Holiness 

 

This page is a resource that we use for Christian bible study. We have developed some of the information on this page and we have borrowed information from other studies which are freely available. Our intent is to provide a study resource that we can access when traveling. We do not disagree with anyone's personal interpretation of scripture and our thoughts are not offered as an argument for the perspective from our understanding of this revelation. Please feel free to read or use the study material if it is of help. Thank you // JL|

 

We conceptualize God as "holy" ... "holiness" is an absolute attribute of God and a spiritual attribute which we seek ... often it is connected in our thoughts with goodness, righteousness and sanctification ... "holy" is often used as a descriptive adjective for objects and persons dedicated to the work of God on earth ... in old and new testament scripture "holy" is often encountered as allegory or imagery probably because, even though the world reflects the glory and holiness of God, it is hard to define "holiness" with physical world references.

 

In this study, we find "holiness", as a spiritual attribute for our life, has definition in a thread of revelation which could be termed "fear of the Lord" .... it becomes a somewhat lengthy study because a conceptualization of "fear of the Lord" seems best clarified by considering the relationship of spiritual wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Our study considers in sequence:

 

I.  Relationship of Spiritual Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge

A. Spiritual Wisdom is Available to Us All

Dan 2; 21  

God ... gives widsom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding

 

Jas 1; 5  

... if you lack wisdom ... ask God ... and it will be given ...

 

 

B. What are some Measures of Spiritual Wisdom as present in a Christian or a Christian Church

Jas 3; 17  

Wisdom ... is first pure ... then peaceable ... gentle ... open to reason ... full of mercy and good fruits * ... without uncertainty or insincerity

 *  note: Gal 5; 22 - Fruits of the Spirit ... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control

 

1 Cor 12; 8  

... gifts of the Spirit ... include ... utterance of wisdom ... utterance of knowledge

note: it should be getting obvious that the spiritual attribute of wisdom is linked to our interactions with people on earth ... these two gifts (wisdom and knowledge) are best placed in context by reference back to 1 Cor 12; 4 - 7 ... there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, varieties of working inspired by the same God and to each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good ...

 

Col 1; 9 - 10  

... we ... pray ... that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will ... in spiritual wisdom and understanding ... to lead a life worthy of the Lord ... pleasing to Him ... bearing fruit in good work ... increasing in the knowledge of God

 

Jas 3; 13  

... who is ... wise ... and understanding ... let him show his works ... in the meekness of wisdom ...

 

Col 2; 2 - 3  

... knit together in love ... to have ... understanding ... and knowledge ... of Christ ... in whom are hid ... wisdom and knowledge ...

 

Ep 1; 9  

... He has made known to us in wisdom ... the mystery of His will ... according to His purpose ... set forth in Christ ... to unite all things to Him ... in heaven and ... on earth ...

 

1 Cor 1; 30  

God ... is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom ... righteousness ... sanctification and redemption ...

 

 

C. Seeking to Clarify Definitions

Job 28; 28  

Fear of the Lord is wisdom ... to depart from evil is understanding

 

Deut 34; 9  

... after Moses died ... Joshua ... was full of the Spirit of Wisdom ... so the people of Israel obeyed ...

 

Lk 21; 15  

... I will give you ... wisdom ... which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict ...

 

Ecc 2; 26  

... to those who please Him ... God gives wisdom ... knowledge and joy ...

 

note: a Harmonic of 3
Hos 14; 9  

... who is wise ... understand ... the laws of the Lord are right ... the upright walk in them ... transgressors stumble ...

 

Is 33; 5 - 6  

... the Lord ... will fill Zion with justice and righteousness ... he will be the stability of your times ... an abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge ... the fear of the Lord is his treasure ...

 

Ps 111; 10  

... the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ... a good understanding have all who practice it ... His praise endures forever ...

note: additional verses within Psalm 111 which help to frame this revelation:

  • vs.3 ... full of honor and majesty is His work and His righteousness endures forever
  • vs. 7 - 8 ... the works of His hands are faithful and just ... all His precepts are trustworthy ... performed with faithfulness and uprightness

Ps 111; 10 &  Prov 1; 7

Prov 1; 7  

... fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ...

 

In Proverb's chapters' 1, 2 & 3 the definitions for spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding become clearer ... this revelation uses allegory as well as both positive and negative images ... we present, here, one threaded sequence from our studies.

Prov 1; 20  

... wisdom cries aloud in the street ... "how long ... will you love being simple ... how long ... scoffing ... fools hate knowledge ...

 

Prov 1; 29  

... because they hate knowledge and did not choose fear of the Lord ... they shall eat the fruit of their way ...

 

Prov 1; 33  

... he who listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of evil ...

note: this reference to "listen" - it permits us to continue our thread of inquiry to revelation concerning spiritual understanding 

 

Prov 2; 2  

... make your ear attentive to wisdom ... incline your heart to understanding ...

