It stands apart–unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. God’s holiness that is.
We know nothing like divine holiness. It stands apart–unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable.
But what does holiness in God MEAN?
Holiness means God is morally spotless in character, motives, thoughts, words and actions. He is pure of evil desires. And he is the source and standard of what is right.
This means God is totally and utterly set apart from all creation. He is transcendent.
Yet, God’s holiness is balanced with the biblical teaching of his immanence–especially seen in relation to humans.
Think about it like this: the one who lives in a high and holy place also lives among us, the contrite and lowly in spirit.
Biblical Support for God’s Holiness
The Hebrew and Greek root meaning of “holy” is separateness. It’s predominantly used in Scripture as separateness from sin:
I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Leviticus 11:44
I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45
God’s holiness also appears in his power and works:
Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Ex. 15:11
It’s seen in his rejection and redemption of Israel.
For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5
And it’s seen in the ability to discern the spirit of God in those who were not run off by Jesus’ hard teaching of the bread of life:
We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:69
Holiness Is God’s True Motive Behind His Wrath
God values purity. He hates impurity. Thus, if he wants to save and preserve his creation, then God must destroy whatever would destroy it.
That’s his jealousy.
The bottom line is this: the holiness of God, the wrath of God and the health of creation are united. That means holiness is the necessary condition for the health of creation.
Participating in God’s Holiness
It’s like this: We must take refuge from God–in God. In other words, we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son. And we must also believe that he disciplines, chastens and purges us so that we may be holy.
Paul urges us to mourn over sin and clear ourselves of guilt. The reason why? We have comfortable habits of unholiness. We look at sin as the natural thing.
But if we want to be holy as God is holy, then we must carve out everything that contaminates the body and spirit.
Our Violent Reaction to God’s Holiness
When we see the holiness of God, we are assaulted. We react violently. What causes this violent reaction? Good question.
This is what’s behind primitive cargo cults or modern polytheists. A fear for the unknown, the uncertain, the mysterious, the impersonal, the strange. A nostalgia for the past, a fiddling with the return of the dead.
This fear does nothing for us except hang a cloud of apprehension over our head.
But through the self revelation in creation, Scripture and the Holy Spirit, this non-rational dread is given life, personality and moral content. It becomes God. And is holiness.
Thus, the foreboding and severe, kind and longsuffering Lord of the universe inspires a deep sense of awe and perpetual worship in His creatures.
It lands us flat on our backs. In a posture of adoration. Or, for some, it triggers a stiff-arm. A cold shoulder, a posture of rejection.
Either way, we respond to God’s holiness.
**Part of The Nature of God series.**