THE HOLINESS OF GOD
In Isaiah 6:1-5 the holiness of God is singled out as the subject of praise by the seraphim who surround the throne of Jehovah God. One cried to another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” These verses set forth the wonderful attribute of God's holiness. It may be the most excellent of all His attributes, for it seems to be a combination of all the other attributes. In scripture holiness is often attributed to God and to all beings and things associated with Him. Holiness is a complex term which does not express a single attribute but the general character of God, resulting from the intellectual and moral attributes and the sacredness of His nature.
First, let us note a few scriptures which speak of the holiness of God. Psalm 111:9 says, “Holy and awesome is His name.” This is the New King James rendering. The Old King James version says, “Holy and reverend is His name.” Here we learn that part of His holiness is His awesomeness and sacredness of His nature. Isaiah 8:13 says, “The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow. Let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread.” I like the Old King James rendering, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear and let him be your dread.” The words sanctify and hallow mean “to set apart” and are synonyms for the word “holy.” I Peter 3:15 gives a similar command to Christians, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” In Matthew 6:9 Jesus started the Lord's Prayer with these words, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” What did Jesus mean when He said, “Hallowed by your name.?” Was it simply a word of praise and adoration or was it also a prayer request? There are many other scriptures that speak of the holiness of God, but these are sufficient to stir up our thinking and introduce us to this fascinating attribute of the Godhead.
Second, let's attempt to define these words: holy, hallowed, holiness, sacred and sanctify. The word hallowed was a word used by our early English ancestors and means “set apart to God,” set apart to a sacred use. The word sanctify has the same meaning of being set apart to a sacred us. According to Webster holy or holiness suggests that which is held in deepest religious reverence or as something basically associated with religion. Whatever has been made sacred is said to be hallowed or made holy. The word sacred means to be set apart or dedicated to God. Whatever or whoever is consecrated and dedicated to God or a sacred use is said to
be holy or sanctified, set apart God. Such is the general meaning of these religious words in scripture.
Next, let us define the word holiness as it applies to God as one of His attributes. Holiness is the quality or state of being holy. Applied to God it specifies the perfection of His sacred nature, intellectually and morally. He is possessed of every perfection, intellectual and moral, in the highest possible degree. The sacredness, awesomeness and magnificent excellence of His nature separates Him from all other beings. His perfect purity sets Him apart from all other beings. His being possessed of every perfection intellectual and moral entitles Him to the most profound veneration of men and angels. He is separated or distinguished from all other beings by His infinite excellence. Beings and things separated to Him are said to be sanctified or made sacred while all other beings and things are said to be common. The difference between God and all that He has created is that He is sacred and all else is common. His holiness has been defined as that virtue by which He wills and approves of whatever is in agreement with His perfections and disapproves with whatever is contrary. To call God holy is to affirm that He renders to His creatures their due and governs them by laws adapted to their nature. He is full of benevolence and takes plesure in rewarding happiness to the objects of His goodness.
That these things I have said about God are true and arae affirmed by the apostle Peter when he gave these instructions to Christians in I Peter 1:14,15, “Be obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts as in your ignorance, but as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it is written, Be holy for I am holy.”
We learn here the great truth that the holiness which is ascribed to God is of the same nature of that required from us. You shall be holy because I am holy, said God. Hence when we call God holy, we mean that there are in His nature certain moral qualities or principles similar to those that can be in us, and because they are in us He calls us holy. Christians are being restored to the image of God in which He first made us.
Finally, let me make a few additional comments on the command which Peter gave to all Christians and the first thing Jesus said in the Lord's prayer. In I Peter 3:15 Peter said “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts...” That is an unusual expression. God is and always was sanctified or set apart. However, it is one thing for God to be sanctified by the nature of His being, but it is another thing to be sanctified in our hearts. We need to acknowledge His greatness, sacredness and veneration in our hearts. The
command to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts is to treat Him with all the reverence, respect and godly fear which is due His excellent greatness. Let Him be your fear and your dread. Give the veneration due His name. He is entitled to the most profound veneration of angels and men. His name should never be mentioned frivolously but with awe and respect. One of the ten commandments said, “You shall not take the Lord's name in vain.” That meant, use it with respect and reverence, never in silly common talk. To use such expressions as “O my God, for Christi's sake, Lordy, Lordy, to use His name in profanity to curse people etc. All such use of that name is show disrespect for the holiness of God.
Finally, when Jesus said, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, “ what did He mean?. Is it just a word of praise?. I think not. Hallowed by your name means that His name is be treated as holy. May all speak God's name reverently with sacred respect. When we use this name it should be used for sacred and religious purposes.