“God’s holiness means that He is separated and devoted to seeking His own honor.” – Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology
Holiness. It’s a word that has lost its meaning in this day and age. We no longer grasp the concept of what holiness is – what it means in our lives to be holy, and how God is holy. Today, the word “holiness” has just become another adjective we use when describing God. It seems to only be another word that we throw into elaborate prayers. “Majestic”, “holy”, “merciful”, “compassionate”, “powerful”, “miraculous”; people don’t really know what they mean anymore. I want to redefine holiness as it should be when we speak of God, and when it becomes the pattern of which we are to mimic in life. What is holiness really?
Holiness is defined as follows:
1.Dedicated to religious use; consecrated; sacred.
2.Spiritually pure; sinless.
3.Deserving reverence or worship.
4. Associated with Jesus and his life.
It’s black and white – He is holy. He is spiritually pure. He deserves worship.
An aspect that Grudem mentions in his book Systematic Theology I thought was significant to point out on the topic. He brings out that since God is separate from sin, then the devotion is to the good of God’s own honor or glory; one example he uses being the fact that the most holy place where the ark of the covenant was kept was the place most separated from evil and sin and most fully devoted to God’s service. Ps. 23:4, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place?” Where God dwells is holy – it is separated from sin. And fully dedicated to His own honor.
Now we’ll see that God’s holiness goes hand in hand with His sense of justice in a certain aspect. Being that He is 100% pure and separated from sin, it cannot enter into His presence. Because of His holiness, Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire from the Lord (Lev. 10:1-7). Because of His holiness, Uzzah was struck down and died (2 Sa. 6:1-7). His holiness cannot allow anything impure into His presence.
This is why there must be atonement for our sins, which was instituted at Calvary. However, this does not let us off the hook. Holiness applies to our every day lives.
Our key verse is 1 Peter 1:15-16, “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.’” But for however well-known this verse might be, there are still others that address the issue.
Heb. 12:10, “…but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.”
Heb. 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy…”
2 Cor. 7:1, “…perfecting holiness out of reverence to God.”
Even the church is to be holy. Eph. 2:21, “In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”
Holiness applies to us directly. We are to be holy as God is holy. For us, this would practically look like separating ourselves from sin, worshipping the Lord, and consecrating ourselves for His honor and glory. “What?!” I hear you cry. “Are you telling me to never sin? That’s impossible!”
It is impossible to stop sinning completely. But that by no means gives us the chance to use the whole “God gives us grace!” excuse. (Which is so over-used, y’all, come on.)
Yeah, we’re a fallen race. We are born sinful, and we will never be able to overcome our sin nature. But we are called to persevere and press on toward the right thing, even with the knowledge that we will never reach it. We are to always seek after the things of God, always to walk in His ways, always to yearn after Him and to obey His commands. Yes, we will stumble. Yes, we will fail and make mistakes over and over again. But we are not called to give up and declare it only for your church elders. We are called to acknowledge our mistakes, and keep going, pushing on toward achieving the same holiness that is the Lord.