by Mike Ratliff
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3 ESV)
Not long ago I became involved in a “discussion” here with some professing Christians who were a bit perturbed at me and some of you because we were pointing out that it is wrong for Christians to be fleshly. What struck me through most of that was their insistence that we were the ones in sin because we were rebuking them. Their stance was that we just need to mind our own business. Also, God showed me through this that those who belong to Him who are maturing unto Christlikeness don’t seek to see how far they can push the flesh envelope before it becomes sin. They don’t walk in simply sin avoidance either. No, instead, they seek to live pure and holy lives before their Lord.
The focus is not on seeing how much one can get away with and still not sin. Instead, it must be on God Himself and, because of that, we must seek to be Holy as He is Holy.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)
However, with the huge downgrade in theology and the resultant corruption of church leadership in our time, much of the “church” has taken on the values of the world. Those who are in this whirlpool of spiritual destruction have also taken on the world’s conception of God.
“Our thinking goes like this: If there is a God at all, He is certainly not holy. If He is perchance holy, He is not just. Even if He is both holy and just, we need not fear because His love and mercy override His holy justice. If we can stomach His holy and just character, we can rest in one thing: He cannot possess wrath.” – R. C. Sproul from The Holiness of God, p 175
By the way, one of the fellows whom I debated on this topic a few months ago told me that only God was holy and since we aren’t why should we be burdened with it? I provided ample scripture to him that shows us that it is a command from the Bible. This ended the discussion.
What does it mean to be Holy? Below is a small part of a document from Bible.org titled “The Holiness of God” that can found here. I wanted to provide to you a biblical definition of Holiness and why it is important for any of us who profess to be Christians to conform unto the image of Christ.
(1) To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. As Sproul puts it:
The primary meaning of holy is ‘separate.’ It comes from an ancient word that meant, ‘to cut,’ or ‘to separate.’ Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase ‘a cut above something.’ When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is ‘a cut above the rest.’22
This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition.
“When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.”23
The Scriptures put it this way:
11 “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11). 2 “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:2).
8 There is no one like Thee among the gods, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Thine. 9 All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; And they shall glorify Thy name. 10 For Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds; Thou alone art God (Psalms 86:8-10; see also Psalm 99:1-3; Isaiah 40:25; 57:15).
(2) To be holy is to be morally pure.
When things are made holy, when they are consecrated, they are set apart unto purity. They are to be used in a pure way. They are to reflect purity as well as simple apartness. Purity is not excluded from the idea of the holy; it is contained within it. But the point we must remember is that the idea of the holy is never exhausted by the idea of purity. It includes purity but is much more than that. It is purity and transcendence. It is a transcendent purity.24
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? and who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation (Psalms 24:3-5).
3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD Of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3-5).
13a [Thine] eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness [with favor] (Habakkuk 1:13a).
(3) For God to be holy is for Him to be holy in relation to every aspect of His nature and character.
When we use the word holy to describe God, we face another problem. We often describe God by compiling a list of qualities or characteristics that we call attributes. We say that God is a spirit, that He knows everything, that He is loving, just, merciful, gracious, and so on. The tendency is to add the idea of the holy to this long list of attributes as one attribute among many. But when the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense. The word is used as a synonym for his deity. That is, the word holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, his justice is holy justice, his mercy is holy mercy, his knowledge is holy knowledge, his spirit is holy spirit.25
Therefore, let us come boldly, yet humbly, unto the throne of grace. Let us repent of whatever it is that is causing us to separate from God’s fellowship. Let us walk in obedience in His power thereby becoming His holy servants who bring Him much glory.