It seems as we study Scripture that holiness is God’s chief attribute. Billy Graham: “As I read the Bible, I seem to find holiness to be his supreme attribute.” Louis Berkhof wrote in his Systematic Theology, “It does not seem proper to speak of one attribute of God as being more central and fundamental than another; but if this were permissible, the scriptural emphasis on the holiness of God would seem to justify its selection.”
Throughout the Scriptures, we are told that God is holy. “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex 15:11). In Isaiah’s vision, the seraphim called to one another, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is 6:3). “The four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, WHICH WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME” (Rev 4:8). “WHO SHALL NOT FEAR THEE, O LORD, AND GLORIFY THY NAME? FOR THOU ONLY ART HOLY: FOR ALL NATIONS SHALL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE” (Rev 15:4).
The noun “holiness” in Hebrew literally means “the essential nature of that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred and which is thus distinct from the common or profane.” Thus, holiness means that someone or something—in this case, God—is not like everything or everyone else. Of course, God is removed from every other being.
When we think of God’s holiness we think of God’s moral separation, his moral perfection. God is morally perfect. “Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments” (Ps 119:137). “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 Jn 2:29).
Out of his holiness, God has established standards of what is right & wrong.
Because God is holy, he has an intense hatred for sin.
The Scriptures repeatedly speak of God’s hatred of sin. “The thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (1 Sam 11:27). “Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee”(Ps 5:4). “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Because of God’s hatred for sin, he required an absolutely holy sacrifice for sin. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor 5:21). “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet 2:21). Because of God’s hatred for sin, man’s sins separate him from God. Josh 7:11-12. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps 66:18). “All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more” (Hos 9:15).
Since God is a holy God, he expects his people to be holy. “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:15-16). “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2). “Dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1). “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
However, God has called us to holiness, and we must seek holiness.
In order to be holy, we must be separate from the world. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17). “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn 2:15).
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