Updated: Oct 31, 2019
We don't mention the four letter "h" word too often these days. I'm talking about the word holy. We often act as if it is an outdated word, an outdated idea.
My women's group is presently taking an online theology class and the professor spoke about God's holy-love. Being holy and being loving are attributes of God.
In going over the Doctrine of God the professor was stressing what is a communicable attribute of God - qualities of God that have a parallel in ourselves. And then what are incommunicable attributes of God - those qualities of God that have no human parallel.
God is love.
1 John 4:8b-9 ..., for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
God is holy.
We read several Scripture passages and verses. Isaiah 6:1-7 was one and in verse 3 it says "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." We talked about various examples of God's holiness in the Bible.
God is holy and we should have profound reverence for Him.
We got the concepts God is love and God is holy. The next point was are these communicable attributes? In other words, can these attributes be present in humans?
God's love: I suggest your read 1 John 4:7-21. God is love and it is a communicable attribute. God loved us by sending His Son (verse 9) and if God abides in us, we love others (verse 12). Verses 8 and 16, God is love.
Love is a communicable attribute of God. We didn't have a hard time grasping this concept.
But then I asked if God's holiness is a communicable attribute. Blank stares. I asked if we are to be holy? No answer. I rephrased it. Someone said they didn't think we can be holy. We turned to Scripture.
1 Peter 1:15,16
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."
Romans 12:1,2 ... to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice,...
1 Peter 2:9,10 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him...
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ... and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people,...; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father...
God's holiness is a communicable attribute.
I know it just doesn't seem possible.
Just as we are told God is love and we are to love others; Scripture tells us God is holy and we are to be holy. The fact that this seemed a surprise to Christians is somewhat alarming.
Why don't Christians know this concept? It is because it is largely ignored today. It is ignored in our churches, in our sermons, in what we read in Christian books, in what we hear on the radio. We have no problem talking about God is love. That message resounds throughout our Christian culture. And He is! We cling to that truth. But if we don't combine that with God is holy and He expects His people to be holy - then we are only giving and understanding part of the Bible's message.
I once took a class on the Fear of God and we spent weeks going over God's holiness. The professor said God's holiness is His defining attribute and it is through His holiness that He shows us His great love. I have always remembered that because at the time it was a new concept for me and has profoundly impacted my life since then.
The words "holy" or "holiness" are found about 600 times in the Bible. I mention this so you realize it is a big concept of the Bible.
God is love. It is a communicable attribute. We understood that.
God is holy. It is a communicable attribute. That one not so much.
I understand this is a difficult concept to grasp. And I think here is why. God's holiness is absolute purity. And we know we are far from being pure. We can readily bring to mind the sins we have committed just today. We know our thoughts and actions are often not holy. We would not describe ourselves as holy. We might say we are loved or we are forgiven, but holy? Nope. Matter of fact the word "holy" associated with people makes us think of "holy rollers", judgmental hypocrites.
Perhaps we are not thinking of being holy in the full context.
Biblical holiness does include moral purity, but it is more than that. The most basic meaning of the word "holy" is to be set apart or dedicated to God. He is our God and we are His people. (Leviticus 26:12; Hebrews 8:10)
Our minds spin with we sin so how can we be holy? The only way we can be holy is in Jesus. We can't do enough good deeds or be-a-really-good-person ourselves into being holy. You know the gospel message. You know this good news!
We get the concept of forgiveness. We get that our belief in Jesus as our Savior leads to being forgiven of our sins. Our sins are nailed to the cross with Jesus and God now views us as righteous. He has thrown our sins as far as the east is from the west and into the depths of the sea and He remembers them no more. We get this concept. BUT then we wake up today and we sin, we are convicted of that sin, we repent of that sin, we ask God for forgiveness of that sin. We sure don't feel very righteous today, but we are assured that is how God sees us. Why? BECAUSE OF JESUS.
Look we are told to love God with all of our being and to love others as ourselves. We get that concept too, but uh, we fail at that all the time.
And it is a similar concept with holiness. It seems impossible to lead a holy life. We sure don't feel holy. But how can we be holy? BECAUSE OF JESUS!
And when you get this - that I am a screw-up, that I continue to sin, that I continue to not love God and others as I should, that I am not acting holy - you are humbled. It becomes crystal clear how much we need His grace and mercy. EVERY SINGLE DAY OF OUR LIVES!
Just as His love is communed to us, so is His holiness.
We can be loving because of Him.
We can be forgiven because of Him.
We can be holy because of Him.
BECAUSE OF JESUS.
The Christian walk, our spiritual journey is about becoming more like Christ. Letting our lives be dedicated to Him. Reflecting His image to the world. The more we identify with Christ, the more He takes over our lives and we grow in love and holiness.
They are communicable attributes of God!
Holy isn't a four letter word like you think of it. It is a very good thing!
People this is huge! It should bring us to our knees in confession and to our hands thrown up in praise and to our hearts bursting with profound gratefulness.
We are in the process of becoming more holy the more we surrender our lives to God.
Remembering that God is holy, being reverent of His holiness, and realizing He expects us as His people to be holy is a game changer for how we think and act and live our lives. Giving God His rightful place in our lives and realizing who we are in relation to a holy God will transform us. It is a good game changer!
God is holy. We are to be holy.
God is love. We are to love.
Quite simple in theory. Impossible to do without Him. By allowing ourselves to be set apart for Him and dedicated to Him is how we are holy. We are going to at times fail. That is a given. And He knows that. But it is the failure which keeps us dependent on Him and oh so very thankful for His profound saving grace.