Sunday, October 30, 2011

Art by Greg Martin

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY or Grace (Pt6)

"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

   A t this point it is best to stop and look a little closer at what is meant by the holiness of God as I find our natural inclination is to view the term "holy" or "holiness" as simply referring to the sinless, pure nature of God.  However, we must remember that is only one facet of the term "holy" and "holiness" when referring to God. So when the terms holy or holiness are used to describe God, just what is meant? In his on line study Bob Deffinbaugh states the following;
"The term 'holy' is often understood in its contemporary usage rather than its true meaning in the Scriptures. For this reason, our study must begin by reviewing several dimensions of the definition of holiness.
  1. To be holy is to be distinct, separate, in a class by oneself. As Sproul puts it:
'The primary meaning of holy is "separate." It comes from an ancient word that meant, "to cut," or "to separate." Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase "a cut above something." When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is "a cut above the rest."' (R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God [Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985], p. 54.)
This means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition.
'When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way [emphasis mine]. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.' (Ibid p.55)
   A gain, scripture plainly points out what is emphasized in the above quotation;
"No one is holy like the LORD, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God." (1 Samuel 2:2/NKJV)

   T his is not to exclude the moral purity of God, rather moral purity is only a part of God's holiness.  Once more the study by Deffinbaugh states it best; "Purity is not excluded from the idea of the holy; it is contained within it."  Gods attributes are based in holiness, everything about God is unlike man (which makes sense as he is the Creator and we are the created).  So when we think of Gods love we must remember His love is holy.  Additionally, when we think of His kindness, mercy, grace, justice, wisdom and judgement, we must remember all of these are holy.  This is the third point made by Deffinbaugh in his study;
      "3. For God to be holy is for Him to be holy in relation to every
      aspect of His nature and character.

'When we use the word holy to describe God, we face another problem. We often describe God by compiling a list of qualities or characteristics that we call attributes. We say that God is a spirit, that He knows everything, that He is loving, just, merciful, gracious, and so on. The tendency is to add the idea of the holy to this long list of attributes as one attribute among many. But when the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense. The word is used as a synonym for his deity. That is, the word holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, his justice is holy justice, his mercy is holy mercy, his knowledge is holy knowledge, his spirit is holy spirit.'"(Ibid p.57)
   S o everything about God is holy, i.e. so far above us, so far set apart from us. In the Old Testament Isaiah speaks for God and states;
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9/NKJV)

and Paul also states in the New Testament;
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God..." (1 Corinthians 3: 19a/NKJV)

   I t is this realization that causes so many to respond as they do when coming into God's presence.  It is why Job has to get on his face and say;
"Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42: 3, 6/NKJV)

   I t is why Isaiah exclaims he is "undone"(Isaiah 6:5), it is why Joshua falls on his face when confronted by the captain of the Lord of Hosts (Joshua 5:14), it is why the angels have to tell Zacharias, Mary and the shepherds to "not be afraid" (Luke 1:18, Luke 1:30, Luke 2:9-10), it is why those with Peter were astonished, and it is why Peter falls down in Luke 5.

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

scripture sources;
Bible Gateway
image source;
Phoenix Nebula
original art by Greg Martin

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