Column: What Is God Like? The Communicable Attributes of God — Pt. 2

Published 11:09 am Monday, March 4, 2024

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By Hank Walker | Pastor City Fellowship

As we resume our survey of divine perfections, let’s consider another of God’s “communicable” attributes. Last time, we examined Knowledge, Wisdom, and Goodness, but brevity dictates that we limit this week’s study to just one attribute: Holiness.

Holiness is one of those churchy words that gets bandied about but is often misunderstood. It is commonly confused with a similar attribute, “righteousness,” but next week we will see that they are vitally different.

Hagiazō is the Greek word from which our English term, “holiness,” is derived. Depending on context, it may be used in one of three ways: (1) worship or veneration through declaring something or someone holy, such as when Jesus taught His disciples to “hallow” the Father’s name in prayer (Matt. 6:9); (2) “sanctification”—meaning, to be separated or set apart from sinful, worldly, and profane things in order to be dedicated/consecrated to God’s purposes; (3) “purification”—whether cleansing something externally for the purpose of worship (as in the Tabernacle/Temple) or purifying sinners from the guilt of their sins (expiation).

When the Bible describes God’s holiness, it speaks of His moral excellence, transcendence (set-apartness from creation), and worthiness to be worshiped. This understanding is seen clearly in Isaiah’s “thrice-holiness” vision of the “Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” as the seraphim (angelic creatures) covered their faces and feet while calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Is. 6:1-5).

God personifies holiness but, unfortunately, this divine virtue is no longer part of man’s natural constitution. Created in God’s “likeness and image,” Adam was designed to be holy, but because of his rebellion sin has replaced holiness as man’s inherited disposition. In the absence of inborn holiness, we find ourselves unacceptable and irreconcilably at odds with God and His holy purposes.

But there is hope for holiness and reconciliation with God! Called the GOSPEL—“Good News”—we may be saved from our sin and accounted as holy when through faith we are found “in Christ.” Apart from trusting in Christ and His finished work on our behalf, it can never be said of us that we are holy. Such holiness is a gift… that will cost you everything (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Matt. 16:24-25).

Grace and peace, y’all! Soli Deo Gloria