Only God can make us holy
The definition of holiness differs based on your point of reference. Holiness may refer to God, a person, place or thing.
The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible says the primary Old Testament word for “holiness” means to cut or to separate, and the Greek word “holy” means sacred; freedom from sin; sanctity applied to the supreme being; holiness denotes perfect purity or integrity. A dictionary definition says it is the state of being holy.
• Leviticus 11:44: “For I am the Lord your God and ye shall be holy, for I am holy” (KJV).
• 1 Samuel 2:2: “There is no one holy like the Lord” (NIV).
• Psalm 96:9: “Oh worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (KJV).
• Exodus 3:5: “Put off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (KJV).
The word “holiness” is a title given to some religious leaders.
The clothes we wear, the church we attend and the things we do to signify to the world that we are holy do not make us holy. Christians who are consecrated to do God’s work are in a perpetual state of being holy.
It is God who separates and sets us aside for his purpose, and He will perfect his work in us. As God perfects his work in us, we become totally devoted to Him, and we shall be holy.
— Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston
God is holy, and more than us
Holiness, as a human state of being, is not something we in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) talk about very much.It’s a “church word” that is very familiar to people in certain Christian traditions, but not in others.
We do talk about the holiness of God, as seen in Isaiah 6:3: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’”
The Hebrew word for holy is “qodesh” and means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness.” By saying that God is Holy, we are saying that God is completely different from us, God is above us, more than us, and worthy of our worship and praise.
The Holiness of God is the reason we go to church — not because we’re hoping to get something out of it for ourselves, but because we are drawn to the power, superiority and otherness of our creator and long to tell this Being how incredibly much we love “him.”
— Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)