This has always been a scary word for me... people would say 'God is holy!' and for some reason it would always come across is a deep, stern, very echo-y voice that made me feel like i was about to be locked into a stone dungeon in middle-earth. The holiness of God is usually pinned against another attribute of God. - someone will say 'God is loving' and someone else will say 'yeah but don't forget that God is holy!' as if to say, don't think God loves you too much, because he is holy and hates your sin, you sinner... Therefore, the holiness of God in how it is often presented is like this...
God is Holy. and what they mean by 'Holy' is 'Sinless'... which he is. They say 'God is Holy and you are a sinner!' God hates sin, therefore the more sin you have, the more angry God is at you for your sin. After coming into real encounter with God, not just knowing what other people say about who he is, but really entering into intimacy with Him, I realized somethings about God that changed the word 'holy' from something that brought fear, to something that brings life.
There are a few things I want to note about the holiness of God...
1. A person in sin will never approach the holiness of God... a sinner before a sinless God is terrified... its never Gods Holiness that produces intimacy, but his kindness, his goodness, his love. Moses was drawn to the burning bush - The bible says it was an acacia bush, also called the 'thorn bush of the desert'. Thorns, biblically, always represent the curse... a type of proof that the curse is working. Moses sees the thorn bush engulfed in fire, and yet, not consumed. Mankind, under the curse, in the hand of an all consuming fire (God) and yet, is not destroyed. its never the righteousness or the justice of God that draws... its the fact that God would allow those who carry the mark of the curse (sin) to be intimate with Him without consuming then, is a model of the mercy and goodness of God. its his mercy that draws men to himself. Had the bush been burned up, Moses would never have thought anything of it... but because it was preserved in the midst of fire, it drew attention. Mainly for us, its because we know that sin must be punished! we fear the punishment. to see a sinner not being punished for his sins is something that should catch the eyes of everyone... The gospel has the most power to draw people to God when the mercy of God is presented rather than His hatred toward sinners. Now, God was painting a picture with Moses that pointed to the cross... because at the moment of Jesus' death, Gods wrath toward sin was quenched and He lifted the curse from man, freeing him from sin and allowing him to walk in communion with God again... just like in the garden. which brings me to my second thought.
2. Through the Cross of Christ, we were washed from our sin and received the righteousness of Christ... God is Holy, (sinless) guess what, so are you! In fact, you are as Holy (sinless) as God is... If God was a little mad at you for your sin, then the work on the cross isn't finished. 2 Cor 5 talks about God reconciling the world to himself and not counting mens sins against them. he goes on to say that Jesus became SIN for us so we can be the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God... As far as God is concerned, he sees you as holy and as blameless as His own Son. You don't wear the righteousness of God, you are the righteousness of God. That is your identity as a son or daughter of God. Identity has nothing to do with 'what you do'... but its everything to do with 'who you are'. God says you are holy. 'Be holy for I am holy' isn't a demand, but a promise. As we realize that it is 'him who began the good work in us' that is faithful to complete it in us - the work of making us like him... Holy. its a promise.
3. Definition of 'Holiness' - 'The primary meaning of holy is 'separate.' It comes from an ancient word that meant, 'to cut,' or 'to separate.' Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase 'a cut above something.' When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is 'a cut above the rest.' this means that the one who is holy is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition.'
Notice something... Typically when we think of God being holy, we think that he is 'set apart'... and what we usually mean is 'set apart from sin'. To be 'holy as God is holy' means to be separated from sin. Holiness does refers to 'sinlessness', but the definition itself isn't solely focused on sin or no sin... The word Holiness literally means 'different, unique, separate' God is sinless, but his 'sinlessness' is only a fraction of what makes him holy... God is all knowing... I do not know everything... why? because God is holy... he is unique, he is separate, he is different that me, he is higher. I cannot be in all places at one time... God inhabits every moment of time in every place in the cosmos... I cant do that. why? because He is holy... he is different than I, he is unique, he is above, he is separate... How does Jesus walk on the water? or step into a locked room? He is holy. he is different, he is unique, he is separate. I was created. God always was... how? why? He is holy... he is unique, he is highter than I, separate, different. What is impossible for me, is possible for him. Why? Because he is holy, different, separate. Do you think God is mad at you because you don't inhabit every moment of time? or because you cant walk into a locked room? or because you were created and haven't always existed? no. of course not... God isn't mad at you because you aren't like him... In the same sense, he isn't mad at you for sin. He knows that you were born into sin just as much as he knows you can't walk on water or make the sun stand still in the sky. He is so infinite, so multi-facetted, so eternal that he literally has created beings and creatures that just look at Him all the time and yell 'holy holy holy!' and they are not saying 'sinless sinless sinless' because everything left in heaven (that didn't side with satan during the rebellion) is sinless... but they are saying 'unique, separate, different!' every time that they look at God they see a new totally unique, original, mind blowing side of him that they have never seen before, and they yell 'holy/unique/different/i have never seen anything like this before!' God is different than us... but he created us for His pleasure.
