What Does it Mean that God is Holy?


“Our Father who is in heaven hallowed[i] be his name…” (Matt. 6:9)

Special, sacred, holy and set apart is God. No one set Him apart. He just is (from the beginning and always, continuously and ever will be) holy.

What does it mean, though, that is God is Holy?

Human words are wholly inadequate to describe God. Words developed by people describe the world as we see it, but we cannot see God. God is spirit. God is in “the heavens”, the spiritual places. What we know of God and the words we use to describe Him are inadequate for the task.

God is holy. He is set apart. There is no one, no thing, nothing like God.

God is set apart from his creation, because, though His creation was made from Him, through Him and by Him, the creation is not Him. (Gen. 1) This is an elemental understanding of God, but we still fail to appreciate how “set apart” God is from His creation (and us).

God can be seen in his creation, like the character and personality of the artist can be seen in the artist’s work. Yet, the artist’s work does not wholly describe the artist. The artist can’t be reduced to his work. The entirety of all of an artist’s work does not begin to describe the artist. How much more can that be said of God!

We can know something of the artist by the artist’s creation, but the artist is much more.

God is completely Other. God is set apart, but it is not His intention to be set apart; He just is, by his nature, completely Other than His creation. Though we are part of His creation, God is completely Other to us. The Deist understands this, but fails to see that this Holy God desires also, incredulously, to have relationship with us, be our Father.

God did not regard his otherness, His glory, something to lord over us. He demonstrated his intention, his great tenderness and love toward us, by shedding all that He is to become a man. Yet, God cannot shed his very nature; His nature was demonstrated in Jesus Christ. His great love for us was shown by His willingness and His very act of dying on the cross for us, that we may live. (Phil. 2:5-9) God did this because He desires to call us His children.

We are created in God’s image. Hallowed be His name! Holy and set apart is God.

If we desire to meet His desire and have relationship with Him, we must follow Him, Jesus says. We must be like Him; we must be holy and set apart. We must distance ourselves from the world and all that is base and at enmity with God. In this way, we participate, willingly, in God’s very creation – of us!

God created us in His own image, but there is one thing God left for us in the creative process – that is the willingness to allow God to make us like him in our very character. When we embrace God, we invite Him to finish His work in us, to set us apart and to make us like Him! We become partners with God in His creative process:

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)

God does this work in us and completes it if we are willing.

We enter into this additional creative process by being born again. (John 3:3-6) By God’s creative work, alone, we are born of flesh; by our willingness to allow God to sanctify us and set us apart (to be like Him), we are born again, born of the Spirit.

How amazing that such a Holy God invites into His creative process like that, and by doing so, calls us children! And we call Him, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15)

Hallowed be thy name oh Lord! How holy you are! How beautiful and wonderful you are to us! We love you only because you love us, and we desire to reflect your great love. All we can do is bow before for you in loving adoration and ask that you do your work, your creation, in us that we may be like you as much as your creation can be like you; and we thank you, our loving Father!


[i] Hagiazo, from hagios (holy) means “to regard as special (sacred), i.e. as holy (set apart). God sanctifies, makes holy (hagiazo) us through faith (pistis – his inworked persuasion). In this way, faith (pistis) and holiness, sanctification (hagiazo), are intertwined. The word, hagiazo, is used in Matt. 6:9 in the imperative aorist tense, conveying that God is from the beginning and always, continuously and ever will be completely (as from the first), holy, sacred, and special (unique) – no one is completely like God. He is one of a kind. So the Psalmist says, “I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God?” (Ps. 77:12-13) The children of God hallow God above all things. As He is set apart, we set ourselves apart to be like Him, to be with Him, to allow Him to do His sanctifying work in us.


TheDiscoveryBible LogoI use The Discovery Bible to gain a deeper, richer and more complete understanding of the Scripture. If you want ready understanding of the original Greek, the original word emphasis and Greek tenses that do not exist in English, to make your reading of the New Testament deeper and richer, check out the The Discovery Bible. The Discovery Bible opens up knowledge of the original New Testament text in Greek to you in your everyday Bible reading. It shows the words emphasized in the Greek text, the tenses and the meanings that do not always translate well into English or English sentence structure. If you re ready to dig deeper in your Bible reading, try a free 30-day trial download of The Discovery Bible.

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