Boundary Lines of Holiness

1 Peter 1 :14-16 (ESV) As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”


I don’t like small spaces. When I think about being in small spaces, I start deep breathing to calm myself down. My chest gets tight and I tell myself that I’ll be okay. I would not call myself claustrophobic but I really do not like small spaces.

For many people the word “holiness” conjures the same idea of small spaces and limitations. At the mere mention of the word “holiness” they feel their chest tighten and a sense of panic rising. What is God going to ask me to give up? Holiness represents restriction. In reality, holiness is an invitation to expansion instead.

Previously when I thought of holiness I thought of boundaries. In my mind a long checklist of rules scrolled down. Do not swear. Do not lie. Do not get drunk…I could go on and on. Limits. Restrictions. No.

What if we have it all wrong?

Contained within God

I’m not suggesting we ignore the biblical admonishments to live pure lives. Instead, I’m saying we have vast beauty and pleasure waiting for us within the boundary lines of holiness.

Psalm 16:5-6 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

In Psalm 16, David declares that God himself is his “chosen portion and cup.” A cup is a vessel to contain something. In this case Yahweh Himself is the cup! Suddenly the containment does not sound very restricting. David’s chosen limitation is to be contained within God and God is pretty darn big.


Boundaries Lines

David declares “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” The lines he mentions here are boundary lines, measured out and decided. We think of boundary lines as a limit someone puts around us, forcing us into a smaller space. But these lines are also an inheritance—implying they are given out of generosity and abundance.

Prior to the inheritance, David had less. The boundary lines in this scenario represent an expansion of David’s reality, not a restriction of it. David calls this inheritance beautiful because it allows him to go places he previously had no right to go. The inheritance expanded his boundaries.

Similarly, the invitation we have to walk in holiness as a follower of Jesus represents an inheritance, a gift, a windfall of goodness. The boundary lines we have as believers are pleasant places given to us out of God’s abundance. They are an indication of our adoption into God’s family. They are an addition to our resources. As a part of God’s family we are invited into an expansion of good things in our lives–more peace, victory, power for our callings, deeper fellowship with God. These boundary lines are a gift.


Previously in my mind, I believed that God would pack lots of goodness into a very restricted way to live. That perspective is a misconception of my inheritance. I’m thinking only of the limits I perceive. It’s like I’ve inherited a ranch covering hundreds of square miles and I’m spending the whole time fixated on one little portion of the fence line instead of turning around and exploring the vast new territory I’ve been given. There are now many more places I can go than before I inherited the boundary lines of that ranch.

Boundary lines are not a limitation, they are an invitation to explore all the goodness we’ve inherited.


In the vast beautiful land we inherit as the family of God, we do in fact encounter boundary fences. God calls us to live in purity and self-control.

Ephesian 5:18 (ESV) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…

Our culture looks at instruction such as “do not get drunk with wine,” as a limitation–an unwelcome restriction. They would have us stand and stare, fixating on that 5 feet of fence. Potentially we obsess with it, trying to figure out how much wine we can drink without actually becoming drunk. How do you define being drunk anyway? We might even try climbing over it.

All the while, if we were just to turn around and “be filled with the Spirit,” we would stare in wonder at the hundreds of square miles of delight, power and goodness we’ve been given. Temptation is the true limitation–it distracts from the bounty of all that God has given us and keeps us from what He wants to do in and through us. Holiness invites us to turn and enjoy our beautiful inheritance.



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