 

Prov 2; 3  

... raise your voice for understanding ... seek it like silver ... search ... as for hidden treasure ... then you will understand the fear of the Lord ... and ... find the knowledge of God

 

Prov 2; 6 - 10  

... the Lord gives wisdom ... from His mouth come knowledge and understanding .. you will understand righteousness, justice, equity, and every good path ... for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul ... understanding will guard you ...

 

Prov 2; 21  

... the upright will inhabit the land ... those of integrity will remain in it ...

 

Prov 3; 5 - 6  

... trust in the Lord with your heart and do not rely on your own insight ... in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths ...

 

Prov 3; 7 - 8  

... be not wise in your own eyes ... fear the Lord ... turn away from evil ... it will be healing ... and ... refreshing ...

 

Prov 3; 9  

... honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of your produce ...

 

Prov 3; 11 - 12  

... do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of His reproof ... the Lord reproves him who He loves ... as a father his son in whom he delights ...

 

Prov 3; 13 - 18  

... happy the man who finds wisdom ... who gets understanding ... the gain is better than silver ... profit better than gold ... more precious than jewels ... that man's ... ways will be pleasantness ... his ... paths are peace ... all who hold fast ... will be ... happy ...

 

Prov 3; 19 - 20  

... by wisdom the Lord founded the earth ... by understanding established the heavens ... by His knowledge the deeps broke forth and the clouds drop down dew ...

 

Prov 3; 21 - 23  

... keep sound wisdom ... you will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble ...

 

Prov 9; 10  

... fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ... knowledge of the Holy One is insight ...

 

 

Summary for Section #1: the relationship of spiritual wisdom, understanding and knowledge

                                                                                    note: we are collating verses listed above for this summary 

Our daily conversation may use these terms with a contextual meaning of:

 

The same terms apply as an absolute spiritual attribute of God:

 

Notice, in this passage, that wisdom & understanding are spiritual attributes of God linked to definable places (earth and heaven) while knowledge is an attribute of on-going action ... from another view, we often note that wisdom and knowledge seem closely linked while understanding is separate ... if you ask why, for certainly there are unfolding levels of purpose as one studies spiritual principles, this principle seems defined by the image which links wisdom to earth, understanding to heaven and knowledge as the cycle of water between earth and heaven ... the purpose for each Christian and the Christian church is rooted in spiritual wisdom ... conversely ... spiritual understanding has a range for each person or church at one end of the spectrum in contrast to the absolute level understanding held by God ... how does God enable or if you prefer empower an individual or a group of individuals (e.g. local church) to reach higher levels of spiritual understanding ???  ... it seems in our study that spiritual knowledge is answer ... spiritual knowledge that breaks forth from the deep and drops like dew ... for those who have found spiritual wisdom ... the same checks and balances we find in our daily life experience or that science notes in the physical laws of our universe are also present spiritually ... no wonder since God is the author of all ... we sometimes use this thread to study the spiritual meaning of baptism though we will stay focused on our current thread of holiness here ... wisdom is a spiritual attribute which we are able to obtain by asking, by listening. by looking ... as wisdom increases in an individual so also does our knowledge of God which in turn permits an understanding, spiritually, of what is really going on and what is really important ... spiritual knowledge is a modulator of spiritual understanding ... both rest on the foundation of an individual Christian's wisdom ... each is uniquely customized for each person and are dynamically changing throughout a person's life ... so also for each local church ... 

 

One spiritual concept that we never quite have an understanding of is just how dynamic and flexible God is in our life ... we define milestone events in scripture which seem historical in nature but are actually as current as the next breath that any one will take ... it appears that wisdom, knowledge and understanding are like that in our life ... we'll leave this dialog at this point for your consideration ... this summary continues with additional collations ... our apology if it seems tedious ... the image of knowledge coming from the mouth of God is reflected well in the gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 1 - 4: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... all things were made through Him ... in Him was life ... the life was the light of men.

 

Wisdom and Knowledge Considered Together

 

Wisdom Considered Alone

 

Knowledge Considered Alone

 

Considering Understanding

 

 

II. Relationship of our Spiritual Development with "Fear of the Lord"

 

We are getting to the topic of "Fear of the Lord" following in sequence from a consideration of the three spiritual attributes: wisdom, knowledge and understanding ... those definitions probably seem fluid because by their nature they are dynamic and unique in each person's life, in much the same way that each person's relationship with God is dynamic and unique. 

 

While "fear" is grammatically correct and a consistent translation for these passages, ancient Hebrew also permits the use of the terms: revere and reverence ... a definition we find more consistent with the verses that focus on wisdom, knowledge and understanding ... and ... perhaps an image that permits us to continue our study toward a consideration of holiness ... in our daily context, reverence is associated with: esteem, respect, veneration, devotion, regard with great respect, awe ...

