The Holiness of God and His Redeemed People -- By: William Still

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: The Holiness of God and His Redeemed People
Author: William Still

The Holiness of God and His Redeemed People

William Still

Certain impressions about the words “holy” and “holiness” still tend to create an emotional reaction. Part of this is possibly good, and part probably bad. Although it takes longer for emotions to change than thoughts, we ought to try to rid ourselves of notions of awe which are associated with terror or revulsion against the words, “holy” and “holiness,” as if holiness was something unattractive. If the essence of holiness is the Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ, how can holiness be unattractive? To those whose eyes have been opened to see the beauty and glory of His saviorhood and friendship, He is anything but unattractive!

The holiness to which we refer is the holiness of God. We must consider His nature, character, and being to understand what holiness is. What He is in righteousness, holiness and love, He desires to impart to His creatures. This indeed is the purpose of Creation and Redemption. It will be the chief glory of heaven, beyond the sight of Christ Himself, that He will show the full beauty of His holy character by filling heaven with a people who are perfect and complete in Christ, and yet each one absolutely and uniquely different. That is what the fulness of Christ means—the church, the body of Christ (see Eph. 1:23).

The purpose of Creation and Redemption is that the Holy One might display Himself by reflection in the lives of an innumerable host of redeemed creatures. Any unpleasant reactions we may have to the idea of holiness can be dispelled by associating the word and all it stands for with beauty—the beauty of holiness.

Holiness: Its Meaning

There is a principal word for “holy” in both the Old Testament and the New. Each conveys two ideas: 1) that which is set apart, and 2) the idea of brightness. The Hebrew word for “set

apart” conveys the notion of “separated” or “cut off,” and is applied to things as well as persons; e.g., the temple, the vessels of the Lord, etc. But that belongs to the old dispensation. Mere things can be set apart for God only in relation to persons.

Two ideas, “set apart” and “brightness,” belong together, for it is the otherness of God that is His ultimate glory. This is particularly evidenced in our Lord’s transfiguration. What took place was the inner excellence of our Lord’s perfect human character shining out for a supernatural moment, as if the light which was in Him was suddenly “switched on”; or that His flesh, and even His clothes, were radiant—a tremendous experience! This will constitute our out-shining as the ...

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