The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness
Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God?
Closely related to the concepts of qädãs are those of sädaq, the Hebrew word used to mean to be just or righteous, that is to do justice, to declare righteous, or to justify. This is generally a legal concept representing a status in relationship to some standard or performing right behavior in conformity to that standard. In biblical terms, this measure is imposed upon mankind by God from His divine perspective. God "views" man as unrighteous (sinful), yet, God provides the mechanism for declaring man righteous.
An easy example of this is the ongoing story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gensis 13-19. God declared the men of Sodom to be wicked (Gen 13:13). Abraham argues with God over the concept of declaring righteous people, seemingly bargaining with God not to destroy the city if only ten righteous people are found within the city walls (Gen 18:32). We all know the result, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. But note the relationship of the argument to our discussion of holiness. God cannot stand to look on evil (Hab. 1:13). God is all light, that is, all holiness and righteousness. Yet, Abraham argues from the basis of righteousness, not holiness. Abraham wants God to save the city by finding it "holy" if there are but ten "righteous" people present.
This is a valid approach to our understanding of holiness, for since all holiness flows from God, He alone has the ability to determine what makes a person or thing holy. Abraham is counted as holy or righteous because he believed in God (Gen 15:6). We are made holy not by anything we do but by God&s mercy and grace. This is the entire basis of salvation.
This makes righteousness subject to God&s standards - and His standards are His holiness! Romans is the answer to the question "Can a mortal be righteous before God?" This is the question asked in Job 9:2; 4:17 and forms the basis of understanding of the relationship of holiness to righteousness. Paul&s answer is that all men are sinners - there is none righteous, no not one (Rom 3:10-11) - But says the Apostle, God has stepped into this vast emptiness and by the means of Christ&s blood given on the Cross will grant righteousness and holiness to those who are justified by faith (Rom 3:28). It is by the power of God that man is made holy and righteous.