Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Ministry Resources

What images or ideas come to your mind when you hear the word "holy"? Are there any other words would you can use to explain what you mean when you use the word, "holy"? Read Isaiah 6/1-8 and Revelation 4/1-11. Both Isaiah & John were given a vision of God's holiness.

We begin our consideration of the attributes of God by focusing on the holiness of God because, in many ways, this is the primary quality or characteristic of God as He reveals Himself to us in the Bible and in the life of Jesus Who claimed to perfectly display the character of God (Hebrews 1/3).


a. In the Old Testament, holiness meant "separateness", "withdrawal", "cutting off". The main idea was one of being special and, therefore, separate.

b. The idea of holiness or being holy was applied to .

*People - The priests were considered to be holy because they were set apart for sacred or special activities - Exodus 29/1

*Places - The burning bush experience in Exodus 3/1-6 is a case in point.

*Times (The Sabbath Day was special and the Hebrew people were required to keep it holy)

*The nation of Israel was chosen by God for a special purpose and is therefore "holy". So, anything set apart for sacred use was called "holy".

c. In the New Testament - the Greek word 'hagioi' meant "pure", "different", "separate". It had a strong ethical and moral thrust about it which impacted how people lived their lives.

d. Other words used in the NT convey the idea of "sanctified", "consecrated" - reserved for unique & special purpose/use, set apart for a sacred, special purpose

e. "Holy" - also conveys the idea of "wholeness" or "completion".


a. "Concerning God, holiness is His eternal, settled, perfect state of moral excellence"!! Yikes! You may have to ponder that description. Give yourself time to reflect.

b. When we say that 'God is holy', we are referring to the 'otherness' of God in His moral perfection as against our human state of moral compromise and contamination. When Isaiah had that vision of God, what was his response? (Isaiah 6/5). Why did he respond in that way? Isaiah's response gives us an insight into God's holiness.

c. Holiness is the 'umbrella' attribute of God - it conditions all His dealings with us

d. God's holiness shapes his love, mercy, justice, compassion, wrath, grace etc.

e. As with all aspects of God's person, Jesus is the perfect expression of God

*Separate from sin - He did not compromise with human rebellion, sin, independence

*Sanctified to God - He was entirely consecrated to the sacred or special purposes the Father had for His life - doing Father's Will

f. Jesus is the living, walking, talking expression of what it means to be truly holy. This is a very important truth because it will keep us from going to extremes in theology and behaviour. "What did Jesus do in this kind of situation?" is a question that will keep the focus where it ought to be - on the living example of Jesus.


a. Concerning us, holiness is a process leading us towards state of moral excellence

b. Bible repeatedly calls for us to be a "holy people' because we have a 'holy' God

*Rom.12/1; Hebrews 12/10,14; 1 Peter 1/15,16; 2 Peter 3/11,12a

c. In the NT believers are called 'saints' (holy ones). This is not because we are the elite or have reached some level of spiritual achievement by our own efforts. We are called "saints" because we have been set apart for God and His purposes for our lives. (Ephesians 1/1; Phil.1/1)

d. This holiness is a far cry from a self-righteousness or the "holier-than-thou' attitude.

e. We are to be separate/different (like Jesus); not superior & isolated (like the Pharisees)

f. Too often we have adopted a negative view of holiness (like Pharisees) rather than a positive view (like Jesus) ie. We are known for what we don't believe & don't do.

g. Can you give a contemporary example of a negative view of "holiness"? Read Mark 7/1-8. What did the Pharisees consider to be "holiness"? How did that differ from how Jesus understood "holiness"?

h. We are to become holy in the sense of becoming like Jesus in character, values, ministry.


a. The key to our holiness is not human effort to set & reach human standards of morality.

b. Key is the dynamic of the resident Holy Spirit - being responsive to Him & His power.

Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.