4. God is holy/unique but he went to the greatest lengths to draw us to himself. He became one of us... in that sense, God, who was infinitely different than us, became a man. set aside some of his holiness to draw us to himself... Now, i don't mean that he became a sinner... even though, he did become sin for us on the cross. but he went from being, spirit, off over there somewhere, totally different, separate, unique, above, beyond, to becoming a man. God is 'set apart', but that doesn't mean 'set away from'. He became approachable. And He didn't come as a full-grown man or a huge angel or something... he came as a baby. the most approachable thing one earth. everyone was a baby once, and God came in the form of the most un-unique thing... he shared in our humanity. What was unsearchable became handled with hands, and looked upon, eyes saw and ears heard this God who set holiness/uniqueness/different-ness aside to become man. Not only that! He will remain that way forever.
Imagine you are with God and he takes you to a planet that is overrun with wild dogs... he then tells you that he wants you to go to the dogs on this planet and tell them that He loves them. You say, 'okay, you are the boss.' The God says to you, 'oh, in order to communicate with them, I am going to turn you into a dog.' You say, 'well, okay. ill do it.' then God tells you, 'they aren't going to listen to you. in fact, they are going to kill you, but don't worry, i will bring you back from the dead 3 days later and you will be okay.' You say to God, 'Okay, I will do it.' The God says, 'oh, one last thing i forgot to mention... after i bring you back from the dead, you will have to remain a dog forever'...
This is a game changer... God, Uniqueness, different, holy, separate, gives up all of that and becomes a man so that he is approachable to mankind, to draw them into intimacy with God... and after accomplishing His mission, remains a man forever. Jesus will never be in the form that he had prior to his incarnation. There is a man sitting on the thrown of God today.
5. The invitation into the holiness of God is something like this. - God made you different than anyone who has ever lived... finger prints and all. he crafted you in His image - unique. A son/daughter of God, carrying his DNA. just as he uniquely created the earth, you have the ability to uniquely create an atmosphere for the power and presence of God to literally manifest on the earth everywhere you go. He has invited you into this process and he loves how unique you are. God creates everyone different, but we are all made in his image. we all bare a part of who he is. there are 7 billion people on the planet, everyone of them different, unique, separate, but everyone designed to show off the portion of the glory of God in which they uniquely carry. That is why the bride is so important... every nation, tongue, and tribe. it takes the whole body of Christ to portray an accurate representation of what God is saying about himself in and to mankind. If you have painting skills, you have a totally unique creative mind to present the greatness and glory of God that no one else has... yes, others can paint, but no one else can chose for you, your expression of what the painting will look like. if you sing, then release a beautiful melody and express what God is trying to tell the world about himself. If you are kind, then show the kindness of God. if you are administrative, then display the order of God. If you lead, then empower people and display Gods DNA that you carry. You have an original, unique life/calling/experiences/history and God put glory inside of you... which is why you can give Him glory... you are a carrier of His glory. Release it and bring Him joy!
6. God is so great, so big, so huge, so powerful, so strong, so mighty, and he is good. He could be great, big and huge and powerful and strong and mighty, and be BAD! but he isn't! He is good! we have been born into a story where the good guy is stronger than the bad guy! This cosmic fairy tale of the prince rescuing his beloved and defeating the enemy... all of that, we live in it! and its amazing because the bad guy cant win. he isn't strong enough. he doesn't have enough weapons, or an army big enough, or the plans or skills to out think the good guy. We live in a victorious love story on the good side. we are pursued by the King and his son, rescued from every evil thing. God is good and he is holy and that means that there is no one else that can save the day quite like him. there is no one that can win like he can. there is non that can meet our needs or satisfy like he does. no one could fix us but him, why? because he is holy... he is totally different than anything the universe has ever seen or known... and he is good. he is for you.
The holiness of God is perhaps one of the greatest of all His attributes because in a moment it tells us how much bigger he is than we can ever imagine, yet how uniquely involved he is with me personally. C.S Lewis said, 'God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created.' Jesus is better than we think.
Just some stuff I'm kicking around right now.