But one attribute of God which covers all the others is his holiness. In fact, Scripture describes God and his name as holy over 900 times. Actually, God can be said to be sovereign, just, merciful, gracious, loving, wrathful, etc. in his holiness. It is God’s holiness that defines him as God, and it is the first thing we think of when we consider his existence.
The Puritan writer, Thomas Watson, said of God’s holiness:
God is intrinsically holy. All he does is holy; he cannot act but like himself; he can no more do an unrighteous action than the sun can turn dark. He is the original and pattern of holiness. It began with him who is the Ancient of Days. God is perfectly, unalterably, and unchangeably holy.
In the Hebrew literature of the Old Testament, repetition was used to emphasize words and ideas. As we would capitalize a word or use bold print, the writers of the Old Testament repeated words and phrases. We often do something similar when we speak of good, better, and best. In Hebrew, repeating a word or phrase three times elevates it to the third degree, or the superlative. Interestingly, God’s holiness is the only attribute which is emphasized in this way in Scripture. The seraphim in Isaiah 6 declare that God is “Holy, Holy, Holy.” However, as important as they are, no other attributes are spoken of in this way. We never read that God is “Sovereign, Sovereign, Sovereign,” “Gracious, Gracious, Gracious,” or even “Love, Love, Love.” Only his holiness is thus highlighted and declared.