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The Holiness of God

We were about 100 miles outside of Denver when we first spotted the Rocky Mountains. At first they seemed to be clouds on the horizon but as our eyes adjusted their bluish form stood apart from land and sky. What is it about mountains that fascinate human beings the world over and “calls” many to try to scale their heights? I would submit to you that mountains are a type of God’s holiness and they call to mankind about life with God in eternity (Rom. 1:20). This emotional “implant” is fixed and permanent in all human beings.

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.” Psalm 48:1
“Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy” Psalm 99:9
“But upon mount Zion… there shall be holiness” Obadiah 1:17

None of the attributes of God are sounded out so loftily, with such solemnity, and so frequently by angelic beings that stand before His throne as that of the holiness of the Most High. The author A.W. Tozer wrote in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, “We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom but His holiness he cannot even imagine.”

“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness” Exodus 15:11a
“There is none holy as the LORD” 1 Samuel 2:2a

God alone is absolute holiness. Holy is the way God is. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity. The holiness of God is a perfect and unpolluted freedom from all evil. As we call gold pure that is not tainted by any dross and that garment clean that is free from any spot, so the nature of God is estranged from all shadow of evil. He loves all truth and goodness; He hates all falsity and evil.

Tozer relates the holiness of God to moral health. He writes, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this. Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death. Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. Every wrathful judgment in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation. The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united. God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates the disease that takes the life of her child.”

God is so holy that He cannot possibly approve of any evil done by another but rather He perfectly abhors it. He abhors it so that his hatred redounds upon the person that commits it. The sweet psalmist of Israel wrote…

“For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee… thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” Psalm 5:4,5b

The nature of God is so holy that he cannot but hate sin. The vehemency of this hatred is expressed throughout scripture. He loathes sin so that the very sight of it affects Him with detestation. The prophets wrote…

“Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” Habakkuk 1:13a
“And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD” Zechariah 8:17

Holiness is the substance of God but a quality in a creature. God is holy from Himself, creatures are holy by imputation from Him. Tozer expounds upon this thought as he writes, “God is holy with an absolute holiness that knows no degrees, and this He cannot impart to His creatures. But there is a relative and contingent holiness which He shares with angels and seraphim in heaven and with redeemed men on earth as their preparation for heaven. This holiness God can and does impart to His children. He shares it with them by imputation, and because He made it available to them through the blood of the Lamb, He requires it of them. To Israel first and later to His Church God spoke saying, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’ He did not say, ‘Be ye as holy as I am holy,’ for that would be to demand of us absolute holiness, something that belongs to God alone. Before the uncreated fires of God’s holiness angels veil their faces. The heavens are not clean and the stars are not pure in His sight. We Christians must like Moses cover ourselves with faith and humility while we steal a quick look at the God whom no man can see and live. The broken and the contrite heart He will not despise. We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock while the glory of God passed by.”

We have been in awe of the mountains we have seen while in Colorado. They remind me how frail of a creature I am and how brief the span of my life is on this earth. When we consider the lofty heights of God’s holiness we cannot help but bow our hearts in humble adoration. Sadly the neo-evangelicalism that seems to be the norm in this Laodicean Age (Rev. 3:14-21) in church history has made a mountain into a molehill, debasing the holiness of God while rationalizing the carnality of man.

“…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up… Above it stood the seraphims… And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory… Then said I, 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 mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-3,5

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