Word and His Spirit. God’s Word is the truth that sanctifies us (John 17:17). It reveals God’s will for our lives and instructs us on how to obey Him. God’s Spirit is the power that enables us to live according to God’s Word (Galatians 5:16). He convicts us of sin, guides us into truth, and produces fruit in us. Therefore, the second step in pursuing holiness is to submit to God’s Word and Spirit and cooperate with His work in us.

Third, we need to remember that holiness is not something that we can display by ourselves. It is a testimony that we share with others through our words and deeds. Holiness is not meant to be hidden or hoarded, but shown and shared. As God’s people, we are called to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are called to influence the world for good and glorify God with our lives. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Therefore, the third step in pursuing holiness is to serve God’s purpose and people and demonstrate His love in the world.


Holiness is a beautiful and challenging aspect of the Christian life. It reflects who God is and what He has done for us. It also shapes who we are and what we do for Him. Holiness is not a burden or a barrier, but a blessing and a privilege. It is not a destination or a duty, but a journey and a joy. Let us pursue holiness with all our heart, for it is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and His glory in us (Ephesians 1:4).

By Nathan Zipfel

Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene Pastor of the New Life Church of the Nazarene in Boswell, PA. Batchelor of Arts Pastoral Leadership, Nazarene Bible College Master of Arts, Ministry, Ohio Christian University Master of Social Work, Indiana Wesleyan University Behavioral Health Therapist

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