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Holiness of God
I am Jessie Mills, Ph.D.
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THE ESSENCE OF GOD

By

Rick Rapanos

 

What one word best describes the character & innermost being of God Himself? Think about that for a minute and complete this sentence for yourself: God is___________. What one word would you put there? God is what?

 

Some people would say the word is: Merciful or righteous or faithful. But most people would use the word LOVE. But this is not correct. The first and foremost characteristic of God is: HOLY

 

There are only two places in all of scripture where it say’s that “GOD is Love”

I John 4:8,16.     

1John 4:8, “He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.”

1 John 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath toward us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.”

That’s it. The only two places in all of the scripture.

 

In 1John it also say’s that God is “light” (1 John 1:5), and God is, “righteous”  (1John 2:1 & 3:7). But He is no more light and righteous than He is love. In scripture He is also described as: faithful, just and merciful. But the predominate characteristic is: HOLY.

 

What 1John is teaching us is what we, as Christians, are to be like.

 

Who we believe God is, and what we believe He is like, reflects on how we live our lives. Of all the attributes of God, His Holiness is the most misunderstood.

 

Lets look at some scriptures and see what the Bible has to say:

 

Revelation 4:8, “And the four living creatures had each of them six wings, and they were full of eyes round about and within; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”


We see that John has a vision of the Throne Room of God. Look how God is addressed: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” These words ring out constantly. Never once is the adjective, “love, or loving” used.

 

Isaiah 6:3, “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah also has a vision of the Throne in Heaven. The cry of the Seraphim is, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts. “It doesn’t say how many Seraphim angels there are, but there must be untold thousands. Can you imagine the sound of their voices thundering through the Heavens?

 

When “HOLY” is repeated three times it is to emphasize His Holiness, and that He is separate from His creation. Look at Isaiah’s response in verse 5:

Then said I, Woe is me, for I am brought to silence! 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. “ He was totally distraught standing before a Holy God. Why? Because he saw himself as he was...... a sinner.

 

Acts:  The Acts of the Apostles. The record of the start of the Christian church, not once did any of the Apostles in 28 chapters, take as their theme “The love of God.” In fact, the word 'love' never occurs once in Acts. There is no mention of the love of God. But we do have the word, “Holy” or “Holy one” used 51 times. 42 of those times refer to the Spirit of God. The only word in all of scriptures used to describe the Spirit of God is: HOLY.

 

We see in the Bible, the term, “holy prophets” or “holy angels” Christians are also called to be “holy”. But in these references the word means to “set apart”. We are NOT Holy in our nature. Only God is.  It says in Revelation 15:4,  “...... for you alone are Holy.” We are called to be holy, or set apart for God.

 

Never once in all of scripture did God say of Himself, “I am a loving God.” Other people have called Him a loving God, but He did not say it. What He did say of Himself is, “ I am a Holy God.” See Leviticus 11:44, 45, 19:2, 20:26, 21:8.

 

The Holiness of God:

 

In the Old Testament, there is a place within the Temple, where only the Priest was allowed to enter.  It is called, “The Holy of Holies.” It is never called a place of love.

 

Psalm 99, We are to Praise the Lord for His Holiness. Look at verse 3: Let them praise thy great and awesome name; it is Holy. We see that His awesome name is HOLY. In verses 5,9 it says we are to “Exalt the Lord our God.”  Why?  Because He is HOLY.

 

Psalm 96:9, O, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Tremble before Him, all the earth.” The word, “worship” in this verse is best rendered “to bow down” the word, “beauty” means moral and spiritual beauty, and not to mean beauty as the world understands beauty, but we must be pure in heart in our prayers and praises. This should be a way of life for us. And if we were to stand before a Holy God now, then I am sure we could do nothing else except tremble before Him.

 

In the Psalms God is described as Faithful, merciful, righteous, and love, but predominately He is described as Holy, because that is His essence. It says His name is HOLY throughout the Psalms:

 

Psalm 60:6 & Psalm 108:7, God speaks in His Holiness. That means the word of God is Holy.

Psalm 89:35, When God makes an oath, it is by His Holiness.

Psalm 105:42, When God makes a promise, it is a Holy promise.

 

Revelation Chapter 1: John the Apostle sees the majestic Holy Christ, whose head and hair in verse 14 are described as: “ white like wool, as white as snow.”  The head and hair of Jesus being white as snow symbolize His Holiness. And what did John do? See verse 17- “I fell at His feet as dead.”

 

Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua has an encounter with the commander of the Lords army. What did Joshua do? Verse 14, “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, what saith my Lord unto his servant?” And what happened next? What was Joshua told to do? See verse 15,” And the commander of the Lord’s army said unto Joshua, loose thy sandals from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is Holy.” Here we have what is called a “Christophany”...... an appearance of the second person of the Triune God-Jesus Christ. Do you see a pattern start to emerge of what happens when people come before a Holy God?  They fall on their face, tremble and shake, but most of all; recognize they are sinners with no hope apart from God.

 

Exodus 3:5, “And He said, draw not near here. Take off thy sandals from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is Holy ground.” Here we have Moses at the burning bush. He is told not to draw near the place where the burning bush was, but be at a distance and take his sandals off. Why? He was on HOLY ground.

 

Exodus 15:11, We have the song of Moses, after the Israelites crossed the Red sea. Look at verse 11. It does not say that God is, glorious in love, but “glorious in holiness.” It wasn’t His loving purpose that brought them out but His HOLY purpose.

 

Exodus 28:2, We read about the garments of the Priesthood. God tells them to make them in a very specific way. They are called, “holy garments.” Further down at verse 35 we see the Priest coming to the altar to minister, and the place is called, “the holy place.”

