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Answering The Atheist
July 21, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 29

The Bible says that man is to be holy (Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7), but the Bible also says that only God is holy (Revelation 15:4). Is there a contradiction?

Let us look at the passages in question:

Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7
For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. ... Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. ... ‘Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.

Revelation 15:4
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.

Time and again, the Bible declares that God is holy. From eternity to eternity, He is holy. There is not, nor has there ever been any unrighteousness, injustice, or evil found in the Lord. He is perfect in holiness, such that all else fails in comparison. However, in the book of Leviticus, and in other places, the Lord has commanded man, " holy, for I am Holy..." God's desire is that we, as His creation would follow after His example; that we would walk in holiness, being righteous before Him. The fact that the Lord commands it of man infers that we are able. God has given man no commandment which he is unable to fulfill.

The song given in Revelation 15:4 says of God, "...You alone are holy." Only God has been holy from eternity to eternity. Only God has not engaged in that which is unrighteous and evil. The apostle Paul, speaking of the conduct of man states, "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). Though we have transgressed God's law, He calls us to holiness. In each of the texts mentioned from Leviticus, the Lord commands man to abstain from things that are sinful, and to engage in things that are righteous. If we do so, we will be holy. We can bring our conduct in accord with His will, and thus be holy; but it ought to be evident that His holiness always exceeds that of any other, as He is far above any other.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible