- We have begun a series of study on holiness. Our key passage is the command found in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” In our last study we defined the nature of holiness. Holiness is not merely a separation. Rather holiness is separating from the things of the world and dedicating oneself to God. We also noticed that only God can define what is holy and is unholy. We do not have the right to perform any action and declare it dedicated to God. Saul did this with the Amalekites and was condemned by God. Nadab and Abihu did this by other another fire and were consumed by the fire of God. People do not decide what is holy and what is unholy.
- Finally, we considered our need for personal responsibility in holiness. No one else is to blame for our actions. No one has made us who we are and we cannot play the victim to God. We have the power to choose and through the power of God we can over come evil and separate from impurity.
- In light of the command found in 1 Peter 1:15-16 we must come to understand the holiness of God. If we are going to be holy as God as holy, then we are required to come to the knowledge of God’s holiness so we can match that holy character in our own lives.
I. God’s Holiness is Perfect Freedom From All Evil
A. God always knows what is right
- God is always aware of what is right and wrong. In fact, God is the standard for what is righteous and what is wicked. Holiness is one of God’s attributes, that is, holiness is an essential part of the nature of God. Holiness is just as much a part of the Lord as His omnipotence or His omniscience. God is holy and therefore always knows what is right.
- This is not true with us. We do not always know what is right, what is just and fair. How many times we have agonized over decision of morality, wondering what is the right thing to do! God never faces this problem. God always knows what is right.
B. God always does what is right
- Not only does God always know what is righteous, God always acts righteously. God must do what is right because it is essential to His character. This is also a great contrast to ourselves. We may know what is the right action, but there can be reluctance on our part to do it. Perhaps the right action involves a great sacrifice, a blow to our pride, or some other reason or obstacle that keeps us from acting with the knowledge we have. This is not so with God. God always does what is just and right without hesitation or question.
- God always knows what is right and always acts upon what is right. Just as we say that gold is pure when all the impurities are refined from it, the holiness of God is the complete absence of evil within Him. John communicated this point in 1 John 1:5, “God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.” God is completely free from moral evil and is the absolute essence of moral purity.
C. God always acts consistently to His character
- Therefore, all of God’s thoughts and actions are consistent with His holy character. This is the standard that God has set for us in calling us to holiness. While we may begin to grow and develop in the Christian virtues, we do not always act consistently with the character of God. We may tell a lie or become trapped in our impure thoughts. This is not the case with God.
- This may seem simplistic but it is important for us to make sure have before our eyes as we consider conformity to the character of God. The holiness of God is perfect. God is not usually holy or acts holy 99% of the time. Holiness is not a general characteristic to describe God, but holiness is the very nature and essence of God. This knowledge ought to have a great impact on our lives.
II. What God’s Holiness Means to Us
A. Gives us comfort and assurance
- The absolute holiness of God should be of great comfort and assurance to us. Because of God’s holiness we can be confident that His actions toward us always perfect and just. How often when things go wrong in life that people accuse God of being unfair or unjust toward them. We see Job resort to this accusation that God had treated Job wrong and Job would be vindicated if he could have a forum with God.
- But this concept is Satan’s lie planted in our hearts. It is a lie that Satan has used from the very beginning and continues to us on us to this day. Consider Satan’s temptation of Eve: Satan essentially argued that God was being unfair and holding out on Eve by not allowing her to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We must realize that such a charge is impossible with God. God is holy and cannot act unrighteously, unfairly, or unjustly toward anyone. We must resist the temptation to make this charge against God because by uttering such words we are denying the holiness of God. To deny God’s holiness is certainly words of blasphemy. How dare anyone ever charge the Lord of unrighteousness! Even something as subtle as thinking that God has let us down is denial of God’s holiness.
B. Acknowledging God’s holiness is to praise Him
- By the same token, if we accept and acknowledge the holiness of God, then we are in the process of praising God. The four living creatures in heaven never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8). One of seraphim in heaven cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Moses sang a song about God’s holiness, “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).
- God has tried to communicate to us that His holiness is worthy of great praise. Consider that the structure that housed the articles of God was called the Holy Place, though place is not in the original. Further, the room in which God dwelled was called the Holy of Holies. God is often called in the scriptures the Holy One of the Holy One of Israel. It is God’s holiness is demands our praise, just as we see taking place in the heavenly places. But it is not enough for us to be comforted by God’s holiness and praise God for His holiness. We have been called to holiness.
