Holiness should always be ‘unto the Lord’. Any time we make it ‘unto men’, it’s wrong and misguided because it’s just pride and pretence. Jesus condemned the Pharisees not for their acts of piety, but because they performed them to impress others. Not only did they live by a long list of religious ‘do’s and don’ts,’ they also kept a scorecard on others who didn’t live up to their list and denounced them for it.
Some of us grew up in homes and churches where this happened and, when the word ‘holiness’ is mentioned, we squirm and think of sombre faces and pointed fingers of accusation. That’s not Bible holiness, that’s legalism! And God hates it, and the Bible condemns it.
To understand what true holiness is, think of the word ‘contamination’. It’s one of every hospital’s greatest concerns. It’s why doctors in an operating room insist that their surgical instruments be constantly sterilised; caps, gowns, and gloves worn; and the environment in the room maintained at a temperature where germs can’t live. Are you getting the picture? Now adjust the lens a little bit, and you’ll see the spiritual application. True holiness does not isolate you from the world, it insulates you from its contaminants.
Paul corrected the Corinthian church for their approach to the communion table: ‘In eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.’ (1 Corinthians 11:21 NKJV) So Paul addresses their spiritually sloppy, anything-goes attitude. ‘For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many [have died].’ (1 Corinthians 11:30 NKJV) What’s the answer? ‘Holiness—unto the Lord!’