Psalm 99:1, 3(NLT) “The Lord is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! … Let them praise your great and awesome name. Your name is holy!”
Holy, Holy, Holy – Reginald Heber (1826)
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Isaiah 6:3 (NLT) “Attending him were mighty seraphim … They were calling out to each other, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!’”
Songwriters of all times have written about the glory of God’s holiness—which often, and appropriately, results in lofty praise and worship.
Agnus Dei – Michael W. Smith (2000)
For the Lord God Almighty Reigns
Are you Lord God Amighty
Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb
You are holy, holy
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb
On earth, we will never have a complete understanding of holiness, maybe not even in Heaven. Words that attempt to describe God’s holiness include pure and clean. Images that communicate the idea of holiness are things like fresh snow, a mirror without spots, streaks, or warps, an innocent lamb; attaching divine or perfection to the definition is fitting.
But biblically, holiness means so much more. When the Bible speaks of holiness, it means “set apart for sacred use.” In reference to God, it has been referred to as otherness—totally distinct from what we know. In I Exalt You, O God, Jerry Bridges says, “holiness represents the entirety of divine perfection…[it] sets [God] totally apart from us.”
Holy – Jason Morant (2006)
When the lost will be found, when every knee will hit the ground
And we’ll sing Holy, holy is the Lord; Holy, holy is the Lord…
Holy, holy is the Lord; together with one voice
Holy, holy is the Lord; let all the earth rejoice
Holy, there’s no one like You Lord; magnificent You are; Holy, holy is the Lord
The Bible gives us the truest picture of how God describes His holiness.
After God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed over safely away from the Egyptians, they sang: “Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Exodus 15:11.
The Psalmists declared:
Psalm 77:13 “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?”
Psalm 93:5 “Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days.”
Psalm 96:9 (NLT) “Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him.”
Psalm 111:1-3, 9 “Praise the LORD! … How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails … He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!” [emphasis mine]
When we begin to understand what God’s holiness represents, we have a better understanding of what our sinfulness means—our utter unworthiness to be allowed in His presence, much less receive His mercy and grace. God cannot look upon sin. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins separate us from God. Isaiah recognized this when he said, “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty! Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, ‘See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.’” Isaiah 6:1-5 (NLT).
Yet mercy and grace are exactly what God gives. As God did for Isaiah, He does for us. He loves us so much, that He provided a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and our guilt is removed.
After All (Holy) – David Crowder Band (2012)
I will sing a song for you my God with everything I have in me
But it’s never loud enough … after all
Heaven and earth are full, full of your glory, glory
My soul it overflows full of your glory, your glory
O blessed is he who reigns, full of your glory, your glory
My cup, it can’t contain all of your glory, your glory
Hosanna we are found after all you are
Holy, O Holy, Holy; Holy, Holy
I can’t comprehend; You’re infinitely beautiful
His holiness and His great love can captivate our hearts, fill us with humble gratitude, and stir us to declare God’s holiness in our worship, whether in word or deed, or verse, as many inspired songwriters have done. But the highest expression of our love is to fully devote our lives to God.
1 Peter 1:16 “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”
Romans 12:1 (NLT) “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
It may seem as if God asks the impossible from us. At times it will be difficult and uncomfortable. Some days we’ll feel like we’ve made a mess of everything. But we must remember that He gives us the desire and the ability to live a life that is different, or set apart, from those around us. Life-change is a process. As we offer our lives to God, we can be confident that He is faithful to complete the work that He began.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”
Ephesians 5:27 (NLT) “He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.”
Have you ever stopped to ponder what God’s holiness is like?
Take some time to picture yourself in either of the surroundings described in Isaiah 6:1-7 or Revelation 4. How you would feel if you were in the throne room of God—in the very presence of His glory—with angels soaring all around declaring to one another the holiness of God. What would you do?