God’s holy name has been impugned, besmirched with lies and slander. In Eden, Satan lied about Jehovah and implied that He is an unjust Sovereign. (Genesis 3:1-5) Since then, Satan—the ruler of this unholy world—has made sure that lies about God have proliferated. (John 8:44; 12:31; Revelation 12:9) Religions have painted God as arbitrary, remote, or cruel. They have claimed to have his backing in their bloodthirsty wars. The credit for God’s marvelous acts of creation has often been given to blind chance, or evolution. Yes, God’s name has been viciously maligned. It must be sanctified; its rightful glory must be restored. We long for the sanctification of his name and the vindication of his sovereignty, and we delight to play any part in that grand purpose.
Why is God’s spirit called holy, and why is blaspheming the holy spirit so serious?
There is something else intimately associated with Jehovah that is almost invariably called holy—his spirit, or active force. (Genesis 1:2) Jehovah uses this irresistible force to accomplish his purposes. All that God does, he carries out in a holy, pure, and clean way, so his active force is well named holy spirit, or spirit of holiness. (Luke 11:13; Romans 1:4) Blaspheming the holy spirit, which involves deliberately working against Jehovah’s purposes, constitutes an unforgivable sin.
It is not hard to see, then, why the Bible makes a connection between the holiness of God and godly fear on the part of man. For example, Psalm 99:3 reads: “Let them laud your name. Great and fear-inspiring, holy it is.” This fear, though, is not a morbid dread. Rather, it is a profound sense of reverential awe, respect in its most ennobling form. It is fitting to feel that way, since God’s holiness is so far above us. It is brilliantly clean, glorious. Still, it should not repel us. On the contrary, a proper view of God’s holiness will draw us closer to him.
Why Jehovah’s Holiness Draws Us to Him
For one thing, the Bible associates holiness with beauty. At Isaiah 63:15, heaven is described as God’s “lofty abode of holiness and beauty.” Beauty attracts us. For example, look at the picture on page 33. Are you not drawn to that scene? What makes it so appealing? Note how pure the water looks. Even the air must be clean, for the sky is blue and the light seems to sparkle. Now, if that same scene was altered—the stream clogged with garbage, the trees and rocks defaced with graffiti, the air befouled with smog—we would no longer be attracted to it; we would be repelled. We naturally associate beauty with cleanness, purity, and light. These same words can be used to describe Jehovah’s holiness. No wonder that visionary descriptions of Jehovah enthrall us! Beaming with light, dazzling as gemstones, glowing like fire or the purest and brightest precious metals—such is the beauty of our holy God.
How was Isaiah initially affected by his vision?
However, should God’s holiness make us feel inferior by comparison? The answer, of course, is yes. After all, we are inferior to Jehovah—and that is an understatement of epic proportions. Should knowing that alienate us from him? Consider Isaiah’s reaction upon hearing the seraphs proclaim Jehovah’s holiness. “I proceeded to say: ‘Woe to me! For I am as good as brought to silence, because a man unclean in lips I am, and in among a people unclean in lips I am dwelling; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies, himself!’” (Isaiah 6:5) Yes, Jehovah’s infinite holiness reminded Isaiah of how sinful and imperfect he was. Initially, that faithful man was devastated. But Jehovah did not leave him in that state.
A seraph promptly consoled the prophet. How? The mighty spirit flew to the altar, took a coal from it, and touched the coal to Isaiah’s lips. That may sound more painful than comforting. Remember, though, that this was a vision, rich in symbolic meaning. Isaiah, a faithful Jew, well knew that sacrifices were offered daily at the temple altar to make atonement for sins. And the seraph lovingly reminded the prophet that although he was indeed imperfect, “unclean in lips,” he could still come into a clean standing before God. Jehovah was willing to view an imperfect, sinful man as holy—at least in a relative sense.
How is it possible for us to be holy in a relative sense, imperfect though we are?
The same holds true today. All those sacrifices offered on the altar in Jerusalem were only shadows of something greater—the one perfect sacrifice, offered up by Jesus Christ in 33 C.E. (Hebrews 9:11-14) If we truly repent of our sins, correct our wrong course, and exercise faith in that sacrifice, we are forgiven. (1 John 2:2) We too can enjoy a clean standing before God. Thus, the apostle Peter reminds us: “It is written: ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:16) Note that Jehovah did not say that we must be as holy as he is. He never expects the impossible from us. (Psalm 103:13, 14) Rather, Jehovah tells us to be holy because he is holy. “As beloved children,” we seek to imitate him to the best of our ability as imperfect humans. (Ephesians 5:1) So achieving holiness is an ongoing process. As we grow spiritually, we work at “perfecting holiness” day by day.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
Jehovah loves what is upright and pure. He hates sin. (Habakkuk 1:13) But he does not hate us. As long as we view sin as he does—hating what is bad, loving what is good—and strive to follow in Christ Jesus’ perfect footsteps, Jehovah forgives our sins. (Amos 5:15; 1 Peter 2:21) When we understand that we can be clean in the eyes of our holy God, the effects are profound. Remember, Jehovah’s holiness at first reminded Isaiah of his own uncleanness. He cried out: “Woe to me!” But once he understood that his sins had been atoned for, his outlook changed. When Jehovah asked for a volunteer to carry out an assignment, Isaiah promptly responded, although he did not even know what would be involved. He exclaimed: “Here I am! Send me.