Holey or Wholly Holy

At the time, though I took them very seriously, I did not fully comprehend the impact and gravity of these words. Over the years they became more precious than ever, and today I treasure the wonderful memories and rewards of being joined to my husband by God and anchored in my marriage by these vows. One day I will see him again, but not as husband and wife for there is no marital union in heaven (Matt. 22:30). When we pass from this life into our eternal abode, we will shed our earthcoat of mud and dirt called flesh. We will struggle no more with its lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We will be “as the angels” (Matt.22: 30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35).

In the last days before his departure for his heavenly home, my husband commended me to the Lord, gave me his love and blessings, and promised to be waiting to welcome me when our Father calls my name and says it’s time to come home. What a reunion that will be!  I can’t begin to comprehend a relationship that is purely spiritual (since we’ll be without our physical house), yet in some small way it does help me understand why spiritual relationships are so important while we live on this earth. We are beginning our eternal abiding in Jesus Christ and the natural life must submit to spiritual principles.


After some direct and consequential teaching to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul wrote to them: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your WHOLE spirit and soul and body be preserved BLAMELESS unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).  He is saying that as a total being you are set apart from others by God to keep yourself unto Him and unto Him only. Jesus said, thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30), and you answer, “I will!”  The relationship begins. Over the weeks, months, and years that follow you find yourself renewing that vow daily as you face sickness and health, joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity; and forsaking all others keep yourself to Him, and to Him only. The icing on the cake is that this vow we take is for eternity, not “till death do us part.” Those who are in Christ will never see death (John 8:51). Oh yes, they will shed their earthly body, but their spirit—which lives forever—won’t even miss it!

To sanctify you wholly means that every part of your being will be set apart for use by God: your mind, your will, your emotions, your attitudes, your actions, and your abilities. Nothing in your life will remain unaffected by this union with the Lord.

When we married, my husband was 36 and I was 27. Both of us were quite independent having lived alone for a few years without the encumbrance or necessity of looking after someone else. What an awakening when we realized that we were now accountable to each other. One no longer would decide to go away for a few days without the other. One no longer spent money without the input and consent of the other. We had a mutual concern now: our marriage. We were transparent before each other. Everything one of us did affected the other one in some way, thus we had to consider each other’s feelings, schedules, likes, dislikes, responsibilities, and personalities.

So it is in our relationship to the Lord. Our commitment to Him must penetrate and infiltrate every aspect of our being. No part of us can be withheld. In a marriage, when people are selfish and unwilling to work out such a relationship, they head for the divorce court. Before the marriage, they yearned for a husband or wife but later realized they didn’t want the changes that came with the commitment. They didn’t want to give up their old ways, their independence, and their pet indulgences. They did not give themselves wholly to the marriage. In the same way, often people make a vow to follow Jesus Christ then when adversity comes their way, they become angry and decide to split. When their selfish prayers are not answered to their liking, they reject God and harbor resentment toward Him. They did not give themselves wholly to Him.

God wants us to be WHOLLY HOLY—that is, every part of our lives to be in sync with Him. We are not under duress in this relationship.  When you answer His invitation, you say, “I will.” That means you choose to enter this commitment. You “will” to do it. You’re the benefactor of His blessings and His provisions and get all the inheritance that comes with carrying His name! He doesn’t come into this relationship with charge cards filled to the max. He comes with the wealth of a cattleman who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills! That alone ought to be worth giving up your spiritual poverty. His are eternal riches that outlast this life.

Thou shalt Love the LORD your God with your WHOLE HEART and with your WHOLE SOUL and with your WHOLE MIND and with your WHOLE STRENGTH(Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30-NIV).

When Jesus quoted this Old Testament scripture, He was pointing out that a commitment to the Lord must have no holes in it. It must be whole, complete. When that commitment is not fragmented, it will result in a holy life.


When Jesus says to love the Lord with all your heart He is referring to your innermost being.

Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life (Prov. 4:23, KJV).

