QUESTION – “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)
ANSWER – “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” (1 Sam. 2:2)
Bible study should not be about just gaining mental knowledge, but about a spiritual knowledge of God. Right division is essential to understanding the word of God, but that is not all there is to Bible study. God has changed in His dealings with man through the ages (Heb. 1:1), and we need to understand that, but we must also understand that He never changes in His person or moral principles (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8). An important area of Bible study that seems to be neglected today is the attributes of God.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines attribute as “A quality or character considered to belong to or be inherent in a person or thing; a characteristic quality.” When we talk about the attributes of God, we are talking about those qualities and virtues that are considered as belonging to God, inherent of Him, and without which He would not be God. For example, God is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is light and love. He is holy, righteous, true, faithful, just, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, and much more. Some focus on a few attributes (e.g., love) and ignore the others (e.g., righteous), but ALL of God’s attributes work together.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of having a scriptural view of who God is. Many in the professing church today have a god which they have created in their own imagination. For example, some do not believe that God will pour out His wrath on the wicked. Paul said that those who teach such things are deceivers that use vain words (Eph. 5:5-6). The world, the flesh, and the devil will work to keep us from a right view of God. The only source that we can trust to tell us the whole truth about God is His holy Bible.
Let’s consider one of God’s many wonderful attributes. God is HOLY (and He is not any less holy in the age of grace). Of course, we will not scratch the surface or do this lofty subject any justice, but taking some time to mediate on the holiness of God is important.
The Holiness of God Defined
The word “holy” is related to the word “sanctify,” and both carry the idea of being set apart from that which is unclean (Lev. 11:43-47; 1 Thess. 4:7). People, places, and things that are not holy in and of themselves become holy when set apart for God (Ex. 3:5, first mention).
In respect to God, holiness not only means that He is separate from all that is unclean or evil but that He also is pure and perfect in the essence of His being (1 Jn. 1:5). God is holy, not only in conduct but in character. In other words, He is not only holy in the things He does, but He Himself IS holy. He is holiness in the highest degree (Ex. 15:11). He is infinitely and eternally holy, and in this He is different from all creatures, men and angels. Any holiness in God’s creatures is imparted to them by God and is derived by their relation to God. The holiness of God is not an acquired perfection; it is essentially God Himself (1 Sam. 2:2; Rev. 15:4).
That God is holy affects everything He does. For example, because God is holy, all His works are holy (Ps. 145:17) and all His words are holy (2 Tim. 3:15-16).
The Holiness of God Declared
The Lord is called the “Holy One” over 50 times in the Bible (30x’s in Isaiah – Christ is God, cf. Ps. 78:41; Acts 3:14). God declared “I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; 21:8; 1 Pet. 1:16). His name is holy (Isa. 57:15). The scripture refers to God’s “holy name” 20 times (Ps. 111:9). By the way, God has magnified His word above all His name (Ps. 138:2). Therefore, the modern versions that contain errors and false doctrine cannot rightly be called “The Holy Bible.” The King James Bible has proven itself for over four hundred years to be the perfect word of God, it is the Holy Bible.
In Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 we see heavenly creatures around the throne of God crying out that He is “holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:1-7; Rev. 4:6-8). Why the threefold repetition? It is not just for emphasis; God is a Trinity (Father, Jn 17:11; Son, Acts 4:27; many references to the “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost”).
If any order can be placed upon the moral attributes of God, holiness would doubtless come first. In a sense, holiness encompasses the other attributes of righteousness, justice, goodness, and truth which flow out of the holiness of God. It seems that holiness is the attribute by which God wants to be especially known as there is a major emphasis placed upon it throughout the scripture (Isa. 40:25).
The Holiness of God Demonstrated
God not only declares that He is holy, but He demonstrates it by His:
- Hatred for sin (Prov. 6:16-19)
- Love for righteousness and holiness (Heb. 1:8-9)
- Separation from sinners (Isa. 59:1-2; Heb. 7:26)
- Sacrifice to save sinners unto holiness (Titus 2:14)
- Creating the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10-15)
Our acceptance by God and access to Him is ONLY through Christ (Eph. 1:6; 2:18).
The holiness of God should impact how we live as believers (Eph. 4:24). For example, it should produce:
- The fear of God (Prov. 9:10)
- Humility (Job 42:5-6, Isa. 6:5; Lk. 5:8)
- Holiness (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1)