Holiness (קֹדֶשׁ, ἁγιοσύνη), prop. the state of sanctity, but often used of external or ceremonial relations (the more prop. ὁσιότης).
I. Intrinsic Idea. — "Holiness suggests the idea, not of perfect virtue, but of that peculiar affection wherewith a being of perfect virtue regards moral evil; and so much, indeed, is this the precise and characteristic import of the term, that, had there been no evil either actual or conceivable in the universe, there would have been no holiness. There would have been perfect truth and perfect righteousness, yet not holiness; for this is a word which denotes neither any one of the virtues in particular, nor the assemblage of them all put together, but the recoil or the repulsion of these towards the opposite vices-a recoil that never would have been felt if vice had been so far a nonentity as to be neither an object of real existence nor an object of thought" (Chalmers, Nat. Theol. 2, 380). — Krauth, Fleming's Vocab. of Philos. p. 217.
II. Applications of the Term. —
1. In the highest sense, holiness belongs to God alone (Isa 6:3; Re 15:4), because he only is absolutely good (Lu 18:19), and thus demands the supreme veneration of those who would themselves become good (Lu 1:49; Joh 17:11; Ac 3:14 [4:27, 30]; 1Jo 2:20; Heb 7:26; Re 4:8). SEE HOLINESS OF GOD.
2. Men are called holy
(a) in as far as they are vessels of the Holy Spirit and of divine power, e.g. the prophets; and also in as far as they belong to an organization which is dedicated to God. In the N.T. Christians are especially holy, as being wholly consecrated to God's service. (Comp. Ro 8:27; Ro 12:13; 1Co 6:2; Ephesians 2:19: 5:3; 6:18; Col 1:11; Col 3:12; 2Pe 1:21; Re 13:10; Jude 1:14.) — Men are also called holy
(b) in so far as they are or become habitually good, denying sin, thinking and acting in a godlike manner, and, in short, conforming, in their innermost being, as well as in their outward conduct, to the highest and absolute law or the will of God (Ro 6:19,22; Eph 1:4; Tit 1:8; 1Pe 1:15; Re 20:6).
The grounds of this sanctification, according to outward appearance, are twofold, viz.:
(a) Holiness is given of God by the mediation of Christ, conditioned upon faith and an inward surrender, which are themselves likewise the gift of God.
(b) Man from within, by a proper purification of the heart, may attain this sanctity. Although the last cannot occur without the assistance of God, yet the personal activity of man is necessary and almost preponderant. Still, even interior holiness is, as above implied, the direct work of God.
3. As everything dedicated to God partakes in a certain manner of his holiness, so even things (e.g. the Temple), forms, and ceremonies (e.g. sacrifice): hence "to hallow" means also to dedicate to God, to offer up, to bring as an offering, to present one's self as dedicated to God through Christ (Revelation 26:18; 1Co 6:11; Eph 5:26; Heb 2:11; Heb 10:10,14; Joh 17:17). In the N.T., where the merciful assistance of God in customary purity or objective holiness appears prominent, the expression to "sanctify one's self' is used only concerning Christ, and means here the same as to offer up himself as a sacrifice for human sin (Joh 17:19). But as man may make himself holy, i.e. under the assistance of the Holy Spirit, he may work for his own purity; similar phraseology is used of Christians (Mt 23:17; Joh 17:19; 1Ti 4:5).
4. That by which God reveals his holiness, e.g. the Law, is also holy (Ro 7:12).
III. Progression. — Complete holiness, as applied to men, designates the state of perfect love, which exhibits itself in this, that every thought of man, every emotion and volition, hence also every deed, is determined by the will of God, and thus the old man, who has been fainting under the burdens of worldly lust, and has been carrying the chains of the flesh, is cast off, and the new man is fully put on. This sanctification is both a work of God and of man. This divine grace comes through Christ, first at conversion, and by successive steps thereafter under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Man must seize the proffered hand of God, use the means of grace afforded him, and by the assistance of God perfect holiness. Thus, on the one hand, everything comes from God, and, on the other, the personal work of man is necessary. Whatever the good man is, he is through God and his own will; the evil man, however, is so only through his own will, for evil is falling away from God. Goodness consists ultimately in susceptibility for the divine work of grace, while wickedness has its final ground in the free hardening of the heart against the divine influences.
