God’s Holy Character

“Don’t take the holiness of God lightly, for it is the very essence of His character.”

Billy Graham

For more about the holiness of God see:

The Holiness of God–R.C. Sproul–Book Review

The Holiness of God–R.C. Sproul–Book Review

The Attributes of God part 2

The Holiness of God–R.C. Sproul–Book Review

I’ve just finished this book, which we’ve been reading in our Tuesday morning Bible study class.  I found it challenging in a way that’s hard to pin down.  According to Sproul,

“The one concept, the central idea I kept meeting in Scripture was the idea that God is holy.”

Any Christian would agree with that statement, but what exactly does holiness mean? One of the first discussion questions (each chapter has these) was When you think of God as holy, what comes to mind?”  I told the class, I could think of things that suggested God’s power or God’s love or God’s mercy, but God’s holiness is difficult to express.

Holiness, of course, means set apart.  Certain items and places are holy because they have been set apart for sacred purposes — the church building itself, the baptismal font, the communion ware and so on.  In the same way, we, the people of God are holy because we have been chosen and set apart to do God’s work.

God’s holiness is different, because God is different.  God’s holiness is expressed in these verses from Isaiah:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

God is so different, we can’t begin to understand Him;  and we can’t truly understand His holiness because it is not so much one characteristic of God, it encompasses all that God is.  God is holy because He is God.  Whatever God chooses to do is holy, because God is always good and always right.  He sees everything from the perspective of eternity. What God does is always consistent  with Who God is. Is this beginning to make sense?

All I can say about this book is, I didn’t so much teach me things, as it taught me how little I actually know;  but maybe that’s a good thing.  It was humbling and somewhat uncomfortable.  At best, I have made a start at understanding the holiness of God.  Read it for yourself and see.  I would love to hear some other opinions.

Note:  There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter (if you’re like me you’ll struggle with them) so it can be studied in a small group setting, or with a friend.

For more on R.C. Sproul visit these posts:

Flee to the Scripture– A Quote by R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul on Repentance

A Quote From R.C. Sproul

Who To Be

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” 1 Peter 1:14-16

I just started reading a book titled, In His Image by Jen Wilken, and the first chapter is about holiness. Although holiness is an attribute of God, it is also a quality we need to reflect as God’s people.  For humans, holiness means being set apart for God, devoted to God, pure in character — in other words, pious.

Most Christians want to know what God’s will is for them as individuals .  What job should I take?  Who should I marry?  Where should I live? These are things we ask ourselves.  According to Ms. Wilken, instead of these questions which all boil down to “What should I do?” we ought to be asking “Who should I be?”

The Bible does not tell us what is the right decision in every case.  However, it does tell us quite a bit about who to be in every area of life.  Here’s a quote from the book:

“Simply put, God’s will for your life is that you be holy.  That you live a life of set-apartness.  That, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you strive for utter purity of character (Heb.12:14).  Every admonition contained in all of Scripture can be reduced to this.  Every warning, every law, every encouragement bows to this overarching purpose.  Every story of every figure in every corner of every book of the Bible is chanting this call.  Be holy, for he is holy.”

If we are striving to be direct our life to God and His will for us, the other decisions will not loom so large. Piety is not about what we do.  We can be holy in any job, any place, any marriage.  The circumstances don’t matter, but who we are does.