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The Holiness of God

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come…. who liveth for ever and ever…
The four and twenty elders fall down before him… and worship him that liveth for ever and ever…
saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things…”
– Revelation 4:8-11

God is Holy – Only God is holy. Holiness is the attribute that sets God apart from all created beings or gods. Only God is Holy. Holiness refers to His majesty and His perfect moral purity. There is absolutely no sin or evil thought in God at all. His holiness is the definition of that which is pure and righteous in all the universe. The opposite of holiness is evil, filth, vileness and sinfulness. God is separated from all moral defilement and is hostile toward it. Without holiness all the other attributes would be worthless. Man is not holy but he should strive to be holy as God is holy. Man will never obtain perfect holiness in his flesh. Holiness is as the direction “north” on a compass; you continually go towards it, but you never reach it. You can continually reach forward toward the mark of the high calling that you will never reach, but you can sure enjoy your journey for God. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16). Only God is holy. Notice that wherever God appeared in the Bible that place became holy ground. Just the presence of God created a holy place. It was holy just because God had been there. God’s holiness is never tainted or spotted from any outside influence. God is and always will remain Holy. His holiness stands apart — unique and incomprehensible. Holiness is a characteristic unique to God’s nature which becomes the goal for human moral character. Holy has four distinct meanings in the Bible. First: “to be set apart” implying the places where God is present as the Temple, tabernacle and Ark. Second: to be “perfect, or spiritually pure, evoking adoration and reverence.” Third: it means something or someone who evokes “awe and worship” who is “filled with superhuman and supernatural power.” Fourth: it can also apply to saints or godly people.

Old Testament

Everywhere God met with men became holy. Holy defines places where God is present. The holy God chose certain holy places to be set apart where His people could worship Him. The burning bush became holy ground (Exodus 3:4-6). The fire and cloud of the tabernacle was a holy place within the Holy of Holies (Exodus 19:9-13). Holy ground on the mountain (24:15-18; 38:11). Moses, face to face with God, received a holy glow from God (Exodus 33:20-23;34:29-35). The holiness of the Lord on Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2). The holiness of the Lord in Heaven (Revelation 1:17). Every time the Lord is mentioned in Heaven He is surrounded by worship. Notice man did not have the right to chose where to worship God. Only God could designate where He could be worshipped. Man did chose certain places to worship their idols, but man could not designate a special place to worship the true God. God does not yield to man but man must yield to God. God is the creator and man is the creature. God is unsearchable, incomprehensible, incomparable, great, wonderful, and exalted. Holiness inspires awe and fear. Because God is holy He should be loved, served and worshiped.

New Testament

In the Gospels make clear that Jesus (not the high priest) came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31-35). The crucifixion is portrayed as Christ shedding His blood and giving His body for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). Faith in Christ is portrayed as acceptance of His full atonement for sin (1 John 2:2; 3:5; Revelation 5:9). The Holy Spirit is the agent of holiness for the church and its leaders (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 5:32; 13:2-4). He keeps the church pure (Acts 5:1-11). He promotes holiness in its members (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:7). Christians are called to holy living (1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:17). They are saints who seek to lead godly, righteous lives. Being sanctified, or made holy, is a work of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s atonement that calls for obedient submission from those who have been saved. Christians are holy, or set apart, because of Christ. God is holy in all areas of His attributes and character.

God is God because He is holy.

Only a holy God can be completely trusted in all areas of His attributes and His character. 

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