The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

Finally, my first book from R.C. Sproul. The Holiness of God is one of Sproul’s classics. After reading the book, I began to have a profound understanding and a high view of God’s holiness and justice.


The book has 11 chapters that span in 250+ pages, all loaded with expositions, illustrations, and sometimes personal stories from Sproul’s life. At every end of the chapter, there is a section called Allowing God’s Holiness to Affect Our Lives. It has a set of questions that encourage reflection, application, and discussion. I find this feature helpful to readers.

What I like most about this book is that I often find Sproul doing expositions of various passages from the Bible. In Chapter 2, entitled Holy, Holy, Holy, he does a weighty exposition of Isaiah 6:1-8. From the word “Lord” printed in the text to the seraphim’s two pairs of wings that cover their faces and feet, from the seraphim’s chant “Holy, Holy, Holy” to Isaiah’s woe to himself, he does careful explanations.

In chapter 3, Sproul finally defines the word “holy” (but he wishes to postpone it further). I initially thought that it means pure or separate. True, but Sproul goes further. He uses the word transcendent, meaning “exceeding usual limits.” Then he writes, “When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be the “other,” to be different in a special way.”1

In chapter 6, Sproul makes a compelling case for God’s justice. He looks at some Old Testament passages and explains the swift, sudden, and seemingly unjust punishment on Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, and Uzzah. By the end of the chapter, I was convinced about the reality of God’s justice.

Since he is dealing with the holiness of God, I know that Sproul will inevitably find himself discussing the doctrine of sanctification. And I’m right. In chapter 8, which is rightly titled Be Holy Because I Am Holy, he does this. In relating justification with sanctification, he writes, “True faith always produces real conformity to Christ. If justification happens to us, then sanctification will surely follow. If there is no sanctification, it means that there never was any justification.”2

Sproul is known for teaching reformed theology, and so I waited for this to show. And in one chapter, his reformed theology is seen when he quotes from the Westminster Catechism.3

I’m afraid that most Christians, even the sincere ones, have an inaccurate or inadequate knowledge of God’s holiness. And this will ultimately show in their lives. Sproul notes, “How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives. It affects far more than what we normally call the “religious” aspect of our lives…His holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance—everything with which we are involved.”4

The Holiness of God is a must-read for every Christian. This will give readers a Bible-informed view of the God’s holiness. I highly recommend the book to you.


1R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1998), 46-47.
2Sproul, The Holiness of God, 202.
3Sproul, The Holiness of God, 192.
4Sproul, The Holiness of God, 16.

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~ by Enzo Cortes on March 16, 2011.

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