To define holiness as an abstinence from sin and a hatred of
sin is be half right.
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot
look on wickedness with favor
Holiness also means to be separate, to be above. It has a sense
of supreme excellence.
Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee,
majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?
1 Samuel 2:2
There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one
besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God.
“Holy” is the only attribute of God that is repeated three
times in any one place.
And one called out to another and said," Holy, Holy, Holy,
is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory."
And the four living creatures, each one of them having six
wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease
to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS
AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."
God is called:
The Holy One (Acts 2:27)
The Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 49:7)
Blessed and Holy Ruler (1 Timothy 6:15)
4For You are not a God
who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.
5The boastful shall not stand before Your
You hate all who do
6You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the man
of bloodshed and deceit.
7But as for me, by Your abundant
lovingkindness I will enter Your house,
At Your holy temple I
will bow in reverence for You.
To understand holiness we need to understand what sin is
I examined a number of lists but this one seems to be the
best. It lists seven basic types of sin.
"Hamartia" = "To miss the mark", as in archery competition,
and therefore fail to receive the prize, or blessing. This is the general Greek
word for sin, and is used 221 times. "Hamartia" encompasses the other
6 words for specific sins, in the sense that in all types of sin, we are
"missing the mark". Example: Heb. 12:1, "the sin (hamartia)
which doeth so easily beset us". We are aiming at God's best, but miss it.
"Hettema" = "Diminishing what should have been given full
measure". Example: 1 Cor. 6:7, "there is a fault (hettema) among
you". Not giving God and all that is related to Him their proper place.
"Paraptoma" = "Falling when one should have stood". This is
actually an unintentional slip. Example: Eph. 1:7, We have "the
forgiveness of sins (paraptoma), according to the riches of His grace".
"Agnoeema" = "Ignorance when one should have known".
Example: Heb. 9:7, "the errors (agnoeema) of the people". This
passage speaks of how the Old Testament was a shadow of the New Testament. Ignorance
is no excuse.
"Parakoe" = "To refuse to hear and heed God's word".
Example: 2 Cor. 10:6, "disobedience". In this passage, Paul urges us
to hear God's Word and to bring every thought into captivity for Christ.
"Parabasis" = "To intentionally cross a line". Example:
Heb. 2:2, "every transgression (parabasis) & disobedience (parakoe)
received a just recompense of reward". When God "draws a line in the
sand", we can suffer great loss of rewards and blessings by intentionally
"Anomia" and "Paranomia" = "Lawlessness, or willfully
breaking God's written rules". Example: Titus 2:14 Jesus gave himself for
us in order to "redeem us from all iniquity (anomia)". God gives us
"rules" so as to bless us, not to curse us.
Ultimately, we must realize that the great
heinousness of our sin lies not so much in how it compares to other sins but
how it compares to God’s holiness. We may think that the lie that we just told
is certainly not as bad as killing someone so it is not a big deal. And, yes, murder
is a worse sin than lying.
However, compared to God’s perfect
holiness lying is still a great sin.
Sin will never seem so bad if we
view it in light of ourselves. We can always find someone worse.
The person who murdered only one
person can say, “Well I never killed a whole bunch of people like Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy can say, “Well I may have
killed a bunch of people but I never ate any of them.”
And Jeffery Dahmer can say, “I may
have killed people and ate some of them but I was no Adolph Hitler.”
And on it goes.
It is amazing how we can justify our sin.
But how, compared to God’s holiness, can any one of us
justify his sin? Who when standing with the great multitude before the final
judgment of God look smugly at the person next to him and think, “I’m going to
get off easy compared to this guy.” No, they’ll see the majestic God before them
Sin is an outrage to the holiness of God. It slanders all
that God is and all that God says. In 2 Peter 3:10 God says, “But the day of
the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a
roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and
its works will be burned up.” God hates sin so much that at the final time the
best way that He will purge all of sin from everywhere will be by completely
destroying everything and then recreating it.
The punishment of sin is not so much based on the sin itself
but by the quality of what was sinned against.
If we take a hammer and break an ordinary stone we will most
likely not suffer any punishment because a stone is not worth much.
If we take a gun a kill a person then we will probably go to
jail for many years because a person is worth more than a stone. However, at
some point we will have paid our debt and be free.
However, if we sin against God then our punishment is
infinite because God is of infinite quality. And so for any one sin we can
never pay off our debt and be free.
The payment for even one sin is eternity in Hell. That is
the gist of James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in
one point, he has become guilty of all.”
Sin is a crime against God. Any crime on this Earth demands
punishment. If I murder someone, when I stand before the judge I am not going
to say, “Well, look at all of the people that I didn’t kill!” Likewise, when a
non-Christian stands before God and God reveals that person’s sin, they are not
going to say, “But look at all of the good things that I did!” It will be clear
to them how terrible even one sin is when compared to God. No one will bargain
with God at the Judgment Seat.
So our sin requires an infinite punishment. The only thing
that any person has that is infinite is time. That is why the non-Christian
must spend an eternity in Hell to pay for each sin. However, there was one
person who had infinite quality and that is Jesus Christ. So when He died on
the cross He was able to pay for every sin from every person because He had
infinite quality; He didn’t need infinite time. He is the only person who could
pay the infinite punishment required for each one of our sins.
