Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy! (Psalm 99:9 ESV).
God is holy. The truth of God’s absolute, total and pure holiness is extremely crucial to a proper understanding of God and his attributes. Though we shrink from ranking God’s attributes in an order of importance, it is clear that the word “holy” is not only central to what God is, but the word can be used as a modifier or qualifier of all God’s other attributes. For example, God is worshiped unceasingly for his holiness (Revelation 4:8; cf. Isaiah 6:3). When the question is asked, “Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?” the answer is presupposed that all must reverence him, “For you alone are holy” (Revelation 15:4). Holiness is more often joined to God’s name than any other name or quality. You never read of God’s mighty name or his wise name or his loving name, but you do read of his “holy name” (Leviticus 20:3; 22:2, 32; 1 Chronicles 16:10, 35; 29:16; Psalm 33:21; 103:1; 105:3; 106:47; 111:9; Ezekiel 36:20-21; Luke 1:49).
The idea of God’s holiness is that he is “set apart” from everything else. God is set apart or holy in his being. He is Creator, absolute, and unlimited. Everything else is created, dependent, and finite. God is holy or set apart from sin (rejection of God as God, refusal to love God supremely, and rebellion against God and his ways; cf. Habakkuk 1:13; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5). God cannot sin because it would be contradictory to all that he is and destructive of his majestic glory.
“There are some attributes of God we prefer, because of our interest in them, and the relation they bear to us: as we esteem his goodness before his power, and his mercy whereby he relieves us, before his justice whereby he punisheth us; as there are some we more delight in, because of the goodness we receive by them; so there are some that God delights to honor, because of their excellency… Power is his hand and arm; omniscience, his eye; mercy, his bowels [emotions]; eternity, his duration; his holiness is his beauty (2 Chronicles 20:21)….” (Charnock, The Attributes of God, Vol. 2, pp. 112-113).
God intends for us to live holy lives in conformity with his holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16), though in the fullest sense, only God is holy (Revelation 15:4; Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2). God is forever perfect in his holiness (Revelation 4:8). “Goodness, truth and justice are moral attributes of God. Holiness is not an attribute distinct from these; but a name which includes them all, in view of their opposition to contrary qualities” (Dagg). We must show the fame of God’s name by acting, choosing, thinking, and talking in conformity with God’s holiness. This will mean that we walk in truth and in love. How are our passion for God’s holiness, truth, and love being shown in our gatherings for worship and fellowship? May you see God exalted for his holiness as you meet with your brothers and sisters in Christ!
Grace and peace, David