Holiness of God


Isa 66:1-2

The Holy One is mention over fifty times throughout the Bible and this does not count the word ‘Holy’ as it applies to God in other wordings. The word ‘holy’ itself is used over 630 times; only 96 of these refer to the Holy Spirit specifically. This is a significant word. But how much do we know about this word as it applies to God, the Bible, and ourselves?

Isa 6:3‑4

And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

It’s like an immediate echo to one another as they cried in unison the word ‘HOLY’. So forceful was the word and all it entailed that the entire presence was shaken by their cries. The smoke was a powerful by-product to this revelation.[1]

Rev 4:8

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!


7. Kadhosh, “Holy One”: The name (qadhosh, “holy”) is found frequently in Isaiah and Psalms, and occasionally in the other prophets. It is characteristic of Isaiah, being found 32 times in that book. …the customary and most probable derivation is from qadhash, “to be separate,” which best explains its use both of man and of the Deity. When used of God it signifies: (1) His transcendence, His separateness above all other beings, His aloneness…;[2]

God is most emphatically referred to as Holy; it is the crown of all words that describes Him. Holiness is the description of all His attributes beaming forth at one time, each and every attribute fully functioning and operating, where not one of His attributes is less in display than all others. The ultimate balance of personality and character.

Stephen Charnock eloquently declares: “Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty”

Ps 30:4

Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

“…purity the splendour of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom is a holy wisdom, His arm of power a “holy arm” (Ps 98:1), His truth or promise a “holy promise” (Ps 105:42). His name which signifies all His attributes in conjunction, “is holy” (Ps 103:1)”.[3]

The holiness of God is not that God loves. 1st John says He is love. God doesn’t merely decide to practice justice; He is all that justice could ever be. God doesn’t choose to do good, He is all that goodness could ever be. God cannot be anything but just, merciful, good, wise for these virtues exist because God’s person is the foundation from which all this comes. God does not learn to do anything perfectly; He is the perfection by which all these virtues exist. God cannot lie, it is not that He chooses not to lie, He intrinsically is truthful. He doesn’t choose to be perfect, He is inherently perfect.


Deut 5:29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Rom 7:12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

All of us parents can relate to this Oh, that would obey for we know the pain the child will experience in life if they go through with foolish rebellion and distrust of our love and desire to have them live and live well.

“He is [holy] because the sum of all moral excellency is found in Him. He is absolute Purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin.”[4]

Ps 96:9 Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.

Isa 48:17-18 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go. Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

“Holiness is one of the essential attributes of the divine nature. It is, on the one hand, entire freedom from moral evil and, on the other, absolute moral perfection. The Scriptures lay great stress upon this attribute of God (Ex 15:11; 1 Sam 2:2; Ps 71:22; 99:9; 111:9; Isa 6:3; Hab 1:12; Rev 15:4; etc.). Of great consequence in this connection is the revelation of God’s holiness in the character and work of Jesus Christ.[5]

John 14:8-9

8 Philip said to Him, ” Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “ Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 10:30 I and My Father are one.” (see 6God One notes)

The Father God is mentioned 181 times in the Gospels out of the 260 times in the NT.

Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Sober minded people fear and hate the holiness of God; the LOVE of God we can live with, but avoid the uncomfortable consuming fire. One thing we lack today in the church is a fear of God and even a lack of reverential awe.

“To ease our aching conscience [the church has] bought into the concept of a one dimensional God of love who is blind to sin.”[6]

No one likes to be measured by another’s standard. Do you want me to measure your life before an audience? God is not only another standard; His is the standard from which all things are measured against. Would you feel comfortable around a perfect person?

In the United States and Great Britain, the everyday units of linear measurement have been the inch, foot, yard, and mile. Until recently in Great Britain, the English units of length were defined in terms of the imperial standard yard, which was the distance between two lines on a bronze bar made in 1845 to replace an earlier yard bar that had been destroyed by fire in 1839. Because the imperial standard yard bar has been shrinking at the rate of 1.5 millionths of an inch per year, the United States adopted a copy of the international prototype meter as the national standard of length in 1889. Until 1960, all U.S. measurements of length were derived from a standard meter (meter prototype number 27). In 1960 the meter was redefined in terms of wavelengths of light from a krypton-86 source. In 1983 it was again redefined as the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.

