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What is the difference in godliness and holiness?

Submitted: 2/23/2007
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Question: I have been wondering for some time what the difference in godliness and holiness is. In the apostolic church, usually if you say someone is holiness, it means they dress modestly and wear proper clothing. I have never understood that to be holiness according to scripture. Could you please bring some clarity to these to words. Thank you. I appreciate your web site.

Answer: The word 'holiness' contains the idea of being separated or set apart for God. For example, the articles used in the temple were considered holy because they had been set apart for God's exclusive use. In this sense they were different from the common things people used for their own purposes. This illustrates why holiness causes people to be different from the unbelievers around them.

When a person obeys the gospel and is born again, he is set apart for God's use. The evidence of this is that God anoints the person with the Holy Spirit. Once anointed, a person is to no longer live for himself but for the One who saved Him; that is, for Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). A commitment to living totally for Jesus Christ is manifested in all areas of life, including the way we dress. This is why clothing is sometimes associated with holiness, although holiness includes much more than that.

The word 'godliness' has more to do with the direction of a person's life and his connection to God. It is possible to be holy (set apart) yet not be godly; that is, not focused on God and deeply connected to Him. When this is the case, a person's holiness tends to come off as shallow, insincere, or even self-righteous. God's plan is that those He calls and sets apart to Himself would focus their attention toward Him and stay close to Him until the day He calls them home. Holiness and godliness ought to be inseparable ideas; yet sadly some strive after one without the other.