Isaiah 57:15, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, ….”
Psalm 99:9, “Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God is holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16, “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.”
We are getting to know God in an intimate and close way. We have discussed His Character of being Just and now I want to tackle and introduce you to His Holiness. You might wonder why I wrote “tackle” but the truth is, the Character of God’s Holiness is one of those attributes that has been the hardest for many teachers and preachers to convey. I have had to really dig deep myself, in not just study but prayer and meditation as well and I hope I can make it more clear and not so foreign to you the reader. As the Scripture from 1 Peter states above, the Lord, commands us to “Be holy, because He is Holy!” We are to emulate our Heavenly Father in all ways as best we can through the Blood covering of Christ Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit who does the work in us!
Now, understand that God’s character and attributes, Who He is and what His “personality” is, is not always spelled out in specific descriptive words, but it is also found in the examples and circumstances written down in the Scriptures as inspired by the Holy Spirit upon the hearts and spirits of the actual writers. This is just another reason, why a person venturing into reading and getting to “know” the Scriptures should not just “pick and choose” verses here and there, but should read the Word within the context that each verse is written and with the Holy Spirit guiding their heart and spirit as it is read. This is also why you can’t know who our Heavenly Father is, in intimate detail, with just the New Testament, or just the Old Testament; you have to have the WHOLE counsel of God, which includes the very active leading of the Holy Spirit!
Sometimes, in our conversations about our Heavenly Father, we invoke the Holy Spirit and we do it in such a familial way without ever considering His Holiness. Among all the attributes of God, His Holiness is at the top. It is the one character trait among all of His attributes that He most wants us to remember Him for! You might be thinking that it is love, His Agape love, for as the Scriptures have taught us and as we have reiterated many times, GOD IS LOVE!
However —-, when you study the Scriptures in depth an interesting fact starts to emerge; God’s love, His justice, His grace and mercy, all the positive character attributes that make up our Creator’s personality are “encapsulated” in His Holiness! Let me explain it the way the Apostle James best stated it, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17. Malachi wrote, “For I am the LORD, I do not change; ….” – Malachi 3:6a.
God, our Creator, our Heavenly and Spiritual Father does not change; in character, attributes or action. He does not apologize or repent of the things He does or wants done. There is absolutely NO change in His resolution. This is what characterizes His holiness and this is why His other character attributes are so steadfast. We will in another lesson discuss His “Omni” characteristics which also play into His personality, but for the time being, understand that it is the Holiness of God, that makes His love, Agape, unconditional. Holiness is what makes His grace, so powerful and far-reaching in its implementation.
The power of God’s Holiness is in the fact that He never changes. There is no outside force, coercion or stimulation that will change God’s will or way of doing things. As James stated, there is “no shadow of turning,” or in other words, there is no changing, no indecisiveness, in His mind or in His actions. This is where the POWER of His Holiness comes into play and especially in conjunction with His other attributes. The power of His love is found in His Holiness, His ability to never change, to never be sorry for whom He demonstrates love too or for! Now notice I stated “His ability to never change,” and NOT, His inability to change.
Our God is all powerful (something we will explore later) and there is nothing He cannot do. Now I don’t want to delve into foolish speculation, “can God create a boulder too heavy for Him to lift,” for this shows lack of understanding in His sovereignty and in His All-encompassing Wisdom. This is one of the reasons why I stated His ABILITY, His power and strength, is to never change, it is not an inability!
If the Old Testament could be summed up in one word, it would be God’s “Holiness.” To the prophets of old, God was the absolutely Holy One; the One with eyes too pure to behold or to countenance evil; and the One swift to punish iniquity. If we were to take a picture of our Heavenly Father, it wouldn’t be His extremities that we would focus our lens on, denoting His power and skill, but rather His face, denoting His Holiness. It is that Holiness, just as the face in a photograph that He wants most for us to remember Him for.
There are a couple of things that can be derived from the Scriptures and especially those that go towards defining our Father’s Holiness. The first thing is that God is entirely apart, withdrawn from ALL that is evil and anything that would defile Himself and especially in relation to His creation. The other thing that can be inferred from the Scriptures is that the Holiness of God is meant the consummate perfection, purity and absolute sanctity of His nature. There is absolutely, without degree, anything unholy in Him. This is what led the Apostle John to declare, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5.
Because God IS so holy, our sinfulness and sinful nature creates a partition, a wall in which we could never approach Him, boldly as the Scriptures state, or any other way. Yet, He still commands us to “be holy as He is holy.” We have already studied the Justice of God in “Justice – An Essence of Love,“ and so we will concentrate on attaining the holiness that our Heavenly Father wants to see in us. When we can attain, in the sight of our Spiritual Father, the Holiness that is His nature, then we can see that wall that separates us from Him and His presence fall into rubble.
For me, this is the easy part of the lesson on God’s Holiness and the very reason why I stated that His Holiness “encapsulates” His other attributes and especially His love. We ALL know what John tells us in his Gospel; John 3:16-21, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
It has been said that the Cross of Christ shows how much our Heavenly Father loves Holiness for the Cross of Christ encompasses the Love of the Father in His Holiness. We concentrate so much on the forgiveness of our sins by way of the Cross, but in that we have a tendency to stop short. The forgiveness of our sins was the first step to a walk that is meant to be pleasing to God, as our Father. Christ Jesus didn’t just die for our sins, but He died to provide us with the means to attain the righteousness of life which is what the Father loves and desires.
I have seen a picture several times of a giant cross spanning a chasm and thousands of our Heavenly Father’s children crossing the chasm upon the bridge that the Cross has made. This is a perfect illustration of the truth of the Cross of Christ for this is exactly what it does. The chasm is sin and death, there is no way to approach our Heavenly Father across this open and ever widening chasm, EXCEPT for the very Cross that our Redeemer shed His blood upon! The Father accepts those that come to Him across this Holy Bridge. This is the reason that there is no other way to come to God as Father; the Cross leads straight to Him but is narrow in the sense that it is the only path acceptable to our Heavenly Father.
When we walk the path of the Cross, we walk in the Holiness that the Father has presented to man as His gift to each of us. When He sees each one of us come to Him, boldly, but in reverence and awe, He sees us through the Blood of His Son, walking the path of Holiness that His Son laid out for us. If you can picture that illustration that I told you about and recognize that the Cross of Christ is a symbol of God’s Holiness for each of us, AND we choose that path, that straight and narrow path as it were, we are walking in the holiness that God desires for each of us and is pleasing to Him. Any other way, to try and circumvent that “chasm” or wall of sin that blocks us from an intimate relationship with Him is evil in His sight. It is not that He is not willing to relate to us, He can’t because of His unswerving Holiness. Only by accepting the path that He has laid out for us, freely, empowered by His Grace and His Holy Spirit (Whom we accept into our hearts when we accept) can we hope to attain the righteousness that allows us into His Holy Presence.