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What is…

also known as: spiritual perfection, absolute purity, sinlessness

Holy God

Holiness, in the highest sense, belongs to God, and to Christians as consecrated to God’s service, and in so far as they are conformed in all things to the will of God ( Romans 6:19; Rom. 6:22; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 1:15).

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.” —Isaiah 6:3 NASB

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You,
For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” —Rev. 15:4 NASB

“Holy and awesome is His name.” —Psalm 111:9

“Holiness is to be regarded not as a distinct attribute, but as the result of all God’s moral perfection together.” —R.L. Dabney

“Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of God’s crown, it is the name by which He is known.” —Christian author and pastor Thomas Watson (c. 1620–1686), A Body of Divinity

Holy beings or people

Personal holiness

“…we actually are, at present, creatures whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, as it is, when we really see it, a horror to ourselves. This I believe to be a fact: and I notice that the holier a man is, the more fully he is aware of that fact.” —C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

See: Humility

Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:23-24).

Christians are often uncomfortable thinking of each other as “holy ones.” Yet the call to God’s people is…

…be holy, for I am holy —Lev. 11:44 NASB; 1 Peter 1:16 NASB

“Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervours, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills. God’s mind and will are to be known from his word; and, so far as I really understand and believe God’s word, God’s mind becomes my mind, God’s will becomes my will, and according to the measure of my faith, I become holy.” —John Brown, Expository Discourses on the First Epistle of Peter (Edinburgh: William Oliphant, 1866), 1:117

It is through faith in Christ that we are set apart as holy ones, yet we still struggle with sin. Sanctification is the process by which we are being made holy. How do we seek God’s grace in living holy lives?

“Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him… To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our moribund souls.” -Theologian R.C. Sproul, LittD, LHD, PhD

Streaming video— 
“A Call to Holiness”
John F. MacArthur, Litt.D., D.D., Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary
Length: 34 minutes
Streaming video— 
“Spiritual Power for Holy Living”
John F. MacArthur, Litt.D., D.D., Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary
Video by Grace to You
Length: 53 minutes
Streaming video— 
“Simultaneously Righteous and a Sinner”
John F. MacArthur, Litt.D., D.D., Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary
Video by Grace to You
Length: 60 minutes

Holy days / holidays

Holy objects and places

Unholy fire on a holy altar

Two of Aaron’s sons were struck dead ( Leviticus 10:1-2) for the daring sacrilige of offering unholy fire on the holy altar of incense, contrary to God’s command.

Objects, ordinances, or beings that are or can be holy

(partial list)

Hebrew and Greek words

Hebrew: קֹדֶשׁ —transliteration: qodesh —meaning: holiness; holy; apartness; sacredness; consecrated; hallowed —occurrences: 464 times in Scripture

Greek: ἁγιωσύνη —transliteration: hagiósuné —meaning: holiness —occurrences: 3

Greek: ὁσιότης —transliteration: hosiotés —meaning: holiness; piety toward God —occurrences: 2 (Luke 1:75; Eph. 4:24)

Greek: ἁγιότης —transliteration: hagiotés —meaning: holiness; sanctity, in a moral sense —occurrences: 1 (Hebrews 12:10)

More information

Article Version: September 9, 2019