THE HOLINESS OF GOD
HOLINESS is a general term used to indicate sanctity or separation from all that is sinful, impure, or morally imperfect. The term is used with reference to persons, places, and things.
Holiness is one of the essential attributes of the divine nature. It is, on the one hand, entire freedom from moral evil and, on the other, absolute moral perfection. The Scriptures lay great stress upon this attribute of God . Of great consequence in this connection is the revelation of God’s holiness in the character and work of Jesus Christ. By the holiness of God, it is not implied that He is subject to some law or standard of moral excellence external to Himself, but that all moral law and perfection have their eternal and unchangeable basis in His own nature. He is the One in whom these eternal sanctities reside, who is Himself the root and ground of them all. In this sense it is said without qualification, “There is none holy like the Lord” ; “Thou alone art holy” . The holiness of God is set before us in the Scriptures as of great practical consequence:
(1) It is the ground of reverence, awe, and adoration:
(2) It is the standard of all holiness:
(3) It implies divine opposition to, and condemnation of, all sin:
(4) It is revealed to men establishing the highest end of their aspiration, hope, and endeavour:
(extract – from New Unger’s Bible Dictionary)(originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (C) 1988.)
No human being is qualified to understand or appreciate the holiness of God, nor are we capable of grasping the true meaning of His divine holiness by likening God to anything or anyone that is well known to us, because His divine holiness is unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. His holiness is of such that when men and women of the Old Testament era sensed they were in His presence they were overwhelmed with fear of instant death . Such is the standard of holiness that is set for us, for He says: “..consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” , He does not expect us to be as holy as He is for this would be impossible for us to attain, but He requires of us to be holy BECAUSE He is holy. How then can fallen mankind be made aware of God’s holiness if it is unique and incomprehensible? Since the average person is not concerned with Biblical content, God has ensured that all mankind is made aware of His existence and holiness by the things we observe around us in the natural environment , so there is no one who has an excuse for not being aware of God’s holiness. Therefore, contemplation of God’s holiness is to awaken or deepen human consciousness of sin.
Why then, does God require mankind to be holy? Because sin entered the perfect creation that God had established, and because His eyes are too pure to look upon evil , He placed the condemnation of death upon His creatures since sin cannot go unpunished , as a result all mankind is condemned to die because of inherited sin. The only way of escape from this condemnation is to be “made holy” by imputation of a merciful and holy God. When we recognize our ungodliness and appeal to God in faith to save us from our condemnation, He imputes His righteousness to us, through the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, making us holy in His sight .
THE DEPRAVITY OF MANKIND
The Scriptures have a lot to say about the depravity of mankind as opposed to the holiness of God, just checking one source there are approximately 110 scripture references on the subject. In the Epistle to the Romans we read of the condition of mankind as a result of inherited sin from Adam: “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” . Other portions of the Scriptures speak of this depravity which are only a few of the passages that deal with the subject.
SIN: Since God demands righteousness (holiness), sin must be defined in terms of mankind’s relationship to God. Sin, therefore, is the faithless rebellion of the creature against the just authority of his Creator, and breaking God’s Law at any point involves transgression of the whole Law , thus any violation of the law of God in thought, word, and deed shows the sinfulness of the human heart. Sin is actually a contradiction to the holiness of God, whose image mankind is marked with. This depraved condition is called “original sin” because it comes from Adam and is characteristic of all persons from the moment of their birth . This depravity of mankind is full-blown in that “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” .
Sin involves the denial of the living God from whom we draw our life and existence ; and the consequence of this revolt is death which is the ultimate penalty imposed by God for sin . To be delivered from this penalty, or condemnation, the reality of sin must be recognized, not only as disobedience but as depravity (original sin), for only then will any person be prepared to accept the gospel of Christ and plead for His salvation. This salvation God has provided through His Son our Lord Jesus who bore our penalty on the cross to redeem us from our depravity . Apart from Christ, all are “dead in your transgressions and sins” .
In response to this depravity of mankind, God has introduced to us a “righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ” that is available to any and all who believe. God “presented Christ Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood…” . The idea of atonement comes from the Levitical Sacrifices in which the blood of an animal atones for the sins of the person offering the sacrifice, and was given to the Israelites as a representation of what was to come in the person of Christ. Today we offer back to God the sacrifice that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has made for our sins, first in our acceptance by faith of His salvation, and then daily for our continued cleansing from sin, since by living in a world of sin we become contaminated , and this daily cleansing is the way that we maintain our holiness as we have been instructed .