But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.  –1 Peter 1:15-16

Introduction to holiness

Most believers today are genuinely willing to engage themselves in discussion surrounding the nature and characteristics of God. The love of God, so rich a theme, is never far from the lips or mind of the saint, and in many cases, the unregenerate. The extensive grace of God and all its implications and applications for me, though hard to apprehend at times, is still a highly popular topic, and one that believers everywhere are happy to broach.

The forgotten attribute, the ignored characteristic and the most confronting trait of God for the believer and unbeliever alike, is holiness. O the grace of God is comfortable because it is given by God and gladly received by me, the sinner. The love of God brings such warmth and worth to the soul. The mercy of God brings peace, comfort and the knowledge that He has withheld His wrath and judgment which is something to rejoice in!

Verily, the holiness of God makes me tremble even as I pen these words. The holiness of God brings about an entirely new perspective on God, sin and the consequential judgment. Contrary to the doctrinal position of many, the holiness of God is still relevant and still bears repercussions in the lives of God’s children. Knowing God is holy does not distress any one of us, but, knowing God demands holiness on our part, to His standard, is life changing for the believer!

What is holiness? It is the absence of defilement, impurity and corruption, and the presence of absolute purity, clarity and innocence. ‘Holiness’ is a progressive, contrasting term; it means ‘separated’ from all that is impure, and ‘separated’ unto all that is perfect and untainted. Holiness includes the idea of ‘distinction,’ that is, God is positively pure and therefore distinct from all others. The term conveys the idea of ‘sacred’ and ‘separate.’

It is imperative that we understand that God not only possesses and acts within the domain of holiness, but that he is holy! Sometimes our limited intellect seeks to dissect and categorise God as one who only possesses grace, love, mercy and holiness. We try to form a ‘spiritual pie chart’ of God’s attributes which ‘make up’ the ‘segments’ of God. This thinking is entirely unbiblical and in total opposition to God. Yahweh is holy, totally and completely. Yahweh is love, totally and completely. The epitome, apex, and zenith of holiness is God.

God’s holiness in Scripture

1. The holiness of God means that He cannot tolerate sin.

(Hab.1:3, Isa.59:1-3, Psa.5:4, Psa.11:5, Deut.25:16, 2 Sam.11:27, Zech.8:17, Luke 16:15)

What is sin? Consider the following quote.

“A sin, to speak more particularly, consists in doing, saying, thinking or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God. The slightest outward or inward departure from absolute mathematical parallelism with God’s revealed will and character constitutes a sin, and at once makes us guilty in God’s sight.”1

2. The holiness of God means that atonement is only possible through a perfect substitute.

(Lev.1:3, Exo.12:5, Lev.22:21, 1 Pet.1:18-19, 2 Cor.5:21, Heb.4:15, Heb.7:26)

3. The holiness of God means that He will not hear the prayers of a defiled believer.

(Psa.66:18, Pov.1:24-25,28, Mic.3:4, 1 Sam.28:6)

It has often been said “God always answers prayer.’ That statement is Scripturally incorrect. It is obvious from the verses listed above that oftentimes our prayers do not make it past the ceiling because we have “regarded iniquity in our hearts” (Psa.66:18).

4. The holiness of God means that sin will not go unpunished.

  1. In the life of the believer(Heb.12:6-8, Rev.3:19)
  2. In the life of the unbeliever (Rom.6:23, Prov.11:9, Eze.18:4, Psa.9:17, Psa.37:38, Psa.55:23, Rev.20:12-15)

Practical applications of holiness

As believers and obedient children of God, we are instructed to be holy in every aspect of our conduct.

How can I know if I am practicing holiness?
  1. I will hate the things that God hates: (Prov.6:16-19, Psa.97:10, Psa.101:3, Psa.119:104, Amos 5:15, Zech.8:17)
  2. I will love the things God loves: (Psa.11:7, Psa.33:5, Prov.15:5, Prov.21:3, Psa.25:10)
Personal Questions to ponder:
  • Does it bother me when the actor in the movie I am watching takes my God’s name in vain?
  • Does it bother me when a friend is gossiping or slandering?
  • What do I do when an impure advertisement appears on the TV or computer?
  • Do I love to open the Scriptures and drink from its vast supply?
  • Am I willing to exercise grace when my flesh wants revenge?
  • Do I long to worship and pursue God with all my heart?


Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always and feed on his word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.2


1 Ryle, J.C. Holiness. EP BOOKS USA, 2010. Pg. 2.
Taken from the text ‘Take time to be holy’ by William D. Longstaff, 1822-1894,

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About Daniel Kriss

Daniel is pastor at Mount Cathedral Community Baptist Church in Taggerty, Victoria. Daniel has studied theology and has been involved in itinerant preaching since 1999. In 2006, Daniel founded SWAT Camp which helps develop young leaders for Christian ministry. Daniel and his wife Jessica live in Melbourne. You can contact Daniel at daniel@jasonharris.com.au.


  1. Jason Harris 9 November, 2011 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the post Daniel. It is indeed fundamental to every other trait of God that he is holy. I suppose we could say that holiness is in a sense the essence of God’s great glory.

    I’d be interested at some stage to see you write a post reconciling the first two points under “God’s holiness in Scripture” with the last two points. In other words, if God’s wrath against sin has been propitiated in the atonement, why must sin be punished in the believer? And if God’s righteousness is imputed to us in the atonement, on what grounds would God refuse to hear the prayer of the believer?

  2. PJ 9 November, 2011 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    @Jason – some thoughts in reply to your questions…not speaking for Bro Daniel of course…

    Judicial forgiveness in justification vs. paternal forgiveness in sanctification. Thats the important distinction, thats why believers need to confess thir sins and recieve forgiveness.

    Punish is the wrong word, unbelievers are punished, believers are chastened – big difference. One is about the penalty of sin, the other is for bringing the Believer back into fellowship. I think that’s what Bro Daniel is saying.

    Sin impairs fellowship with the Father – I John 1, it is a barrier to prayer, hence confession is part of the Model (Lord’s) Prayer.

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