Jun 18, 2013
For years I struggled to feel the wonder of God’s holiness.
I’m sure the main problem was my dull heart. But at the same time, what I had heard about God’s holiness was not very helpful.
It didn’t stir me to hear that God was perfectly pure. My heart didn’t soar hearing that He was separated from everything else.
Those explanations of God’s holiness didn’t capture me.
The Main Point
But then I read an article which I think was by John Piper. What I took from the article was that while God is perfectly pure and set apart from everything else — neither of those are the main point of God’s holiness.
The main point of God’s holiness is not just that God is separate from everything else. It’s that He is superior to everything else.
One Scripture that helped me see this is 1 Samuel 2:2 —
There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
For God to be holy means He is so superior that there is no one besides Him. When it comes to being a rock — being strong and stable — it’s not that God is a 10 and other rocks are a 7 or 4. It’s that God is a “10” and there are no other rocks on the scale.
So for God to be holy means that His rock-ness sets Him infinitely above everything else that is.
There is no other rock. Period.
What The Holy One Says
I saw the same truth in Isaiah 40:25 —
To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
God’s holiness means nothing compares with God — nothing shows up in the same categories with him — nothing is even remotely like Him.
Who God is, sets Him infinitely above everything else in existence.
So God’s holiness does not just mean He is separate from everything else. It means He is infinitely superior to everything else
Then I found this quote from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament —
God’s holiness … is … his perfection of being which transcends everything creaturely. (1:91)
So for God to be holy means that His perfections set Him infinitely above everything else. His perfections make Him absolutely one-of-a-kind. Which means He is infinitely more valuable and satisfying than anything else.
But to feel this we need to get more specific. What perfections set God infinitely above everything else? Here are nine of them —
God is Eternal.
Psalm 90:2 says that “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” God is from everlasting. Think about it: everything else has a beginning. Everything. But God has no beginning. Only God has always been. The fact that God has always existed sets Him infinitely above everything else.
God is Creator.
Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” From eternity past – there was only God. Then God chose to create – and there was a universe and a solar system and planet earth and you and me. Only God is Creator; everything else is created. The fact that God is Creator sets Him infinitely above everything else.
God is Massive.
In Jeremiah 23:24 God asks: “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” The heavens and earth are big. John Piper illustrated it like this: planet earth is big. A light year is bigger — 240 million trips around our globe. The Milky Way is even bigger — 100,000 light years long. And our universe is even bigger — it has over 50 million Milky-Way-sized galaxies. And God fills it all. So God’s size sets Him infinitely above everything else.
God is Sovereign.
In Ephesians 1:11 we read that God “works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Everything that happens is by God’s sovereign will. So everything else is under God’s sovereignty. Nothing else is sovereign. Only God is sovereign. God’s sovereignty sets Him infinitely above everything else.
God is All-Powerful.
In Isaiah 40:26 we read that God created the stars. Stars are huge. The diameter of our earth is 8,000 miles. But the Sun is bigger — with a diameter of 865,000 miles. Think of the power to create a star of that size. But God didn’t just create one sun – astronomers say there are thousands of billions of suns in the universe. And God created them all. God’s power sets Him infinitely above everything else.
God is All-Knowing.
Psalm 147:5 says “His understanding is beyond measure.” Think of how little you know. And how much you forget. But God knows everything that exists — past, present, and future — consciously, all the time. Everyone else will always be learning. Only God knows everything. So God’s knowledge sets him infinitely above everything else.
God is Joyful.
1 Timothy 1:11 talks about “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” That word “blessed” is the Greek word for “joyful.” So God is full of joy in the fellowship of the Trinity — each member of the Trinity rejoicing with perfect joy in their infinite perfections. So God’s joy sets him infinitely above everything else.
God is Just.
God’s joy moved him to create a universe, planet Earth, and you and me – so He could share His joy in Himself with us. But tragically, we’ve refused the joy of worshiping God, and turned our backs on Him. So how does God respond? As Deut 32:3-4 says, God responds with perfect justice, which is why all of us face eternal punishment. But only God has perfect justice, because nothing else has perfect goodness and ultimate authority. So God’s justice sets him infinitely above everything else. But the story does not end there.
God is Love.
The most clear display of God’s love is the Cross (Rom 5:8). God so longs to give us the joy of knowing Him that He — Holy, Infinite, Creator God – became one of us — a man. He received upon Himself the terrible suffering of His own just, infinite wrath. He paid for our sins, so He could forgive us, change us, and give us the joy of knowing Him now and forever. Where – anywhere in the universe – is there a love like that? Nowhere. God’s love sets Him infinitely above everything else that exists.
What This Means
It is true that God is perfectly pure from sin, and that He is separated from everything else. But none of those get at the main point of God’s holiness, which is that God’s perfections set Him infinitely above everything else in existence.
The sheer God-ness of God makes Him infinitely valuable, infinitely worthy, infinitely beautiful, infinitely glorious, and infinitely satisfying.
That’s why the seraphim in Isaiah 6 cry out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isa 6:6).
That’s why the four living creatures are in heaven day and night crying out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev 4:8).
Let’s join them.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Ask God To Show You His Glory (“Yahweh” worship video)
- Reorient Your Life With Worship (“At Your Name”)
- “God, You Are My God” — A Powerful New Worship Song
- Worship God As Your Treasure With “Be Thou My Vision“