“…and was appointed to be the powerful Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead” (Romans 1:4)

Today, I turn my writing to the Holy Spirit that has reigned forever with the Father and the eternal Son of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit began when Jesus ascended to the Father. Christ was raised from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness. This is an interesting concept to explore at this time and age.

In the Bible, we found two words to describe our English word, holiness. The first one is found in the Old Testament. ‘Qadash’ was used to designate ‘sanctification’. It means to shine and cut, pointing to the goal of being set apart and holy. For example, it is used in the book of Joshua to pronounce/make clean, or to dedicate something or someone completely, making holy what it was before profane or common (chalal).

Probably, you miss an important detail. In Judaism, everything is considered one of two possible things. Something or someone is either holy (Qadash) or it is common (Chalal). So, the Lord God Himself wants to see us, the least, move to a new place and a new relationship with Him. However, Joshua and Israel could only be consecrated for a time but would have always needed to repeat this process because of sin. This foreshadows the perfect holiness. It was made for God’s promises and planned from the beginning of creation by God through the blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. His blood truly takes us through the doorway into life eternal with Him. The church has been consecrated by the blood of Jesus and, now, we can freely enter into the holy presence of God. We enter through the veil which we read is His flesh. (Hebrews 10:10-20)

This brings us to the second word used to describe holiness. In the New Testament, it is used the verb, ‘hagiazo’. It communicates the same idea of a set apart and holy.

In the Bible, the quality of holiness is used primarily to refer to God. It applies to Him, communicating the idea of inaccessibility. God is absolutely distinct from the Creation. This concept brings us to the contrast between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of people. Such conflicting positions brings such separation.

In the New Testament, there is a new reality open in front of us. First, it is rare to find a mention of the attribute of the holiness of God. The reason is the fact that holiness seems to be pointing to a special characteristic of the Holy Spirit. He is the One that brings sanctification to God’s people. In fact, we know we have been loved by the Lord because the Holy Spirit works His sanctification (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Almost a hundred times, it is used holiness/sanctification in relation to the Holy Spirit. Holiness is not seen just as being better morally. There is a clear confusion when it comes to talking about holiness. There is no salvation through character. A person becomes a great moral example and, even so, it could be that there is not an experience of holiness.

You may ask, “what do you mean?” You see most people think being a Christian is about being morally superior, but it is a mistaken notion. Obviously, being a person of character is important. However, the work of the Holy Spirit is deeper than such moral improvement.

Holiness is a gracious and continuing work of the Holy Spirit by which HE set us free from sin and the flesh. This is done by the renewal of all of our being, recreating the image of God, and empowering us for the good works that God prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).

Sanctification is a supernatural work of God. It could be understood by two parts: the death of the old person (the flesh) and the birth of the new person, created in Jesus Christ for good works. This is a process that affects the whole being: body, soul and spirit; mind, emotions and will.

Like salvation, sanctification is the work of the Trinity, specifically closer associate it to the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:11; Romans 15:16; 1 Peter 1:2). God, and not us, is the author of holiness. Your spiritual development is not your own, but it is God’s grace reaching out. It is a process that is not noticed most of the time, it is effective and steady by the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit through the Word, the Sacraments, Divine providence and prayer/worship.

Rejoice, because as you have been reading this text, the Holy Spirit has been working in your life.

Every Blessing,

Bishop Josep Rossello