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He is holy, holy, holy. I want you to stop reading for a moment. Pray right now that the eyes of your heart would open, and that somehow, someway you would get even a little glimpse of the mind-blowing grandeur of his holiness. Seeing his holiness will change you and the way you live forever. I'll explain how in a minute, but we still have some doctrine left to unpack.
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Our translation for holiness comes from the Hebrew word qadowsh which means "to cut. It means to be in a class of your own, distinct from anything that has ever existed or will ever exist. Qadowsh means a second thing: to be holy means to be entirely morally pure, all the time and in every way possible. When you put these two elements of holiness together, you're left with only one conclusion: that the Lord of hosts is the sum and definition of what it means to be holy.
He occupies a moral space that no one has ever occupied before, and as such, we have no experience or frame of reference to understand what he is like because there's nothing like him. Exodus asks, "Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
There's even more to be said. God's holiness is not an aspect of who he is or what he does; no, God's holiness is the essence of who he is. If you were to ask, "How is the holiness of God revealed? God is holy in every attribute and every action: He is holy in justice. He is holy in love. He is holy in mercy. He is holy in power. He is holy in sovereignty. He is holy in wisdom. He is holy in patience.
He is holy in anger. He is holy in grace. He is holy in faithfulness. He is holy in compassion. At this point, if you're anything like me, you're probably thinking something along these lines: "OK, I get that God is holy. I'm not entirely sure how to define his holiness, but the Bible declares it to be true. So what's next? How does this big doctrine impact my real life? First and foremost, the doctrine of the holiness of God sits at the center of the grand narrative of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Without the holiness of God, there would be no moral law to which every human being is responsible. Without the holiness of God, there would be no divine anger with sin. Without the holiness of God, there would be no perfect Son sent as an acceptable sacrifice for sin. Without the holiness of God, there would have been no vindication of the Resurrection.
Without the holiness of God, there would be no final defeat of Satan. Without the holiness of God, there would be no hope of a new heaven and earth where holiness will reign over us and in us forever. Yes, it really is true that the biblical story would not be the biblical story if it were not written and controlled at every point by One who is holy all the time and in every way.
But let me make this even more practical. God's holiness impacts you in three life-shaping ways:. In a world that seems so out of control, that seems so evil, where wrong seems to be rewarded and right often seems to be punished, it's vital to remember the holiness of God. Every situation, location or relationship that you have been in, are now in and will be in is under the careful sovereignty of the One who is completely holy.
At street level, it often won't seem this way, but your Lord is ruling. What he does is always right. What he says is always true. What he promises he will always deliver. You have to preach this message to yourself over and over again: evil is not in control. Injustice does not rule. Corruption is not king. Satan will not have victory. God is, and will always be, worthy of your trust for this one reason: he is holy. With holy power he will defeat every evil thing that has made our lives sad and difficult and deliver us forever to a world free of all that is wrong.
To discover another impact that the holiness of God has in real life, we need to return to Isaiah 6. Look at the prophet's response to his startling vision in verse 5: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! Isaiah doesn't have a "wow" response to God's holiness. Yes, he is blown away, but blown away in brokenness because he recognizes how morally separated he is from the Lord.
It's only in the face of the holiness of God that you and I, like Isaiah, will ever be broken by the disaster of the sin that lives within us. You see, we have a problem: sin doesn't always appear sinful to us; often, it's attractive and magnetic. It's only in the face of the holiness of God that you fully realize that sin is more than a list of bad behaviors and more than breaking a set of abstract rules. Rather, sin is a disastrous condition of the heart that causes us to willingly and repeatedly rebel against the authority of God and do what we were never intended to do.
It's the holiness of God that tells us that since we cannot escape ourselves, we all need a Savior who can do what we can't - rescue us from us. You simply cannot consider the holiness of God without also mourning your sin and crying out for the grace of Jesus. Because holiness is the essence of God's character, it becomes our calling as his children by inheritance.