holy - the holiness of god
'Holy' is not a common word - it is a word
that is reserved to describe God alone. Because it is so
limited in use, it is hard to understand. Some define holy as
'good', or as 'sinless'. While there is a level of truth to
these types of descriptions, it is far from the ultimate meaning of the
word. The best way to think of the full potential of the
description, is that Holy IS God. It is what He is.
It is His nature.
'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.'
Contrary to current understanding, Holy is not a list of things that He does that are 'right,' or a list of things that He does not do that are 'not right'. It simply is what He is. In other words, if we know what God is or does, then we would know what Holy is. The listing of right and wrong comes secondarily, as we try to describe it in terms we can practically understand. So in essence, if it is of or from God, then it is Holy. This has some far reaching implications, because of the mandate we have from our Lord:
But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be ye holy, as I am holy'.
1 Peter 1:15-16
As described in the summary about God, the word 'Holy' is taken from an ancient word that literally means 'separate.' This again has far reaching implications. The separateness of God, His holiness, is something that we by definition cannot attain. If we could, it would not be separate. Because He is separate, He is not understood. His other attributes, Love, Omnipresence, Eternal, etc. are all descriptions of the same separateness, and secondary examples of His Holiness in words that we can understand. But this separateness causes great confusion, and fear. We see in the Bible, that the followers of God grew in fear when they contemplated the 'separateness' of God. He is so different from us, that it is scary to consider being in His presence or accountable to Him.
To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
After all, this is the being who created everything from nothing, has authority over everything, and is the benchmark by which all will be accountable. When properly understood, this is a matter of supreme importance. Hence the meaning of the term 'fear of the Lord.' When and only when we understand the position that God has, and what He represents, can we begin to understand how things are meant to be.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...
When this understanding of the nature of God is undertaken, and our position relative to Him known, we begin with fear. But when we understand the Love and Justness of His nature, we find Him not just a being to be worshipped because of His position and strength, but loved because of His love to us. This is another of the great mysteries of God - to know that this incredible being has concern for each of us, and is longing to be reconciled to us.
If God by definition is totally separate and unknowable, how can we understand? What mankind usually attempts is to develop rules of conduct, and assume that we can behave in a manner that approaches the way that God behaves. But, we now know that we can never bridge this gap of separateness by anything that we can do, because these actions are all secondary. (Indeed, all of 'religion' is man's attempt to reach God by doing or not doing certain things...this is the key difference between 'religion' and Christianity.)
So how could mankind understand, in human terms, God's 'unknowable' nature? Simple - to come to earth as a man, so that we could see His nature in practical ways. It is precisely what He did in Jesus. So now we know that in order to understand the ways of God and His holiness in terms we can understand, all we need to do is see the ways of Jesus. So in order to understand God's holiness, we need to understand Jesus. And it is through this understanding of Jesus, in His role as Savior (Reconciler) and Lord, that we can overcome the fear of God and receive the unique peace that only He can bring.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.