From dress codes to movie bans to hair length regulations, our religious world is rife with sincere but misguided attempts at personal holiness. Do we really think holiness is about external behavior, human effort, and religious rules? Apparently we do. Even though the Bible teaches the exact opposite.

Old Testament leaders were supposed to tell all the people to “be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2) My quick comments on that verse…

1. BE HOLY… The Bible tells us to be holy, not to act holy. Holiness is a state of being. It is something we are, not something we do. Internal not external. Being not doing. Fish swim because they are fish. Birds fly because they are birds. Christians avoid sin because they are holy. Swimming does not make one a fish. Acting holy does not make one a Christian.

2. BECAUSE I AM HOLY… We are to be holy because of who God is, not because of who we are or who we want to become. When the motivation for our holiness is to win God’s favor, relieve our guilt, or impress our pastor, it is not real holiness. Real holiness is God-centered not man-centered. It is about Him, not about us.

So, what am I trying to say? The same thing the Old Testament leaders constantly said: whether you have long hair or no hair, whether you watch or boycott movies, whether you wear a suit or shorts to church, you should be holy because God is holy.