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Lesson 5: The Holiness of God *

Introduction: The Bible tells us repeatedly that God is holy. What does that mean? This is not a question meant only to tickle our mind, because God commands us in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to be holy as He is holy. ( 1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44.) If we don't understand what it means for God to be holy, we are not going to be able to understand an important goal for our life. Let's see if we can figure this out by plunging, once again, into our study of the Bible!

  1. Holy Time

    1. Read Genesis 2:2-3. This tells us that God "made" the Sabbath holy. What does this context suggest that holiness means? (First of all, holiness comes from God. He is the author of it. Second, to be holy is to be different from the other days. Notice that holiness and blessings seem related. A holy day is a day set apart from others, a special day, a blessed day.)

    2. Read Psalms 86:8-10. What aspect of God's holiness is like the Sabbath? (God is set apart. There is no god like our Lord. He alone is great and wonderful.)

    3. Read Exodus 20:11. What is the relationship between this holy time and the Creation? (It is a celebration, a remembrance of God's creative power.)

      1. If these thoughts about God's holiness also apply to us in some way, what part of the holiness puzzle can we understand? (Holiness comes only from God. It means we are set apart and likely blessed. It means that our lives are to be a celebration of the power and creativity of God.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 2:2. As we launch into a discussion about the holiness of God and our holiness goal, what important point does this teach us? (We are not going to reach God's level of holiness. There is no one like Him! The good news is that we should not get discouraged when our holiness from time to time seems to be in trouble.)

    5. Read Exodus 20:8-10. In what way does refraining from work have anything to do with holy time? (It is a time to focus on what God has created, not what we are creating. It shows that holiness is from God, not us. We don't create holy time by doing something.)

      1. What other piece of the puzzle does this reinforce about us being holy? (We cannot make ourselves holy.)

  2. Holy Mind

    1. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. Did we just make a mistake? Peter tells us to be holy in all that we do. Does that mean that we can create holiness?

      1. Look again at 1 Peter 1:13. What "deed" is being done here? (None. Peter is simply telling us to focus on the gift of God's grace. Pay attention. The grace (holiness?) that we receive is "given," not earned.)

      2. What about 1 Peter 1:14, where we are told to be "obedient?" (As we focus on our Lord, we learn more about His will. Peter essentially says, "You've learned, so don't live out your evil desires.")

    2. Read 1 Peter 1:17-19. Are works a part of living a holy life? (Yes. While we cannot make ourselves holy, God expects us to live a life consistent with being holy. The first goal is to pay attention to God's will. "What can I do today to advance the Kingdom of God, rather than advance the cause of sin?")

      1. What does living as "strangers" and "in reverent fear" have to do with our holiness goal? (We are not to become too comfortable with life here. We are not part of this world. We are part of the Kingdom of God. Thus, we "fear" (meaning respect, are concerned about) God. We are not concerned about the world except to advance God's kingdom.)

      2. What difference does it make that we are ransomed by Jesus' sacrifice of Himself, rather than by the payment of money? (It makes the way we live personal. Jesus paid the price for our sins with His life. It does not get more personal than that. We need to take the goal of holiness and make it personal.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 1:20-21. What argument do you see for grace? (We "believe in God" through "Him" - through what Jesus has done for us at the cross and in His resurrection.)

    4. Read 1 Peter 1:22. This clearly shows that what I've been teaching is wrong, right? It says that we "have purified yourselves by obeying the truth." What could be more clear than that?

      1. Look at the rest of this verse. Are you able to grit your teeth and love someone who you do not find lovable? How about "deep love" from the heart? (We all know that deep love for "the brothers" comes only from a heart changed by God. A heart that realizes that God died a horrible death for us, is a heart that responds with gratitude and love. Brotherly love is a reaction to God. Thus God, not human will, is its source. However, it is true that a "habit" of obedience (as opposed to a "habit" of disobedience) helps on the path towards holiness.)

  3. Comparative Holiness

    1. Much of the book of Job consists of Job declaring his innocence while his friends are insisting that he is being punished for his sins. The drama comes to a point where Job declares that he wants to get God in a room and make God answer some of Job's questions about fairness and justice. In Job chapters 40 & 41 God appears to Job and tells Job that they will have a "trial," but that it is Job who will be answering the questions. Let's read Job 42:1-3. What is Job's initial response to God? (I spoke out of ignorance. I did not begin to understand the power and glory of God.)

    2. Read Job 42:4-6. What reaction does the glory and holiness of God cause in Job? (Humble repentance. An understanding that we are not in a position to question the justice and nature of God.)

      1. How does that fit into our discussion earlier about what it means to be holy? (Being holy is to be "set apart." God is "set apart" from us. We cannot ever hope to achieve the holiness of God. We accept the holiness gift He gives us and determine to walk the path leading to holiness. Walking that path does not depend on whether we understand all of the problems of life. What we understand is that our God is great, loving and holy.)

    3. Read Luke 5:1-5. Put yourself in Simon Peter's place. What are your thoughts about Jesus' command? (They had cleaned up for the day. Jesus is asking them to dirty up their equipment so they will have to do it all over again. They catch fish at night, and they have worked hard all night. Jesus is asking them to work overtime. They are the experts in fishing, Jesus is a preacher. They have superior knowledge about this subject.)

    4. Read Luke 5:6-8. Why does this show that Peter is a sinful person? He obeyed Jesus? (Peter realizes that he is not the smart guy who is simply indulging Jesus. He realizes that He is in the presence of the power of the universe. The holy has met the obedient unholy, and holiness requires a separation!)

    5. Read Luke 5:10 (last part). Why should Peter not be afraid? (Because Jesus is on His mission to reconcile a Holy God with sinful humans. Our journey towards holiness is to "catch men," to advance the Kingdom of God.)

    6. Friend, will you make holiness your goal today? Will your goals, aims, desires and actions, be directed towards advancing God's Kingdom? Will you make that choice right now?

  4. Next week: God the Lawgiver
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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