Sunday: The Holiness of God

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Read 1 Peter 1:14-16. Why is the ultimate motivation for holiness just the reality of God Himself? What motivates you to live a holy life? What does it mean that God is holy?

It’s popular to emphasize God’s love while ignoring His holiness. While God is love, the idea of holiness is more often connected with the name of God in the Bible than is any other attribute (Ps. 89:18, Isa. 40:25, Jer. 51:5, Ezek. 39:7, Rev. 4:8).

The Glory of the Shekinah

Image © Lars Justinen

Holiness describes the purity and moral perfection of His nature. God’s holiness means that He is perfectly good and completely free from evil. God’s holiness is the perfection of all His other attributes.

If God possessed omnipotence (infinite power), omniscience (perfect and complete knowledge) and omnipresence (everywhere present) but had not perfect holiness, He would be a power of whom we would rightly be terrified. Instead, He is a God whom we should love.

His power is holy power. His mercy is holy mercy. His wisdom is holy wisdom, and His love is holy love. In this sense holiness is the most intimately divine word of all because it has to do with the very nature of God. To deny the purity of God’s holy being is, perhaps, worse than denying His existence. The latter makes Him nonexistent, the former an unlovely, even detestable god.

God’s holiness means that He is separated from sin and entirely devoted to seeking the good that He represents in Himself. In other words, holiness denotes a relational quality as well as a moral quality. It encompasses separation from sin and complete devotion to God’s glory.

In Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8, God is described as “Holy, holy, holy.” When the biblical writers wanted to emphasize something that is important, they repeated the word in order to draw our attention to what is said. Jesus draws our attention to important statements by repeating the words “truly, truly” (John 5:24, John 6:47, etc.) or “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” (Matt. 23:37) or by calling a name like “Martha, Martha” (Luke 10:41). Of all His attributes, only God’s holiness is mentioned three times in a row. This indicates something of highest importance. God’s nature is indeed holy. He is pure and good.

How scared would you be, and rightly so, if our all- powerful God and Creator were not holy and loving? What does your answer tell you about why we should be so thankful that God is as He is?


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