Our God is a holy God. Holier than you have ever imagined.
The God of scripture is defined by His holiness. His love is a holy love. His mercy is a holy mercy. His justice is a holy justice. His righteousness is a holy righteousness. Where He stands is holy ground. He dwells on His holy mountain and is worshipped in His holy temple. His name is holy. His law is holy, and those who are his followers are a holy nation. All His works and all His words and all His ways are holy. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God almighty, who was and is and is to come (Rev. 4:8).
The Puritan writer Thomas Watson says “Holiness is the sparkling jewel in [God’s] crown, the name by which he is known.”
The word “holy” appears in the bible nearly 600 times, more than any other characteristic or attribute of God. It is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times for emphasis. It is the theme of the song the angles sing around His throne in Isaiah’s vision and in John’s apocalypse.
You may have always thought of God first and foremost as a loving God. While God’s love, His grace and His mercy are seen clearly and powerfully in scripture, they flow from His holiness. He is referred to in scripture as The Holy One more than 50 times. Nowhere is he called The Loving One. His Spirit is His Holy Spirit, not His Loving Spirit. His word, His temple and all the elements set apart for worship, His mountain, His priests, His people, His angels, the ground on which He stands – all of these things are said to be holy.
Pastor John Piper observes that at one level, the word holy is a synonym for God. They mean the same thing. Piper writes “God… is not holy because he keeps the rules. He wrote the rules! God is not holy because he keeps the law. The law is holy because it reveals God. God is absolute. Everything else is derivative.”
I believe that when we begin to get a glimpse of just how pure, righteous and holy God really is, it will begin to revolutionize our relationship with Him in at least three ways.
1. It will keep you from worshipping an idol. John Calvin has said that the human heart is an idol factory. We all have a tendency to want to reduce God down to a more manageable deity.
A fundamental question we must all answer is whether we’re only going to worship the kind of god we like, or whether we’re going to worship the God who is – the Holy One of Israel. Understanding God’s holiness will help keep you away from idolatry.
2. It will lead you to a deeper level of worship for God. Puritan writer Steven Charnock said “Without a due sense of [God’s holiness], we can never exalt God in our heart.” The more we become familiar with the holiness of God, the more awestruck we are by his glory. The regenerate heart responds to a clearer understanding of who God is by worshipping Him.
When we begin to understand the holiness of God, we begin to see the God we thought we knew in a whole new way. When we do, we can’t help but respond with worship.
3. It will lead you to live a holy life. At least seven times in the bible, we are commanded to be holy because God is holy. That means that we are to be set apart for God’s service and that our lives should reflect godly character and His standard of righteousness. When the apostle Paul tells us to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1), he follows the statement by reminding the church at Ephesus that “among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Eph. 5:3-5).
No man can be holy apart from Christ. He is the source of our holiness. JC Ryle, in his sermon on holiness said “There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ… Holiness comes not of blood – parents cannot give it to their children: nor yet of the will of man – ministers cannot give it you by baptism. Holiness comes from Christ. It is the result of vital union with Him. It is the fruit of being a living branch of the True Vine.”
You will know that you have begun to grasp the idea of the holiness of God when you find yourself driven to your knees in humility, in reverence, in worship, in awe and in fear. And when that happens, you will have only begun to scratch the surface.
Have you bought the ingredients for making chili (or cornbread) yet?
This Sunday is going to be special. At the end of our worship service, we’ll be hearing testimonies from a number of people who are coming forward to be baptized. And we’ll celebrate the event with a potluck Chili and Cornbread lunch.
Please be in prayer for the event and for the people who are being baptized. It’s going to be a very special event!
Couples, don’t forget the date night opportunity you and your spouse have this Friday night. Find another couple to join you, and together invest in your marriages!
Trunk or Treat time is just a few weeks away! Mark your calendar now for Saturday night, October 28.
We’d love to have you host one of the trunks. Interested? Let Jen Gurney know.
Or how about helping provide some of the candy we’ll be giving away. Here’s in info:
What lessons might Simba from The Lion King have learned if he had studied the book of Jude? We’ll see this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!