The word “heart” comes from the Greek word kardia; In Latin, it is cor—the very “core” of your being. Men look on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).  The heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of soul and spirit…It is supremely the one center in man to which God turns, in which the religious life is rooted…the center of his personal life (Kittel, III:611-612)[i].  We can actually say the word “heart” refers to attitudes which motivate, radiate, and energize our lives.

Some may ask how they can love others, as Jesus commanded, when they love the Lord with ALL their heart. It seems there would be nothing left for anyone else. Quite the contrary. If you have children, do you remember when you were expecting the second child? You wondered how you could possibly love that child after focusing all your love on the first one. Would there be any room left in your heart for another? And another? And perhaps another? Of course! When you love the Lord with your whole heart, love just oozes from that heart into the lives of others. When you fill the coffee cup to the brim and keep pouring, it runs over onto the saucer and onto the table and onto the floor. It covers everything around it. The Love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It will fill up as much of our heart as we permit.

If you allow unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness in your heart, they will choke you to the very core of your being. They are like an infection that spreads to every part of your heart. Soon your motives are not seeded by love but by these negative thoughts and emotions and they eat at you until you have no part of your heart left for loving. But if you allow yourself to be cleansed by the Word of God and get all those negative attitudes out of your heart, you’ll have a fresh new love for the Lord and others.

Many marriages break apart, as do many commitments to Christ, because little hurts have been allowed to fester and absorb all seeds of love for one another.  Serve [the Lord] with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD SEARCHES every HEART and understands every motive behind the thoughts (1 Chr. 28:9, NIV). You can’t hide anything from God. Whether you acknowledge it or not, He knows what is in your heart. He knows how you continuously replay the pictures of mistreatment, rejection, abuse, and deprivation and desire to get revenge on those who were responsible for them. The Lord says it’s time to clean up your heart and make a vow to God that you will love Him with your whole heart—reserving no chamber therein for growing bitter roots. You want your heart to be whole, and holy, not holey—as in full of holes.


Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul  (Ps 143:8). “Soul” comes from the Greek word “psyche” which literally means “breath.” It is difficult to distinguish “soul” from “spirit” (pneuma) which also means “breath.” However, Hebrew 4:12 tells us the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. God’s Word is the medicine that goes deep into your innermost being and brings healing to places that have holes, wounds, hurts, and bruises. It causes the breath you breathe to be pure and not filled with venom and hatred, accusations and retribution. The Word restores that which was lost so you will be whole again.

Everyone has stories about things that were lost and found. I, too, have many. One that comes back to me again and again is the time I was washing my hands and my engagement ring slipped off my finger and went down the drain while I stood helpless—watching. It happened in an instant. You know the feeling. It appeared to be lost forever. Ah, but the one who had given it to me was now my husband. When I told him about it, he went right to work, tore out the pipe under the sink, and presented me with the brilliantly shining diamond ring. It was a messy job, but he knew exactly what to do. So it is with our Lord. He has given beautiful gifts of life and forgiveness of sin. Often in the process of the daily routine of life, in a moment of vulnerability we see it slipping away from us and we cry out to Him for help. No problem! He sends His Word, takes a few things apart, cleans us out, puts us back together again, and restores us to the joy of His salvation (Ps. 51:12).

The Psalmist says, Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Ps. 150:6). In fact, Paul says In Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). Our soul is the very breath that God has breathed into us (Gen. 2:7). We are commanded to love the Lord who gave us that breath, with our WHOLE soul—every breath we take. As the deer pants for the water so my soul pants for You (Ps. 42:1). Our desire is to be one with Him. Then He [Jesus] breathed on them and told them, Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). First, our Lord breathed into us the breath of life itself. Some then experience forgiveness of sin and give themselves to the Lord, but don’t go the extra step to consecrate themselves wholly to Him. They need to ask Jesus to breath on them and be filled with His Holy Spirit—to be sanctified, that is to be separated from the world, set apart as a vessel through whom the Holy Spirit of God can flow in fruit and gifts. Those who have experienced this second breath and love the Lord with their WHOLE soul find loving God as natural as breathing air.


