Following on from our first article on holiness we began by asking the question: What do we know about the Father’s holiness?

When we talk about Yahweh’s holiness, we are in fact talking about His divine character and describing that purity of nature that He possesses. It is all part of who our God is, because holiness is the essence of His nature. When we think about God and His characteristics as revealed within Scripture, we know that not only does He know what is right, He can only ever do what is right as well.

Well, you might say, this is obvious! But this is not like us, is it?

When we consider our own lives, we so often struggle to even know what is right or what we should do in many of life’s difficult moments. But not our heavenly Father! He always knows what is right and always knows exactly what to do. This is part of His infallibility and because of His perfect knowledge—He never suffers from any uncertainty about what is right or wrong.

But it is actually even worse for us! Although we might know full well what the right thing to do is, there are many times in our lives when we are really reluctant to do it. Doing what is right, might at times, be the last thing we want to do!

But again, not so with Yahweh; He never sways with indecision—He will always do what is right without any delay. His perfect nature means it is impossible for Him not to! From this we can understand clearly how the holiness of God is completely free from any evil, and this fact cannot be stressed enough. The ‘rightness’ of the Divine character shines forth in all His decision making, because it is not possible for Him to do otherwise.

Consider how John expresses this for us in 1 John 1:5 where he writes, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”. Here, John is using darkness and light in contrast to illustrate the spiritual power of God’s character. In effect he says, God is absolutely free from any moral evil and He is Himself the essence of moral purity. And that is what this is all about! Our comprehension of the Father in this way, opens for us an understanding of His holiness in real terms.

Perfect conformity

The holiness of Yahweh also includes His perfect conformity to His own divine character. Have you ever thought about that? All of His thoughts are consistent with His holy character—without fail. Now you may well say, ‘well of course, what else would you expect?’ But to truly appreciate what this means we only have to look at ourselves in contrast to Him, to grasp a better understanding of this thought.

Let us consider this. As we develop in the truth and our understanding deepens, so we expect to change and grow, developing the character of God, little by little. Hopefully the truth becomes a firm part of our character and we look to live pure lives, embracing the humility of Christ. But we do not always act consistently with our principles, do we? For example, we still might tell lies or entertain impure thoughts—and these inconsistencies weigh us down and disappoint us because we know that we are inconsistent with the values we are trying to develop. Not so with Almighty God; He is always consistent with His holy character. That’s the standard that He is using when He says, “Be holy, because I am holy”. In other words, “you must develop that same holy, consistency of character, because that’s exactly what I am”, says God.

Despite our imperfections, however, we should find consolation and assurance that God is consistent with His holiness, because this means that every action of His towards us will always be perfectly right and completely just. What a relief that is for us!

The natural man can never believe this and always feels that God is not fair in His dealings with man and therefore he constantly questions God’s decisions. In effect, this was the way sin was first brought into the world wasn’t it? The serpent placed in Eve the seed of doubt about God’s intentions: “God doesn’t mean what He says. He is being unfair to you by preventing you from eating from that one tree!”

How do we worship?

It is a vital part of our worship to acknowledge God’s holy character—not just paying lip service, but acknowledging His power and supremacy in our worship. Consider the beautiful words of Moses recorded in the song of Moses in Exodus 15:11, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (ESV).

What a truly beautiful statement of the Father’s character for us to dwell on! The KJV has, “glorious in holiness” and this expression was commented on by Adam Clarke when he wrote that the phrase means “Infinitely resplendent in this attribute, essential to the perfection of the Divine nature”. Why is it essential to the perfection of the divine nature? Because holiness captures every aspect of who Yahweh is and without it the Father would never be ‘complete’—if that were possible.

Further evidence of this acknowledgement is seen in Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-3, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory”.

Three times the word holy is used here in reference to God and it is mentioned three times for emphasis. Isaiah had a glimpse of the future age when the “whole earth” will be full of Yahweh’s glory. It speaks of a time when holiness will be as much a part of the saints as it is of the King Himself. The vision is a declaration of the redeemed—a scene which is painted for us in Revelation4:8, “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”. The great theme that is uppermost in their hearts is the attribute of holiness because they are fully in tune with that divine characteristic.

Holiness is a part of God’s name throughout the Scriptures. Titles such as, the Holy One and, the Holy One of Israel are frequently used in Scripture. In fact, one writer claims that holy is used as a prefix to Yahweh’s name more than any other attribute and describes God’s holiness as His ‘crown’.

So, let’s stop and think for a moment about the omnipotence, or the infinite power of God. Let’s try and imagine His omniscience, or perfect knowledge. Let’s try and grasp His omnipresence and then try to think of these qualities without His holiness. That would no longer be God, would it? Because what we are realising, is that holiness is the perfection of the Father’s other attributes. His power is holy power; His mercy is holy mercy and His wisdom is holy wisdom. Holiness completes the picture.

Our worship then must be filled with awe and wonder, but an appreciation of His holiness must be reflected in our behaviour before Him: “Be holy, because I am holy”. The same point is made in 1 Peter 1:15, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation”. Holiness has to be part of every aspect of our life, not just at the meetings or around our loved ones. It must become an integral facet of our makeup. Moreover, we must also understand that because God is holy He cannot ignore or make any excuse for our sins no matter how small we think they are. Hence we can never justify our behaviour when we are doing wrong. He will never accept any reasoning that seeks to justify our own position. This is why the common expression today, “Well, that’s just the way I am” is totally unacceptable to the Father. Excuses by us are really just a means of self-justification.

So let’s consider the words of James 1:13 that we know so well, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man”. This is such an important verse for us, because it further defines the character of God. Because He is holy, He cannot tempt us with sin. Although we really know this, sometimes we can think that God places us in positions where we are left with no option. But that is the mistake king Saul made, because he didn’t know Yahweh or understand His character. In 1 Samuel 13:8-9, Saul had been told to wait for seven days for Samuel to arrive and then together they would offer a burnt offering to Yahweh. But it appeared Samuel was not coming. So Saul took it upon himself to act. To his own human reasoning he was left with no alternative. His army was falling apart, the men were scattering all over the land and the Philistines were making preparation for war. Samuel had not come, and something had to be done! He was saying in effect that God had put him in a position where he had no choice but to disobey His instructions. As we know, this disobedience cost him the kingdom! (1 Sam 13:13-14).

So, how do we see ourselves in relation to this type of thinking? Do we sometimes feel that we are given no choice when we face temptation? We must believe that God’s holiness will never place us in this kind of position. He is holy and therefore our response must be, even under the severest trial, one of holiness too.