02 Mar Holy, Holy, Holy
While studying God’s holiness, I came across the saying, “God is holy, not a homeboy,” on multiple occasions from many different resources. When I read it the first few times, I thought it was somewhat silly and a little cliché. Now, I see and understand the gravity of that statement. God is not just this guy in the sky that has power and does cool things. Let’s dive into this.
What does it mean that God is holy?
The definition of holy is something that is exalted or worthy of complete devotion. Biblically, the word “holy” is derived from the Hebrew word that means “sanctity of God.” To put it simply, it means to be wholly unique from anything and everything. God’s holiness is what completely separates Him from all other beings. Nothing compares to Him. He is eternity, with no beginning or end (Psalm 90:2), He alone dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), and He alone knows the number of hairs on your head and calls each one of the trillions of stars by name (Luke 12:7, Psalm 147:4). How incredible and unimaginable is that?
We see pictures of the holiness of God all throughout Scripture, especially in the Old Testament with Moses, Mount Sinai, the Ark of the Covenant, the Israelite priests in the temple, Ezekiel and his vision, and many more. In the Old Testament, we see God show His absolute power, while in the New Testament we see God show his holiness through Jesus, allowing us, through faith, to have access to the Holy Spirit – and in Revelation, we see these come together.
Take Moses for example. In Exodus 3, Moses notices the bush burning with fire inside of it, but yet it was not being consumed by the fire. As he approached this remarkable site, God called out to him and commanded him to remove the sandals from his feet for he was standing on holy ground. What did Moses do? He hid his face. After God instructed Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, He told Moses to tell the Israelites that I AM had sent him. He said, “I AM WHO I AM, ” (v. 14).
I AM = Yahweh = “I Am the One Who Is” = Alpha and Omega = the First and the Last. God IS.
Knowing all of this, how do we respond to God’s holiness?
We should be responding in the same way that Isaiah responds. After having a vision of the Lord seated on a throne, surrounded by heavenly beings, his response was the recognition and realization of his own sin. If Isaiah, a prophet of the Lord, felt this way, what’s stopping you from recognizing the sin in your own life?
If only God is truly holy, how is it possible for us to become holy as we are commanded?
The answer? Jesus. God sent Jesus, who is both fully God and fully man, to take our sins on the cross so that we may invite the Holy Spirit to live within us. God is inherently holy, and we can only become holy in relationship to Christ. Once we give our lives to Christ and begin living in obedience, we increase in practical holiness as we spiritually mature. In Romans 12:2, we are told to not conform to the world and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What does that look like? Jesus gives us the perfect picture. In John 14:15, he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This mindset should be our basis for growing in practical holiness. Now, we cannot look at his commandments as just a set of rules, as other religions and the world do, but that our obedience of his commandments is rooted in love because of what he did for us on the cross.
So, when we are practicing holiness through prayer, worship, our choices, our actions, and other spiritual disciplines, we need to make sure that it is done from a heart of love and not out of passionless obedience. God’s commandments are not to take away our ‘freedom’ but are given so that we may be free from the chains of sin and given eternal life. We have been washed by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and set apart from the world.
But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
– 1 Peter 1:15-16
I know this can be confusing, overwhelming, and intimidating. Yes, God has all authority and demands reverence and worship, but He is also a God full of love, grace, and mercy. God provided a way for us to approach Him; a way for us to confess our sins and to have a relationship with His Son. He provided a way for forgiveness, reconciliation, and eternity with Him. We can approach the throne of grace with the hand of Christ upon us. Recognize your sin, take it to the Lord, and receive the amazing gift of forgiveness and love that is freely offered to you!