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The Attributes of God: HOLY

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
(Exodus 3:5-6)

“There is none holy like the Lord.”
(1 Samuel 2:2)

The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
(Psalm 99:2-3)

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
(Isaiah 6:3)

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
(Revelation 4:8)

What is holiness?

Holiness is synonymous with God’s total purity and separation from the rest of creation. Holiness is a moral purity, and different from Adam’s (initial) holiness, God’s holiness is eternally incorruptible. This holiness so sets God apart from fallen man that in his natural state, no man may approach the incorruptible God (for man is tarnished, dirty, and corrupt, and true holiness cannot bear such) — this is evidenced by the special commands to those who would approach God (cf. Exodus 3:4-6Isaiah 6:1-6).

Holy, holy, holy

You’ll notice that only one of God’s attributes is repeated three times—his holiness. Contemporary theologian R.C. Sproul comments on this in his classic work, The Holiness of God:

On a handful of occasions the Bible repeats something to the third degree. To mention something three times in succession is to elevate it to the superlative degree. Only once in Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love or mercy, mercy, mercy or justice, justice, justice.

God’s holiness is one of the primary reasons why the advent of Christ is so incredible: it allows men who were once unable to come before God the ability to kneel before the throne of God and worship forever and ever (Revelation 4:9-115:14).


Other attributes of God we’ve discussed so far:

[This post is adapted from Blue Letter Bible’s Theological FAQs page.]