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What is outward holiness?

Submitted: 8/27/2011
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Question: Why do pastors say to be holy inside and out? I understand the inside but how can someone be holy on the outside. And I understand what's on the inside will reflect on the outside. But why do they say dress holy as if that's possible, because the way I see it there is nothing holy about filty rags.

Answer: You are mixing together two different ideas. The term
'filthy rags' you allude to comes from Isaiah 64:6 where it is used as a metaphor for Israel's hypocrisy. They had been calling themselves the people of God while they were committing all kinds of terrible sins. In the midst of it all the prophet declares, 'But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.' This was not God's desire. They could have been a righteous and holy people, but they chose instead to engage in sinful practices.

Outward holiness is important because it allows the Holy Spirit within a person to shine forth. God sees the heart, but man sees only the outward appearance. This is why our outward appearance is so important: God wants everyone around us to see the Spirit that dwells in our hearts.

Outward holiness involves much more than how we dress. Yes, it is important that we dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:9). But it is also important how we speak and act toward others. We suggest that rather than resist the teachings of your pastors you just submit to their teachings on this subject. Keep in mind that the Bible says, 'He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still' (Revelation 22:11). Each of us must choose which we will be.