With Easter approaching, I believe this is the perfect time to post this part in the series.
As I am about to write part three of this series, I feel that this is the most important aspect of God (I say aspect in this sense, because I hesitate to call holiness an attribute of God – I believe holiness to be what God IS, not just a part of His character – every one of His attributes come from His holiness). Right now it is December 30, 2007 – yes, I know that means that even though this series is not being published until 2008, that I have written the introduction and parts one, two, and three in December 2007. At this moment, I am not sure what date this is being published, but I am really serious about what I am writing, and I am really putting a lot of prayer into this series. I am hoping this is evident by the lapse between the date written and the date published.
There is not a lot that I am afraid of. I could probably count the things that I am afraid of on one hand. I am not going to list those, but I will say this: I am afraid of what I am writing in this series. I am afraid that I will screw up what God is trying to say, and that I will screw His word up in a way that may in fact be the difference between life and death for someone. And that truly scares me. So with that in mind, it is by God alone that I continue now.
God is great because of His holiness. I believe that His holiness is the very core of His character; everything that happens is a result of God’s holiness. Take a minute to reflect on that.
I think I have to define the idea of holy. The idea of the holy (from the Hebrew word “qodesh”) implies differentiation: the realm of the holy is entirely set apart from the common, the habitual, or the profane. The holy is singular, awe-inspiring, even “terrible” or dreadful. God is absolutely separated and is above all His creatures and He is exalted above in infinite majesty.
I think that we can describe the holiness of God both positively and negatively. Positively: Holiness refers to the absolute integrity and purity of the nature of God. It means He is always absolutely pure and so distinct from all others. God is pure light (1 John 1:5). Holiness refers to His uncontaminated purity. Negatively: Holiness is that perfection in God that totally separates Him from all that is evil and defiling and common. God is unstained by sin.
Holiness is an essential and inherent part of His Being. Only God is absolutely holy because only God is God. “There is no one holy like the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:2).
Holiness means that God is not common; He is not ordinary; He is not casual; He is distinct – He is not like us. He is never to be taken lightly. In Psalm 111:9, it says “Holy and awesome is His name.” Have you ever really thought about that? How many times have you used the name of God flippantly or without regard (in vain)? I am guilty more times than I care to remember on that one, as I am sure you are too.
We (our culture today) market the name of Jesus like Tommy Hilfiger. We buy T-shirts, and cups that have the name of Jesus on it – a name that is above every name! His name is not what you use it for; it is not a marketing device. This god that most Americans have is no god at all – he can do nothing for you; but these same Americans like him because he can do nothing to them. That is not the God of the Bible. God says that He will vindicate His holiness: “And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:23).
We (in our culture today) don’t want to make God seem too glorious because he will seem too far away from us; we want to bring God down on our level. If you bring God down on any level, you have created an idol. God is in a high and lofty place according to Isaiah 57:15. Even though this is true, because we are His children, we can call him Father; Jesus taught us this in Matthew.
We must, however, when talking to our Father mark our words before they come out of our mouths; be sure not too say too many things in the presence of Yahweh, because He is God. God is not our good buddy, He is not the man upstairs; Jesus is not your homeboy, and me and Jesus don’t got our own thing going. He is God and He is holy.
There is a word that must go with holiness – transcendence. One definition of transcendence is “being above and independent of the material universe.” God’s holiness represents His transcendent majesty and absolute moral perfection: Hosea 11:9, “For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you.” The holiness of God transcends any idea that we have of holiness; and it transcends any aspect of holiness that anyone might reflect.
In Isaiah 6:3, it says, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts…” This is the only time in the Bible that an attribute of God is repeated three times. The Bible says that God is love, but not love, love, love. According to Jewish custom, when they wanted to emphasize a point they repeated it two times, this is known as Hebrew parallelism. Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say unto you” This means it is absolutely truly what he was going to say. But here in Isaiah it says Holy (the declaration), Holy (the repetition), Holy (further confirmation). God’s holiness is repeated not to the second degree but to the third degree, which means He is infinitely holy. On the other hand the Antichrist is called with the number 666, repeated to the third degree of evil. Wow, that makes you think a little doesn’t it? Well, it made me think anyway; moving on…
Look at how God appeared in the Old Testament. God said to Moses, “Do not come any closer; take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) But this is just a normal place, and Moses is familiar with this area. Why is it that only now this spot suddenly became holy? Whenever God’s presence appears, everything becomes sanctified. It was the presence of God that made the ground holy.
Look at Isaiah 6:2. It says, “Above it [the throne of God] stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” These angels were created and designed to proclaim the holiness of God. Why did they have six wings? They had two to cover their faces (so they won’t gaze directly into God’s glory), two to cover their feet (acknowledging their subservience to God), and two with which to fly (serving the Lord who sits on the throne). The God of the Universe is infinitely holy; even these angelic beings cannot see the full glory of Him. Wow!
I have barely begun to cover this idea of the holiness of God. Hopefully, however, I have been able to get you on the track of thinking about the holiness of God, and cause you to personally research this further. If I have done that, then I feel that I have accomplished what God has called me to do through writing these parts.
To conclude part three, I will say that the holiness of God humbles our pride and unveils our hypocrisy, and demonstrates the absolute perfection of God. It is not our right to be in the presence of God, but our privilege – given by the grace of God.
I want to end with the lyrics of a song by Phillips, Craig & Dean, “You Are God Alone.”
You are not a god
Created by human hands
You are not a god
Dependent on any mortal man
You are not a god
In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is
You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone
You’re the only God
Whose power none can contend
You’re the only God
Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God
And that’s just the way it is
That’s what You are
Final note: I used various sources in writing part three. While most of the stuff in this part is mine, some of the stuff in this part is a direct quote from other people. If you would like to know the source of a certain part, please let me know.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. (1 Chr. 29:11)
– Adam Smith