HOLY MEANS NEVER VIOLATING DIVINE LAW
By observing the universe, we see that God operates by intricate principles and meticulous order – we call them laws (rules governing the relationship of things). The Bible says that God conducts his world according to physical laws and spiritual laws.
The word holy refers to the consistency with which spiritual laws are followed and applied. The word refers uniquely to God, but some people or things are said to be holy in the sense that they’re dedicated to God, follow spiritual laws, or have godly character. The Bible says that only God is truly holy.
When referring to God, holy means consistently perfect, always in accord with spiritual law, without error.
When referring to man, holy means sacred, consecrated, set apart, dedicated to God.
Loosely defined, holy means good to the point of perfection.
OUR SIN CONFLICTS WITH GOD’S HOLINESS
To say that God is holy means that he establishes and follows divine law. There are certain unfailing ways God does things in the spiritual realm, just as in the physical realm. We’re safe when we obey the laws but in jeopardy when we disobey them.
God’s laws are not arbitrary. They make sense as a way to regulate objects and people that share common time and space. Just as God’s gravitational law defines the orbits of physical mass in space, so God’s moral law (honesty, kindness, sexual purity) defines optimum living for people in community. Without good laws and compliance there’s uncertainty, chaos and tragedy.
Sin is willful violation of God’s spiritual laws, written for us in the Bible. We sin when we do what God has told us not to do and when we don’t do what God has told us to do. We sin both by commission (doing) and omission (not doing). Our sin is in critical conflict with his holiness (see Topics 5, 6 and 53).
BECAUSE GOD IS HOLY, WE CAN KNOW OUR DESTINY
Holy is the opposite of capricious (changing abruptly, inconsistently and often without reason or notice). We have yet to encounter a physical or spiritual law we haven’t been able to rely upon once we truly understand it. When the laws are known, we can foresee consequences of our actions and inactions.
We take great comfort in knowing that God is holy... that he makes his spiritual laws known to us, that the laws don’t change, and that the laws are consistently applied.
Because God is holy – always acting in accord with his laws – we can know now, from the Bible, what will happen to us after we die.
If God is holy, why does he allow evil?
God allows evil – temporarily – but this is not the same as saying he causes it. Everything he created is good:
‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ – Genesis 1:31
Evil is not a thing, not even a force or a power. It’s a condition. It’s the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light (see Topic 8).
Evil cannot exist apart from good any more than cancer can exist apart from a body. Evil is a corruption or privation of something good.
Because God is a personal God and wants a relationship with us, he gives us freedom of choice, which is essential for real love (see Topic 6).
Evil results from actions and inactions of our choosing which violate his spiritual laws.
Thus, the potential for evil – even the certainty of it – is inherent in God’s design plan which makes us free moral agents, but the actual cause of evil is our decision to disobey God. We cause it, but he allows it.
As punishment for man’s disobedience, God put a changing and aging process into his creation (see Topics 6 and 34). The result is natural evil (diseases, famines, earthquakes) and moral evil (crime, abuse, dishonesty). This is a temporary situation. One day he will, as described in the Bible, eliminate all evil here by restoring the earth and confining in hell all who are rebellious to his plan and purpose.
MEANWHILE, evil can work to our long term good by giving us an understanding of spiritual matters. Without knowing evil, we wouldn’t desire God’s holiness.
The greater the evil, the more people turn to God for solution. The lesser the evil, the more people ignore God and rely upon themselves. Ironically, since eternity is ultimately more important than present life, evil now – if it brings us to God – can do more good than harm.
Evil is a condition only on earth (now) and in hell (forever). There’s no evil in heaven.
We begin our eternal existence with a short stay on earth – typically 100 years or less – during which time we’re shown both holiness and evil. We’re told by God that we must decide here which condition – holiness or evil – we choose as our environment (but in magnified degree) for the rest of eternity.
After our time on earth, the two conditions will no longer coexist. For each person, everything will then either be all holy (heaven) or all evil (hell), depending upon individual choice.
God will always allow evil (essential for free will), but one day he’ll confine it (in hell). The fact that he hasn’t confined it yet doesn’t mean that he can’t, or won’t, confine it in the future. According to the Bible, it’s not yet time and therefore good and evil still coexist.
Here’s a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.
Leviticus 11:44-45, Leviticus 20:26, Psalms 99:1-9, I Peter 1:16, Revelation 4:8, Revelation 15:4
God is holy
Toil, pain and death is punishment for man’s sin
Jesus tells about good and evil co-existing for a while
For help, see Topic 29.