 

Exodus 28:36-38, Here we see the turban being made. On it is to be engraved, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” It is to be on the front of the turban on the forehead. It is significant that this is to be on the forehead and not say on the chest, or arm etc. Why?

 

Because the head is where the mind is. God wants us to put His Holiness first and foremost in the front of our minds. The mind is where the battlefield is. It is where we wrestle with good & evil. If we are not well grounded in the faith we can get confused as to who God is and what He desires of us. In Romans 12:1-2, we are told, “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

 

In the book of Isaiah, 31 times in 66 chapters God is called or calls Himself, “The Holy One of Israel.”

In the book of Leviticus the word, “HOLY” is used 87 times in 27 chapters. We see that every time God identifies Himself with something, a person, a place, a thing, a day, a garment, He always prefixes it with the word HOLY.

 

Why does God do the things He does? If you begin with love, you can run into problems, but if you start with His Holiness then things start to make sense.

 

Take the flood of Noah’s day: Genesis chapters 6,7,8. Do you think God said to Noah,” Noah, before I close the door of the Ark, yell to the people, ‘God is going to kill every living thing on the earth.... but just remember, He still loves you!’ It doesn’t make sense, and it certainly doesn’t make any sense to a non-believer.

 

Take the judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapter 19. Do you think God yelled down to them before He destroyed them all, “ I am killing you all with fire and brimstone.... but remember.... I still love you.”

 

Again, this doesn’t make any sense. But when you begin with God’s Holiness, then you don’t have a problem. You see, God tolerates sin only for a time, BECAUSE of His mercy and love, but it’s because of His HOLINESS, that judgment comes upon those who sin.

 

The only way you can understand the acts of God in history is to begin with His Holiness, and hang onto His righteousness.

There are people who called themselves Christians, but became Atheist’s because they didn’t understand who God really is. You have heard people say I am sure: “God would not send ME to hell, I am a good person and He is a God of love.”  Or, “A loving God would not even create a hell.” And my personal favourite, “God loves me just the way I am.”

If God were predominately a God of love, that would be true. He would NOT send anyone to hell. He would overlook a lot of things. If you believe that God is essentially a God of love, then I have news for you...you have absolutely nothing to worry about. You will eventually get to heaven one way or the other.

 

As a parent, no matter what your child does, they are eventually forgiven, because of our love and compassion for them. But God is different. He cannot be in the presence of sin. We cannot, as sinners, stand before a Holy God. The wrath of God is a proper reaction of God’s Holy character against sin.

 

Martin Luther once described a Christian as, “snow covered dung.”  God has made a way for us to be able to come into His presence. The righteousness of Christ covers us from our sin so we CAN stand before a Holy God. We are clothed in pure white robs of righteousness. Isn’t that great news?

 

If you begin with His Holiness, then you can begin to understand why He would send people to hell. The problem is that people think of God as having a sentimental kind of love, that in spite of our sins, He will overlook a lot of things. If you think that way, let me warn you now: You are on dangerous ground.

 

God is: Redeemer, Saviour, Merciful, Righteous, Faithful, Loving, Kind, Long Suffering, Judge, and Sustainer. But all this culminates in His Holiness.

 

Do you know what the meaning of life is?... I’ll tell you.. It is to live.. Simple. But the purpose of life is quite different. Why are we here? Why were we created? It is to understand and experience the depths of God’s Holiness. Everything that has ever happened, since the beginning of time until now and beyond, is somehow, in someway, connected to His Holiness and His Holy plan. Start with His Holiness and hang onto His righteousness.

 

Matthew 6:9 & Luke 11:2, How does Jesus address God in teaching us the model prayer? From the very start He calls the name of God “Hallowed” or Holy.

 

Now the question has to be asked. Is it wrong to start a prayer or address God in any other way but Holy? Like:  Heavenly Father, Merciful Father/God, And Righteous Father/God. God of Mercy, God of Grace, God of Love, etc? The answer is, No, absolutely not. But what Jesus is doing is communicating to us God’s essential predominate characteristic. Jesus doesn’t want us to forget it.

 

John 17:11, Jesus addresses God as, ”Holy Father.”

John 17:25, Jesus addresses God as, Righteous Father.”

Start with His Holiness, and hang onto His righteousness.

 

In order for you to seek His Holiness you have to do it with a pure heart. Read Psalm 51, and let the words soak into your heart.

 

If Psalm 51 is the desire of your heart, then you will be able to experience the Holiness of God. Keep His Holiness in your thoughts when you pray, in the front of your mind. Read scripture, and have your quiet time with the Lord. When things aren’t going right during the week, when you hear on the news all the evil that goes on in the world, just stop and meditate for a moment on His Holiness, and see if you start to see things in a different way, and just see if He reveals things to you that you weren’t aware of before. I would challenge you to memorize Psalm 51.

 

As Christians we know we can pray anywhere we are, whether on a busy noisy street, or the subway, or at work. But I would urge you this week to go to a place where it’s just you and God...... some of you know the place....... it is your secret place. This is where you really get to know God, one on one, and He will reveal things to you. I promise you, you will be blessed. Your secret place could be anywhere it is quiet. Maybe you need to get up a little early before work, when it’s still dark and quiet, before the phones start to ring and the noise of traffic hasn’t started yet.

 

How do I know you will be blessed?  The Bible tells us in,

Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

 

And do you know what else happens when you meet God in that secret place?

 

Psalm 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  What a great feeling, to go out into world knowing you are under the shadow of the Almighty.  Secret prayer, going up to God, will come back to you loaded with Spiritual blessings.


 

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© Copyright 2015 by Jessie Mills. All Rights Reserved by the author, Jessie E. Mills, Jr. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior express written permission of the publisher, except for brief quotations in critical reviews or other publications. Such quotations must be used with proper reference to their context and give appropriate credit to their authorship.