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Be Ye Holy
Chapter 1:
Holiness – The Foundation of Separation

Transcendent Holiness

This term conveys the understanding that God is unique in His holiness and is separate and distinct from His creation. He is exalted in holiness. When Moses and the children of Israel sang after their deliverance at the Red Sea, they praised God's transcendent holiness. They asked, "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exod. 15:11). Hannah gladly recognized the transcendent holiness of God in her prayer: "There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God" (I Sam. 2:2). The same truth is stated later in the same book: "Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?" (I Sam. 6:20). The song of Moses and the Lamb likewise reiterates the truth: "Who shall not fear thee O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest" (Rev. 15:4).

Holiness and God's glory

God's holiness and glory are linked together several places in Scripture.23 God is glorious in His holiness (Exod. 15:11). Because He is the Holy One, His glory covers heaven and earth (Hab. 3:3). Part of His honor, weight, substance, or worth is His holiness. For this reason He is to be praised (Hab. 3:3; I Chron. 16:29; Ps. 96:7-8). His dwelling place in heaven is said to be "the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory" (Isa. 63:15). The tabernacle was sanctified (made holy or set apart) by the presence of God's glory in it (Exod. 29:43).

The Beauty of Holiness

Five times in the Old Testament (I Chron. 16:29; II Chron. 20:21; Pss. 29:2; 96:9; 110:3) beauty and holiness are linked. All five passages refer to the worship of God by man, and these passages also link God's glory to His holiness. Girdlestone explains the meaning of this phrase "the beauty of holiness": "Other suggested readings are 'the glorious sanctuary' and 'holy array.' The word 'beauty' frequently means majesty or excellency, and probably points to the glory of God rather than to the garments of man."24

The Separation Between God and Man

Clearly God is separate from His creation. He is holy in His character. No god is like Him, and He is greater than man. This division exists partly because God is the Creator and as such is greater than His creation. The condition is not just that God is intrinsically and transcendentally holy and that man is neutral. The transcendence of God is made more glaring by man's sin nature. Given the fact of God's holiness, Chestnut is accurate when he states, "To sin is to violate any of God's requirements in any way."25 He further points out the threefold nature of sin. Sin is sin because (1) "It is self-assertion against God's will" (Gen. 3:4-7), (2) "it breaks the bond between man and God," and (3) "because the violator loses holiness derived from closeness to god."26 When sinful man comprehends, even in part, the holiness of God, only one response is possible. Isaiah said it for all men when he recounted: "Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 6:5).

Scripture declares that God in His holiness is greater than man and is separate from man. God alone is holy. John Miley clearly understood this when he stated, "In the deepest, divinest sense, God only is holy."27


Be Ye Holy: The Call to Christian Separation. By Fred Moritz. ©1994. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available for purchase at the Bob Jones University Campus Store (phone: 1-800-252-1927; web address: Please note, due to browser limitations, the Hebrew and Greek words are not displayed in their original languages.

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