The Holiness of God part 3

Author’s note: This is the third post in a short series of posts dealing with The Holiness of God. You can read the first post here and the second post here.

Holiness of GodIn the Bible, the picture of God’s holiness is twofold—transcendent and moral separateness. First, we will discuss God’s transcendence before we discuss His moral separateness.

God is transcendent from His creation.  This means that God, being transcendent, is exalted above all of His creation, which positions Him as Creator and Sovereign Lord of the Universe.[1] The Biblical basis for divine transcendence can be found in many different passages, but particularly it can be found in the book of Isaiah. God, in Isaiah 55:8-9, tells us that His thoughts and ways are above our thoughts and ways, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” In 6:1-5 the Lord is “seated on a throne, high and lifted up.” The Seraphim cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, “ also giving us a picture of God’s transcendence.

There will always be a sense of awe and wonder when we have grasped the fact of divine transcendence. God’s transcendence is a cause for our reverence for Him, and it should affect the way that we worship Him.

God’s moral separateness is the second part of His holiness and where we turn our attention next. This part of God’s holiness holds the implications to how a Christian relates to the world, and is the focus of this study. As per the thesis of this paper, it is God’s moral separateness that is the standard for our lives. A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge Of The Holy, writes, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, all His attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.”[2]

David Horton, in The Portable Seminary, gives us the foundation that we will build upon, “God is holy (Lev 11:44), He is morally spotless; He is upright, pure, untouched by evil desires, motives, thoughts, words, or acts.  God is free from all evil and loves truth and goodness.  He is our source and standard for what is right.”[3] He goes on to write, “God is holy in essence; it is His nature to be holy.  So when Plato asks the question: ‘Is the good good because God wills it?  Or does God will it because it is good?’  God wills what is in His nature and He wills good because He is good and holy and because of His holiness He hates sin and all evil.”[4]

Wayne Grudem, in his book Bible Doctrine, writes, “God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor.”[5] This quote contains two qualities: a relational quality and a moral quality.  The relational quality is that God is separated from sin relationally in that He does not sin and can in no way be related to sin.  The moral quality is that God is morally separated from sin in that He is completely devoted to the good for His honor and glory.[6]

John Feinberg writes in his book No One Like Him: The Doctrine Of God that God shows His nature by following the rules that He has set even though He does not have to.[7] He is being consistent with His nature. Feinberg, when writing on God’s moral separateness, says, “Because of His holiness, God cannot sin—He hates sin—Scripture shows that God must punish sin; a morally perfect God cannot ignore sin and let it go unpunished.”[8] Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” James 1:13 says that God is so pure that He cannot be tempted to sin.

There are many more Scriptures that speak of God’s moral separateness. Joshua 24:19 says that God is a holy God, a jealous God, and He will not forgive the transgressions and sins of His people. In Isaiah 5:16 it says, “But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.” Psalm 145:17, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”

In tomorrow’s post we will look at what all of this means to the Christian and I will give a conclusion to the study.

[1] David Horton, ed., The Portable Seminary. (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 2006), 92.

[2] Aiden W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper & Row Publishers Inc., 1961), 113.

[3] Ibid.,108.

[4] Ibid., 108.

[5] Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, ed. Jeff Purswell (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999), 92.

[6] Ibid., 92.

[7] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him: the Doctrine of God, [Rev. ed. (Wheaton. Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006), 342.

[8] Ibid., 344.

About Peter van Brussel

Peter is the Director of For His Glory Prison Ministry. Peter holds a BA in Pastoral Studies from Southwestern College, a MA in Theological Studies, and a M.Div. from Liberty University. Peter is married to Niki, and has two children. He has been saved by grace and seeks to share the Gospel with those who have been forgotten.
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