We live in a day and age when the love of God is focused upon, not His holiness and separation from sin. While focusing on His love is great, sometimes we miss the needed balance that comes from remembering He is holy. To the Jews in the old testament He often revealed Himself as “Jehovah The Holy One” or “Jehovah the One Who Makes You Holy.”
The first occurrence of this name is in Leviticus 20:8. In Genesis we see man’s need of redemption for man sins and ends up in bondage in Egypt. God reveals Himself as Jeovah Jireh, the Lord Will Provide. Without God’s provision man would never get out of bondage. Then in Exodus we see God as He provides for their deliverance by the Passover Lamb and through the Red Sea. He reveals Himself as Jehovah Rophe, the God who heals their life wounds, and Jehovah Nissi, the God who leads them to victory against Amalek (the flesh). Now in Leviticus God reveals Himself to His redeemed people as the Holy One Who requires holiness from His people.
The basic idea behind the Hebrew word translated ‘holy’ is that of separation, consecration. Thus the word can be translated “holy, dedicate, consecrate, sanctify, sanctuary, hallow and holy.” It appears over 700 times in its various forms. But the primary idea is to be set apart or separated from something.
It is used of times and seasons: the Sabbath Day is set apart for God’s use (Genesis 2:3) and so were the great feasts of Israel. It is used of places: Zion, Jerusalem, the altar, the tabernacle and the Temple are all ‘holy’ – ‘set apart.’ The land of Israel itself is called the ‘Holy’ Land. The priests were set apart for service to God. God Himself is set apart from sin and anything below His perfection. So the idea behind ‘holy’ is not something that has attained perfection, but something that has been set apart form sinful or even just ‘normal’ everyday use and dedicated to God’s service. The articles used in the tabernacle are a perfect example. Bowls and plates can’t attain sinless perfection, but they can be (and were) set apart to God’s service in the tabernacle. They were no longer to be used for common, everyday use, but strictly for God’s service. They were ‘set apart.’
God Himself is set apart from sin and from common usage. He has nothing to do with sin, He is apart from and far beyond sin and everything in His created world (Deuteronomy 4:35. He is holy, as Isaiah alone says more than 30 times. His holiness is seen in contrast to man’s failure. His Spirit is called the ‘Holy’ Spirit because He is far above everything common and ordinary. When God became man, the One we call Jesus, He lived a holy life, a life set apart from sin and corruption, a life dedicated to God and His glory (Hebrews 4:15). Because of this He could pay for our sins on the cross so we can receive His holiness and be like Him. He is the one who sets us apart from sin and corruption, for hell and eternal punishment, He is our sanctifier (1 Corinthians 1:30;l Hebrews 10:10, 14). We owe it all to Him!
Because He is holy He requires us to be holy as well. He knows we can’t attain sinless perfection in this life (I John 1:8-10) but we can set ourselves apart from sin and the distractions of this life to live for and serve Him. Jesus prays we will be “sanctified through truth” (John 17:17). He then continues “Your Word is truth.” It’s through learning and applying the Bible that we know god’s perfect standard and make it part of our lives. While God sees us as perfect, as ‘saints’ through the blood of Jesus, it is up to us to live a life that is holy and set apart to Him. This begins with a mental decision and then becomes part of all we are (Romans 12:1-2). This way we can be holy and spotless when we die or when He returns for us (Ephesians 5:26-27). We don’t do it in our own strength, but He makes it available to us. “Be holy for I am holy” Is His message to us (Leviticus 19:2, 20:7, 26; 1 Peter 1:16).
What is it that gives you the hardest time in being holy, being set apart from sin and the world and totally dedicated to God? Why is this such a difficulty for you? What can you do today to have victory over it? What does God’s Word say about it and how to conquer it? Find some verses and write them down. Read them today whenever this issue comes up. Now pray and ask God for wisdom and insight, for strength and courage, and for conviction and power to become more holy like Him.
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
While words have the same basic meaning no matter who uses them, sometimes a writer will focus on one aspect of a word more than other aspects. Jehovah Qadhosh, “Jehovah the Holy One,” is used by Isaiah 30 times. The first use of a word often gives a hint of what following uses will focus on as well.
Why did Isaiah use “Holy One” in Isaiah 1:4? Why was He trying to emphasize this characteristic of God above all other names he could have used?
Look at the first 10 uses and write a short summary of why God is referred to as holy:
If you would like to look at the rest of the verses in Isaiah here they are:
Isa 17:7 Isa 29:19 Isa 29:23 Isa 30:11 Isa 30:12 Isa 30:15 Isa 31:1
Isa 37:23 Isa 40:25 Isa 41:14 Isa 41:16 Isa 41:20 Isa 43:3 Isa 43:14
Isa 43:15 Isa 45:11 Isa 47:4 Isa 48:17 Isa 49:7 Isa 49:7 Isa 54:5
Isa 55:5 Isa 57:15 Isa 57:15 Isa 58:13 Isa 60:9 Isa 60:14
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)