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African American female Reverend holding Bible

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In my preteen years, I’d primarily been taught that holiness pertains to the outward appearance of being in right standing with God. If I wore certain clothes, didn’t wear makeup, kept certain kinds of friends and appeared to be a “good girl” then I was living in holiness.

There were classes and youth conferences dedicated to teaching me how what I did and how I acted dictated my level of holiness. So I stressed myself out trying to live a perfect life in my own strength as part of my commitment to making God love me. When I realized the adults who told me I had to be perfect to live a life of holiness were not practicing what they preached, I felt betrayed and turned my back on my faith.

After I re-dedicated my life to Christ in my early twenties, I initially believed holiness was simply abstaining from sex until I was married. Then as I studied the bible and spent time with God I realized it was way more than that. More important than what I looked like to others is how I lived my life in relation to God. The word consecration, which means separated or set apart, popped up a lot in my studies on holiness. Peace flooded my heart like a river when I understood how much holiness is a progressive and continuous work.

It was more than the clothes I wore and the makeup I donned or shunned. I could not express my gratitude for how amazing it was to know I was not disqualified because I couldn’t afford to change my wardrobe overnight. As I continued to grow in understanding and hid more of God’s word in my heart, my behavior and attitudes changed. Instead of relying on my own strength as I’d done in the past, I relied on the Holy Spirit. Holiness at six months re-dedicated to Christ looked different from holiness six years into my rekindled relationship with him. Holiness at six years looked different than holiness now.

Over time I’ve realized how little my holiness has to do with outward appearances. Holiness is something God defines and identifies. He knows the lifestyle a person is living because it starts in the place where only He is able to see everything: the human heart. Even on my best day, holiness is not something I can achieve on my own because human righteousness in God’s eyes is like filthy rags. It is with the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, continued dedication to engaging in an active relationship with God, and obeying what He instructs me to do that I am able to answer a calling which is in itself holy. God saves, delivers and equips—by His blood and through the Holy Spirit—the ability to live a consecrated life where my daily work is obedience to His will, purpose and direction for my life.

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Daily Devotional: “Answering The Call”  was originally published on