foundation truth

lesson 27 - holiness

One of the most difficult Bible doctrines to understand is holiness. This is because God is holy; whereas, we are not. We tend to think of holiness as something that we do or, more often, that we don’t do. However, holiness is a possession more than a practice. We cannot be holy by trying. God is not holy because of what He does; God is holy because of who He is. His nature is holy.

Whenever God wants to emphasize anything, He will repeat it. Never does the Scripture say that God is love, love, love, or that He is good, good, good. And yet twice the Scriptures state that God is holy, holy, holy. He is the thrice-holy God. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8

Not only do the Scriptures say that God is holy, but we are commanded to be holy also. Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15:16 When God commands us to be something, we usually attempt to do it, only to fail within ourselves.


Holiness is not hardness – Some people think that they are holy because they are opposed to everything.

Holiness is not haughtiness – Some people think that they are holy because they are better in their behavior than others.

Holiness is not unhappiness – Some people think that they are holy because they are miserable.

Holiness is not what we do – the places that we go, or what we eat or drink. These actions are the result of whether we are holy or not.

Holiness is what we are.


Since God is a thrice-holy God and it is impossible to explain God, all of our attempts to explain holiness will come short. Holiness speaks of God’s moral excellence or transcendence. The dictionary defines transcendence as exceeding the usual limits, surpassing, extending, or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience. Isaiah 6:1-7

The only way for sinful mankind to be holy is to personally experience a holy God. Hebrews 2:11, 12:10 Holiness is not only a position from God but also a progression with God. Hebrews 12:14; Romans 6:19, 22


Since it is impossible to fully understand holiness, let us examine the fruit or the product of holy living. To be holy is to be blessed by God. Jesus taught about the blessed life in Matthew 5:3-11. The word blessed means: happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous.


Humility is the opposite of being proud. Pride is the taproot of sin. All sin is an expression of selfishness. Pride has many faces; it can reveal itself in boasting and boldness or in fear and worry.

  • Pride makes repentance impossible. Psalm 10:4; Luke 18:9
  • Pride leads to sensuality. Ezekiel 16:49
  • Pride brings strife. Proverbs 13:10, 28:25
  • Pride makes us like the devil. Isaiah 14:12-14; Proverbs 6:17

Humility isn’t thinking bad of oneself; it is simply not thinking of oneself at all. The reward of being “poor in spirit” is the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar is a good example of humility. Daniel 4:28-37


The world counts tears as a sign of weakness or a curse. However, godly tears and sorrow can be the purification of the soul. Pride produces a hardness that must be broken. Usually, the first result of such breaking is mourning. When we see sin as God sees sin, it will produce godly sorrow. II Corinthians 7:10

God sees our tears. Isaiah 38:5

Worship can be expressed through tears. Luke 7:38, 44

Tears will be experienced in heaven. Revelation 7:17, 21:4
It is only when we allow God’s breaking that we will receive God’s comfort. John 16:7, 20-22

Jacob is a good example of heartbrokenness. Genesis 42:36


It is regretful that the word “meekness” rhymes with the word “weakness.” These words are actually the opposite in meanings. Meekness means power under control or strength that comes from being under proper authority.

  • Ranchers used this word when speaking of taming an animal.
  • Sailors used this word when speaking of harnessing the winds.
  • Doctors used this word when speaking of curing a disease.

Anger is in itself not sinful. God commands us to be angry and not to sin. Ephesians 4:26 But do not allow your anger to turn to wrath and begin to play like you are God. James 1:20 Wrath leads us to vengeance which only belongs to God. Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30

Moses is a good example of meekness. Numbers 12:3; Deuteronomy 3:24:26


Hunger is evidence of a healthy life. The first requirement to receiving is to recognize your need. Hunger and thirst are two of the most basic appetites. Without proper nourishment, we have great discomfort and pain. There are many invitations in Scripture to partake of God. Psalm 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3

The true hunger of our soul is for righteousness. John 6:27, 35, 47-51

The Apostle Paul is a good example of someone experiencing spiritual hunger. Philippians 3:10


Mercy is a quality of holiness that can never be experienced until dealing with someone who has wronged us. The word mercy in the Old Testament is a word that means to bow the neck. In the New Testament, the meaning is compassion or kindness.

The word “truth” when connected with the word “mercy” is always preceded by mercy. II Peter 2:9 Mercy can’t go where truth isn’t welcome.

Mercy is found almost six times more in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. Mercy means not getting what we deserve! Out of 358 times in Scripture, mercy is found 135 times in the Psalms.

Grace is found almost five times more in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve! David is a good example of mercy. Psalm 51, Psalm 32:1, 2


The word “pure” means to be free from the mixture, clean, innocent, genuine. The areas of our life that we try to hide from God become our spiritual blind spots. The test of a pure heart can be gauged by what we see. The pure in heart see God. I Timothy 1:5

Jesus said that it was impossible but that offenses would come. Luke 17:1 But though offenses must come, we do not have to be offended. Acts 24:16

Love will keep us from being offended. Psalm 119:165

Humility will keep us from being offensive. Ecclesiastes 10:4

Our rules for a living should include: In essentials; UNITY – In nonessentials; TOLERANCE – In everything; LOVE. Romans 14:13, 21; Romans 15:1

Joseph is a good example of purity. Genesis 45:5, 7-9 and 50:20


To experience peace, we must begin with peace with God, (Romans 5:1) and progress to God’s kind of peace. Colossians 3:12-15

Note: It is impossible to have the peace of God when we are not at peace with one another. The word “peacemaker” means to join, to harmonize, to set at one again. Mankind was not only separated from God by sin but also from each other. Genesis 2:25 and 3:7

Romans 14 shows the steps of disunity. Verse 1, Disputing; Verse 3, Despising; Verse 3, Denouncing.
The steps to unity are Verse 19, Follow peace; Verse 21, Edify; Romans 15:1, Yield our rights.

Solomon is a good example of a peacemaker. II Chronicles 7:1-3


There are special promises for the persecuted. There are basically two types of enemies for the Christian.

  • God’s enemy. Remember that the world is going in the wrong direction. I Peter was written to give hope to those suffering tribulations. I Peter 3:14, 17; 4:1, 14; 5:10
  • Our enemy. Proverbs 18:19 If God is to bless us – regardless of enemies—then their accusations must be false. Matthew 5:11; Proverbs 16:7, 25:21-22

Remember, it has been the greatest sorrows that have produced some of the sweetest songs.

The Apostle John is a good example of the persecuted. Revelation 1:9-10

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About the Author: Dr. Dale Yerton

Dr. Yerton serves as an overseer of a network of churches across the world. What began as a network of six church groups representing 500 churches in Mexico has grown into an international ministry. 

He and Evelyn, his wife over fifty years, live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. They have two daughters: Lora–married to the Rev. Vince Farrell, pastors of Journey Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky–and Kari—also of Hopkinsville–and are the proud grandparents of Emma and Bennett Farrell.

Dale Yerton