Personal holiness is a work of development in time, frequently under a variety of hinderances and backslidings, and even with the possibility of entire ruin. Hence the admonitions to watchfulness, to continual prayer, to perseverance in faith, in love, and in hope, are abundant (1Co 1:30; 2Co 7:1; Eph 4:23-24; comp. Ro 12:2); hence also the apostle's prayer that the love of the Philippians might abound yet more and more (Php 1:9). But while the laying aside of the old, and the putting on of the new, are thus referred to man, of course it is not the meaning of the sacred writer that sanctification is accomplished by our own power. Christ is our sanctification, as he is our righteousness (1Co 1:30); yet all that Christ through the Holy Spirit works in man may become in vain, because man by his unfaithfulness can hinder the operation of the Spirit.
IV. Metaphorical Representations of a State of Holiness. — In the Scriptures this sanctification is described in manifold as well as strong and explicit figures as a "putting off" of the old man, and a putting on of the new man (Col 3:9), the subject becoming dead to the old, and having recovered the lost image of God. It is represented as self-denial (1Co 9:26-27); as a cleansing (1Jo 1:9; comp. Heb 1:3; Heb 9:14; Eph 5:26; 2Pe 1:9); as a washing (1Co 6:11); as a taking away of sin (Joh 1:29); as being filled with the fruits of righteousness (Php 1:11); with the water of life (Joh 7:38; compare 4:14); as a shedding abroad of the love of God in the heart (Ro 5:5); as baptism into Christ (Ro 6:3; Eph 1:10; Eph 2:5; Re 15:1); fellowship with God (1Jo 1:3); as being in the Father, and in the Son, and in the light (1Jo 2:5-6,10,24; compare Ephesians 15; Joh 14:20); as the having God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (Joh 14:17,20; Ga 2:20; 1Co 5:13; 1Jo 2:24; 1Jo 4:4,12-15; Eph 4:6); as a birth unto God and Christ (1Jo 2:29; 1Jo 3:9-10; 1Jo 4:4-7; 1Jo 5:18-19); as being partaker of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4); children of God (Ro 8:14; Joh 1:12; 1Jo 3:1-2); born again (Joh 3:5,7; Tit 3:5-6); as being one with Christ and one another (Joh 17:22,26). — Krehl, Neutestam. Wörterbuch p. 356. SEE SANCTIFICATION.
HOLINESS, as a note of the Church. SEE SANCTITY. SEE HOLINESS OF GOD, his essential and absolute moral perfection. Primarily, the word holy (Sax. hali; Germ. heilig, whole, sound) denotes perfection in a moral sense. As applied to man, it denotes entire conformity to the will of God. SEE SANCTIFICATION. "But when we speak of God, we speak of a Being who is a law unto himself, and whose conduct cannot be referred to a higher authority than his own." SEE HOLINESS, above.
1. "As to the use of the words קָדוֹשׁ and ἃγιος, some critics assert that they are only used in Scripture, with reference to God, to describe him as the object of awe 'and veneration; and it is true that this is their prevailing meaning-e.g. Isa 6:9; Joh 17:11 (ἃγιε πάτερ) and that accordingly ἁγιάζεσθαι signifies to be esteemed venerable, to be reverenced. Still it is undeniable that these words in many passages are applied to God in a moral sense; e.g. Le 19:2, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy;' comp. 1Pe 1:14-16. Thus also ὁσιότης, Eph 4:24; and ἁγιωσύνη, ἁγιασμός, by which all moral perfection is so frequently designated, more especially in the New Testament. The different synonymical significations of the words קָדוֹשׁ and ἃγιος are clearly connected in the following manner: (a) The being externally pure; e.g. 2Sa 11:4; Le 11:43-44; Le 20:7,25-26 sq. (b) The being separate, since we are accustomed to divide what is pure from what is impure, and to cast away the latter; and therefore (c) The possessing of any kind of external advantage, distinction, or worth. So the Jews were said to be holy to God, in opposition to others, who were κοινοί, profane, common, unconsecrated. Then everything which was without imperfection, disgrace, or blemish was called holy; and קָדוֹשׁ, ἃγιος, sacrosanctus, came thus to signify what was inviolable (Isa 4:3; 1Co 3:17); hence מַקדָּשׁ, asylum. They were then used in the more limited sense of chaste (like the Latin sanctitas), a sense in which they are also sometimes used in the New Testament; e.g. 1Th 4:3,7 (comp. Wolf, ad loc.). They then came to denote any internal moral perfection; and, finally, perfection, in the general notion of it, as exclusive of all imperfection."
