Be Ye Holy
Chapter 1: Holiness
– The Foundation of Separation
Shedd offers a clear explanation of the idea of intrinsic
holiness: "Holiness in God must, consequently, be defined
as conformity to His own perfect nature. The only rule for
the divine will is the divine reason; and the divine reason
prescribes everything that it is befitting an Infinite being
to do. God is not under law, nor above law. He is law."17
Holiness is essential to God's character. This is seen from
several statements in Scripture.
Bible repeatedly declares that God's name is holy. Statements
such as "whose name is Holy" (Isa. 57:15) and
"For he that is mighty hath done to me great things;
and holy is his name" (Luke 1:49) are representative
of many passages which declare that Godís name is holy.
of the names by which God is known is the name "Holy
One." This name is used of God in several places (Job
6:10; Pss. 22:3; 71:22). In a special sense He is the "Holy
One of Israel" (Isa. 1:4). This title apparently refers
to the holiness which resides in His very character.
Separate from Evil
holiness is inherent in God's character is further seen
by the fact that Scripture declares Him to be free of all
sin and evil. Habakkuk forcefully states this fact: "Art
thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One?
We shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment;
and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not
look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that
deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked
devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?"
(Hab. 1:12-13). While discoursing with God about the coming
judgment of Judah, Habakkuk makes "a statement of faith
in the Lord's covenanted justice."18
He grounds his hope in the holiness of God. His trust is
that God will not permit the nation to die but that the
Chaldeans will be used only to execute His judgment. Because
God is holy, He cannot tolerate evil. His holiness constitutes
a purity which cannot countenance evil and treachery (v.13).
This fact plainly indicates that God is intrinsically holy.
was overwhelmed by the Lord "because of the words of
his holiness" (Jer. 23:9). In direct contrast to God's
holiness, he saw the land characterized by adultery and
swearing. Jeremiah said of sinful men that "their course
is evil, and their force is not right" (Jer. 23:10).
Unlike sinful man God is holy, free from evil. Jeremiah
saw man in contrast to God as profane (Jer. 23:11).
Malachi also states that by sin "Judah hath profaned
the holiness of the Lord" (Mal. 2:11). The word "profane"
connotes the idea of "defiled, polluted."19
God, by contrast, is free of all evil. Separation is revealed
as a fundamental concept of holiness at this point.
Swearing in Holiness
intrinsic holiness of God's character may be seen in the
oaths He makes. Twice God states that He has sworn in His
holiness (Ps. 89:35; Amos 4:2). Once He states that He has
sworn in His truth (Ps. 132:11). At least four times Scripture
teaches that God has sworn by Himself (Isa. 45:23; Jer.
49:13; 51:14; Amos 6:8). John Randolph Jaeggli, comparing
Amos 4:2 with 6:8, draws a conclusion which is reinforced
by the other Scriptures cited. He says, "The parallel
structure of these two phrases draws the interpreter's attention
to the equation of God's holiness with the essence of His
Perfect in Work
holiness of character is further seen by the fact that His
works are perfect. Scripture teaches that "the Lord
is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works"
(Ps. 145:17). His power is declared to be holy (Ps. 98:1).
His judgment is holy (Isa. 5:16), and His holiness is revealed
in salvation (Isa. 52:10). Although he does not use the
word holiness, Moses seems to summarize the fact
that God's work is holy when he says "his work is perfect"
(Deut. 32:4). The New Testament quotation of that statement
associates holiness with God's work (Rev. 16:5).
Perfect in Virtue
not only describes God's work as holy, but also describes
His virtues as being holy. The Bible declares His righteousness
(Isa. 5:16) and His truthfulness to be holy (Rev. 6:10).
The Standard of Holiness in Man
the fact that God is intrinsically holy another truth logically
follows. If holiness is a part of God's character, then
He alone is the standard of revealed holiness. His holiness
sets the standard of conduct for men. In other words, actions
are holy or unholy as they are consistent with or in violation
of God's nature. Strong forcefully states, "God is
holy in that He is the source and standard of the right."21
fact is revealed in Leviticus 19-20. The passage begins
with the demand for holiness in Israel and the affirmation
that God is holy (Lev. 19:2). Then follows a long list of
required actions and prohibited actions. Fifteen times in
Leviticus 19 this list is reinforced with the statement
"I am the Lord." God affirms His own holiness,
and the reason given for a commanded or forbidden action
is simply "I am the Lord." One must conclude that
the action commanded reflects God's holiness and forbidden
action is contrary to His holiness. This quality is both
positive and negative. "Sanctify yourselves therefore,
and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall
keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify
you" (Lev. 20:7-8).
reason witchcraft is wrong is because it is contrary to
God's holiness (Lev. 20:6). The reason that God's statutes
are to be obeyed is because they reflect His holiness, and
He set Israel apart to be holy unto Him. The same truth
is reiterated in verses 24 and 26.
holiness of God was not only the standard for human conduct
for Israel, but it is also the standard for Christians.
This timeless principle is repeated in the New Testament.
It transcends dispensations. God's character is unchanging.
"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye
holy in all manner of conversation: Because it is written,
Be ye holy; for I am holy" (I Pet. 1:15-16).
God is holy in His character, and His holiness becomes the
standard which determines right and wrong in human conduct.
This is what Watson calls "primary holiness."22
Be Ye Holy: The Call to Christian Separation. By Fred Moritz. ©1994.
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