Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 19, 2009

Thought for the Week August 23, 2009

This week I asked the congregation to pray for deeper understanding and awareness of God’s holiness. I was thinking and praying about that myself and it occurred to me that if I want to better understand anything about God, I should begin my search in God’s Word. The Word is God’s self-disclosure wherein He describes for us everything that we need to know about Himself. He is very transparent in many ways and the Word has a lot to say about God and His holy nature. So I did a little checking.

Isaiah had a vision of God after king Uzziah died which invoked a strong reaction in him. In the vision he saw God on a throne and angels flying around the throne repeating to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Is. 6:3) Confronted by God’s holiness, Isaiah immediately responded with conviction and confession. Why was that? What do the angels mean by declaring God is holy over and over?

The word “holy” in Hebrew means “marked off” or “withdrawn from common use”, and conveys two aspects of God’s nature. The first relates to God’s uniqueness. God is totally separate and different from anything in creation. Moses and all Israel sang, “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious (or majestic) in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) God is not created and thus is profoundly different than any thing or creature. R.C. Sproul says that God’s holiness “refers to His transcendent majesty, His august superiority, by virtue of which He is worthy of our honor, reverence, adoration, and worship.” The very being of God is such as to provoke awe and fear.

This explains Isaiah’s reaction at the vision of God’s supreme majesty and holiness. Moses had a similar response when God’s voice came from the burning bush saying, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) Recognizing God’s holy presence he hid is face and was afraid to look upon God.

I wonder what our reaction should be in view of God’s holy uniqueness. Well, because Christians have received forgiveness for sin through the sacrifice of Jesus, we need not be self-condemning as Isaiah was. Our sin was dealt with on Calvary and Jesus said that He calls us friends. I don’t believe that this means we can simply be casual in our relationship with God. He is still above all things and people. His grace and love in no way diminish the emphasis on His holiness. The appropriate response, therefore, is reverence and worship. John wrote, “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.” (Rev. 15:4). The psalmist urges, “Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy… Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool—He is holy.” (Psalm 99:3, 5)

Worship, awe, and reverence all flow naturally when we fully understand the majestic nature of holiness. God is far above anything we can imagine. When we mention His name we are talking about someone so marvelous that the name even sounds different. Is this the way we treat our God? Do we worship in a manner worthy of One so magnificent? If not, perhaps we need to keep asking Him to help us really see Him as the holy person He is.

The other aspect of God’s nature which holiness conveys is what we think of most, God’s absolute purity and moral perfection. In other words He is totally apart from all that is common or profane, unclean or evil. The prophet Habakkuk said, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.” (Hab. 1:13) James tells us that God cannot be tempted with sin. So we understand that everything God does is right because He is right. His nature is holy.

The difficult part of this aspect of God’s holiness is that everything associated with God is and must be holy. The Bible talks about holy assemblies, holy sabbaths, holy thrones, holy mountains, holy days, holy priests, holy garments, holy places, etc. Most of all God’s people, those with whom He makes covenant, are set apart as holy to the Lord. In both the Old and New Testaments those who would walk with God are called “holy”. “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 7:6). “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.” (I Peter 2:9). The standard for moral character in God’s people has always been and remains the absolute purity and goodness of God; “You shall be holy; for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44, I Peter 1:16)

Yes, I said our sins have been judged and forgiven at Calvary, yet Jesus and those who wrote the epistles continually urge us to pursue holiness in character and conduct. Paul declared in II Corinthians 6 and 7, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” When the holy nature of a perfectly holy God has been imparted to those who follow Him, the result is that those people begin to reflect the same kind of nature. How could one who is the temple of the supremely holy, most splendidly pure Being in all the universe pursue and consistently practice conduct that is diametrically opposed to the nature of that Being?

Beloved, God’s holiness has much to say to us today. It is precisely because of His holiness that Jesus died on the cross to eliminate the stain of sin from those who believe. And because Jesus lived a holy life, He has given us everything that is needed to represent the same holiness from the inside out (see II Peter 1:3-4). When we get a glimpse of His majesty and truly revere Him with an attitude of continual worship, the character of holiness begins to radiate through our lives. I think this could have something to do with me being revived. What about you? Just a thought.

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