Term Paper: God's Holiness Doctrinal

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God's Holiness Doctrinal Essential

I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, . . . And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord

Almighty. (Isaiah 6:1-6)

God's Holiness

Hagiasmos (Greek) = "to Make Holy" or "to Sanctify"

Qadosh (Hebrew) = "to set apart"

A highway shall be there, and a road,

And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.

The unclean shall not pass over it,

But it shall be for others. (Isaiah 35:8-10)


One of the chief differences between Christianity and other religions is that the Christian God, the God of the Bible, is "infinitely holy."

Holiness is oftentimes defined as "likeness to God."

In Isaiah's scripture, Isaiah sees the Lord and hears the attendants of God speak of his holiness and he immediately realizes that in comparison to that holiness, he is 'woefully' lacking. In order to make sense of Isaiah's woefulness, we must first understand what it actually means to "be holy" as well as what it means when we say that God is holy.

Holiness, arguably, is God's principal attribute; without holiness, God would not be God. Understanding holiness, as God is holy, is a very difficult task to undertake, even for the most schooled in religion, as understanding holiness would be equivalent to understanding God in his entirety. Yet, to not try to understand God's holiness is to be missing out on the goodness that man can achieve by knowing about his Holiness. Though as humans we may never understand what it is to be as holy as God, we should try to understand the importance of His holiness because doing so can bring us closer to Him.

II. Biblical.

The Hebrew word Holy, qadosh, means "to set apart," although there are approximately 12 different Hebrew and Greek words translated "holy" in the Bible; the chief meaning used, however, is "to be separated from" all that is unclean, "transcendence over all that belongs to this world."

Isaiah 6:3 says, "And they were calling to another: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." Holiness is the only attribute of God that is mentioned in triplicate.

We heard it the first time in Isaiah; the second time is in Revelations 4:8: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is to come." The Bible uses the triplicate of holy twice; there is no other attribute that God assigns to himself like this in the entire Bible. God never says that he is "love, love, love" or that he is "mercy, mercy, mercy," God only says that he is "holy, holy, holy."

In 1 Peter 1:13-16 -- "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy'."

In the above passage, Peter is actually quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and Leviticus 19:2.

Leviticus 19:2 says, "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy'." God is telling Israel to be holy and to be different from other nations. He is giving them specific standards for which to lead their lives. Israel is, of course, God's chosen nation and God has "set them apart" (i.e., God has made them Holy) from all other people and nations. God, in giving Israel these special regulations for which to live by, is essentially doing so for the reason that other people may see the people of Israel and know that they are God's people. When Peter repeats God's words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is speaking specifically to God's believers, and as believers we have to be "set apart" from the world unto the Lord.

In 1 Samuel 2:2, it says, "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God." This passage reaffirms that there is nothing else that exists like God. God is pure and he is lacking even a trace of sin; God is therefore perfection. Furthermore, God hates sin and one day he plans to do away with it. This leads us to understand something very important about sin, which is that holiness and sin cannot exist together. Though we can never be as holy as God is, if we want to be more like him, we must also hate sin. Habakkuk 1:13 states, "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, / and You can not look on wickedness with favor. / Why do You look with favor / on those who deal treacherously? / Why are You silent when wicked swallow up / Those more righteous than they?"

God is so holy that he cannot even look at sin.

In the Bible as well, there are several verses that tell us that God sits "on high" and that he "reigns" in "His holy temple" while "sitting on a throne" -- all of these images lead us to the conclusion that God is something that is completely separate from all of creation, that is, he should not be recognized as the same with any part of his creation, yet he still reigns over it.

Furthermore, the fact that God is holy means that there is nothing that can measure or assessed by any person or thing other than himself; "God is the absolute standard of himself."

In the Old Testament, the holiness of God appears to have two distinct senses. The first is a combination of 'Absoluteness' and 'Majesty'.

It signifies the absoluteness and the majesty of the Creator in his distinction from his creation. This is illustrated in Daniel 4:8,9,18; 5:11. Yahweh's "holy arm" (Isaiah 52:10, Psalms 98:1) is "His Divine arm," and "His holy name" (Leviticus 20:3) is His Divine name.

"When Hannah sings, 'there is none holy as Yahweh' (1 Samuel 2:2), the rest of the verse suggests that she is referring, not to His ethical holiness, but rather, to His Supreme Divinity."

An encounter with the Holy is "accompanied by awe and dread."

In Idea of the Holy, Rudolf Otto states that holiness includes the ethical, but goes beyond all conceiving.

'Ethical Holiness' as applied to God in the Old Testament is the second notion of holiness in the Old Testament.'

The holiness of character in the ethical sense is given to God. The command, "Be ye holy; for I am holy," stated in Leviticus 11:44 and 19:2, seems to be merely an ethical notion because man cannot be holy like God in an absolute or majestic sense. The only way that man can be like God or His "likeness" would be solely along the lines of moral qualities of righteousness and love.

"In the Psalmists and Prophets the Divine holiness becomes, above all, an ethical reality convicting men of sin (Isaiah 6:3,1) and demanding of those who would stand in His presence clean hands and a pure heart (Psalms 24:3)."

The New Testament differs in its idea of holiness in that the external element of it has nearly vanished; the ethical meaning has become absolute.

The ceremonial idea still exists in contemporary Judaism and is typically represented by the Pharisees… but Jesus proclaimed a new view of religion and morality according to which men are cleansed or defiled, not by anything outward, but by the thoughts of their hearts, and God is to be worshipped neither in Samaria nor Jerusalem, but wherever men seek Him in spirit and in truth.

In the New Testament, the word "holy" is infrequently applied to God, except in certain quotations from the Old Testament. However, the term "holy" is often used when referring to the Spirit of God, who now, in distinction from the Old Testament, becomes specifically the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost.

III. Historical Background.

"Holy," in Hebrew, meaning "separate" or "to be set apart from" refers to the fact that Holiness is separate from all other things and is held higher than anything else. Only God is intrinsically holy. God can impart holiness to, he can sanctify, persons and places and things when they're brought into a certain kind of relationship with him. What is holy, however, is only in the realm of God, something that is separated to him.

In Recalling the Hope of Glory, Ross states,

To say that God is holy… [END OF PREVIEW]

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