The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God


  • There is no such thing as an unholy Christian. 
    • Put differently: no such thing as a Christian who doesn’t have to pursue holiness. 
    • Holiness is an expected pursuit; an inevitable result of being the people of God (Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 2:9).
  • Holiness means to live out the separation God has worked in us through Jesus; to live morally blameless lives. 
  • Yet, can’t fully have a true definition of holiness without looking at the holiness of God as well (1 Pet. 1:16). 

The Holiness of God 

  • Most Christians have a cultural holiness: they adapt to the character and behavior patterns of Christians around them. 
    • Yet, the call of Christianity is to reflect God’s holiness in all of our conduct; conformity to the character of God (1 Pet. 1:15-16). 
    • As image bearers of God, our responsibility is to reflect him—in purity, in love, in truth—and when we convey this it is called holiness. 
  • Central to this understanding is knowing what the holiness of God is. 
    • Definition: his perfection, transcendence, and set-apartness.
    • The only characteristic in scripture that is conveyed three times (Isaiah 6:3; Rev. 4:8); every other characteristic is defined by this (holy wrath, love, justice, etc.). 
  • Yet, this also speaks of his moral perfection and holiness (1 John 1:5). 
    • God does what is right: “His perfect knowledge precludes any uncertainty on what is right and wrong…he always does what is just and right without the slightest hesitation” 
    • But He is also the absolute standard of what is right; the essence of moral purity: He is truth and goodness. 
  • So since we are called to reflect the holiness of God, we are called to display his character and set apartness to the world—something we can only accomplish through the blood of Christ. 
    • We can only become righteous through the mercy of God (Tit. 3:5), in which he sets us apart as his people and brings us into covenant. 
    • We are regeneration and renewed (the image of God is restored) so that we can fully reflect that image (Titus 2:11-14).
  • Yet, this holiness isn’t simply limited to abstinence from certain sins (although that certainly is included, 1 Thess. 4:3). 
    • Good example: Matt. 5:43-48. 
    • Showing grace, mercy, and love towards those who hate us is an act of holiness because it reflects God’s perfect mercy towards rebellious sinners. 
  • If you think this type of holiness is difficult, a simple question to ask in light of scripture is, “Is this how God would act?” 

The Fear of God 

  • In this study I have seen some of my own imbalance in reaction to those living in constant fear of losing salvation. 
    • That is, those who live in constant worry over their salvation, without any confidence toward their eternal reward. 
    • Yet, in our pursuit of assurance we cannot forget one of the motivations of holy living: the fear of the Lord (Psa. 19:9; Phil. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:17). 
    • This is a life lived in trembling reverence because of God’s holy justice. 
  • The reality is that, if you refuse to live holy before the Lord, you will be “judged impartiality.” 
    • John though seems to say differently (1 John 4:17-18). 
    • Yet, this doesn’t mean that we no longer reverence God and His holiness, but that as we grow towards “perfect love” our motivation isn’t out of fear of hell, but love for the Father. 
    • Similar to why children obey when they are kids, and why they respect father when older. 
  • Yet the life of the Christian is balanced: it beholds both the goodness and the severity of God (Rom. 11:22). 


  • The opposite of holy is within scripture is unholy and ungodly (1 Tim. 1:9). 
  • That is: someone who has rejected their responsibility as an image bearer; who isn’t reflecting God. 
  • Here is the beauty of this though and the importance to the church: people want to know God. 
    • We were made to be in fellowship with and love him. 
    • Think about the people you respect and admire the most, who you just enjoy being in the presence of—I can almost guarantee a holy person came to mind. 
  • Are you the type of person who, when people spend time with, see more of their God?