In prior posts I have established, even if in a basic form, the Existence of God and the Possibility of knowing God as well as that God is Eternal. As we continue to look into the Nature of God and the relationship that exists between the Godhead i.e. the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we will now seek to show that the Eternal, Knowable God is also Holy. From the outset we can see that if/since God is eternal it is also very good that He be Holy as well. Imagine a God that is eternal and not Holy; as the wisest snowman known said “tell me when it’s over.”
Again the goal here will be to offer enough of a foundation from which to operate.
I must admit a certain feeling of inadequacy in approaching this topic for it is very difficult to describe the Holiness of God in any real … adequate way. Anything said comes off lacking or somehow out of tune; you know it’s the best you can do but it’s just not quite right. I even thought I could/would attempt a unification theory of God’s attributes but the more I though about it the more impossible and distant its possibility seemed. I owe many thanks to Bob over at Faith Christian Fellowship for helping me along this line of thinking and while I have not given up, I think attempting to unify, in a hierarchal scheme, the attribute’s of God is sorta like herding cats, the more you work at it the less you seem to accomplish.
So let’s begin with a definition, Holy is: “to be set apart.” But that’s not much help is it? Maybe the difficultly is in the fact that Holiness is the very essence of God. It simply is who or what He is. It’s what makes God…well… God; and it is from Holiness that all of His other attributes flow or submit (if that’s possible).
Webster’s 1828 dictionary [in part] defines Holy as:
1. [when] Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character.
2. Hallowed; consecrated or set apart to a sacred use,
4. Perfectly just and good; as the holy law of God.
5. Sacred; as a holy witness.
But we have lowered our understanding of what it means to be holy by using such exclamations as holy cow, holy mackerel, holy rollers, and such. And maybe this demonstrates the difficulty in our understanding in that we have cheapened words to the point where they have lost their true meaning altogether. For instance we “love” potato chips when in fact we like them. I hate liquorice when in fact it is only an intolerable cruelty. So that we have lost the ability to easily and properly understand some of the basic tenants of the Christian faith.
However, with the Holiness of God we should understand that the Scriptures place great emphasis upon His being holy. In the sense of His holiness Rev 15:3-4 declares:
"Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed."
It was Isaiah (Isa 6:3) who saw the seraphim in a vision declaring “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts.” In fact the angels in Rev 4:8 “will never cease to say Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.”
So really how important is holiness in general and holiness specifically as related to God? First generally God commands to everyone “BE HOLY [emphasis mine] for (or as) I am holy” 1 Peter 1:16 (ref. Lev 11:43) and this, admittedly is an impossible standard. We can never obtain that level of holiness but that is the standard. However, we must not fall into the mistake of thinking that God commands only the possible for those to whom He commands.
Specifically though if that is the standard and God has certainly commanded that we be Holy when in fact we cannot, then if God is to save anyone that standard must be set aside or fulfilled. If it is set aside God cannot be said to be holy any longer since in the setting aside the standard He Himself ceases to be holy in that He excuses sin. On the other hand if He is to remain Holy the standard “be holy” must be obtained and stresses our need for someone who can attain the standard?
And in resolution to this problem God is satisfied to place our unholiness upon the Holy One Jesus Christ “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). So you see in Christ alone the standard is met. In Christ alone we find our Holiness. In Christ alone “God, the Just, is satisfied to look on him and pardon me.”