C. God does not overlook our sins
- God rightfully demands perfect holiness in all of His moral creatures. God cannot ignore or approve of any evils we commit. God cannot relax His perfect standard of holiness. This is why we have read the command in 1 Peter 1:15, “Be holy in all you do.” We are not to be holy in some of the things we do, but in everything, there is to be holiness. Habakkuk said, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing” (Habakkuk 1:13).
- We may try to justify our actions because the sin is small or light. Perhaps we do not see the big deal or significance in the action. But when we truly understand what the holiness of God means, we can understand that we cannot be justified in His sight even with the slightest deviation in our conduct. God does not accept our excuses that “this is just who we are,” “I inherited this from my parents,” or even “it is an area I am working on.” God’s holiness does not allow for flaws, errors, or shortcomings in our personal character. Consider carefully the words of the writer of Hebrews, “Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). There is no wiggle room for us to get around this command. If we have not utterly expelled anything that is against the character of God and His will, we will not see the Lord or be with the Lord. God is not going to overlook our sins. God is not going to ignore what we have done. Our actions demand God’s judgment.
D. God never puts us in situations where we must sin
- Because God is holy, He will never tempt us to sin. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). God does not put us in a situation where we have no other alternative but to sin. It is against God’s character and such an act would violate His holiness.
- Understanding this will remove the majority of the excuses we offer for why we sin. We may think that we had no choice or that there was no other option. Sometimes we may feel like we have no choice but to shade the truth, tell a little lie, or act slightly dishonest. To think this way is to remove responsibility from ourselves and try to blame God for what we have done.
- Saul tried to make this argument to Samuel in 1 Samuel 13:5-14. The Philistines are gathering their armies to battle and as they are amassing their armies, Saul and his armies awaiting Samuel to come and offer sacrifices before going to war. Saul waits a whole week as the Philistines continue to prepare for war. In the meantime, Saul’s soldiers scattering because of the sheer number of Philistines that are being assembled to fight. Therefore, Saul performs the sacrifice himself to hurry up the process of war before more Philistines come. Notice Saul says in verse 12, “I felt compelled and offered a burnt offering.” Saul did not see any other choices and therefore committed this sin. But there was another choice: obey God’s word by waiting for Samuel to come who would make the offering. God punished Saul by stripping the kingdom away from him and his descendants and giving the kingdom to another.
- We never have to sin and we are never in a situation where there is no way out. That is the promise God made in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “with every temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” Which leads us to our final consideration concerning what God’s holiness means to us.
E. God hates sin
- It does not matter if the person is a believer or an unbeliever, God hates sin. Consider the severity of God’s punishments upon those who were considered so near to the heart of God. David was a man after God’s own heart, yet after his sin with Bathsheba, his son was killed and the promise was made that the sword would never depart his house (2 Samuel 12:10). Moses was called a friend of God, yet by striking the rock and not speaking to it in the wilderness, was forbidden from entering the promised land. Jonah, a prophet of God, was cast into the sea and swallowed by a great fish for going against God’s will.
- “Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate, says the Lord” (Zechariah 8:17). God even uses the word hate to describe the actions of those who go against His will. Therefore, we must develop within ourselves the same hatred of the things God hates. Consider the words of the psalmist, “I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). The psalmist had learned to have the hatred of what was false and to love the precepts of the Lord. God never overlooks sin and we cannot overlook sin. God hates sin intensely and we must hate sin intensely.
- It is important to realize that God has established a high standard for our conduct. God’s holiness is to be our holiness. God cannot overlook our actions or turn a blind eye to evil. God hates sin for holiness is God’s character. God is so separate from evil that the scriptures it is like the contrast between light and darkness. God’s standard for our actions, attitudes, and desires is to be holy for He is holy.
- We understand that we have the grace of God to help when we come up short, but as Jude warned, we cannot take the grace of God as a license to sin. God does not tell us to not worry about holiness because God will extend His grace. Grace is issued to those who are striving to be holy in all their conduct. Our lives must consist of the practice of holiness, not the practice of wickedness. God’s command for holiness is serious and we must work today to attain this characteristic of God, or we will not see God.