THE HOLINESS OF GOD
A biblical term (Holiness) generally meaning “to be set apart.”
Holiness takes on the sense of ethical purity or freedom from sin.
God’s holiness and His nature are not two things, they are but one. God’s holiness is His nature, and God’s nature is His holiness.
Holiness in angels and saints is but a quality, but in God it is His essence.
God is distinct and transcendent with regard to creation in all of His attributes.
His “apartness” involves all of His being. “Who is like You among the gods. O
LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working
“There is no one holy like the LORD, indeed there is no
one besides You, nor is there any rock like your God”
(I Sam. 2:2); “For thus says
the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a
high and holy place’” (Is. 57:15).
Can man comprehend the holiness of God? In nearly every religion, there is a distinction between that which is holy and what is profane.
In most cases, the religious man is the one to whom something is sacred, i.e. holy.
Holiness requires a distinction be made between the holiness that is God’s very being and the holiness which reflects the character of His people.
What exquisite words exist to convey glory, honor, and thanks to the Lord God Almighty? Before the Throne in Heaven, the angelic beings worshiped God, repeating day and night, “ Holy, holy, holy ” (Revelation 4:8).
In the Old Testament, the term holiness is applied to God in two senses.
First, God is separate, set above all which is created. Yet, it is God who calls us to an ethical purity.
Secondly, things are regarded holy because of their connection with God Holy ground, Holy Sabbath, Holy place. God’s holiness permeates anything touched by Him, especially man.
Man’s encounters with the holiness of God in the Old Testament were often fearful. Following God’s destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, the Israelites rested near Mount Sinai–-where God appeared to Moses in a burning bush.
Before God would establish a covenant with His people, He ordered them to separate from impurity, to make themselves sanctified (holy) to God.
On the third day of preparation, God descended to Mount Sinai, demonstrating His power and holiness (Exodus 19:16–20).
God warned that anyone touching the mountain would be put to death. Only Moses and Aaron were permitted on the mountain. Mount Sinai was “set apart as holy” –-a reminder of the immeasurable chasm between the divine and the human.
For 100 long years, the Ark of the Covenant had been absent from the Tabernacle and other places of worship. God specified that only Levites should transport the ark on their shoulders by means of poles passed through gold rings attached to the ark.
Even the Levites were forbidden to even touch the ark or look in it because God’s holiness (presence) abided there.
Yet, David chose to bring the ark back to Jerusalem on a cart. When the oxen stumbled, threatening to topple the ark from the cart, Uzzah tried to steady the ark with his hand.
This irreverent act angered God, who instantly struck Uzzah dead (2 Samuel 6:1–11).
To approach the holiness of God requires reverence and absolute obedience to His commands.
When we consider the holiness of God, it may seem impossible for imperfect creatures like ourselves to obey His command to, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15–16).
How are we to set ourselves totally apart from sin? When God created man, He intended for us to experience His glory.
Man is the culmination of God’s creative activity. Our existence is not random, nor was it an accident. God knew who He was creating, and He intended for each one of us to receive holiness.
The first song in Scripture appears in Ex. 15; the last song can be found in Rev. 15. And both have as their shared focus the holiness of God.
You alone are holy, because all the nations will come and worship before You, because Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev. 15:3-4)
In between Ex. 15 and Rev. 15, God’s holiness comes up over and over again. Holy is used more often as a prefix to God’s name than any other adjective.
Two men in Scripture who were permitted to see into the throne room of heaven and write about it; both reported hearing one continuous refrain, spoken day and night: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:3; Rev. 4:8).
This is the only thing said about God in this fashion. No other attribute of His is repeated three times.
If you will look intently at this truth about God, you will join Isaiah, a man of God who studied and thought about and proclaimed God’s holiness for years before having a personal encounter with this holy God, and was left saying, ” Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, [and] because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5).
So when we say God is holy, we’re not talking about one characteristic out of many about God; we’re talking about the character of God Himself
Holiness, when applied to God, means that He is utterly unique, incomparable, matchless, without parallel and without peer. In Isaiah 40:25.
God Himself issues the challenge: “Who will you compare Me to, or who is My equal?” asks the Holy One.” And we must answer, “There is no comparison.”
God is not just a super-sized version of you or me. He is transcendently separate, in a class by Himself. He is subject to nothing. He answers to no one. This is who our Holy God is.
When Hannah rejoiced in God for answering her prayer for a son, she prayed, ” There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God.” (1 Sam. 2:2)
David’s confidence in God was fortified by considering His holiness: “Lord, there is no one like You among the gods, and there are no works like Yours.
All the nations You have made will come and bow down before You, Lord, and will honor Your name. For You are great and perform wonders; You alone are God..” (Ps. 86:8-10).
Even the name God gave to His mighty archangel Michael testifies to this truth. The name is translated, “Who is like God?”
Here’s the first strand of meaning in the Bible about the holiness of God: He is not like anything or anyone we can come up with. He is above us.
He is beyond us. He is so different and so rare that no one in the Bible, regardless of how devout or learned, failed to crumble in fear and humility and repentance when they caught a glimpse of this holy God.
When God met with Habakkuk the prophet, he described his reaction like this: “I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood . . . ” (Hab. 3:16)
He was shattered by what he saw. When we see Him as He is, it traumatizes us because we immediately see ourselves for who we really are, and the incongruence is overwhelming
To be holy is to be absolutely pure
Holiness is being set apart from anything impure in order to be completely given over to what God says is pure.
When you apply this meaning to God, His holiness points to what 1 John 1:5 says: “there is absolutely no darkness at all.”
James tells us that “God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.” (James 1:13). Habakkuk 1:13 adds that God’s eyes “are too pure to look on evil, and [He] cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” In a word, God is perfect, without sin, flawless.
So blazing is God’s purity that the sinless seraphim who serve Him in heaven cover their faces with their wings (Is. 6:2).
Job 4:18 declares, “God puts no trust in His servants and He charges His angels with error . . . .”
Only holy people can see God
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)
Holy people see the holy God. Unholy people will never lay eyes on Him. “Your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide [His] face from you so that He does not listen.” (Isaiah 59:2).
So what hope have I? Because fundamentally, essentially, by nature and by choice, I am a sinner! ”
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps. 24:3-5)
But my hands aren’t clean. And my heart is not pure. Sometimes I offer up my time and energy to be entertained by things I know are based on lies.😭😭
The Truth is 👇🏽
I will never climb to the holy heights where God dwells!
I Peter 1:14-16 makes it even more blunt: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
Let me close with this one question: What difference does God’s holiness make in my life?
Do you have the holiness of God working for you in Christ, or is His holiness set against you? Have you fled to Christ, deliberately, personally trusting that what Do you have the holiness of God working for you in Christ, or is His holiness set against you? Have you fled to Christ, deliberately, personally trusting that what He did on the cross is your only hope of being right with God? Or are you still carrying your sin and an appointment with the fierce wrath of God? did on the cross is your only hope of being right with God? Or are you still carrying your sin and an appointment with the fierce wrath of God?
What is the evidence in your daily life that the Holy Spirit of God indwells you? Does your behavior, your choices, your habits, your language show that you are, in the language of I Peter 2:9,
“a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”?