The Meaning of the Word “Holy”

Are you holy?

One of the reasons most believers have trouble seeing themselves as holy, is because they don’t understand the meaning of the word.

What does the word “holy” actually mean?

It may surprise you to know, that in the original Greek language, it simply means “set apart.” When you were saved, the Holy Spirit set you apart from the world by placing you in Christ. It is important for you to understand that as a believer, you are not of the world. You are in the world, but you are not of the world.

If you have been saved by believing that the Lord Jesus Christ is your Savior, then you have been sanctified, set apart and made holy by the Holy Spirit. Now you are a saint, a holy one, because you are in Christ.

When I was a young teenager, growing up in my parents’ church, I frequently heard, “We are just sinners saved by grace.” Many of us have created an image of ourselves that isn’t the same image that God has of us. No where in the New Testament do we find the Apostle Paul writing to the “sinners saved by grace.” Instead he wrote:

“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi.” (Philippians 1:1 NKJV, emphasis mine.)

This is the image that God has of you. You are a saint. This is the image that you should have of yourself!

If you understand that the Holy Spirit sanctified you when you were saved, then the following words of the Apostle Paul immediately make sense:

“For we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for SALVATION THROUGH SANCTIFICATION BY THE (HOLY) SPIRIT and belief in the truth.”  (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NKJV, emphasis mine.)

For most believers, the word “holy” immediately brings to their mind a list of Dos-and-Don’ts. In other words, if you do these things, and don’t do those other things, then you are holy. That whole focus is on what you do, and not what God has already done in you through the Holy Spirit. This is the same problem we have with righteousness. If I asked you, “Are you righteous?” what would your answer be?

Now you may ask me, “If the Holy Spirit has already made me holy, do I just throw out that list of Dos-and-Don’ts?”  No, hang on to that list, it has its place.

In my next post, we will look at the word “righteousness” to see what it means, and how it differs from the word “holiness.”

Remember, in Christ Jesus you are a saint – you are holy!

Steve Smith

[All quotations have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson Inc.]


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