2. "The holiness of God, in the general notion of it, is his moral perfection- that attribute by which all moral imperfection is removed from his nature. The holiness of the will of God is that, therefore, by which he chooses, necessarily and invariably, what is morally good, and' refuses what is morally evil. The holiness and justice of God are, in reality, one and the same thing; the distinction consists in this only, that holiness denotes the internal inclination of the divine will-the disposition of God, and justice the expression of the same by actions. This attribute implies, 1. That no sinful or wicked inclination can be found in God. Hence he is said (Jas 1:13, 17) to be ἀπείραστος κακῶν, incapable of being tempted to evil (not in the active sense, as it is rendered by the Vulgate and Luther); and in 1Jo 1:5, to be light; and without darkness; i.e. holy, anti without sin.
In this sense he is called טָהוֹר, καθαρός, ἁγνός (1Jo 3:3); also תָּמַים; ἁπλόος, integer (Ps 18:31). The older writers described this by the word ἀναμάρτητος, impeccabilis. [The sinlessness of God is also designated in the New Testament by the words τέλειος (Mt 5:48) and ὅσιος (Re 16:5).] 2. That he never chooses what is false and deceitful, but only what is truly good-what his perfect intelligence recognizes as such; and that he is therefore the most perfect teacher and the highest exemplar of moral goodness. Hence the Bible declares that he looks with displeasure upon wicked, deceitful courses (Ps 1:5 sq.; 5, 5: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity'); but on the contrary, he regards the pious with favor (Ps 5:7-8; Ps 15:1 sq.; 18:26 sq.; 33:18)" (Knapp, Theology, § 29). Howe speaks of the holiness of God as "the actual, perpetual rectitude of all his volitions, and all the works and actions which are consequent thereupon; and an eternal propension thereto and love thereof, by which it is altogether impossible to that sin that it should ever vary."
3. Holiness is an essential attribute of God, and adds glory, luster, and harmony to all his other perfections (Ps 27:4; Ex 15:11). He could not be God without it (De 32:4). It is infinite and unbounded; it cannot be increased or diminished. It is also immutable and invariable (Mal 3:6). God is originally holy; he is so of and in himself, and the author and promoter of all holiness among his creatures. The holiness of God is visible by his works; he made all things holy (Ge 1:31): by his providences, all which are to promote holiness in the end (Heb 11:10): by his grace, which influences the subjects of it to be holy (Tit 2:10,12): by his word, which commands it (1Pe 1:15): by his ordinances, which he hath appointed for that end (Jer 44:4-5): by the punishment of sin in the death of Christ (Isaiah 53); and by the eternal punishment of it in wicked men (Mt 20:34) (Buck). SEE ATTRIBUTES. The holiness of God, like his other attributes, constitutes the divine essence itself, and consequently exists in him in the state of absolute perfection. It were therefore impossible to consider it as a conformity of God to the laws of right, since God himself, on the contrary, is the idea and principle of holiness. But, on the other hand, we may not say that the will of God simply constitutes the essence of divine holiness. To mankind, indeed, the simple will of God is at once law in all things; but with regard to God himself, his will is holy because he wills only according to his immanent holiness, i.e. his own nature. As the absolute Being, (God is necessarily in no wise dependent on any outward law; but as a morally perfect spirit God cannot but be true to himself, and thus manifest in all his agency his inherent moral perfection as his immanent law.
