By Ron Thomas
In discussions about the holiness of God, sometimes the question arises, “How is God holy?” I think it’s a good question, one that needs to be answered. The Scripture clearly affirms the holiness of God and that we are to pattern ourselves after Him. “...but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16, ASV).
Holiness is a quality of God that should be ours. Yet, though we recognize as much, we also recognize our complete failure in attaining such a lofty standard. Is there ever a time in your life that you feel comfortable saying, “I am holy”? You can, you know. We don’t, however, because it sounds arrogant, pompous and egotistical. If one is called to be holy, then one can live a holy life, otherwise the words of the Lord have no meaning!
A holy life is one that is set apart for the Lord, a life one lives to please the Lord and not by one’s own standard. It was Jeremiah who said that man has it not within him to know the right way, he must be taught (cf. Jer. 10:23). This is easier to understand than it is to put into practice. I can’t help but to think of my personal failings along this line when I think about the Lord’s holiness.
Consider how holy the Lord is. First, He is the standard of right thinking. Nothing in His mind has an element of thinking that begins to wander off into an area that is unbecoming of holiness. How would I know such a thing as this? Since it’s impossible for God to lie, that also means He will not lie to Himself (Titus 1:2). Second, He is the standard of right conduct. The Lord is spirit, and spiritual being are not controlled by physical limitations. Yet, when the Lord conducts Himself in the physical realm, who among us can dare say (and defend) the Lord did wrong? There is no doubt that many do, but in so doing, what standard of conduct are they using to measure the Lord? “Let God be proven true, and every human being shown up as a liar, just as it is written: ‘so that you will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged’" (Rom. 3:4, New English Translation). The best a person can produce is what one thinks ought to be done.
Just how great is the Lord? Consider the words of Isaiah 40:12-14 (the ASV is italicized). (1) All the waters of the earth fit into the “palm of His hand” - Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, (2) A “span” is the distance of the pinky finger to the thumb, about 8 inches - and meted out heaven with the span, (3) Take a handful of dust, count the grains - and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, (4) People weigh bales of hay, body weight, but a mountain? - and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (5) With one’s best effort, a person can only hope to know a fraction of the way of thinking of a loved one, can you comprehend the Lord’s mind? - Who hath directed the Spirit of Jehovah, or being his counsellor hath taught him? (6) It’s all people can do to do things in the right way and to think of things in a righteous way, are any of us in position to stand in judgment of the Lord? Yet, we do when we make silly remarks like, “I don’t think the Lord will do this or judge that.” Really? - With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?
When I think of the holiness of the Lord, these are some of the things to which I give attention. I consider myself to be above average in intelligence, relatively strong for the age that I am, good at understanding the frailties of people, and especially the moral/spiritual failings with which each struggle. Perhaps you think this, also, about yourself. With all of that, however, I am but a “drop in the bucket” in comparison with the holiness of the Lord. Interestingly, the Lord made use of the term (drop in the bucket) with regard to nations in comparison with Him; how much more so the individual!
When we gather as an assembly to worship the Lord, let us be reminded the holiness of the Lord is sacred, and our approach to Him must be with holy reverence. Any approach less than this is playing with fire.
Holiness in us, is the copy or transcript of the holiness that is in Christ—As the wax hath line for line from the seal, and the child feature for feature from the father, so is holiness in us from him. –Philip Henry- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/