Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

The Holiness of God

Written by Rev. G. Procee
God reveals Himself to us in His Word as a holy God. In the Bible, God is more often referred to as holy than almighty. He more often reveals Himself as the holy One than the loving One. His holiness receives more emphasis in Scripture than His other attributes. The fact that God reveals Himself as Lord in an absolute sense shows that He is lofty, majestic and holy.
It is GodÕs Nature
Holiness comprises the very excellence of His divine nature. The LORD is glorious in holiness (Ex.15: 11). He is holy because the sum total of all moral excellence is found in Him. He is absolute purity, unsullied even by even the shadow of sin (A.W. Pink). The Puritan, Stephen Charnock, writes: ÒPower is GodÕs hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty.Ó The Puritans called GodÕs holiness the greatest of all His attributes. Scripture ascribes holiness to all GodÕs attributes. Psalm 103 speaks of His Name as is holy. Psalm 105 speaks of GodÕs holy promise and His holy Name (Psalm 33). Many times God is referred to as the Holy One. His arm is a holy arm (Psalm 98:1). His Name is terrible and holy (Psalm 99:3. Psalms 145:17). The LORD is holy in all His works. We also read of the beauty of holiness in Psalm 110:3.

GodÕs holiness is reflected in His church. The priests in the Old Testament were called holy and the people of God are called a holy congregation. The mountains where God revealed Himself are holy mountains and the Scriptures are holy Scriptures. Even the instruments used in the tabernacle were called holy. GodÕs law is holy and His commandments are holy, just, and good. (Rom.7: 12).

God Is Worshipped in Holiness
The angels in heaven are sinless and pure before God. Yet they are described for us as full of awe and utmost reverence towards God. These heavenly creatures cover their faces before Him and cry out to one another: ÒHoly, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his gloryÓ (Isa.6: 3).

If the angels in heaven stand before GodÕs holiness with deep awe and reverence, how infinitely more must we mortal creatures of the dust be filled with awe, fear and trembling before God. There is a real danger of neglecting the holiness of God. We are carnal and earthly-minded people. Therefore, by nature, we have low thoughts of God. Although we confess with our lips that God is almighty, holy and all-powerful, yet we think that God is as we are. We fail to realize the infinite majesty of a most awesome God. We think of God on our own level. The truth is that God is infinitely high above us. Revelation 15:4 states: ÒWho shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy.Ó

Yet it is precisely His holiness that gives the child of God delight in worshipping Him. GodÕs holiness causes God to be lovely in the sight of His people. We hear heaven singing without rest, day and night, saying, ÒHoly, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to comeÓ (Rev.4: 8).

Implications of GodÕs Holiness
In the first place, GodÕs holiness is a powerful argument for the divine inspiration of Scripture. No human being could ever have devised a God who was holy and pure in all His ways and works. Man cannot fabricate a God Who is perfect, sovereign and holy. No less could any human being imagine a place where all unholy people will be punished forever with hell fire. ÒBut the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second deathÓ (Rev.21: 8).

Likewise, no man could ever have imagined heaven as a place of purity, where not even the slightest sin can exist. Heaven is a place where man will fully focus on God and not on his own pleasure or desire for self-gratification. Heaven is a place where the redeemed will forever rejoice in the holiness of God (Rev.15: 4). No human being could ever have imagined such a place. The revelation of God's holiness shows us that Scripture is inspired.

Another implication of God's holiness is that He in no wise can have communion with sinners. GodÕs holiness calls for justice and righteousness. Can the holy God have dealings with corruption? God would deny Himself if He would place His mark of acceptance on that which is polluted and defiled. GodÕs holy law must be satisfied. God cannot have dealings with the sinner unless the sinner has made payment for sin. God's holiness and the fact that He offers salvation, shows the need for a Mediator; One Who is holy before God and Who can also confer His holiness upon sinners and at the same time remove their guilt and declension. GodÕs holiness points to the necessity of the Lord Jesus Christ as Mediator and Saviour.

An inference that follows from the fact that God is holy is that He hates all sin and iniquity. Therefore God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7). Many people have the impression that God will not punish their wickedness and that He overlooks sin. The majority of people expect to go to heaven, regardless. Pink writes: ÒThe god which the vast majority of professing Christians love, is looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who himself has no relish for folly, but leniently winks at the indiscretions of youth.Ó But the reality is that because God is holy, He hates sin and He will punish iniquity.

GodÕs Holiness and Our Lives
In the first place, GodÕs holiness should lead us to dread sin. God is pure light and in Him there is no impurity whatsoever. ÒThou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquityÓ (Hab.1: 13). Because God is holy, we should shrink back from sin and detest it. The reality is, however, that we easily give in to sin. Do we then, in deep humility, come before the Lord, pleading the finished work of Christ? Do we loathe ourselves because of sin? Do we have an earnest longing to be delivered from sin?

Or do we have little qualms about sin? Does the thought that God is too holy to behold iniquity, give us no concern? Do we allow our children to watch violence and crime and hear blasphemy through the media? Do we defile ourselves by watching what violates GodÕs commandments? Do we allow our eyes to behold vanity? Have we become greedy and covetous? Sin lies at the door. The result of a sloppy walk is that God will not have dealings with us. If we tolerate sin, the result is that the Holy Spirit is grieved and He will remove Himself from us.

Do we sense that God is withdrawing Himself from us? The evidence will be lack of delight in God and no pleasure in the God of the Scriptures. It may be that we have made our own god, one who is complacent and easy-going. Me may tell ourselves that this god will bring us to heaven. But we are deceiving ourselves. The God of Scripture is a holy God Who delights in holiness and heaven is a holy place. If we do not delight in holiness, what attraction does heaven really have for us? Without holiness no one shall see God.

When God withdraws Himself because of sin in your life, it doesnÕt necessarily mean that you stop coming to church. Often there still is church attendance and prayers are said. Bible reading may still take place and we may think all is well, whereas meanwhile the delight in the Lord has gone; the joy in the Lord is lacking. That is because there is no sense of the holiness of God. Religion becomes formal and sooner or later it becomes boring. Other matters fill the soul and carnal delights allure us. The soul now is in a state of serious declension, all because it is not realized that God is holy and cannot tolerate sin.

Another implication of God's holiness is that it behooves us to show the utmost respect and dignity in our worship of Him. The way we address God is not irrelevant. There ought to be a serious attempt in our prayers to address the Lord in a distinct and holy manner. There clearly is an authority crisis in our society. Parental authority is opposed and church authority is undermined. Students speak against their teachers and claim to have authority. ÒModern existentialism dissolves relationships and makes every person his own independent authorityÉ Liberty, equality, fraternity is the motto of the natural manÓ (David Broughton Knox).

This attitude has an impact on spiritual life as well. Man is always inclined to address God the same way he would address his neighbour. Man wants to bring God down to his own level. But God is holy. Therefore, you should revere God by your posture, your words and how you address the Holy One. Utmost reverence is called for in our approach to Him. ÒGod is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.Ó (Psalm 89:7).

The holiness of God should lead us to delight in Him and to love Him, precisely because He is holy. His holiness constitutes GodÕs beauty. In the life of a child of God there will be a strong desire for holiness. Sin and uncleanness will be a burden and there will be the longing to be renewed by the resurrection power of Christ. There will be the desire to dedicate oneÕs life to Christ. That desire will also constitute oneÕs delight in God. The fact that God is pure and sinless causes His children to love Him and to delight in Him. It is this purity that makes heaven attractive. There will be the life-long prayer: ÒUnite my heart to the fear of Thy Name.Ó Such people love the Lord Who has said: ÒBe ye holy, for I am holy.Ó

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