We keep encountering over and over again in Scripture the concept that God is holy. In fact, God only is absolutely holy. Moses, in his song of redemption, makes Jehovah God the theme of his praises, and then he ponders by asking a question: “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness?” (Exodus 15:11). God himself assumes the title of “the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25).
God is absolutely perfect in all His ways. There is not a single blemish or flaw in God’s character. God is never partial; He is never unfair; He never plays favorites. We read in Deuteronomy 32:4 that God is “the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” The figure of “the Rock” declares that the Lord is strong and stable. The words “His work is perfect” indicate faithfulness; no wrongdoing exists in Him.
There are two basic aspects to God’s holiness. One aspect is related to the loftiness, exaltedness, and splendor of God as seen in Isaiah 6:1-4, where Isaiah saw God “high and lifted up,” and the seraphim cried “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” The second feature of God’s holiness is the absolute purity of His goodness. God is untouched and unstained by the evil of the world. God’s holiness is the standard for our moral character, and the motivation for the way we are to live our lives.
Holiness cannot take part in sin nor approve it in others. The very sight of sin affects God with abhorrence (Habakkuk 1:13). In the dark hour (many years ago) when God the Father blotted out the view of Christ on the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1). In verse 3 (of Psalm 22) we learn the reason why Jesus was forsaken of the Father. The response to Jesus’ question is that God is holy and cannot tolerate sin; in verse 3 of Psalm 22, Jesus says, “But You are holy.” At Calvary, we are permitted to view God’s abhorrence of sin, and perceive something of the holiness of God.
At least two times the Prophet Isaiah refers to the Lord as “the Holy One of Israel.” The God of Israel is totally unlike the gods of other religions. Those gods over and over again engaged in the same types of sinful acts as their followers did. The gods of the ancient (and modern) world are lacking in holiness, and instead, are vile, corrupt, degrading, and impure. Jehovah God, by way of contrast, is free from such acts. Job 34:12 says, “Surely God will never do wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice.”
The holiness of God is evident in all His laws. Moral laws and natural laws are all an outgrowth of God’s holiness. His laws are designed to urge upon human beings the divine demands for leading a holy life. God’s laws demand only good and forbid all evil. Romans 7:12 speaks primarily of the law given through Moses, and says, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” God’s holiness provides the pattern for His people to imitate. He commands us, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16).
Excerpts taken from the book “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul