Understanding What Does It Mean When We Say, “God Is Holy”

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Published by Shannon Jacobs



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Scripture’s revelation of various facets of God’s personality aids our growing understanding of who God is. God is described as holy in the Bible. To argue that God is holy means that his character has no hint of evil. The word “separation” that underlies the concept of holiness is “to separate or cut off.” God is said to be holy because there is no indication of evil inside him.

God’s presence is perfect in all of eternity, past, present, and future. Three equally divinely constituted individuals—the Holy Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit—reveal his perfection. The most striking aspect of God’s divine nature, which embodies his inborn and inexplicable nature, is his holiness.

What Does It Mean God Is Holy?

God originally set apart the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be holy people to serve as an example to the rest of the world of what it meant to live holy and for God. The only divine being is God. The word “holy” means “apart” in its primary sense. God’s holiness means he is in a class by himself and is transcendentally distinct from his creation[1].

This should cause us to feel wonder and respect. When Isaiah witnessed a vision of God, he shouted, “Woe is me! I am lost, but I have seen the King, the Lord of hosts, and because I am a man who dwells of unclean lips and a member of an unclean lips people” (Isaiah 6:5).

God Is The Definition Of Perfection

Being sinless and apart from evil are essential aspects of God’s holiness. He is entirely and unquestionably good. His nature and character are, therefore, distinct from ours. He serves as the benchmark for what is righteous, loving, and good. John says this metaphorically: “God is light, and there is no darkness at all in Him” (1 John 1:5).

God Is Different From Humans

God stands out because of his holiness. His name is unique and different. God is distinguished from everything and everyone by his purity, which sets him apart from his creation. God is special. He gave us all we are or have, but he does not need anything outside of himself. He is self-sufficient and self-existent.

silhouette of a man praising and god is holy

What Does It Mean To Be Holy?

In the Bible, the words “holy, holy, holy” are used twice: once in the Old Testament (Isaiah 6:3) and once in the New Testament (Revelation 4:8). The statement appears in the vision of a man who is brought before God’s throne multiple times: once by the prophet Isaiah and once by the apostle John. Both times, it is said or sung by celestial beings.

We might find something extremely unexpected in Ephesians 1:4. As he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and without blemish before him in holy love and holy justice, it states that God chose us for this specific purpose before we were even born.

Before the world’s inception and even before sin entered the picture, God’s sight had already chosen us. Therefore, why did God pick us? According to this verse, before the creation of the universe, God made the decision to create us “to follow the holiness of God and without blemish before Him in love.” 

Why Did God Pick Us?

The annotation on the word holy in the New Testament Recovery Version is really helpful. Holy refers to something that is sanctified, set apart for God, and distinct from everything else. Only God is unique and different from anything else. So he is holy because he is holy by nature; he is thrice holy. He selected us in order for us to be holy.

Being sanctified, or being set apart for God, is what it means to be holy. It also implies that we are unique and separate from everything else. And God made us in his image; in the same way, he is holy. This demonstrates that being holy has more to do with one’s inner nature than with their actions.

What Makes Us Holy?

We do not become holy by changing ourselves; instead, God imparts himself, the holy one, to us. God desires to continually impart himself to us after we are rescued until we are permeated and saturated with his supreme holiness.

However, being completely immersed in God’s holiness is not something that happens accidentally or against our will. God requires our everyday participation. He needs to be given more space to infuse our beings with his holy nature. We shall become holy as a result of this saturation, and afterward, our way of living will change on its own. So how can we assist our holy God in making us holy as well?

1. By Following Christ’s Glorious Deeds

According to 1 Corinthians 1:30, Christ was made sanctified for us by God. The term “sanctify” is the verb form of the noun “holy” in Greek, the language of the New Testament. Christ entered into our lives when we believed in him. Christ sanctified us, or made us holy, by bringing the holiness of God into us.

This clarifies what happens to us once we are saved. When we do things that we used to do before accepting the Lord, we suddenly feel differently about them. We should not dismiss that emotion when we receive it from the Lord.

Even once we know that the Lord disapproves, carrying on in such ways will keep us from being holy. But if we keep ourselves away from those pursuits, we give God more room to fill us with his holiness.

2. By Reading The Holy Bible To Gain Holy Knowledge

The Bible is accurate. The words found in the Bible that shine on our hearts when we read them are what sanctify us, not the Bible that sits on our shelf. We become more holy when we read the Bible with an open heart and in prayer.

We must read God’s Word every day and not fight or quarrel with the enlightenment it provides in order to collaborate with the Lord Almighty and become holy. Instead, we ought to concur with it and let the word sanctify us.

3. By Purifying Ourselves Through Righteous Acts

We must refrain from visiting places that are impure in God’s eyes, stop engaging in heinous, sinful behavior, and get rid of anything we own that violates God’s holy nature to purify ourselves of all defilement.

Being made holy is impossible if we engage in defiling behavior and amass impure and sinful objects. God wants us to cleanse ourselves of all defilement so that He can continue to infuse himself into us, sanctifying us.

Why Does God’s Holiness Matter So Much?

