The word holy has two meanings. One refers to the holiness of God and the second refers to someone or something that has been set apart for the glory of God. They are meant for a holy life serving the perfect will of God. God’s holiness is who he is, and it is laid out in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Our call to be holy is much more than just the good works predesigned for us by a Holy God. Understanding God’s Holiness and ours is living out the word of God. Let us begin with the definition of holiness.
God Is Holy
God is holy because He is. He is not like us, who must be made holy. Therefore, it makes it almost impossible to comprehend His holiness. His ways are not like our ways because He is the creator, and we are the created. Hence, He is from the very beginning incomprehensible for we know no one like Him to compare. Human beings were created in His image but that is where the likeness ends.
Per A. W. Tozer, “When we try to imagine what God is like we must of necessity use that-which-is-not-God as the raw material for our minds to work on; hence whatever we visualize God to be, He is not…” God is a force of Himself. Since we mainly interact with ourselves and other humans, we have nothing with which to compare God. This makes it very difficult for us to begin to understand holiness. I for one cannot imagine anyone without some sin since I have so many.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1
God’s Holiness is Self-Existent
God is holy because he exists in Himself and for Himself. His existence belongs to no one and is indivisible. Therefore, he is self-existent. God has no origin and is self-caused. This idea of God being self-caused may be difficult to understand as we are taught to believe everything was created by someone or something. However, the Bible is clear that God was here before all existed. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16 We all sin when we challenge God’s selfhood. Therefore, we must all accept this as part of his holiness.
God’s Holiness Is Self-Sufficient
God is holy because he does not need to rely on anyone or anything for Him to exist. God is Himself in all that He is. Life flows in Him and from Him. God does not receive life or anything from anyone. This is a gift only He can give to others or Himself. God has no need for anything from any other creature. He is Self-Sufficient and can only receive what He has given to himself. Hence, being self-sufficient he does not need to receive anything because He has created all that will ever be needed. This too is hard to comprehend because we have been conditioned to believe that no one is an island and that everyone needs somebody or something to live in this world. We as a race must rely on each other to survive. However, God does not have this limitation.
To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.Deuteronomy 10:14
God’s Holiness Is Eternal
God is everlasting. He has no beginning and no end. Since God was not created, He has always existed from the beginning of time. From everlasting to everlasting, thou are God. This makes God holy. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Time has no bounds on God. This is a concept hard for us to wrap our heads around because it means that God has lived in all our yesterdays and all our tomorrows. The fact that God can exist in the past and future at the same time is even harder to comprehend. However, I do know many people who wish they could go back in time to right some wrongs or change some choices. I believe god has this power for there is nothing that He cannot do. What an awesome God we serve. I am in awe of Him.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”Revelation 1:8
God’s Holiness Is limitless
God knows no bounds. God is without limits. There is nothing that God cannot accomplish or create. God is without measure. Measuring God would mean limits and imperfection. God is perfect with no need to change, grow, or need for additional development. I find comfort in God being limitless for I know that he is perfect. God’s perfection brings peace for I do not feel as if I need to be in control. Therefore, I can let go and let God. We should trust that His will shall be done for our good. I trust Him enough that no matter what trials and tribulations I face He will be there to comfort me, and I rejoice in this comfort. However, during times of joy, He is also there for me to praise and worship Him.
“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.2 Samuel 22:31
God’s Holiness Is immutable
God never differs from who He is. In this God is perfectly holy. He does not need to change for the better or the worst. He is whom He says He is. I am at peace with the understanding that God will always be the same. Therefore, my faith is in Him. This characteristic of God cannot be compromised, coerced, or manipulated into changing the Word or answering self-centered prayers from people. God’s will would be for us to change for the better. For us to be Christ-like in all that we do. We are called to be holy by conforming to His will for us. Our changing will be infinitely more beneficial to us than standing rebelliously in our sin.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8
God’s Holiness Is Omniscient
God possesses perfect knowledge. He is all-knowing without a need to learn. Hence, God has never had to learn and does not have to learn. He knows Himself fully as well as every living creature on the earth. He is the source and the author of all things and knows all that can be known. This spans from the past into infinity. There is nothing that has occurred or the future to come that He does not already know or knew.