  

Working on our definition for fear of the Lord 

These are passages of scripture which we often use to begin our definition of fear of the Lord ... the term "fear" in these old testament verses is the Hebrew word yawray which can also be translated as revere or to hold in reverence ... this translation seem more consistent with our understanding of this revelation ... the new testament verses here use the Greek word phobeo which again can also be translated as revere or to hold in reverence ... each time we study this thread of revelation, regardless of the verse references, it seems you always have linkage between this very special reverence for God and the relationship of the people of God in the current and following generations ... not too far from the two great commandments - to love God and our neighbor ...

Malachi 3; 16 - 17  

... those who fear the Lord speak often with one another ... the Lord heeds and hears them ... a book of remembrance is written before Him of those who fear the Lord ... and ... think on His name ... they shall be mine says the Lord ... my special possession ...

note: the Hebrew word here for speak is always in a positive sense carrying with it connotations to commune, teach or think ... the Hebrew word translated "special possession" is segoollaw - a more literal translation might be "a closely guarded treasure"

 

Lk 1; 50  

This is a verse within Mary's testimony to Elizabeth ... His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation

 

Jer 32; 37 - 39  

...I will bring them back ... and ... they will dwell in safety ... and ... they shall be my people ... and ... I will be their God ... I will give them ... one heart ... one way ... that they may fear Me ... for their own good ... and ... the good of their children ...

 

Is 33; 5 - 6  

... the Lord ... is the stability of your times ... an abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge ... the fear of the Lord is His treasure ...

 

 

Usually, about this point in this study we begin to substitute the translation "reverence" for "fear" .... rephrasing the four verses above:

A summary of the four verses above: "those who hold the Lord in reverence study with one another and think on His name from generation to generation ... the Lord remembers them ... they are His treasure ... their reverence for Him is His treasure ... He will have mercy on them ... they will dwell in safety and be His people ... with ... one heart ... one way ... for their good and the good of their children ...

 

There are several harmonics-of-three that are helpful at this point in our definition of "reverence for the Lord"

    Wisdom  

Knowledge

 

Understanding
 

1 John 5; 8

 

3 Witnesses Spirit Water Blood
Mat 7; 7 Jesus teaches Ask

and it will be given

Seek 

and you will find

 

Knock

and it will be opened

 

 

John 14; 6

 

Jesus says of Himself,

" I am the "

Way Truth Life
 

Micah 6; 8

 

What does the Lord require? Do

justice

Love

Kindness

Walk

Humbly with your God

 

Prov 22; 4

 

The reward for humility and

reverence for the Lord is

Riches Honor Life

 

We are working on the second of three sections in a scripture study of holiness ... in the first section, we considered definitions for three spiritual attributes: wisdom, knowledge and understanding ... in this current section, the second, we are working on a thread of revelation which suggests that there is a relationship between our spiritual development, as Christians, and the spiritual principle often termed: "fear of the Lord" ... at this point, we have substituted the translation "reverence" for the word "fear" in both old and new testament references ... we continue the study with a few more scripture references:

 

 

 Prov 15; 33

 

... reverence for the Lord is instruction in wisdom and humility goes before honor
 

 Psalm 115; 9 - 13

 

... trust in the Lord ... He is your help ... and ... shield ... 

... He will bless those who have reverence for Him ... both great and small

 

 Psalm 25; 12 - 14

 

 

... who is the man who has reverence for the Lord? ... 

... God will instruct him in the way that he should choose ...

... the friendship of the Lord is for those who have reverence for Him ...

... He makes known to him His covenant ...

 

 

Psalm 103; 10 - 18

 

 

... He does not deal with us according to our sins ... or ... our iniquities ...

... His steadfast love is toward those who have reverence for Him ...

... the Lord pities those who have reverence for Him ...

... His righteousness is extended to those who keep his covenant ... and ... remember His commandments

 

 

Deut 10; 12 - 13 

 

 

... What does the Lord, your God, require of you:

          - to have reverence for the Lord

          - to walk in His ways

          - to love Him

          - to serve the Lord ... with all your heart ... and ... soul

          - to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord

 

  

The only problem with long studies, like this one, is that it starts to look pretty complicated when God has actually made everything simple ... we are not searching for a formula or a secret process that unlocks the power of God for God seems to accommodate each person within the context of her/his faith at any point in time ... our purpose is seek a better understanding of this thread of scripture as it seems central to our personal relationship with God and also our relationship to each other ...

