Holiness Encyclopedia

Holiness. The word 'holy' is used in scripture in two different ways. It can refer to the character of a nature, or to an objective state. In the first sense, holiness is the character of God's own nature. It is the love of good and the hatred of evil. As we have in Psalm 45, speaking of the Messiah, “Thou hast loved righteousness and hast hated lawlessness”. God is light, and His nature is "holy, holy, holy" (Rev. 4:8). The believer is also said to be “light in the Lord”, because we have divine life, although we are not Divine. The reason we do not always experience the holiness of the divine nature within us is because we have also a fallen, evil nature as well. Paul’s teaching on deliverance explains that by walking in the Spirit, we have deliverance from the fallen nature. But holiness is also used in another sense, referring to an objective state. For example, a sacrifice in the Old Testament was said to be “holy unto the Lord”, because it was sanctified or separated to the Lord. This aspect answers to sanctification. There is an inward character, but there is also a outward condition. By positional sanctification the believer is made holy in an absolute sense. There is also practical sanctification, which is a process. The holy nature and the holy walk are connected. If a person does not have the inward character (new birth) it will be impossible to stay clean practically. Holiness is important, because God cannot have communion with evil; "holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Holiness cannot be attained by following a legal standard, such as the law of Moses. Believers already have the holy life of Christ, and practical holiness is a matter of walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).