R.C. Sproul explains that, “The primary meaning of holy is ‘separate.’ It comes from an ancient word that meant, ‘to cut,’ or ‘to separate.’ Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase ‘a cut above something.’ When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has a superior excellence, we use the expression that it is ‘a cut above the rest.’ When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way.”(1)
Holiness sets God apart from all others.
- There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. - 1 Samuel 2:2
Because He is holy, God is without peer.
- Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? - Exodus 15:11
God is transcendent or distinct from His creation and exalted above them.
- For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, - Isaiah 57:15a
Holiness implies absolute moral purity. God is free from sin.
- Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look on wickedness with favor. - Habakkuk 1:13a
Because He is free from sin, He cannot condone sin.
- For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean… - Leviticus 11:44
God's holiness is the moral and ethical standard for humanity.
- R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985), 40.