Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

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.

SDG

 

18 thoughts on “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty

  1. “Be Ye Holy as I am Holy” …. The every-minute challenge to each Christian is that of a clean heart. Lord, please forgive my sins and grant me the joy of serving you in witness and walk.
    Amen and Praise His Name!

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  2. Mike, the holiness of God is overlooked by many Christians, and the command for us to be holy is as popular as the need to repent. Thank you for bringing holiness to the forefront. If we live each day as though this may be the day of His coming, we would be more apt to strive for holiness. May this need for holiness be made a reality in all who truly love the Lord and belong to Him….God bless.

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  3. Again I find myself behind in my thoughts. R.C. Sproul has it right on. If we had our concept of God right, our actions and attitudes would fall into place even as Isaiah standing before Holy God. It’s so easy to fall into the world’s way of thinking, yet we are IN it, but not OF it! Lord, help me to remember that.

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  4. Mike,

    I find it interesting that Jesus never called for or commanded anyone to be holy. He called for repentance, humility, obedience, to believe in Him, to be followers of Him, to abide in Him and to deny self, etc, but never to be holy. Perhaps this was so because of the emphasis the Scribes and Pharisees had in regards to personal holiness. They believed holiness was attained (produced) by what one did or did not do which led to pride, arrogance and abuse of the common people. I believe Jesus saw holiness not as something you do but as something you are. In other words we are not human beings because of something we do but because we are born of the corruptible seed of man. Likewise Christians are not holy beings because of something they do but because they are born of the incorruptible seed of God. Paul states the new man is created in righteousness and true holiness after God (Eph 4:24). Therefore, the putting on the new man and putting off the old is possible and reasonable because we are already righteous and holy in Christ. So my understanding is that holiness is not something produced by effort but manifested in our lives by faith as we abide in Christ and walk after the Spirit.

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  5. thank you for this article. Where are all the biblical teachers? Not many are teaching about holiness, repentance. There are too many feel good messages out there that have nothing to do with what Gods word says.It saddens me that the you cant tell the difference between the world and the church due to the church wanting to be like the world to attract the world. Thank you for being obedient to our awesome God and Father.

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  6. This is the word that needs to be coming across “christian” airwaves and pulpits. But, that would cause us to stop serving self, to stop repositioning ourselves, to stop saying WE are ALL THAT, to stop seeking 7 steps to better financial rewards in God, to stop living our best purpose driven lives now…heaven forbid we should live HOLY lives unto the Lord and stop glorying in our flesh.
    Come quickly Lord Jesus, come!

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  7. Amen MIke!
    We are His jewel and knowing that we are so precious to Him, should we not shine brightly?
    “Holy, Holy, Holy, is our God All Mighty!”
    Cristina

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  8. Loddie, Then why does 1 Peter 1:14-16 say, ‘you also be holy in all your conduct’????? I thought we were to be examples????? Why does it tell us to fight the good fight???? We aren’t to give in to the flesh, right?? We have to do something then, right?? I thought we were to think, read, act, talk, and be conformed to the image of His Son??? He does it all, but we don’t just do nothing do we???? I mean as far as our conduct goes.

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  9. Loddie,
    Peter 2:9 describes believers as “a holy nation”. If he describes us as to be Holy, should we not act it by walking in the Spirit? As Mike said We are separated from the world; we need to live out that reality in our day-to-day living, as Paul said above in 1 Peter 1:14-16.

    Cristina

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  10. Mike, Let’s not overlook Hebrews 12:14, ‘Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’; also 2 Corinthians 7:1, ‘Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God’. Holiness is definitely something we should strive for….

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  11. Ephesians 1:4

    4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

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  12. Good post, Mike. I love this passage because it puts things into their proper perspective. When things are at their worst (in our eyes), God is still there! He is always seated on the throne…”high and lifted up!!!

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  13. Mike,

    good post. On the other hand, you beat me to (posting) it, but anyway this topic is very pertinent and I will still be posting on it when the time comes. Holiness is mandatory for all who name the name of Christ, and it is sad when people can worm their way out of Scripture yet call themselves Christians. God bless, brother.

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  14. Mike – how would you reply to a spouse (not mine) who says they’re saved but continues to drink too much and likes porn, won’t go to church, and says if God wants to change me, he will?

    How does a person live rightly with an unbelieving spouse who says he believes?

    I suggested Psalm 37:4 — “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

    The key is that delighting in the Lord comes first and as a result he gives you the desires of your heart — because your desires change from fleshly to desiring God himself and the things of God.

    But if you do not delight in the things of the Lord then blaming him for not changing you seems… a copout. How does a spouse reach someone like that? They’ve been married for a very long time already.

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  15. Paula,

    The person you are describing is not regenerate. Also, the statement that if God wanted to change him then he would is, as you stated, a cop-out. Unless a person sees the hideousness, the sinfulness, of their sin then they cannot be saved. To still love sin is antithetical to the regenerate heart. Those of us who do know God still sin, but do we love it? Do we seek it and try to justify it? No! However, the professing Christian who is the business of searing his or her conscience by justifying living in the flesh is revealing their unregenerate nature.

    I would make this fellow a object of much prayer and witnessing. If he refuses to repent then he must be regarded as an unbeliever. Now, if he is the spouse of a believer then Paul gave us directions in that area and we must follow them. Who knows, perhaps God will use the godly people in his life to prick his conscience and bring him to belief.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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