As Christians, we are called to recognize the significance of God’s holiness and its impact on our lives. The Holy Spirit guides us to understand the importance of God’s presence in our daily walk. Throughout the scriptures, we witness how God’s character, revealed through Christ Jesus, exemplifies his holiness and righteousness.

Leviticus 20:26 emphasizes this divine mandate: “You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. For I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.” In his wisdom, our holy God has graciously provided us with explicit instructions on how to pursue holiness. 2 Corinthians 6:17 instructs us, saying, “Come out from among the unbelievers and set yourself apart from them, declares the Lord. Do not touch their filthy things, and I will accept you.”

God’s holiness is not limited to a specific place or time; it encompasses the whole earth and every aspect of creation. From the very beginning, God created the world and all that is in it, infusing his divine presence into every corner. Because God’s Spirit dwells within his people, a connection is established that transcends human understanding.

Recognizing the holiness of God, we understand that he alone is worthy of our devotion. He is the only God, the Heavenly Father, who loves us unconditionally. As a holy nation, we are called to live in accordance with God’s commands and follow his ways.

Just as the ground upon which Moses stood before the burning bush was deemed holy, we too are called to consecrate ourselves and embrace a holy life. This means aligning our thoughts, actions, and intentions with God’s will. It involves striving to imitate the same God, whose holiness sets him apart from all others.

God’s holiness also brings forth the reality of his judgment. As we walk in his ways, we recognize that God’s judgment is just and righteous. We trust in his wisdom and surrender our lives to his authority, knowing that all his saints will ultimately find refuge and redemption in him in eternal life.

God’s Holiness Makes Us Strive To Have A Holy Life

Within the context of holiness, we come to understand the significance of God’s temple. We, as believers, are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and our bodies are temples where God’s presence resides. It is our responsibility to honor and maintain the sanctity of this temple, allowing God’s Spirit to guide and shape us into vessels of his grace and love.

God’s holiness matters deeply in our lives. Let us, therefore, continually strive to live holy lives, knowing that our Heavenly Father desires us to be a reflection of his holy character. God demands this; thus, this is what we should be working toward. The Bible also says that we should live holy lives in all aspects of our lives because God is holy. That is a godly model that we ought to imitate.

We will genuinely start to despise sin and its results as we progress in our walk with God and grow in our own personal holiness. We learn to hate things that get in the way of our relationship with God and things that cause other people so much suffering on this whole earth. And we will work tirelessly to stay away from such things.

Bible Verses That Explain The Holiness Of God

The Bible uses two different words to describe “holy.” The word “qodesh” in the Old Testament denotes separation, sacredness, or even setting apart. The term for holy in the New Testament is “hagios,” which also means set apart, sacred, or deserving of respect.

Oh, the depth of the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable are his ways!

Romans 11:33

And I will restore the greatness of my name, which has been defiled among the people and desecrated by you among them. And when I defend my sanctity in front of them through you, the nations will recognize me as the Lord, declares the Lord God.

Ezekiel 36:23

I dwell in the high and holy place, as well as with Him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the common and to revive the heart of the repentant, says the One who is high and lifted up, who occupies eternity, whose name is Holy.

— Isaiah 57:15

Because of your inherent limits, I am speaking in terms of humans. Because you now present your members as slaves to righteousness, leading to sanctification, just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness, leading to increased crime.

— Romans 6:19

Of David. O my soul, praise the Lord, and all that is within me exalt His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His holy mercy, because He pardons all your transgressions, heals all your illnesses, rescues your eternal life from the depths, crowns you with unwavering love and compassion, and fills you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

— Psalm 103:1–22

The four living creatures, each of whom has six wings and is full of eyes everywhere and within, never stop saying throughout the day and night, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

— Revelation 4:8

So, brothers, I beg you to offer your bodies as a holy and acceptable living sacrifice to God, which is your spiritual worship through the mercies of God. Don’t conform to this world; instead, let the renewing of your mind change you so that you may discern what the will of God is and that you can recognize God’s will for what is perfect and good.

— Romans 12:1–2

As a result, focus on getting your act together and keeping a clear head while placing all of your trust in the grace that will be extended to you at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because it is said, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your past ignorance; instead, be holy in all you do.

— 1 Peter 1:13–16 

Because of the limitations of your humanity, I will present an example from daily life. Now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness, just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and ever-increasing evil.

— Romans 6:19

Try your best to live in harmony with others and to uphold holiness; without holiness, no one will be able to see the Lord. Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace and that no trouble-making, defiling, bitter roots sprout.

— Hebrews 12:14–15
silhouette of man standing and god is holy


People comprehend the concept of God’s holiness as being connected to kindness, that sin offends him, and that it is something for which everyone should strive. Holiness is God’s inherent state and the opposite of man’s sinful nature. Holiness is being perfect, entirely sanctified, and what sets God apart from us.

The Bible pushes us to recognize and acknowledge that God is holy if we are reading it with an open mind. This occurs multiple times throughout Scripture, not just once. We must take the time to make an effort to comprehend God’s holiness and why it means so much since it is fundamental to who he truly is.

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