All spiritual attributes start with God ... it appears that reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom ... wisdom is an attribute that we can work on with the gifts we have as a human being ... through spiritual wisdom, we can gain, from God, a knowledge of His will or if you prefer His purpose for us ... as we have increasing knowledge of God's will, we gain a greater understanding, in a spiritual context, of what our world is actually about and what is spiritually important in a person's life ... if we "grow" in God's gift of understanding, it permits God to move closer to us in our daily life and in that process we move as individuals from a knowledge of God's will to an increasing personal knowledge of God through His revelation in Jesus Christ, through the working of His Spirit in our life, through that "small, still, voice" we all have inside of us and through our interactions with each other in the local church. This study's progress toward an understanding of holiness has taken us to this conceptualization of "depth" in our on-going relationship with God. Again, this concept of "depth" in our relationship with God, is simple and obvious ... we all encountered it when we first professed our faith in Jesus Christ and many times following ...   

The purpose of the several harmonics-of-three, listed above, is for reference to this theme of increasing "depth" in our relationship with God ... similar to Revelation 17; 14: "and those with Him are called, chosen and faithful" ... and also consistent with the spiritual principle we find in Gal. 4: 9: "now that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God" ... and ... James 4: 8: "draw near to God and he will draw near to you".... 

Many of the parables which Jesus has regarding the Kingdom-of-Heaven provide an image of transcending relationship with God and also the need to both act and be ready, that is prepared ... Mat.24;40-41: a harmonic-of-two ... the Kingdom-of-Heaven appears to have a lot to do with holiness:

Mat.13; 4-8, 19-23 Seeds Sown 
Mat.13; 24-30 Weeds + Wheat
Mat.13; 31-32 Mustard See
Mat.13; 33 Leaven Bread
Mat.13; 44 Treasure Hidden in Field
Mat.13; 45-46 Pearl of Great Price
Mat.13; 47-48 Fishing Net Gathering All Types of Fish
Mat.22;  2-14 King's Wedding Feast and Guest without his Wedding Garment
Mat.25;  1-13 Ten Maidens with Lamps for Bridegroom
Mat.25; 14-30 Talents given to the Three Servants

 

III. Conceptualizing and Growing in Holiness

 

Exodus 3; 5            God at the burning bush speaks to Moses:  

"... put off your shoes ... the place on which you stand is holy ..."

 

The ground is holy because God is there ... holiness is an attribute of the presence of God ... perhaps the bush is "burning" in Moses' account because of "light" ... this is the same "light" that is recorded at the baptism of Jesus, His transfiguration, His resurrection, His ascent into heaven, the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church at Pentecost and for that matter the column of fire over the Israelites while they were in the desert for forty years. People perceive holiness as light ... there are uncounted references to this perception within the bible, our daily life as well as every culture, from every time period, and in every honest profession of faith in God.  Holiness, as we perceive it, is not how close a person believes, hopes or feels he/she is to God ... rather ... it is how close God actually is to that person.

God, at the burning bush, asks Moses to take his shoes off because he is in a holy place ... in much the same way that God may require relatively simple actions of us or anyone for a variety of reasons. For this study of holiness, we find it important to remember that the repetition of such actions, on our part, do not always require a repetitive action by God.

Ep. 1; 9 - 10  

" ... He has made known ... in wisdom ... the mystery of His will ... to unite all things in Him ... things in heaven and things on earth ... "

 

Jer. 32; 37 - 38  

" ... I will bring them back ... they shall be my people ... I will be their God ... I will give them ... one heart ... one way ..."

 

Isaiah 35; 8 - 9  

" ... a highway shall be there ... a way ... it shall be called the way of holiness ... the redeemed shall walk there ..."

 

Holiness characterizes the presence of God with His people ... In James 4; 8 we see an important spiritual principle for our understanding of holiness: "... draw near to God and He will draw near to you ..."   ...  it is the spiritual attributes of wisdom, knowledge and understanding which enable us to increase our intent to be closer to God ... this process has the reciprocal action that God does move closer to us both as individuals and the local church ... our free will and effort in essence "permit" God to move close to us ... as God draws nearer, the spiritual attribute of holiness will increase. Not really a new concept, remember the fine hymn: "Nearer My God to Thee".

2 Cor. 7; 1  

" ... make holiness perfect in reverence for the Lord ... "

 

1 Thes. 4; 7  

" ... God has called us to holiness ... "

 

Lev 11; 44 - 451 Peter 1; 15 - 16  

" ... be holy for I am holy ..."

 

Mat. 5; 14 - 16  

" ... you are the light of the world ... a city set on a hill cannot be hid ... nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket ... but ... on a stand ... and ... it gives light to all in the house ... let your light so shine before men ... that ... they may see your good works ... and ... give glory to your Father who is in heaven ..."

 

How much light we have is pretty much related to how close God is to us in our life ... this is the same light that Moses saw at the burning bush .. it is holiness ... remember the scriptural thread from Revelations: called, chosen, faithful ... you can see the light, you can come into the light, you can be a source for the light ...

end

 

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