There is no greater distance, no greater separation between
any two things in the Universe than between human sin and God’s holiness.
Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so
that He does not hear.”
No amount of good works can ever bridge an infinite gap.
Suppose we all lined up at the Jersey beach and was told
that we needed to swim to England. Some might get farther than others but
ultimately everyone would drown. Every one of us would need something to take
us to the other side be it a boat or a plane. Similarly, only Jesus Christ can
take us to Heaven. We are all drowning in our sin otherwise.
The Wicked Mock God’s Holiness
Psalm 10:11 records the thoughts of the wicked: “He says to
himself, "God has forgotten;
He has hidden His face;
He will never see it."
The wicked think that God will dismiss their sin. They think
that their sin does not matter to God and by thinking that they mock His
holiness. Because they may not have received any immediate punishment for their
sin they think that they have gotten away with it. But they do not realize that
their sentence has already be determined; all that remains is its execution.
They are already condemned. The noose may be just out of their sight but it
The longsuffering and patience of God is perverted to the
leniency of God. This is the warning of Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God
is no mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
God’s Holiness gives us Security
God’s holiness should not be a cause for terror but for
Because God cannot sin, His promises are sure and our
salvation is secure.
It is not that God would not sin but that He could not sin.
Sin is a choice for us; it is not a choice for God.
God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that
He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and
will He not make it good?
2 Corinthians 1:20
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes;
therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
God’s omnipotence guarantees that no one will ever be able
to tear us out of God’s hands, but it is God’s holiness that guarantees that
God Himself will never cast us out.
God wants us to be Holy
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
All of our lives God is working in us to be more like
Himself, to be more holy. The way that He does this is by shining a light into
different corners of our lives revealing sins that we did not know were there.
But He never reveals more than He knows that we can handle at one time. His
delight is not in the exposing of sin but, rather, in the triumph over it. He
reveals sin not to just show us how evil we are, but to make us as holy as we
On the cross Jesus conquered all of our sins for all
eternity. It is our firm belief in that that gives us our confidence of Heaven
as a sure possession. So why should we think any less of Jesus’ ability to
conquer the sins that plague us every day?
The deeper our understanding of how holy God is, the more
motivated we will be to conquer sin in our own lives. God’s hatred of sin is so
great that it caused the most dramatic event that could ever happen. It caused
the death of God on a dusty planet among ugly, hostile people. When Jesus died,
He could not have given any more or any less. He gave all; He gave Himself. How
can we choose sin when we consider the goodness of God toward self-indulgent
sinners such as ourselves?
God’s Holiness is Praised Throughout the Heavens
Our few glimpses into heaven find God being much adored and
worshipped for His holiness. Isaiah heard the seraphim herald the glory of the
triune God saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is
full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) As they did this, the thresholds trembled and
the temple filled with smoke.
Likewise, in the book of the Revelation, the victors
proclaim, “who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify They name? For Thou only art
holy.” (Revelation 15:4)
No other attribute of God places such an impossible burden
upon us. God’s holiness demands nothing less than absolute purity every second
of our lives and each time that we sin we now owe God and each sin puts us
further into debt. God’s holiness demands payment which is why God could not
merely pretend that the penalty is gone. But we can never pay off this debt.
That is why on the cross Jesus had to pay for every person’s sin debt. So when
a person is born-again she can be assured that all of her sin’s debts have been
completely and forever forgiven.
God wants us:
1) To recognize sin
2) To not sin
3) To hate sin
4) When possible, to act against sin
We recognize sin primarily through the Bible and through our
We not sin by controlling what we think, guarding what we
take in, and watching our actions. We resist temptation.
We learn to hate sin we understand the consequences of any
particular sin and not just focus on its pleasures.
We can act against sin in numerous ways from standing with
the oppressed, feeding the hungry, saving the lost, and the list goes on.
Our lives are full of sin that will take more than one
lifetime can clean up. Therefore, as we grow as Christians we will never come
to a point where we can let our guard down or feel that we have “made it.” Every
day there is a challenge to clean up yet another sin. That may sound tiresome but
each time that we triumph over another sin we are becoming more like the
character of God.
Sin is the muck that clogs the opening of God’s blessings.
Holiness opens that up so that His blessings go flow freely.
Praise God for His Magnificent Holiness
Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His
Exalt the LORD our God
And worship at His
Holy is He.
addition to the ones discussed above, what are some other assurances that God’s
holiness means to us?
is it important to us that God is holy?
can we learn how to hate sin?
are some practical things that we can do to become more holy ourselves?
are some obstacles to a person desiring to be holy?
when we first get saved, does God not just make us completely free from sin for
the rest of our lives?
we have been doing well overcoming a sin in our lives but then slip up once
does that mean that we have to start all over again as though we had not made
any previous progress?
my quest to become holy why should I not compare myself to others?
Jill has been a Christian for quite a while but every once
in a while when she is confronted by temptation she readily gives in to it and
sins. Her explanation is that God promises to always forgive and so once she
confesses her sin and repents it is completely wiped out. Therefore, there is
no problem and if anyone points out that sin then that person is being
judgmental since God no longer remembers it. Keeping in mind God’s holiness,
how would you explain to Jill that her reasoning is flawed and that her
behavior is destructive?