altar (verses 5-7); <470701>2 Corinthians 7:1 ? ?cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God?); <520313> 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ? ?unblamable in holiness?; 4:7 ? ?God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification?; <581229>Hebrews 12:29 ? ?our God is a consuming fire? ? to all iniquity. These passages show that holiness is the opposite to impurity, that it is itself purity.
The development of the conception of holiness in Hebrew history was doubtless a gradual one. At first it may have included little more than the idea of separation from all that is common, small and mean. Physical cleanliness and hatred of moral evil were additional elements, which in time became dominant. We must remember however that the proper meaning of a term is to be determined not by the earliest but by the latest usage. Human nature is ethical from the start, and seeks to express the thought of a rule or standard of obligation, and of a righteous Being who imposes that rule or standard. With the very first conceptions of majesty and separation which attach to the apprehension of divinity in the childhood of the race there mingles at least some sense of the contrast between God?s purity and human sin. The least developed man has a conscience, which condemns some forms of wrongdoing, and causes a feeling of separation from the power or powers above. Physical defilement becomes the natural symbol of moral evil. Places and vessels and rites are invested with dignity as associated with or consecrated to the Deity.
That the conception of holiness clears itself of extraneous and unessential elements only gradually, and receives its full expression only in the New Testament revelation and especially in the life and work of Christ, should not blind us to the fact that the germs of the idea lie far back in the very beginnings of man?s existence upon earth. Even then the sense of wrong within had for its correlate a dimly recognized righteousness without. So soon as man knows himself as a sinner he knows something of the holiness of that God whom he has offended. We must take exception therefore to the remark of Schurman, Belief in God, 231 ? ?The first gods were probably non-moral beings,? for Schurman himself had just said: ?A God without moral character is no God at all.? Dillmann, in his Old Testament Theology, very properly makes the fundamental thought of Old Testament religion, not the unity or the majesty of God, but his holiness. This alone forms the ethical basis for freedom and law. B. O. Robinson, Christian Theology ? ?The one aim of Christianity is personal holiness. But personal holiness will be the one absorbing and attainable aim of man, only as he recognizes it to be the one preeminent attribute of God. Hence everything divine is holy ? the temple, the Scriptures, the Spirit.? See articles on Holiness in Old Testament, by J. Skinner, and on
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