It does not seem proper to speak of one attribute of God as being more central and fundamental than another; but if this were permissible, the Scriptural emphasis on the holiness of God would seem to justify its selection.
As used in Scripture, holiness describes both the majesty of God and the purity and moral perfection of His nature. Holiness is one of His attributes; that is, holiness is an essential part of the nature of God. His holiness is as necessary as His existence, or as necessary, for example, as His wisdom or omniscience. Just as He cannot but know what is right, so He cannot but do what is right.
Holiness is the perfection of all [God’s] other attributes. His power is holy power, His mercy is holy mercy, His wisdom is holy wisdom. It is His holiness more than any other attribute that makes Him worthy of our praise.
As we grow in holiness, we grow in hatred of sin; and God, being infinitely holy, has an infinite hatred of sin.
Holiness in angels and saints is but a quality, but in God it is His essence.
Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. When we see those who previously stood firm and secure so quaking with terror, that the fear of death takes hold of them, nay, they are, in a manner, swallowed up and annihilated, the inference to be drawn is that men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.
Wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God. Rather, it is a function of God’s holiness against sin. Where there is no sin, there is no wrath-but there will always be love in God. Where God in His holiness confronts His image-bearers in their rebellion, there must be wrath, or God is not the jealous God He claims to be, and His holiness is impugned. The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness.
The Bible as a whole speaks more of God’s holiness than of His love.
If every attribute of the Deity were a distinct member, holiness would be the soul to animate them. Without holiness His patience would be an indulgence to sin, His mercy a fondness, His wrath a madness, His power a tyranny, His wisdom an unworthy subtlety.Holiness gives decorum to them all.
As it seems to challenge an excellency above all His other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest; as it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honour; as at the same instant the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the luster of every grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendor of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom a holy wisdom, His arm of power a "holy arm" (Ps. 98:1), His truth or promise a "holy promise" (Ps. 105:42). His name, which signifies all His attributes in conjunction, "is holy," Psalm 103:1.
It is less injury to Him to deny His being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes Him no God, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable God… He that saith God is not holy speaks much worse that he that saith there is no God at all.
Never did God so manifest His hatred of sin as in the death and suffering of His only begotten Son. Hereby He showed Himself unappeasable to sin, and that it was impossible for Him to be at peace with it.
A true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this.
God has appeared to me, a glorious and lovely being chiefly on account of His holiness. The holiness of God has always appeared to me the most lovely of all His attributes.
Holiness is a fundamental attribute. It is the most important thing to know about [God]. It is where we start with God. His holiness defines all His other attributes… Day and night, those closest to Him, the cherubim and seraphim, cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). Everything about God is holy.
The more holy someone or something is, the more separate he or it is from things that are common or normal. The opposite of holiness is not sinfulness. It is commonness – or, to use the old word, profaneness. When God says He is holy, He means that He is different from us. He means that He constantly and actively separates Himself from all sin, wickedness, evil, and moral corruption – that is, all that is common to this world.
God’s holiness means He is separate from sin. But holiness in God also means wholeness. God’s holiness is His “God-ness.” It is His being God in all that it means for Him to be God. To meet God in His holiness, therefore, is to be altogether overwhelmed by the discovery that He is God, and not man.
The “size” of a sin is not ultimately determined by the sin itself, but by the one who was sinned against. Sin is infinitely wicked because it rejects the one who is infinitely holy and good. The more we recognized the perfection of God’s holiness, the more obvious this truth becomes.
No attribute of God is more dreadful to sinners than his holiness.
Contemplation of God brings reflection on sin, and reflection on sin brings contemplation of God.
God’s holiness is His inherent and absolute greatness, in which He is perfectly distinct above everything outside Himself and is absolutely morally separate from sin. This definition is centered on the concept of separation, which is signified by the Hebrew and Greek words for “holy.”
Of all the attributes of God, holiness is the one that most uniquely describes Him and in reality is a summarization of all His other attributes. The word holiness refers to His separateness, His otherness, the fact that He is unlike any other being. It indicates His complete and infinite perfection. Holiness is the attribute of God that binds all the others together. Properly understood, it will revolutionize the quality of our worship.
God’s stern hatred of evil is a necessary part of His love for man.
God’s holiness is manifested at the Cross. Wondrously and yet most solemnly does the Atonement display God’s infinite holiness and abhorrence of sin. How hateful must sin be to God for Him to punish it to its utmost deserts when it was imputed to His Son!…The “god” which the vast majority of professing Christians “love” is looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who himself has no relish for folly, but leniently winks at the “indiscretions” of youth. But the Word says, “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Ps. 5:5). And again, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11). But men refuse to believe in this God, and gnash their teeth when His hatred of sin is faithfully pressed upon their attention. No, sinful man was no more likely to devise a holy God than to create the Lake of fire in which he will be tormented for ever and ever.
An ineffably holy God, who has the utmost abhorrence of sin, was never invented by any of Adam’s descendents.
God had revealed His holiness to Israel; and He wished them to consider it the “beauty” of His nature…He considers His holiness as the true luster of His character, as that by which He will be best known.
Holiness means separation. Something holy is set apart. In the case of God, holiness means He is set apart from everything He has made. Holiness is not simply His righteousness (although that is part of it), but also His otherness. It is the distinction between the Creator and the creature, the infinite distance between God’s divinity and our humanity.
Once it was God’s holiness that separated us from God, the holiness of His being. Now it is God’s holiness that brings us to God, the holiness of the perfect sacrifice Jesus offered for our sins on the cross. God displayed His holiness by making us holy through His holy son.
When we say that God is holy we do not simply mean that He does not sin. That is true, of course. God’s holiness has an ethical dimension. The Bible says that “the holy God will show Himself holy by His righteousness” (Isa. 5:16b). God is undefiled in all His ways. He is the supreme, the superlative moral majesty in the universe. But God’s holiness refers to more than His ethics. Holiness refers to everything that distinguishes the Creator from His creation. It is the infinite distance between His deity and our humanity. Holiness is the very “Godness” of God, the sum total of all His glorious perfections.
Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.
In holiness God is more clearly seen than in anything else, save in the Person of Christ Jesus the Lord, of whose life such holiness is but a repetition.
God’s name is qualified by the adjective “holy” in the Old Testament more often than all other qualities or attributes combined.
The holiness of God only secondarily refers to His moral purity, His righteousness of character. It primarily points to His infinite otherness. To say that God is holy is to say that He is transcendentally separate. Holiness is not one attribute among many. It is not like grace or power or knowledge or wrath. Everything about God is holy. Each attribute partakes of divine holiness.
We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire God’s wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.
Holy can be defined as “separate,” “set apart,” “distinct,” or “uncontaminated.” In reference to God, “holy” means that He is different from us. None of His attributes can be understood by comparison to his creatures… Holiness is not one of many attributes of God. It is his essential nature and seen in all His qualities.
Most of us have had sins that we would easily confess to God, yet would be ashamed to confess to another brother or sister. Does this make sense? After all, God is the Holy One. To be exposed in His presence should be much more difficult than being exposed before sinners like ourselves. People who truly confess to God are less concerned that others learn their secret. If we easily confess to God something that shames us to confess to a friend, we are thinking too highly of the opinions of people and not highly enough about the holiness of God.
One of the problems with the perspective that addictions are a disease is that it leaves no room for this kind of fear of the Lord. A god who helps us to be strong in the face of illness is not the same as the God whose holiness reveals our sin, who shows us our desperate need for a mediator, restores our relationship with Him, and empowers us to live as holy children. Holiness is key. Without the knowledge of our Father’s holiness and our response of reverence, everything about God becomes ordinary.