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A place apart from the things that God forbids


By Ken Raggio

What does it mean to be Holy?

1. Specially belonging to or devoted to God
2. Set apart for God’s service
3. Sacred, Saintly, Spiritually excellent, Pure, Devout, Pious.
4. Dedicated, Consecrated, Reverent.

We may conclude that God’s holy people are to be distinctively and identifiably different from the world’s crowd.

What is the basic Biblical premise on the subject of holiness?

It is a matter of distancing ourselves from things God wants us to leave alone. From the beginning, Adam and Eve were required to distance themselves from a forbidden fruit. That was an elementary example of holiness. Abstaining from things that God forbids us to do is an act of holiness.

"Abstain from all appearance of evil."

"Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing."

"Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Those are the basic premises of holiness.

How do I know if I am holy?

We must judge ourselves. I John 3:21 says, "If our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God." It is good to be able to examine your heart and find nothing to condemn yourself.

Unfortunately, many do not judge righteous judgment. In other words, it is not good enough to feel clean, if one is ignorant of the wrong he or she is doing. It is possible to be guilty without feeling guilty, simply because you do not believe you are doing wrong.

That is why it is necessary to "study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth."

What things are holy and what things are unholy?

Is there a check-list of things that are unholy? The Bible speaks of many things that are holy. It also speaks of things that are abominable. I could certainly list many things that are either holy or unholy, based on Biblical criteria. God loves some things and hates others.

Is there something wrong with identifying things that are right or wrong? Are we guilty of legalism for merely naming things that we should or should not do? Are we supposed to wink at sin just because somebody might charge us with legalism if we criticize it? I think not!

Isn't holiness in your heart, not something outward?

Holiness must surely be in your heart. Maybe you saw someone who was outwardly "holy-looking," but had a terrible reputation for a bad attitude, pride, and perhaps other terrible sins. In that situation, outward holiness is no substitute for inward holiness.

Make no mistake about it -- God requires both! Jesus chastised the Pharisees for focusing on their outward appearance while harboring wicked things in their hearts. He compared inward and outward holiness to the cleansing of a cup, both inward and outward. Jesus said, "Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also," Matthew 23:26.

INNER cleanness does NOT grant license or provide credits for OUTER dirtiness.

Who would drink out of a dirty cup? What difference does it make whether it is dirty on the inside or outside? No one wants a dirty cup! If we have filth on the inside or on the outside, it is equivalent sin.

If a person claims to have MODESTY in their heart, but dresses IMMODESTLY, here is a flagrant contradiction. The outward testimony does not give evidence to the inward claim.

If you claim to have an humble, servant spirit, then dress in clothes that cause you to appear like others who are rebellious, there is another contradiction.

If you claim that in your heart, you love God and are seeking FIRST HIS KINGDOM, but your wardrobe shows clearly that you are making an effort to keep up with the world's styles, and blend in with the world's crowd, you are probably deceiving yourself about your heart.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are filled with instructions regarding outward things: clothes, ornaments, hair, social and public behavior, friendships and relationships, money, and many other OUTWARD things.

Holy people are clean inwardly and outwardly.

It is unreasonable to think one can be holy INWARDLY, and unholy OUTWARDLY. God’s Word teaches better than that. Who would drink out of a cup that was clean INWARDLY but still dirty OUTWARDLY?? In much the same way that the holy vessels of the ancient temple were consecrated to the Lord, we who ARE the vessels of the Lord should also be consecrated -- made holy.

Consecration is not uncommon. Why not for God?

Consecration is not a foreign concept to the secular mind. We see it exemplified in the Copyright, the Patent, and the Trademark. Each of these speaks of PRIVATE OWNERSHIP, RIGHTS OF CONTROL, and SPECIAL PRIVILEGE.

McDonalds has a right to virtually every word, picture, character and concept they use. NO ONE but McDonalds may make use of their property. It is sanctified to the corporation. The golden arches, the clown, the cartoon characters, everything is holy to them. They must always look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way. In the same way, it is forbidden to associate any of the McDonalds products with anybody else's. You won't see a Burger King Whopper served in a McDonalds restaurant. Holiness, in secular terms, is exclusivity. It is a place APART from Burger King. Sanctified and holy to the company. So why should we let the world into the Church?

The world condemns the Church for things they do not otherwise object to.

Society in our day gives more sanctity to a hamburger factory than to the Kingdom of God. If McDonalds requires a person to wear certain clothes, that is perfectly reasonable. If the Church sets out a dress code of modesty, we are blasted as being legalistic, in bondage, and Pharisaical. If McDonalds requires punctuality and behavior guidelines, that seems to be a reasonable expectation. If the Church teaches that we should abstain from social behavior that is a discredit to godliness, we are viewed as mind controllers, cultish and fanatical.

But in the final analysis, Christian standards of dress and behavior are every bit as legitimate (and more so) than McDonalds. Holiness standards are godly. God’s ways are higher than men’s ways.

There was a day when the Church looked DIFFERENT from the world, but not anymore. You cannot spot the professing saints from the sinners, and that is NOT how God intended it to be. God's people ARE different. Do not be deluded.

For His reasons, the Church observes Deuteronomy 22:5, which says that a woman should not wear that which pertaineth to a man, nor a man that which pertains to a woman. Gender distinction has always been a priority with God. For that reason, Apostolics are recognized by their dress code. Men dress like men, and ladies like ladies. And beyond the matter of gender distinction is that of Christian modesty. Today's professing Christians would cause absolute shock and horror to every saint of every generation previous to this one because of the immodest ways they dress.

God, through the Apostle Paul even set forth instructions pertaining to hair, in 1 Corinthians 11, specifying that a woman's uncut hair was a glory to her, a symbolic spiritual covering (representing the doctrine of Jesus Christ as a covering for the Church) and a man's short hair symbolizes his role as head of the marriage and typologically as Christ. Women with shorn (cut) hair and men with long hair were both shamed by the Apostle. So we observe these teachings, and the world takes note, often critically.

All the same, they are universal principles, good not only in matters of hair, but also in every area of our lives - secular and spiritual. The need for separation from the world is not difficult to explain or practice if you truly want to be holy unto the Lord.

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