The earlier dogmatists of the Reformed Church largely discussed the question whether right is right because God wills it, or whether God wills right because it is right. Some (e.g. Polanus) maintained the former view as the only one consistent with the absolute nature of God. The later writers maintain the opposite view, e.g. Voetius: "God is subject to no moral duty from without, because he is no man's debtor, and there is no cause outside of God that can bind or determine him. But from within he may be bound (so to speak), not, indeed, in the sense of subjection, because he is his own debtor, and cannot deny himself. Thus, in divine things, the Father is bound to love the Son, for he cannot but love him; while the Son, by the very necessity of his divine nature, is bound to work by the Father; nor can he do otherwise whenever a work outside of God is to be performed. So, also, in external acts, the creature having been once produced, God is bound to maintain it by his perpetual power and continual influence (as long as he wishes it to exist), to move directly upon it as its first mover, and guide it to his glory (Pr 16:4; Ro 11:34-36). That is immutably good and just whose opposite he cannot wish." So also Heidegger (Corp. Theol. 3, 89, 90): "Whatever is the holiness, justice, and goodness of the creature, nevertheless its rule and first norm in the sight of God is not his free will and command, but his own essential justice, holiness, and goodness." On this subject Watson remarks as follows: "Without conducting the reader into the profitless question whether there is a fixed and unalterable nature and fitness of things, independent of the divine will on the one hand; or, on the other, whether good and evil have their foundation, not in the nature of things, but only in the divine will, which makes them such, there is a method, less direct it may be, but more satisfactory, of assisting our thoughts on this subject. It is certain that various affections and actions have been enjoined upon all rational creatures under the general name of righteousness, and that their contraries have been prohibited. It is a matter also of constant experience and observation that the good of society is promoted only by the one, and injured by the other; and also that every individual derives, by the very constitution of his nature, benefit and happiness from rectitude, injury and misery from vice. This constitution of human nature is therefore an indication that the Maker and Ruler of men formed them with the intent that they should avoid vice and practice virtue; and that the former is the object of his aversion, the latter of his regard. On this principle, all the laws, which in his legislative character almighty. God has enacted for the government of mankind, have been constructed. The law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.' In the administration of the world, where God is so often seen in his judicial capacity, the punishments which are inflicted, indirectly or immediately upon man, clearly tend to discourage and prevent the practice of evil. 'Above all, the Gospel, that last and most perfect revelation of the divine will, instead of giving the professors of it any allowance to sin, because grace has abounded (which is an injurious imputation cast upon it by ignorant and impious minds), its chief design is to establish that great principle, God's moral purity, and to manifest his abhorrence of sin, and inviolable regard to purity and virtue in his reasonable creatures. It was for this he sent his Son into the world to turn men from their iniquities, and bring them back to the paths of righteousness. For this the blessed Jesus submitted to the deepest humiliations and most grievous sufferings. He gave himself (as St. Paul speaks) for his Church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it; that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, but that it should be holy and without blemish; or, as it is elsewhere expressed, he gave himself for us, to redeem us from our iniquities, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works' (Abernethy, Sermons). Since, then, it is so manifest that 'the Lord loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity,' it must be necessarily concluded that this preference of the one, and hatred of the other, flow from some principle in his very nature-' that he is the righteous Lord; of purer eyes than to behold evil; one who cannot look upon iniquity.' This principle is holiness, an attribute which, in the most emphatic manner, is assumed by himself, and attributed to him, both by adoring angels in their choirs, and by inspired saints in their worship. He is, by his own designation, 'the HOLY ONE of Israel;' the seraphs in the vision of the prophet cry continually 'HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory;' thus summing up all his glories in this sole moral perfection. The language of the sanctuary on earth is borrowed from that of heaven: 'Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name, for thou only art HOLY.' If, then, there is this principle in the divine mind which leads him to prescribe, love, and reward truth, justice, benevolence, and every other virtuous affection and habit in his creatures which we sum up in the term holiness, and to forbid, restrain, and punish their opposites-that principle, being essential in him, a part of his very nature and Godhead, must be the spring and guide of his own conduct; and thus we conceive without difficulty of the essential rectitude or holiness of the divine nature, and the absolutely pure and righteous character of his administration. This attribute of holiness exhibits itself in two great branches, justice and truth, which are sometimes also treated of as separate attributes." See Watson, Theolog. Institutes, 1, 436; Knapp, Theology, § 29; Leland, Sermons, 1, 199; Abernethy, Sermons, 2, 180; Heppe, Dogmatik der evangeform. Kirche, p. 73 sq.; Pye Smith, Theol. p. 173 sq.; Pearson, Exposition of the Creed, 1, 10, 531, 541; Smith's Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, 1, 110 sq.; Domeer, in Jahrb. f. deutsche Theol. 1, 2; 2, 3; 3:3; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, 19, 618; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. , 133; 3:321; 19:618-624; Biblioth. Sac. 12, 377; 13, 840; Meth. Quart. Rev. 11, 505; Thomasius, Dogmatik, 1, 141; Staudenmeier, Dogmatik, 2, 590-610; Dwight, Theol. 1 (see Index); Martensen, Dogmatik, p. 99; Clark, Otl. of Theol. 2, 9 sq.; Calvin, Institutes, 1, 377; Wesley, Works 2, 430. SEE GOD.