There is tremendous misunderstanding about holiness. Many Christians try to achieve holiness by abstaining from things. They think, If I do not do this or that, then I am holy. But that has nothing to do with being holy. There are things you cannot do if you are holy, but to suggest that holiness means cutting down on the number of things you are involved in is not correct. Holiness is not negative. Paul wrote in Colossians 2:20, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations…?” This is most people’s view of holiness—subjecting oneself to regulations. Paul went on to provide a list of regulations some people follow in an attempt to achieve holiness:
“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men….These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (verses 21–23)
In other words, abstaining from certain things does not make you holy; it is not God’s holiness. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus explained the relationship between holiness and our actions: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Letting “your light…shine” means doing good works so that other people are able to see God. It does not mean observing a set of negative rules. It is a positive, powerful force. In fact, I believe that holiness is the most powerful force at work in our universe. To retreat into a negative lifestyle and call it “holiness” is self-deception. It is not what God means by holiness at all.