God alone is Holy (Revelation 15:4). There are many attributes of God, i.e., merciful, gracious, good, loving, just, righteous, etc. (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 119:68; 1 Timothy 1:17) but holiness is at the core of God’s being. His attributes are distinct qualities and characteristics of who God is, not what He has or does. He is 100% of each of these attributes.
To be holy means to be cut off or separate from, not common or ordinary. Biblical holiness has moral meaning and relates to God. He is unique and in a class all by Himself with infinite value, beauty, purity, and absolute worth (Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2)!
In the book of Isaiah, Isaiah sees seraphim, and, in Revelation, John sees living creatures that are crying out Holy, holy, holy, concerning the LORD. They both saw into heaven and the throne of God with all of His majesty, beauty, splendor, etc. But what was being declared three times was His Holiness!
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two, he covered his face, with two, he covered his feet, and with two, he flew. And one cried to another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:1 – 3 (NKJV)
The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will, they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:8 – 11 (NKJV)
God’s glory is the public display or manifestation of His holiness – all that He is in action, thinking, and feeling. It is an open revelation of who He is – the radiance of His holiness. The holiness of God conceals His glory, and the glory of God reveals His holiness.
God is separate from all He has made. He isn’t dependent on anyone or anything. He declared, “I AM WHO I AM” when speaking to Moses in Exodus 3:14. He is complete in Himself. Holiness is His “Godness” or Deity. Keeping the law and rules doesn’t make Him holy because He created them. Everything about Him and relating to Him is sacred and set apart, i.e., the temple and everything in it (the Holy place, the Most Holy place), a holy nation, the Sabbath, the holy city Jerusalem, holy assemblies, Holy Scriptures, holy hands, holy faith, Holy Father, Holy Child, and Holy Spirit, etc.
When Moses met God at the burning bush, God told him to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). We see in the Old Testament that the priests ministering in the temple and everything in the temple had to be sanctified and set apart as holy. The priests had to wear specific clothing after cleansing themselves and making sacrifices for their sins before making sacrifices for the sins of the people. A plate of pure gold with the engraving “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” was attached to the priest’s turban with a blue cord (Exodus 28). The veil in the temple separated the Holy place from the Most Holy place where the Ark of the Testimony and the Mercy seat was located (Exodus 26:31-33). Only one priest could enter the Most Holy place once each year after fulfilling specific requirements to minister before the LORD.
God gave instructions to Moses concerning the preparation of the people to receive God’s Word, the Ten Commandments upon Mount Sinai. They were to consecrate themselves and wash their clothes so that on the third day, the LORD would come down to Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Moses was to set boundaries for the people all around the mountain so that no one would touch its base and would be put to death, whether man or beast. The LORD came down in a thick cloud, and Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, where they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was completely covered in smoke because the Lord descended upon it with fire. Then the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mountain. No one could gaze on the LORD, or they would perish (Exodus 19; 34).
But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” Exodus 33:20 (NKJV)
And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I must be glorified.’” Leviticus 10:3 (NKJV)
Moses did not enter into the promised land because he did not obey God and was irreverent when he struck the rock to get water from it instead of speaking to it. He did not treat God as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel (Numbers 20:12 – 13).
We can’t stand before a Holy God because there is a gulf between a Holy God and sinful man. It was God’s love that bridged this gap through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10), but we must choose to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus came to reconcile us to a Holy God by taking our sin upon Himself. He was the sinless Son of God who shed His blood as a sacrifice and paid the penalty for our sin, which was death and everlasting punishment.
Jesus had to be sinless to redeem us to God because God is Holy. Jesus was entirely man but also fully God, divine and therefore holy (Isaiah 9:6-7). Because Mary was a virgin, and the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus, He did not have a sin nature passed on to Him through Joseph, the man’s seed (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35). He is the Holy Son of God. Even the demons knew who He was (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34).
