It’s only recently that I have come to the grips with the holiness of the Lord God (and by ‘grips’ I mean less than 0.1% of it since we can never fully know God!), and I’m awed by it day by day! Christians often miss out on this aspect of His, but it is this very attribute that defines His character and His other attributes: God’s love is holy; His wrath is holy; His ways are holy; His dwelling place is holy; His words are holy; His works are holy. GOD IS HOLY!
Now, the obvious question is, what is holiness? I tried looking up some definitions which sounded more humanistic than biblical; so I decided to dig into God’s Word itself to see what He says regarding His holiness:
The word “holy” makes its first appearance in the book of Exodus, spoken by God Himself to Moses when he approached the burning bush: “And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” [Ex 3:5] In Leviticus , the book of commands and laws, God has oftentimes emphasised His holiness:
Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy. Lev 19:2
…that they profane not My holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD. Lev 22:2
Neither shall ye profane My holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. Lev 22:3
A better way to explain holy is by defining the term hallow as these two go hand in hand.
Some definitions of hallow are: to consecrate, sanctify, hold as sacred, revere, hold in highest esteem.
Some synonyms: dedicate, make holy, honor, set apart, worship.
God’s holiness implies that He is: consecrated and sanctified (set apart) from all things created – man, gods, idols, ideologies, etc; He cannot be equalled to anything that came into existence as He is ever-existing, the only Creator. And because He is the Creator (sanctified and set apart from the created) He is to be revered, to be held in highest esteem, to be set apart, to be honor and worshiped. When God gave the laws and commands to the nation of Israel through Moses, He always referred to the practises of the pagan nations as abominable; commanding His people to not exalt and worship that which these pagan nations exalted and worship. Their ways were not His ways; their’s were the ways of the world.
“And one (seraphim) cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Is 6:3
“…they (the heavenly creatures) rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Rev 4:8-11
God created angels much before He created mankind. These angels are constantly in God’s presence, they see all His glory, all His power and all His majesty, yet they cannot stop crying out ‘holy holy holy’ day and night! It shakes me up! When the angels fear Him and cannot stop magnifying His holiness, how great is this holiness. GOD IS HOLY!
He is holy because He is sinless! No sinful thing can stand before Him. The best books to study God’s holiness are Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These books are often regarded by Christians as too legalistic, extreme and impossible to follow, yet all Scripture is given by inspiration of God [2Tim 3:16] and therefore must not be neglected. The reason I uphold these books of the law is because it unveils God’s absolute holiness! Yes, it is impossible for us to keep every single commandment and law, yet these are the requirements for man if He wants to commune with the holy God. The Lord’s primary intention was not to give His nation a hard time keeping up with Him, but rather He wants the world to know His holy standards, and that it is impossible for people to be holy on their own! In order to become acceptable in the sight of this holy God, people must die to sin and alive in Christ. It is only through Christ can a person be transformed into a new creation (no more a creation of this fallen world) and live upto the holiness that God demands by abiding in Christ.
As the title yells, God’s holiness is unfathomable! I have tried to give a glimpse of it but no one can fully grasp it until all eternity! Yet, what has been revealed in the Bible concerning His holiness is enough for His elect to know what God’s holiness is and to discern that living a worldly Christianity is blasphemous to Him; He commands His chosen to be holy (set apart, santified, sacred, hallowed from the world) as He is holy [1Pet 1:16].