God knows immediately and without any effort all that is occurring be it in the mind, heart, or body for all creation. God knows everything there is to know perfectly. Therefore, he knows himself perfectly because knowing the infinite can only know the infinite. Hence, we will never know God fully. It is only by our faith can we believe in the knowledge he shares through the Bible and those He has ordained.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.Psalms 139:4
God’s Holiness is Omnipotent
Omnipotent means having all power. God is all-powerful. This goes hand in hand with sovereignty for God must have power to reign. Power belongs to God Psalms 62:11 However, God can delegate His power but never relinquishes it to others. God can give power to others but never gives it away, thereby diminishing Himself in any way. After all, He is self-sufficient, needing nothing from anyone. He does not need to look to others to restore His power or strength. I have faith in God’s limitless power for he can meet my needs daily. He has the power to change any circumstance I find myself or not. Therefore, I trust God with the power to see and know my future.
In his great power God becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment.Job 30:18
God’s Holiness is Omnipresence
God is here, there, everywhere. He is near to everyone and close to every living thing. Omnipresence means he is universally close to all. He is above all. This truth should make every Christian feel a deep comfort to know that God is always available for us to seek. He is so awfully close to all believers and nonbelievers. Always waiting for us to seek Him and His love. All Christians should feel God’s presence in our lives. All we need to do is set aside time in our busy lives to seek Him. We should invite Him in and pray to him without ceasing for he cares for us. He loves us and is mindful of us. He wants to be part of our life. Therefore, we should open our hearts and let Him in. This is true worship.
The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.Proverbs 15:3
What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?Psalms 8:4
How Is God Holy
God’s holiness is in his perfection: sinless, pure, without fault, blame, guilt, hate, and evil. He is the light that eradicates all darkness. God is the redeemer. He is filled with love, grace, mercy, and salvation. He is more than we could ever be. God’s holiness means He is self-existent, Self-sufficient, eternal, infinite, immutable, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresence.
Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.Psalms 99:5
Therefore, all His words and actions must remain true and consistent. God’s goodness, love, and faithfulness will never change. All that God has created is good because it originated from Him. As God spoke creation into existence, He called it good. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 1 Timothy 4:4 Therefore, God loved everything He created.
These important things about God point to His main attribute, which is love, it is the way God is. God is love. His love drives the blessings He bestows on every one of us. Everything God does comes from His everlasting love for us. Therefore, we are commanded to love as He does. Love God and love others. This is the sum of the teachings of the Bible.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:8
Finally, God is faithful no matter if we become unfaithful to Him. And we will. This object lesson from God more than proves the truth about Him and His Holiness. Hence, this will lead to our holiness when we follow His ways. Therefore, we should strive to be holy as He calls us to be. So how can we expect to follow such large footprints?
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:16
Why Are We Called To Be Holy
We are called to be holy because God is holy. This pursuit of holiness requires becoming a living sacrifice and living holy lives. This important concept requires us to heed the call of God. It will require us to deny our human flesh to walk in the way of Jesus. To not conform to the rest of the world to desire different things than the world offers. For too long, we have learned to live with sin and accept it as the natural way of life. Therefore, we have become blind to God’s holiness and cannot even imagine it in our daily life.
God’s word teaches us how holy living is possible. As mere human beings, we are called to be holy because God is holy. God is spirit so we must live by the spirit as well. Living in the Spirit of God is living in God’s truth. Therefore, with the help of the Holy Spirit, which was sent by our Lord Jesus Christ, we can teach others his ways.
One Saturday I attended a Women’s Day at my Mother’s Church. As we sat down for lunch two women set near me and began chatting with me about their church. They then proceeded to explain why attending this church made them different, because their church was the only church of God. At this point, the Holy Spirit began to give me scripture to counter all their doctrine. Scripture was coming out so rapidly that I had no time to determine how I knew all of this. Finally, they stopped and ask me “Who is your teacher?” I said the pastors at my church, and I read the Bible daily. Therefore, none of what you are saying is true about being a follower of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Came to Make Us Holy
Jesus walked the earth among us to show us what God was like, to make God known to us, and to help make us holy. He is the Messiah God sent to deliver His people. Jesus died to save all mankind. He will forgive all our sins because He paid the price so that we may be reconciled with God. Jesus came to bring life. However, there is still nothing we can do to save ourselves but to believe in Jesus. This is the unconditional love of God. The Bible is truly clear regarding salvation and works. We are made justified through our faith in Jesus.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus ChristRomans 5:1
Jesus’s holiness allows us to go forth and share the good news. Hence, this same love from God gives us the courage to do God’s will. None of us can do this without God, no matter how good we think we are. However, before leaving to return to God He promised to send a helper. The Holy Spirit is that helper that resides in us. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will help us live in the truth and share the truth. On our own, we cannot but through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed to share the gospel.
