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

Man's Response to God's Holiness

The holiness of God demands specific responses from men, and Scripture enunciates these proper responses to the Holy God.


When God intervened in Isaiah's life and confronted the prophet with His holiness, Isaiah acknowledged his own sinfulness (Isa. 6:5). His confession of sin resulted in God's gracious cleansing (Isa. 6:6). Because Isaiah responded to the transcendent holiness of God in repentance, he experienced the immanent holiness of God in cleansing.

After declaring His intrinsic and transcendent holiness, God assures humble and contrite men that He dwells with them (Isa. 57:15). We cannot see the holiness of God without seeing our own sinfulness. That should bring us to our knees in repentance before God.


When David brought the Ark to Jerusalem he alluded to God's holiness. He sang and instructed the people: "Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord" (I Chron. 16:10). People who have a right relationship with God can rejoice in His holiness.


In his song of rejoicing David further instructed the people: "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" (I Chron. 16:29). Man responds to God's holiness in worship. He glorifies God by worshipping the beauty, or glory, of holiness. This truth is taught in several Old Testament passages (II Chron. 20:21; Pss. 19:2; 96:9). Praise of the holy God is part of worship.


David's song reveals that he was thankful to the holy God because He delivered the nation (I Chron. 16:35). The holiness of God excites thankfulness in the hearts of His people (Pss. 30:4; 97:12).


God's holiness demands that His people imitate that holiness, for His holiness is the foundation of holy conduct in men. Holiness in ceremonial practice, abstaining from sin, and the practice of moral virtue are all grounded upon the fact that God is holy (Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26). This truth carries over to the New Testament and is the basis for holy living in the Christian's life (I Pet. 1:15-16).


It is apparent that separation is inherent in the meaning of the word holiness in the Old Testament. It is also apparent that separation is part of the meaning of the words for holiness in the New Testament.

The Scriptures declare that God is holy. God's holiness can, according to Isaiah 57:15, be divided into three aspects. God is holy intrinsically; that is, His character is holy. In His holiness God transcends all of His creation. He is glorious in His holiness. He is to be worshipped in the beauty, or glory, of His holiness. He is greater than the creation and is separate from the creation and its sin. God is also immanent in His holiness. He dwells with contrite men and has provided His holiness as well as His wisdom, righteousness, and redemption for them by faith in Jesus.

The holiness of God should produce willing response to Him by the men whom He created. Penitence for sin will produce joy, worship, gratitude, and a passion to be like Him – to imitate His holiness. This penitence for sin before a holy God is also the key to revival. Against the modern-day inclination to rationalize and justify sinful conduct, God calls men to humble themselves and be contrite before Him. That spirit of humility and repentance brings God's gracious work of revival, which is desperately needed today.

We cannot pass this point without a plea to those who have joined in Harold John Ockenga's "repudiation of separatism."31 Although many professing Christians have accepted this repudiation, it is a matter of utmost seriousness. We can speak neither lightly nor irreverently, but Scripture teaches that "God is a separatist."32 This chapter lays a foundation for this claim; future chapters will build on that foundation a case for that claim. To repudiate separatism is to repudiate not a human philosophy but a teaching of revealed Scripture. That teaching is rooted deeply in the disciplines of exegetical and systematic theology. To repudiate separatism is to challenge the authority of inspired, inerrant Scripture. Those who have repudiated this teaching must reconsider their position. Men are imperfect and fallible. The man who embraces separatism may not always be right in the way he wages his battle, but the truth for which he stands is right; and it is right because it is divine, revealed truth.


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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