{The Lord] will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Him  (Is. 26:3). The “mind” is the sum total of our faculties of perception and understanding. It includes acts of thinking and knowing. As we read earlier, God knows not only our thoughts but also our intentions (Heb. 4:12).  He is omniscient—He knows everything! He knows our thoughts before we think them (Ps. 139:2). His thoughts are so much greater than our thoughts (Is. 55:8). He knows our ability, our capability, our vulnerability, and our instability. If we love Him with our WHOLE mind, not just giving Him a “piece” of it, He can elevate our thinking, reform it, transform it, and cause us to be conformed to His image rather than to the world.

We are to control our thoughts, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor.10: 5). When we follow this advice, we will not be meditating upon our circumstances, our inhibitions, our past hurts, or our limitations. God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). A “sound” mind is not sick. It is not divided. It does not waver. It knows what to do and directs the body to do it! While some people sit around saying, “I can’t”, others are defying circumstances and succeeding. While some sit around saying, “I’ve been offended”, others are forgetting, forgiving, and moving on toward better things.  If Paul had not chosen to love the Lord with his WHOLE mind, he would have fainted at the persecution and rejections he suffered in his ministry. If Peter had not chosen to love the Lord with his WHOLE mind, he would have wallowed in his own misery at having denied the Lord. Don’t allow any holes in your commitment! Be wholly committed to the Lord.


The word “strength” comes from the Greek word “ischus” which is “ability”. Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Eph. 3:20). It is His power in us that enables us to do the things He has equipped us to do. We must realize that without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are co-workers with the Lord. We do our part; He does His part—and the job gets done.

The word “strength” also has in its meaning, “forcefulness”, which implies the need to willfully choose to do those things we have the ability to do. Let us not be weary for in due season we will reap if we do not faint (give up) (Gal. 6:9). We are to love the Lord with ALL of our ability—whatsoever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col. 3:17). When you do a task half-heartedly, there is no joy in it. It becomes drudgery. When you only do tasks that are easy, there is no challenge in them. They become mundane. But when you put everything you have, all the effort you can muster up, and stretch beyond that which you know and activate the power of Almighty God within you, it is exciting, extraordinary, and fulfilling to you, and of tremendous benefit and encouragement to others.


People who have holes in their relationships to one another and to God are not happy people. They are fragmented. They are forever searching for someone to blame for their failures, unhappiness, and lack. They are quick to point out the evils of society, the weaknesses of their friends, and the shortcomings of their relatives. They cling to their past abuses and present difficult or strange circumstances as if to have an excuse for being scattered mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Paul prayed that there be no holes in our lives—and this mending of our daily lives begins by being made WHOLE by the God of Peace: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your WHOLE spirit and soul and body be preserved BLAMELESS unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).

If you give yourself WHOLLY to the Lord—loving Him with your WHOLE heart, mind, soul, and strength, you will be HOLY—pure. Paul’s prayer is a prayer we should have for one another today as well. I pray that you allow the God of peace to set you apart completely for Him—your whole being, every part of you; and that you continue living and moving and having your very existence in Him—24 hours a day, seven days a week; and that you remain holy—pure—until the Lord comes for you.  This relationship will permeate every thought, attitude, intention, act, deed, word, movement, and choice you make. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life. You will have a merry heart, a sound mind, and an abundant life.

Does that mean your life will be perfect? No. But it will be holy because you approach adversity, persecution, disappointments, and afflictions from God’s perspective because your mind is fixed on Him.

Does it mean you’ll have no problems? No. But you will have wholeness because the Holy Spirit is your comforter, your helper, your guide, and your teacher.

Does it mean you’ll not face temptation? No. But you will have the power to resist the temptation because you are wholly yielded to the Lord and sin shall not have dominion over you…now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruits unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom. 6:14,22).

Don’t be holey. Be wholly holy!

© Reprinted from V16N06Y2001 The Alabaster Box by Yvonne Karl.

[i] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 9th printing, 1980. Vol. 3, p. 611-612.