"For I Am Holy"

W. Terry Varner
September 14, 2014

God told Israelites: “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy: for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44, emp added). Peter reminds the Christians of the same injunction from God in 1 Peter 1:15-16.

The term holy or holiness conveys the basic idea of separation, cutting off, or apartness. Therefore, correctly understood when used religiously it means separated from a common use by spiritual commands and separated to the service of God (cf. Ex. 29:37).

God Is Holy. To say that God Jehovah is holy is describing one of God’s attributes or characteristics. The word holy helps us better to understand God. When we speak of God as being holy, we say that God is:

  • Exalted, separate, apart, and above all of His creation. He is called “The Holy One of Israel” twenty-five times by the prophet Isaiah.
  • Free from all that is impure. When contrasted with the heathen gods of the Bible, and for that matter any gods anywhere, Jehovah God is unique for His purity. “Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? . . . You are of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:1-13).
  • Source of all holiness. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Ps. 97:2). “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). To say God is light and there is no darkness in Him is to say that God is perfect holiness. There is not one spot of imperfection in Him. The entire system of right and wrong has its basis in the holiness of God. If not, then what is the basis of right and wrong?

God holiness affects everything and everybody. The Scriptures teach that:

  • Those who obey Him are “a holy people” (Deut. 7:6; 1 Peter 2:9).
  • The ground where men meet Him is “holy ground” (Ex. 3:5).
  • Jerusalem, the city of peace, was called the “holy city” (Isa. 48:2; 64:10).
  • The Old Testament temple, the place of His presence, is called the “holy house” (1 Chron. 29:3).

God Desires Man to Be Holy. God’s holiness is absolute; the Christian’s holiness is relative. When we say God’s holiness is absolute, we refer to His perfect holiness. When we say Christian’s holiness is relative, we refer to the Christian being holy because and through his relationship to God through Jesus. The blood of Jesus separates the Christian from a common life to a life of serving God Jehovah. Consider God’s holiness as expected in our life as a Christian:

  • God’s holiness demands of all who serve Him to have a unique reverence for Him. Isaiah serves as an example to all. “So I said: Woe is me, for I am undone! Because 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” (Isa. 9:5). In the New English Bible, Hebrews 12:28 is translated: “Let us therefore give thanks to God, and so worship him as he would be worshipped, with reverence and awe” (cf. Rev. 4:11).
  • God expects His people to be holy in the sense that we are separated from the sins of the world. “But you are ... a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). God does not have one standard for Himself and another standard for His followers. When He says, Be you holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), He is saying “holiness is My way of life; therefore make it yours.”
  • God's holiness makes the highest demands upon our conduct. “You shall be holy” (1 Peter 1:16). God requires His people [Christians] to be godlike. Living in sin does not meet the requirements of God’s will and we are not holy. “The carnal mind is enmity against God . . . [and] cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8).