Studying the attributes of God, it is critical to address the issue of God’s holiness. What does the holiness of God really mean?
Incorrect Perception: The Grade-on-a-Curve God
After every test taken within the halls of academia, there is at least one student praying that the teacher will grade on a curve. Due to a lack of preparation or a believed impossible standard, the student just hopes that enough of his classmates did as poorly as he believed he did that the teacher will be forced to bump all grades up with a curve. If the highest grade was an 85, then all students would receive an additional 15 points which might ensure that this student lives to procrastinate yet another day.
Many people are praying that God grades on a curve. Throughout life, an individual realizes that he is not the most upright being in the world. He realizes that to get to heaven, he’s going to need some help. He knows he’s not as bad as everyone else, but he’s not the most righteous either. If God requires an A+, he’s hoping that the Grade on a Curve God comes through and bumps up everyone’s score.
There exist two pivotal problems with this popular view of God: 1) God doesn’t grade on a curve, and 2) Jesus is the supreme curve-buster.
The Holiness of God
God does not grade on a curve. God is holy.
- God is the definition of holiness.
- God’s holiness means that He is completely distinct from everything else in Creation (Ex. 15:11).
- Morally, God’s holiness means that He is without a trace of sin (Isa. 6:3).
- Qualitatively, God’s holiness means that He is awfully separate from us (Job 15:15; 25:5-6; Prov. 30:3).
- Devotionally, God’s holiness means that He is singularly committed to His glory (Hab. 1:12-13; Heb. 12:14; e.g. the Sabbath, the tabernacle, the ground, etc.).
- God is the indicator of holiness.
- Moses hid his face (Ex. 3:6).
- Joshua fell down (Josh. 5:14).
- The seraphim cover their eyes (Isa. 6:2)
- Paul was blinded (Acts 9:4, 8-9).
- The 24 elders cast their crowns down (Rev. 4:10).
- The angels lie prostrate to worship (Rev. 7:11).
- God is the standard of holiness.
- If we only speak of God as gracious, we belittle Him (Prov. 9:10).
- If God is so gracious that He cannot establish moral lines, we have gone too far.
- The Church can no longer articulate immorality because we think God will not call it out.
- We have become a people who look so much like the world it is hard to distinguish between the two.
- His holiness consumes any unholiness near Him (Heb. 12:29; Isa. 33:14).
- God is the provider of holiness.
- Legally, we are made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 10:10).
- Practically, we are becoming holy by the support of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:13-16).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.