Holiness Defined

Paul Hostetter

READ : Leviticus 19:1-2
Isaiah 6:1-5

Holiness and holy are fuzzy concepts for most of us. In the Bible the word holy reminds us that God is wholly other than all that pollutes. People who are holy must be wholly separated to God.

Most of us have sung the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty . . . there is none beside thee, perfect in power, love and purity.” This hymn makes me shiver because absolute purity scares me. I know I don’t meet the standard. So I feel threatened and want to run and hide.

But God’s holiness is not negative even though it may intimidate us. “O Lord? Who is like you-majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11, niv). Holiness defines God’s perfection. It includes the purity, beauty and wholeness he created and sustains. He wants us to experience the perfection that fully satisfies every wholesome emotion and drive of our restless humanness. So why do we turn away? Why are we repulsed by the majesty of God? Because we have been conditioned by harmful distortions about God. Get this right: holiness not only describes God. It is God’s goal for us.


Holy Lord, I open myself to your bright, holy light.