Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Psalm 98:12 KJV
When we rejoice, we are purposeful about calling to mind the many benefits of our heavenly Father. This psalm specifically tells us to give thanks and remember His holiness.
I think we all know holy as meaning sanctified or set apart, some equate it to clean living (clean living is the fruit borne of being holy) but I want to focus on the idea of holy being different. God is holy because he is different. He is not a man that He should lie. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours. His love is never failing. His mercy is new every day. He is just different from our limited human nature.
I found an interesting word study on Holy from the Discovery Bible ‘Helps’ that follows;
From the Old Testament ~ 24d (SN 6944) qodesh – properly, what stands apart – "differentness" (apartness), holiness; preeminently used of God's Essence which is inviolably holy; what is set apart, utterly distinct from "common" (profane).
The root supremely refers to God's eternal character which is "absolutely distinct" (other) – separating "the inviolability of the spheres of the sacred versus the profane"
From the New Testament ~ 40 hágios – properly, different ("unlike"), other ("otherness"), holy; in relation to believers, 40 (hágios) refers to "likeness of nature with the Lord," i.e. they are also "different from the world."
The fundamental meaning of 40 (hágios) is "different" so a temple in the 1st century was called hagios ("holy") – because different from other buildings (Wm. Barclay). In the NT, 40/hágios ("holy") has the "technical" meaning "different from the world" because "like the Lord."
It is by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. If we call evil as God does, then we place upon ourselves a demand to live out of righteousness and holiness. Righteous because it is right and holy because it is different from the world.
Peter wrote in his first epistle, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As partakers of His divine nature we are called to be different, in the world - but not of it.
Called to be different looks differently and holds different standards, different values, different character and always different from those seen in the world.
I love the picture Jesus gives us of being and mixing with the world yet never becoming worldly. He lived with his disciples He fellowshipped with his Father and He impacted the world with His life because He was different from them all. They had never heard a word such as His. They had never seen the works He had done or the way that He did them.
John Wesley is quoted as saying, "The first priority of my life is to be holy..”
C. S. Lewis said, "Sainthood lies in the habit of referring the smallest actions to God.”
When we realize that God has a thought about everything and we consider His thoughts above ours, we find ourselves adapting to His ways of being and doing. It is always different from our carnal nature but it is the only way to express His Holiness.
AND we can do this because we have been given the HOLY Spirit who helps us in all our weaknesses.