“I am the LORD that brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore, be holy because I am holy” (Leviticus 11: 45). This was the commandment that God gave to the ancient Israelites stressing his holiness and the need for that people to be holy. This theme recurs in the Bible in diverse forms. God is utterly holy and pure. He is unique in this. He is free from all defilement. He is absolutely pure and impeccable. Prophet Isaiah wrote about his vision of God: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3; see also Revelations 4:8). In the New Testament epistle written by Apostle Peter to the first century Christians, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance. But be like the Holy One, who called you, in all your behaviour; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (I Peter 1:14-16). God is a thrice-holy God, implying the truth that holiness is God’s supreme attribute among all his moral or ethical attributes. The term ‘holy’ in the Bible implies ‘separation’ (In Hebrew language ‘quodesh’ or ‘quodosh’, in New Testament Greek ‘hagios’). This means an absolute ‘separateness’ or ‘set apart’ from all that is defiled or unclean. Not only God is separate from all creation as creator, but he is separate from them all by virtue of his moral attribute. This theme of God’s holiness permeates through the entire Bible. In order that man can follow or obey God he needs to be holy. Holiness is a calling from God for human beings. Jesus Christ became a man even he did not have any sin. He is the perfect manifestation of the holiness of God so that he could be the only and the perfect sacrifice for the redemption of man from the bondage of sin.
Man got separated or alienated from holy God because of sin. Romans 3: 10-12 declares: “There is no one righteous, not even on; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” This fact may be unpalatable to man. But this is reality viewed from the standard of utterly holy God. But we are judged by how we view God. Holiness of God is an utterly and uniquely high standard. Nothing less than this would make God God. It is God’s essential quality. Biblical verses like, Exodus 3: 5-6, 15:11; Leviticus 19:2; Psalm 89: 35; Isaiah 57: 15; 1 Peter 1: 15-17, et cetera explicitly speak of the holiness of God. Just to quote from Exodus 15:11: “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” This is how Moses viewed God in his holiness. The qualifying term ‘Holy’ is used, more than any other as a prefix, to his name. Holiness is the crown of all of God’s attributes. Without this perfection none of God’s attributes bear authentic meaning as divine qualities. All Biblical saints right from were aware of the holiness of God so that they could be used by God for his cause or purpose. In fact holiness is to be seen as Godlikeness. Sinful man cannot have a right relationship with God. So, call of being holy is repeated in the Bible. “Therefore, be holy as I am holy” -- runs the divine call or exhortation to mundane man.
Let me conclude with what the New Testament also exhorts us so that we can live our lives with holiness and love for God and our fellow-beings: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God --- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world (meaning worldly or selfishness), but be transformed by the renewing of you minds, Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is --- his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans12: 1-2). In this consists holiness or holy calling for man. Admittedly, it is not easy to practice in life, but not impossible for man either. With the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit, i.e. God’s Spirit man can live this kind of life!
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and Church leader