It’s not just the Dalai Lama that people think is holy; many people think the Pope is holy or surly Teresa of Calcutta. It’s not just the funny outfits either, if we changed the word from holy to good, there are many who would look around in their society and say that this or that person is ‘good’. Then the Bible comes along and says, “There is none good, no not one” (Romans 3:12). In fact, every religion excluding evangelical Christianity affirms the inherent goodness of man. Why is it so?
Calvin in his institutes gives a hint, he said, “For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself[i]”. He goes on to give this illuminating illustration, “… anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure: just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white[ii]”.
The issue is really what you use to make a comparison. Paul wrote “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12).
The place to begin to understand humankind, to understand your own heart is not by looking at yourself, or even others, but is to start with the one Who is too pure to behold evil, to begin with the One who will judge every wicked and evil thought, that same One with Whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. The ‘holiest’ of men on earth would not dare raise their head in the presence of the most Holy God.
So if you would take the advice of the famous philosopher Socrates and, “Know thyself”, you must invariably begin with knowing the God who is; the God who has spoken in these last days through His Son, Jesus Christ, and Who Himself is God.