English units of weight (ounces, pounds, and tons) are now also derived from the metric standard of mass, which is the international prototype kilogram. This is a solid cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy maintained at constant temperature at Sèvres near Paris. A copy, as exact as possible, of this standard is maintained by an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.[7]

God is the standard by which all good, truth, evil and the like is measured.[8]

Seeing holiness is being bathed in incredible light and beauty beyond our self-esteem.

A short science fiction story I read as a young lad has stuck with me over the years and lately I see an application to God’s Holiness – Light. There was a man who desired to appreciate the experience of an alien species as it related to music. They told him that they would not allow him the experience for it can only be experienced once by a human mind and then would forever be unrepeatable. This man insisted and they caved in. He experienced sound beyond human ability to produce or experience naturally, he saw along with the music colours beyond human limitation and the two played out an experience then enraptured him. Then it abruptly ended, had it continued his host told him he would kill his cells and be dead. After this experience he became very depressed, all stimulation, even the best music and art was so below the beauty and wonder he experienced that he eventually withered away in sorrow.

It’s interesting that science tell us much the same today. Our human limitations do not see nor hear all that is known to exist. A very simple example is infrared and ultraviolet light, we know some insects and birds see ultraviolet and reptiles such as snakes perceive infrared. These are outside of our spectrum.

(From 10Spirit Flesh notes):

But how reliable are our senses, your eyesight in particular?

“Our reality is based on individual experience that we sense through our nervous system. Nothing is more convincing than when we see something with our own eyes. It’s hard to believe that those impressions are incomplete.

“But reflect on this. Our eyes can only detect electromagnetic radiation within a very limited range of visible wavelengths. Ultraviolet and infrared, which lie on either end of the detectable range and are invisible to us yet, are quite obvious to bees or rattlesnakes respectively.

“Similarly, a dog experiences a very different world from ours through its nose [and hearing] which can sense a reality that is outside of our ability to [experience].

“The same limitations apply to our senses of taste, smell, hearing, touch. And not only do we sense only a fraction of all potential information available, [our brains] alter a lot of the input we do get through the filters of our own preconceptions and experiences… Reality as we describe it is incomplete and [a] subjective construction of the brain.[9]

-Read the same story, in your mind’s eye you will perceive different pictures from the words than another…. Describing a sunset will produce a different mental image… This is experienced when we see a movie made from a story we read. The movie is not as good as the book because of the mind’s eye subjective construction.

II Ki 6:15-17

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.


[Open his eyes that he may see] Elisha’s servant lacked the faith of his master. Elisha therefore prays that he may be given a vision of the spiritual world, and see, as if with the bodily eye, the angelic host (marginal references) which he himself knows to be present. (from Barnes’ Notes)

Ps 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.

People fear God for they know when they die they will be exposed and unable to survive in His light and live, they will look dirty and inadequate to what God intended them to be. People hate the holiness of God, for their conscience bears testimony they are not what they should be, and no one will have a shadow to hide in.

Rev 6:15-17 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Dan 10:6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

Mal 3:2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderer’s soap.

Rev 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

Heb 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire. PP Deut 4:24

This is a standard that is sure and unchangeable.

“God showed Himself as fire when He spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (Ex 3:2). He went with them [the Hebrews] in the pillar of fire (Ex 13:21-22). … God was dwelling there in that awesome fire. Then when the tabernacle was made and the cherubim of gold overshadowed the mercy seat, what was it that came down between the cherubim wings? What was it that only one man could see, and he only once a year with blood [on the alter]? I wonder how many high priests ever looked [directly] at the Shekinah-[glory], with all the protection of the atoning blood and the commandment of God. … I wonder if one in twenty [of the priests that annually went into that place to offer the blood sacrifice] ever dared gaze on that fire. … I notice that the very seraphim covered their faces [in Isa 6]. Moses “hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex 3:6). John fell down when he saw the Saviour and had to be raised up again [as though] from the dead (Rev 1:17). We too are to be men and women of fire, for that is our origin.”[10]

“I tell you this: I want God to be what God is: the impeccably holy, unapproachable Holy thing, the All-Holy One. I want Him to be and remain THE HOLY. I want His heaven to be holy and His throne to be holy. I don’t want Him to change or modify His requirements.”[11]

Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

1 Cor 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

Jer 17:10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

All humans know intrinsically that we are measurable by a standard; we substitute that with a social concept of what is acceptable among peers, but even there, when we are quiet, we know we are measured by a standard beyond our social structure.

