My goal at the beginning of this series, was to introduce you to GOD. I didn’t want you to receive a list of facts, I wanted you to get to know HIM! However, I fear that much of what I have done has become a list of facts. I decided that since I have never done anything like this before, a lot of these facts are necessary. During the week, I mull over them and the Scriptures that go along with them and I find that it is affecting my life.
We are now moving on to a topic that always seems to take my breath away. It’s partly out of fear and partly out of awe! He is so big, so great, so without any blemish or darkness morally. It is difficult to imagine what He would be like in that sense. It makes me want to step back and draw my breath in…and look down! Surely I wouldn’t be able to look Him in the eye…apart from my standing before Him in Christ!
I know I’m not the first: GOD’s holiness! That is something we all associate with Him don’t we? If we are very Biblically literate, we think of Isaiah when He saw GOD seated on a throne.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah 6:1-7 ESV
Remember when the 10 Commandments were given? Just touching the mountain was enough to get a person or animal killed!
Or perhaps we remember when the Ten Commandments were given. If we know much about that setting, we remember that the people had to all wash themselves and everything in the camp. Sacrifices were made. You might say they had to be clean inside and out!
And once GOD was on that mountain, anyone or any animal who even touched it was going to die! It was serious. It was not a quiet thing either. His voice was LOUD! The ground shook like an earthquake. The sound of His voice was likened to thunder! I don’t know about you, but I’m sure it would have been terrifying! The more I read the account with my brain in gear, the scarier the scene sounds to me! I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been there. cf. Exodus 19:9-20:21.
What is holiness?
So what is GOD’s holiness? God’s holiness: He is separated from sin and devoted to seeking His own honor. This has both a relational and moral element to it. —Wayne Grudem
The relational side of GOD’s holiness is that GOD is separate from… This involves separateness from sin as well as a separateness from His creation. You might say He is in a category all His own…because He is!
The moral side of His holiness is that GOD is separate from sin and evil. His devotion is to seeking His honor and glory. He is the only One worthy of seeking His own honor and glory! It sounds strange to say, but it is the truth! There is no evil in Him. He is the only One in the universe worthy of honor and glory by anyone…especially Him! (concepts also from Wayne Grudem)
Can you even picture this?
In our day and age, it is difficult for us to conceive of someone who is honestly holy. There is so much deviousness in our culture. There are so many that we expect to be upright, who turn out to be impure in a variety of ways, that it is difficult for us to conceptualize a holy being like GOD. But He is. Often, we have to think of the negative examples and think of Him as being the opposite of that!
Picturing Someone who relates to you in a way that is completely upright with no hidden sexual motivations or agendas, no personal agenda or neediness, no sinful or sleazy motives whatever. It is difficult to imagine…but that is who He isl.
There are other places set apart as holy
Another example of holy was the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. cf. Exodus 26:31-34. It had a veil that separated it from the Holy Place where the priests routinely went to sacrifice. The Most Holy Place was where the High Priest went once a year to offer a sacrifice for all the people. No one else ever went to that “inner sanctum”. It was where the Ark of the Covenant was. GOD’s presence lived there among His people. Yet He was separate. He was not easily accessible to them on a daily basis as He is today in the person of the Holy Spirit in each believer.
GOD Himself is described as the Holy One of Israel cf. Psalm 71:22; Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 99:9. But today, as the people of GOD, anyone who is “in Christ” is in that group. We aren’t holy in the way GOD is, but we stand before GOD as holy in a judicial way because of Jesus and the work He did for us. Paul teaches about the gentiles being grafted into the branch of Israel. He is our GOD as well.
GOD’s people are supposed to imitate GOD’s holiness as well. cf. Leviticus 19:2; I Peter 1:14-16. Israel was to be a holy nation: set apart, separate from the people around. cf. Exodus 19:4-6. In the New Covenant, we are to strive for holiness and be separate from defilement of the world around us. cf. Hebrews 12:12-14; 12:10; II Corinthians 6:14-18.
Another passage that is worth looking at carefully that adds GOD’s majesty (greatness) to His holiness is Isaiah 40: 25-31. It is a corrective to our often small view of GOD. Try to make time to read this passage and meditate on it. It will remind you once again that we can’t take just one of GOD’s attributes (holiness) and examine it alone because He is such a unity in terms of His attributes.
Yes, this passage reminds us of His holiness, but also of His greatness, of how much greater He is than we are…yet He does not reject those on whom He has put His love. If you are “in Christ”, He will not leave you or forget you. You are His. Not only will He not forget you, He has the power to keep you.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I Peter 2:9-10 ESV
What is comforting to you as you think of the holiness of God?
Is there anything about this attribute that is fearful to you?