by Vijay Chandra
HOLINESS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
The New Testament underscores all the Old Testament teaches on holiness. It further develops a greater emphasis, however, on the themes of holy Trinity and holy ‘saints’. Now holiness is often ascribed to one Person of Godhead. The God of love is the Holy Father (John 17:11); Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24; John.6:69), and the Spirit of God is denominated Holy ninety-nine times.
In terms of ‘saints’, the New Testament highlights three themes.
First, it accents the ethical dimension of holiness. The stress is on ‘inward’ rather than ritual holiness [In Hinduism and Islam the emphasis is on outward holiness; there is no mention of inward holiness in their religious books]. Basic to this is the witness of Jesus Himself, who as the Son of man lived out a life of complete holiness, for He committed no sin; nor was any deceit found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). He is ‘holy; harmless, undefiled separate from sinners’ (Hebrews 7:26). As a result of His redemptive work, believers in Him are declared righteous and enter into holiness (Heb.10:10).
Second, the New Testament emphasizes the normativity of holiness, among believers. Holiness belongs to all true followers of Christ. A common term for all believers is ‘holy ones’ [hagioi], usually translated saints. Saints, therefore, does not refer to persons preeminent, but to the typical believer who is holy in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Holiness is an internal reality for all who are united with Christ.
Third, the New Testament envisions holiness as transforming the total person (1 Thessalonians 5:23. 2 Corinthians 7:1).