“or the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”Luke 12:12
What Holiness Means in the Bible
God’s word as written in the Bible is holy ground we walk through every time we read it. It is the road map for the Christian life. The Bible is a holy place we should visit to learn about Christ Jesus and our Heavenly Father. It is filled with the good news about God’s redeeming love. We are no longer under God’s law. For we have been set free to learn how to be a holy person. It is more than a slogan or bumper sticker proclaiming us to be Christian. Therefore, the word holiness means we are children of God. As we study the Bible this will be made clear to us. Attending church and Bible study groups are great resources to help with our studies. Bible studies and the Church provide practical lessons for various ministries to serve God.
In The Bible
In the Bible, Moses a servant of God stood on the holy mountain before the burning bush, where he had to be told to remove his sandals by God. The land on which he stood was holy. Exodus 3:5 Everything associated with God is holy. The Holy Bible, holy land, the Jewish people, and we are made holy in the presence of God. We are called to be holy because God is holy.
Therefore, it was there on the mountain that Moses was made holy to deliver a holy nation. He was called by God to deliver God’s people. Much like the holiness of our Lord Jesus leading mere human beings into salvation. For Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God. God is true holiness, and we are grafted into his family by our new birth. Being a born-again Christian also allows us to become God’s holy people. For this is the will of our Lord God almighty that we become holy to teach his people.
In God’s presence, Isaiah was made holy. After proclaiming he was a man of unclean lips God cleansed him. Isaiah 6:5. This holy man was then sent out to do the will of God. To turn God’s people back to Him. To teach them to seek the one true God. A God that would always love them and be faithful to them. The only God that could save them.
Jewish people and holiness
The first Christians were Jewish. Jewish people have always been set apart. Jewish people are god’s holy people. Jesus was Jewish. The Jewish people were to teach the entire world and spread the good news. However, they became idolaters forgetting the holy days of the old. They no longer had clean hands and pure hearts that allowed them to worship the one true God. Therefore, God removed them from his holy land into exile because the Jewish people could no longer remain in the Holy land.
In their fear, they forgot they were supposed to be the light of the world to share wisdom and understanding from God. A royal people and holy and wise. They needed Jesus to show them the way. The Jewish people were God’s people set apart to bring all people to God. Jewish people are holy because God is holy. Jesus commanded all his disciples who were Jewish to teach the good news to the Jews and the Gentiles. Therefore, this command to teach also applies to us.
Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”Deuteronomy 4:6
Jesus Commands Us To Teach
The last command from Jesus was to teach. If we love Jesus, we will follow this command. For we are set apart to share this good news. Therefore, we were made holy. Just like the chosen race, the Jewish people are to lead God’s holy people to righteousness.
The bottom line is Christ’s sacrifice was to save all people. Hence, we will all have eternal life in God’s presence in God’s name. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into this wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV).
God calls us to not conform to the pattern of this world. For out of the heart come evil thoughts-murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander Matthew 15:19 NIV. Therefore, let us align our purpose with God and seek God’s will for all areas of our life. We should allow the Holy Spirit to be the helper. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21. Hence, you will have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and share the good news of the Bible. This is practicing holiness in your daily life.
Practical holiness requires us to strive to be holy. To pursue holiness every day requires us to work to be transformed. We should read our Bibles daily, attend church, join a Bible Study group, hear, and listen to God’s will for us, fear the Lord, and obey what we are called to do for God.
All these things will help us to renew our minds. They will allow you to learn your spiritual gifts to use them in every area of your life. Everything that we do throughout of day should be towards advancing the gospel. Using our spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:23-24 God’s grace will see us through to the other side of Heaven. Here is a recap for understanding God’s holiness and ours.
- Being God’s obedient children will lead to God’s holiness
- Read and study the Bible
- Spend time with God in prayer
- Commune with other Christians
- Be led by the Holy Spirit to do God’s will to love others
- Fear the Lord to gain wisdom
- Obey His Call for the great commission