Sep 18, 2017
The Holiness of God “W ho is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exodus 15:11 “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:16 “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” 1 Samuel 6:20 Holiness defined: No simple definition could ever do justice. As God is infinitely and incomprehensibly exalted above his creation, his absolute perfect moral purity makes him totally separate and necessarily “other” than all of his creation and separates him from all sin. He is untainted by even the shadow of sin (1 John 1:5), he has utter purity of will, and he immutably and perfectly loves good and hates evil. "The holiness of His nature is the foundation of all His will, purpose and decrees. Holiness is the sum and beauty of God's moral attribute; no other attribute is truly lovely without this, and no otherwise than it derives its loveliness from this.” (J. Edwards ) “Without holiness, his patience would be an indulgence to sin, his mercy simply a fondness, his wrath a madness, his power a tyranny, his wisdom an unworthy subtilty.” (E. Leigh) "Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty." (S. Charnock) God’s Holiness Revealed God’s holiness is manifested in his works : "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Ps. 145:17). Nothing but that which is excellent can proceed from Him. Holiness is the rule of all His actions. Creation : Man was created in holiness (Ecc 7:29), angels were created holy (Jude 6), even Satan (Ezek 28:15). Special revelation : We call God’s word, The Holy Bible. (Psalm 12:6) In God’s holy law (Rom 7:12, Ps 19: 8-9), holiness is shown forth with his perfect rules against every manifestation of sin in thought, word, and deed. His holy gospel shows forth how sinners can be reconciled to Holy God. Hatred of sin: Every sin is cosmic treason that deserves the wrath and curse of God. God’s holiness demands the judgment and the eternal punishment of the wicked. (Ex 15:11, Rev 16:5, Nah 1:2) Sinners, thus, cannot approach God without atoning sacrifice. (Lev 17:11, Heb 9) God cannot be the Holy One and not punish sin. (Jer 44:4, Ex 34:6-7) God can thus never be appeased by our efforts in any sense. (Isa 64:6, Gal 3:10) Atonement : God’s abhorrence of sin is seen most clearly here. God has often forgiven sinners, but He never forgives sin; and the sinner is only forgiven on the ground of Another having borne his punishment; for "without shedding of blood is no remission." (Heb. 9:22) Sanctification : God’s saves his people unto consecration and holiness. (Lev 20:26, Psalm 111:9, Ez 29:5, 1 Peter 1:16) The Holiness of God as Seen by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-8) Isaiah was called to be a prophet the year King Uzziah died. In this vacancy of kingship in Israel, he was given a vision of adonia the Supreme Sovereign one; that is Jesus (John 12:41), the True King, seated on his throne in all of his glory. The pattern in scripture is that the more righteous a man, when he comes into God’s presence, the more he will tremble. This righteous man, the chosen prophet of God, is completely undone in the presence of God! As our speech is the overflow of our heart, so Isaiah condemns himself as being unclean (and all of the people) with an oracle of doom. All feigned illusions of our own righteousness quickly are disintegrated when in the presence of true holiness. The Holiness of God as Seen in Jesus (Heb 1:3) Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4: 35-41) and yet the disciples leave even more frightened. And they were filled with great fear and said to one another , “Who then is this , that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Jesus and the miraculous catch (Luke 5:1-8) But when Simon Peter saw it , he fell down at Jesus' knees , saying , “Depart from me , for I am a sinful man , O Lord.” When Christ revealed glimpses of his transcendent holiness, the reaction is the same. True light exposes darkness. This is why the Pharisees hated Jesus. They knew of Christ’s holiness and saw it as the threat it was. (John 3:2) This is why the demons feared Jesus even when the world didn’t yet know who he was, they had once experienced his terrible holiness. (Mark 1:24) The Holiness of God as Seen in His Justice and Wrath (1 Cor 10:11) Leviticus 10:1-4 Nadab and Abihu presumed to bring innovation to the worship of God and they were executed. Was this an unjust act? As members of the priesthood, they were charged with protection the holiness of God, yet they desecrated it. 2 Samuel 6:3-8 Uzzah’s profane hands besmirched the holiness of God represented by the Ark. Does this seem harsh? He was trying to keep the ark from falling into the dirt, why did God execute him on the spot? Uzzah’s execution was not unjust, he didn’t follow God’s holy rules. Presumption of God’s forbearance in judgment can lead to these stories to be shocking, causing to some to question whether or not God was just in these situations. That question in itself shows how far we don’t understand God’s holiness. His forbearance in mercy is to give us time to repent! (Rom 2:4) First we take mercy for granted, then we assume it, and finally we demand it. The reality is that we should be astounded at his mercy and grace! The Holiness of God as Seen in the Cross Matthew 27:46 Psalm 22:1-3 “Justice gave the stroke, but holiness demanded it.” (Charnock) More than any other narrative in the scriptures, the cross of Jesus shows forth the holiness of God. At the cross is where we see displayed all the attributes of God coming together in perfection. The culmination of his holiness, wrath, justice and his love, mercy, and grace meet in the gospel. Because God is holy perfection and his nature is that he cannot be in the presence of sin, yet, he chose to love sinners for eternity, so the father elected his people, Jesus commissioned by the father took on flesh in perfect obedience that he might shed his own blood to cleanse and cover the sins of the world. Sinners now, who would ultimately and immediately perish apart from God’s grace, can now come near! His absolute holiness is why the gospel is the only way to redeem sinners. If there was any other, would God have given his only Son? (Heb 7:26) Outside of Christ, God’s essential holiness would destroy us, but in Christ we can and will love and adore his holiness for eternity! The Holiness of God Applied 1. A consciousness of God’s holiness is inseparable from a proper view of sin. (Isa 57:15) 2. We must both apprehend the distance of God from us in ourselves, but also experience the nearness that faith in Christ brings. (Ps 25:14) 3. Personal holiness is not optional for the Christian (Heb 12:14). But, as all holiness is derivative from the Lord, who is the source of holiness, we are made holy by abiding in him. Be quick to be in the way of grace. 4. We must live now in separation from sin and the world and in consecration to God. We must maintain our status as pilgrims and strangers on this earth with citizenship in heaven. (Phil 3:20) 5. Personal holiness demands total consecration. (1 Cor 7:1) We must walk in holiness in whatever we do. (1 Tim 4:4-5) “Holiness must be stamped on foreheads” The entire lives of Christians must be an exercise in piety. (2 Cor 6:4) We must live Godward lives. We will join the angels in heaven in adoration of God in his holiness, so we should seek to begin here on earth. Our worship must display his Holy character and must be regulated by his word. (Heb 12:28-29) 6. Begin with the Holy character of God in evangelism. A failure to see the dire predicament of sinners apart from Christ, will necessarily lead to lack of understanding of the need for repentance and belief in Christ. 7. Beholding the holiness of God is the path to true humility which ultimately leads to exaltation and blessedness forever through the gospel. (James 4:10, Matt 5:3-6) *** Thanks to Charnock, Pink, Calvin, Jones, Sproul, Watson, Beeke, Bavinck and others for their help.