Holy — The most Misunderstood Word in the Bible

Andrew Fountain
Sun, 2021-05-23
  • A word that is so rich, so precious, and so heart-warming has been tragically misunderstood in recent centuries.
  • God’s holiness is a positive quality very closely linked to his love, and it is so important that we connect with this.
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Sermon Outline - Holy — The most Misunderstood Word in the Bible

Holy – The most Misunderstood Word in the Bible

  1. What does it mean for God to be Holy?
  2. Showing this from Old Testament examples
  3. Holy places, objects and people

1. What does it mean for God to be Holy?

Genesis 38 “holy”

  1. And Judah asked the men of the place,
    “Where is the religious prostitute (Hebrew: holy woman) who was at Enaim at the roadside?”
    And they said, “No religious prostitute (holy woman) has been here.”
  • The Hebrew language uses the same word (in its female form) to describe this career as it does for God’s holiness.
  • The idea is not purity, but total commitment

Hosea 11
What does “holy” mean?

  • The northern kingdom, Ephraim/Israel were bent on sinning.
    God says:
  1. The more they were called, the more they went away;
    they kept sacrificing to the Ba’als
    and burning offerings to idols…
  2. My people are bent on turning away from me,
  • What keeps God from destroying them is his holiness
  1. How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
          How can I hand you over, O Israel?
    My heart recoils within me;
          my compassion grows warm and tender.
  2. I will not execute my burning anger;
          I will not again destroy Ephraim;
    because I am God and not a man,
          the Holy One in your midst,
                and I will not come in wrath.

John 17
Jesus’ holiness

  1. As you sent me into the world,
    • so I have sent them into the world.
  2. And for their sake I am totally committed (lit holy),
    • that they also may be totally committed (holy) in truth.

Towards a Better Understanding of God’s Holiness: Challenging the Status Quo

“For a long time there has been considerable confusion regarding the meaning of the word holy. For the limited scope of this paper, we will focus on this confusion and its development within the English-speaking world, which has a widespread influence in other countries.”

Andrew Case, The Bible Translator, 2017

Definition of God’s Holiness

His total commitment,
especially commitment to his people

2. Showing this from Old Testament examples

1 Samuel 2

  1. Hannah prayed,
    “My heart rejoices in the LORD;
          my horn is exalted high because of the LORD.
    I loudly denounce my enemies,
          for I am happy that you delivered me.
  2. No one is holy like the LORD!
          There is no one other than you!
                There is no rock like our God!

Psalm 22

  1. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
  2. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

Psalm 30

  1. Sing to the LORD, you faithful followers of his;
          give thanks to his holy name.
  2. For his anger lasts only a brief moment,
    and his good favour restores one’s life.
    One may experience sorrow during the night,
          but joy arrives in the morning.

Psalm 60

  1. Deliver by your power and answer me,
          so that the ones you love may be safe.
  2. God has spoken in his holiness:
          “I will triumph!...”

Psalm 89

  1. But I will not remove my loyal love (chesed) from him,
          nor be unfaithful to my promise.
  2. I will not break my covenant
          or go back on what I promised.
  3. Once and for all I have vowed by my own holiness,
          I will never deceive David.

Psalm 98

  1. Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
          for he has done marvelous things!
    His right hand and his holy arm
          have worked salvation for him.

Psalm 105

  1. They asked for food, and he sent quails;
          he satisfied them with food from the sky.
  2. He opened up a rock and water flowed out;
          a river ran through dry regions.
  3. Yes, he remembered the holy promise
          he made to Abraham his servant.

Psalm 111

  1. He delivered his people;
    he ordained that his covenant be observed forever.
    His name is holy and awesome.

Isaiah 49

  1. This is what the LORD,
    the protector of Israel, their Holy One, says
    to the one who is despised and rejected by nations,
    “Kings will see and rise in respect…
    • because of the faithful LORD,
      the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.

Psalm 145

  1. …bless your name forever and ever.
  2. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
  3. The LORD is good to all,
  4. The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
  5. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
  6. The LORD is… kind in all his works.
  7. The LORD is near to all who call on him…
  8. …he also hears their cry and saves them.
  9. The LORD preserves all who love him…
  10. … bless his holy name forever and ever.

3. Holy places, objects and people

Holy places, objects and people

  • Places: The “Holy of Holies”, the “holy city” of Jerusalem
  • Objects: The Ark, bowls, incense, bread used in worship
  • Holy Spirit: (He turns out to be the same holy God)
  • People: Priests, the nation, the saints (= holy ones)

1 Peter 1

  1. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,
  2. but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
  3. since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.

Be Holy!

  • Be passionately dedicated and 100% committed to God!
  • God is 100% committed to you,
  • so be 100% committed to him!

Updated on 2021-05-09 by Andrew Fountain