The conscience is a gift of God to lost man. It is the gateway through which God’s Holy Spirit speaks to sinners. The conscience is God not giving up on reaching out to mankind. But people don’t often listen to their conscience when they are faced with a selfish opportunity or response. Our selfishness actually resents the conscience.

A person, who is not of God, walks in darkness and cannot truly know evil about himself. As a result man cannot know himself as he truly is but is bound by his own propaganda, which he worships.

GOD’S HOLINESS HATES ALL SIN; His hatred does not trifle with one little lie, it is a condemnable sin. For only one slight sin, Adam and Eve were condemned. Such is the hatred God has toward sin. For one particular sin Moses was judged and denied the promised land; Uzzah was immediately struck dead for reaching out and touching the ark, even though he did it for it’s safety (if it fell and hit the ground, it would fall on God’s clean creation, but a dirty human hand touched His holiness and Uzzah died instantly[12]); Ananias and Saphira dropped dead at the pronouncement of the sin of lying to the Holy Spirit.

“If God could have forgiven one sin of one person as an act of mere kindness, He would have compromised His own Holiness which demands judgment for sin. Having thus compromised Himself with sin, He would need Himself to be saved because of the unrighteous thing He had done. He would, by such supposed kindness, have established a principle by which He could forgive all human sin as an act of divine [leniency], and thus the death o-f Christ is rendered unnecessary.” L.S. CHAFER, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; VOL IV, PG 430F

For one and each and every sin, the Holy Christ Jesus died a horrible death on the cross. God, in Christ Jesus, hates sin so terribly that He chose to die this death to kill sin’s power in your life! How then shall you pleasantly sin any longer once saved? God wants to save us from sin and its poison. God wants us to have joy: Jesus said that we may have His joy but no, we rather have the petty joy our sin offers.

Jer 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Trusting Jesus atoning work on the cross takes care of the judicial aspect of sin, but not its destructiveness, that is accomplished as we choose not to sin and grow in His image.


God wants us to enter His presence and experience the colour and sound of an existence that far exceeds our dreams. God knows the beauty of Himself and the affect on a human soul of unspeakable joy and sensation when in His presence – look at Isaiah’s response and God’s gracious gift to be able to enjoy that overwhelming presence –

Isa 6:6-7 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” NKJV

Our idea of sin is different than what the holiness of God knows to be sin, which is all wicked, all sick, is all short of that which the glory of God’s holiness will show. Mankind’s own idea of what is sin is practically limited to what the world calls ‘crime’, defects, mistakes, and weaknesses. And to that, when caught or found out one justifies sin by blaming others, making excuses for the failure to love purely.

This awareness of our need drives us to the cross, or into darkness as Adam and Eve did when God called to them – they hid.

Bonhoeffer: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow upon ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and carnate.”

“God has often forgiven sinners, but He never forgives sin; and the sinner is only forgiven on the ground of Another having borne his punishment”[13]


As we worship this reality His fire will in turn touch us and we ourselves will burn with the holiness of God.

Ps 130:1-4

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;

2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

3 If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?

4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.



[1] This is similar to other references such as: Isa 4:5 then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. 1 Kings 8:10-11 And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

[2] (from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

[3] Stephen Charnock

[4] Author W. Pink; Attributes of God; Baker House, pg 41

[5] (From The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

[6] Garry E. Milley; Christian Week, Feb 3, 98

[7]“Weights and Measures,” Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

[8] God is for accurate standards: Deut 25:13-15 “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your dismay be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Proverbs 11:1 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.

*David Suzuki, Toronto Star, ’85.

[10] A. W. Tozer; The Attributes of God; Christian Publications; p 167f

[11] ibid, p 172

[12] Sproul

[13] Arthur Pink