Let’s begin by reading Exodus 3:1-5, “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

This portion is important for us to read because it is the first instance of the word ‘holy’ being used in the Bible.  This same word is often translated as ‘holiness’ and it literally means to be sacred or to be set apart. It speaks of purity or integrity of moral character; it speaks of the absence of sin.  We read in the Israelites’ song in Exodus 15:11, “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, GLORIOUS IN HOLINESS, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”  When the word is used in reference to the Lord, it speaks of absolute perfection. 

Realizing that, let us read Leviticus 19:1-2, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.”  Let’s also consider 1 Peter 1:16, “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  We read in Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness…”  The Lord instructs all believers to be holy, or to live holy lives, separated to the Lord.

Holiness, in the truest sense belongs to the Lord.  We read in Isaiah 6:3, “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”  Personal holiness is a work of gradual development in the believer as we seek to be imitators of Christ.  It is the practical realization of being set apart unto the Lord.  The holiness of Peter and John was obvious to even their enemies.  We read in Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”  It could be seen in their lives that they had been occupied with the Lord.  They lived lives to honor the Lord, and it showed!

Holiness is not the same thing as righteousness.  We read in Psalm 145:17, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”  Here, the two words are used together, showing they are not the same.  While holiness has to do with living a sacred life separated unto the Lord, righteousness speaks of being just or free from blame.  We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 

We are told to be holy.  We are told that we are the righteousness of God.  What a blessed portion belongs to every saint of the Lord.  (395.2)