Understanding Holiness // Part 1
Last Sunday, we read a passage of scripture that serves as a motivation for what we’ll be studying over the next few weeks. Just as in the days of Moses, when God called to Moses to join Him on the mountaintop, God is calling people today to join Him in high spiritual places. How may want to go up to the high places?
Who did Psalm 24 say would make the climb? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. As we make the climb, we will be finding out something about God that you cannot learn anywhere else but on the mountaintop. The climb will change us as we discover things about God that we never knew. The Bible tells us that God is holy. The doctrine of holiness is so far beyond anything in our ordinary experience that we have no comparisons to help us understand it. Holiness is something that can only be learned through revelation from God and revelation of God.
The angel’s view of God revealed His holiness. Notice that the angel used a repetitive emphasis; using the word “holy” to describe what he saw three times instead of just once. Numbers are important in the Bible. The number three is the number of the Trinity. But, it is also a number that speaks of divine wholeness, completeness, or perfection – even multiplication. The angel using three “holies” to describe God spoke of God’s divine holiness, complete holiness – holiness that cannot be described accurately by words – the only chance being to use multiple “holies” and then the description would still fall short because the finite cannot accurately define that which is infinite. But, even that was not enough. The angel said, “the whole earth is full of His glory!”
It fills the whole earth. The words of the angel are intended to take your imagination where it has never gone before. They are meant to blow your mind with the thought that God is unlike anything you’ve encountered. They are meant to humble you with the realization that God is fundamentally different from you. They give the revelation that God is Someone greater than anyone you have ever encountered before! The translation for holiness comes from the Hebrew word qadowsh: “to cut.” (To be cut off, or separate, from everything else; to be in a class of your own, distinct from anything before or after you. To be entirely morally pure, all the time, in every way possible.)
In this case, a Person is the definition if holiness. God occupies a moral space that no one has occupied before, therefore there is no frame of reference to understand what He is like other than knowing Him. Holiness is not an aspect or characteristic of God: it is His essence. So, how is His holiness revealed? In everything He does, thinks, desires, speaks – is utterly holy.
So, think of this: God is holy in His love. God is holy in His mercy. God is holy in His justice, in His power, in His wisdom, in His use of power, in His anger, in His grace. Nothing that originates from Him is in any way tainted by sin or selfishness – it is all completely holy! Everything that is a product of this world is tainted. Everything that comes from you is tainted. The things that you see in this world that are completely pure are a product of God. Complete purity in you or from you is a product of the Holy Spirit. At the top of the mountain, you will see something you have never seen before. But, we also know that the climb will forever change you. That’s what we will explore next week.
- Psalm 24:3-5
- Isaiah 6:1-3
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