Holiness - God & Man

The Hebrew word which is translated holiness in our English Bible is defined as, "A sacred place or thing; rarely abstract, sanctity..." (Strong's). As such, it generally denotes something that is set apart from sinfulness. In effect, if a thing is holy it is sanctified, pure, whole. The term is used with reference to both God and man. Notice the following:

The Holiness of God

Holiness is an attribute of God. In God alone is holiness complete. When we speak of the holiness of God, we are referring to the fact that He is completely separate from evil. There is no sin in God. He is wholly good. There are many passages which affirm the holiness of God. Exodus 15:11, "Who {is} like You, O Lord, among the gods? who {is} like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" Psalm 99:9, "Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God {is} holy." Psalms 111:9, "He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome {is} His name." Truly, God is the epitome of holiness.

The Holiness of Man

When we speak of holiness with regard to any man, we recognize that the attribute is not complete in man. In other words, no man is wholly good. We read from Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Notice the following from Unger's Bible Dictionary, page 495, "...(4) Holiness, so far as it appears in man anywhere, is an outcome of God's gracious work in salvation, and yet not without the proper exertion of one's own free will, and the putting forth of strenuous effort (Eph. 4:22,24)."

The passage referenced by Unger is very revealing. Paul writes, "that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). We must realize that we are saved by the grace of God. However, that salvation and resulting holiness is available only as we "put off" the old man, and "put on" the new man.

If we really apply ourselves, it is possible to attain a high degree of holiness in this life. "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Corinthians 7:1). It takes dedication and effort, but it is possible for us to maintain our purity and be sanctified, even in the midst of an ungodly and hostile world.

In fact, God demands that we strive to be holy. Too often Christians are willing to embrace certain worldly influences, and in so doing compromise their holiness. Immodest dress, immoral hobbies, and ungodly associations all adversely affect our claim to holiness. Remember the solemn warning of scripture, "Pursue peace with all {men}, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:" (Hebrews 12:14).

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