God’s justice was satisfied because Jesus took all the righteous vengeance of God’s wrath upon Himself at the cross. No man is righteous except Jesus (Romans 3:10-12). When we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins and to come into our heart to be our Lord and Savior, we get His righteousness in exchange. We are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Righteousness means conforming to a standard of right living. Conforming to God’s standard makes us right with God, and we live right when we submit to His standard of behavior, thinking, and feeling.
Holiness and righteousness overlap to produce the same behavior but are not the same. We can’t grow in righteousness because we are as righteous as we will ever be when we received Jesus as our Savior, and He gave us His righteousness. We can, however, grow in holiness and godliness by guarding against worldliness (1 John 2:15), renewing our mind with the Word of God (Romans 12:2), thinking godly thoughts (Colossians 3:2; Philippians 4:8), increasing our knowledge and trust of Him, and by obeying Him. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to be transformed into the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). God even chastens us so that we can become partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). We are to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2).
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13 – 16 (NKJV)
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 2 Peter 3:10 – 12 (NKJV)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11 – 13 (NKJV)
As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. 2 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)
Godliness is more than having godly character, i.e., to be Christ-like, have the fruit of the Spirit, etc. It is one who walks with and pleases God and is devoted to Him. It isn’t just what we do but is also about our heart attitude towards Him. The fear of God (reverence, awe, and honor), the love of God, and the desire for His presence and fellowship are the foundation of sincere devotion to God. Desire is the highest expression of that devotion. It is not just an emotion we feel when we worship Him or practice Christian disciplines such as Bible reading and prayer.
We need to fear God and not man (Proverbs 29:25). We are to give God the glory. The fear of the LORD conquers all other fears and brings them into submission. The fear of the LORD gives us wisdom and knowledge; it guards and watches over us and delivers us from evil and the perverse man; gives us strong confidence, refuge and we avoid the snares of death; in other words, it provides protection and life (Psalm 34:9; Proverbs 2:9-12; 14:26, 27). The fear of the LORD helps us to see who He is in comparison to ourselves.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. Proverbs 8:13 (NKJV)
Godliness comes from a relationship with Him and devotion to Him, not following our will and desires but considering God in everything we do, in other words, a God-centered lifestyle. We are preparing for heaven! Love for God will allow us to develop godly character. We become what we behold. When we behold Him, we become holy as He is holy. Our relationship comes out of love for Him. It’s not all about legalistic rules. There is an adventure and joy like a bride and bridegroom who are in love. Holiness is a response of love!
We can approach God through Jesus Christ, who has given us access through His death and resurrection. The veil in the temple was torn in two from the top-down, signifying this access (Matthew 27:50-53). His resurrection demonstrates He is the Holy One who will not see decay (Psalm 16:10).
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19 – 22 (NKJV)
When we see His holiness, it gives us a new understanding of God. We should not lose sight of His majesty and holiness while seeing His love, mercy, and grace. Don’t take these for granted and treat them lightly. He is holy and worthy of all worship, praise, glory, and honor. He invites us into a relationship with Him as Abba, Father, but He alone is God (Psalm 86:10). We surrender our lives to Him as King of kings and Lord of lords!
“Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.” Revelation 15:4 (NKJV)
Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit would give us a more profound revelation of Your holiness and our need to live holy lives. Holy Spirit, please convict us of any sin and unholy or ungodly attitudes and lifestyles. Thank you for Jesus Christ and for making way for us to be reconciled to You through His death and resurrection. Give us a new understanding of Your holiness. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
What is Godliness? Navpress. Https://Bible.org
Challies, Tim. (2017). 8 Rules for Growing in Godliness. http://www.challies.com
Piper, John. (2012). YouTube: The God of Holiness and Hope. http://www.Desiringgod.org
Stewart, Don. What Does It Mean: God is Holy? Https://blueletterbible.org
Sproul, R. C. (2015). YouTube The Holiness of God. Ligonier Ministries