Being set apart for God is a common phrase in Christian circles, but what exactly does it mean? In this post, we’ll explore the meaning of being set apart for God’s purposes according to the Bible.
For Christians, being set apart for God has profound implications for how we live our lives. It impacts everything from our worldview to our daily habits and priorities. At its core, being set apart means dedicating every aspect of our lives fully to God for His glory and purposes.
Here are some key takeaways we’ll cover:
- Being set apart comes from God’s desire for a people to be holy as He is holy
- It involves being called out of the world’s ways of thinking and acting
- We are set apart to bear spiritual fruit through obedience to Christ
- Living set apart requires denying self and pursuing holiness
- The Holy Spirit empowers us to live set apart lives pleasing to God
- When we are set apart, we become living sacrifices for God’s kingdom work
Let’s explore what it means to be set apart for God in more detail.
Called to Be Holy
To understand being set apart, we first need to grasp God’s call to holiness for His people. In Leviticus 11:44-45 (NKJV), God declares to the Israelites:
For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy… For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
Being holy means being set apart and dedicated fully to God. We are called to reflect God’s holy nature and character. 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV) echos this:
But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
God desires His people to live holy lives because He is holy. To be set apart for Him is to be set apart for holiness.
Called Out of the World
What does it mean then to live a holy life? Part of being set apart for God is being called out of the world’s ways of thinking and behaving. Romans 12:2 (NKJV) states:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The patterns and priorities of the world are often in opposition to God’s will. Being set apart requires rejecting the temptation to conform to those worldly influences. It means embracing a biblical mindset that submits fully to Christ.
Jesus highlighted this in John 15:19 (NKJV):
If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Being chosen and set apart by Christ means the world’s ways will resist us. Saying yes to holiness means saying no to blending in with earthly desires and thinking.
Set Apart to Bear Spiritual Fruit
A key purpose of being set apart for God is to bear spiritual fruit. In John 15, Jesus used the analogy of a vineyard to describe believers’ relationship with Him.
John 15:1-2, 4-5, 8, 16 (NKJV) states:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples… You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
As believers, our purpose is to remain in Christ so that we can bear spiritual fruit that glorifies the Father and advances His kingdom. Being set apart prunes us to be more fruitful for God’s work. Bearing fruit displays that we are truly Jesus’ disciples.
Dying to Self
However, producing spiritual fruit requires dying to self. Being set apart for God means no longer living for our own interests and agendas. Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) captures this:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
When we are set apart for Christ, our old self-centered nature is put to death. We now live to fulfill God’s will rather than our own. This death to self is critical for becoming spiritually fruitful.
Jesus emphasized this in John 12:24-25 (NKJV):
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Only by dying to our old desires can we live a life that bears fruit unto eternal life. Being set apart requires fully letting go of self-rule.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV) states:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Being set apart involves cleansing ourselves from sinful patterns of body and soul. It means actively pursuing Christlike virtues and character.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NKJV) reminds believers:
For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Our holy God calls us to live holy lives. Being set apart for Him is incompatible with tolerating or excusing sin. We must walk in holiness out of reverence for God.
Empowered by the Spirit
But we cannot live set apart lives through self-effort. We need the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. 1 Peter 1:2 (NKJV) says believers are:
Sanctification is the process of being set apart for holiness. This happens through the Spirit’s work in us to produce greater obedience to Christ.
Romans 8:12-13 (NKJV) reminds us:
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The Holy Spirit enables us to put sin to death and live sanctified lives. Pursuing holiness requires relying fully on His power.
One tangible way the Bible describes being set apart for God is as living sacrifices. Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) instructs:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Being set apart involves sacrificially offering our whole selves to God for His purposes. This includes our bodies, thoughts, desires—our entire life.
Presenting ourselves as living sacrifices positions us to grow spiritually and discern God’s pleasing will. It’s part of being holy and refusing worldliness.
Set Apart for Kingdom Work
Ultimately, being set apart for God is about partnering with Christ in His kingdom work. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV) declares believers are:
God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The good works we walk in flow from being new creations set apart for God’s glory.
1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) describes followers of Jesus as:
A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
When set apart by God, we become part of a holy priesthood dedicated to declaring His excellence. We are commissioned as special ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom.
Being set apart for God positions us to advance His purposes on earth. We are privileged to partner with Him as vessels that carry His life-changing gospel message.
To be set apart for God means joyfully surrendering every area of our lives for His glory and kingdom. It involves being called out of worldly thinking into holiness and spiritual fruitfulness. This requires dying to self and relying on the Holy Spirit to walk in righteousness. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, God can powerfully work through us. What an honor to be used by Him for eternal, life-giving purposes!
The call to be set apart for Christ radically reorients every part of our lives. It ushers us into the holy presence of our God, where we are fully known and fully loved. As we respond to this sacred invitation, we rediscover our true identity and calling as God’s cherished possession and partners in His redemptive work. The God who is wholly set apart is delighted to share His holy calling with His people. May we joyfully pursue being set apart for Him with our whole hearts.