Introduction: Profiling God
The last few weeks we have been profiling the most important and fascinating person of all, God! We trust that our profile is correct because it is based on God’s own self-revelation, his Word. Thus far, we have discovered that God is a knowable eternal Person that seeks to be in relationship with us. We have also seen that he is the only person with omni attributes, i.e., omnipotent, omniscience, and omnipresent and therefore is trustworthy in all he promises. As we continue our “God” series let’s explore what I believe is one of the most neglected aspects of who he is.
God Is Holy
Listen to just a few of the plethora of Scriptures that talk about the core character of God
Isaiah 6:3 The seraphs were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Exodus 15:11 “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
I Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one beside you.”
God is holy and holiness is the most obvious dimension of his character. When the Bible says God is holy it means he is the absolute standard of purity and goodness. Holiness is the foundation of who he is, what he thinks, does, and feels. Holiness is the basis of his commandments, laws, goodness, justice, judgements, wrath, and punishments. God’s holiness is the source of everything that is right and righteous, pure and sacred. It is the basis of unchanging morality and spirituality in the universe. It is how we know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. Holiness is reason #1 he sent his Son to the Cross. Because of his holiness, God has never had a sinful thought, an impure motivation, or a misguided action. Holiness undergirds, motivates, and guides his love. God’s love is holy love, not sentimental or emotional. Holiness is what separates God from what he has created and sinners from his glory. It is the very thing that makes him unapproachable as people like Moses, Isaiah and Paul quickly found out. God is transcendent in his holiness. Holiness is the radical difference between God and the false gods of human heart and history. God’s holiness is the restraint and bulwark against evil. It is the singular rebuke against situational ethics and moral relativity. Nothing convicts the unholy more than the holiness of God. It dispels the darkness and dispenses the light. It is synonymous with his name, fame, and glory. It is simultaneously his most compelling and repelling feature. We know nothing about God apart from the holiness of God. On God holiness RC Sproul writes
The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
You say, “OK” I get it. God’s is “Holier than thou, me, and everyone else but what does all of his holiness have to do me now? Short Answer? We have to become holy like God is holy. Anyone want to say “Holy Moley?” or “Holy Cheese and Crackers?” It’s true that out of God’s sheer holiness comes the most transformative and audacious of his commands. In I Peter 1:6 (Leviticus 19:2) God says
“Be holy, because I am holy.”
If you have kids or grandkids you are used to the infinite regress question. You know, when the kiddies want to avoid doing something the keep saying “Because Why” ad nauseam and in rapid succession until they wear you down or you want to sell them off for a herd of turtles. Why are God’s people to be holy? Because God is. There’s no better or higher reason! And this demand for holiness is not for just one hour on Sunday, weekly activities at the church, or when doing our daily devotions. It is for all that we do and say wherever we are. I Peter 1:15 tells us
Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.
Holiness Is Health
In conjunction with I Peter 1:15, Hebrews 12:14 bluntly tells us to “pursue holiness.” Three reason we need to pursue holiness other than God is holy and expects us to do so. The first is that holiness is health, soul health. After his unholy affair with Bathsheba, David lamented in Psalm 32:3-4
3 My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
I have been in ministry since Jesus led the youth group and as such, have counseled hundreds of couples. Some of these relationships, unfortunately, were being imperiled by infidelity. Honestly, not in one of these situations did the offending spouse say, “That was great, can’t wait to do it again.” Nope, just the opposite: remorse, sorrow, guilt, and pain. Unholy acts poison the soul much like cancer poisons the body. Morality, based on God’s holiness, and revealed in his Word, brings health to the soul according to Psalm 19:7
The law of the LORD is perfect reviving the soul.
Do all your morality in pursuit of God’s holiness and you will enjoy the healthiest and strongest soul of all.
Holiness is Happiness
Not only is holiness health but it is also happiness. I hear it all the time, “Jesus didn’t die to make us happy but to make us holy.” It’s true that Jesus died to make us holy but I don’t see a dichotomy between holiness and happiness. Why? If unholy thoughts and actions pull us away from God then holy thoughts and actions draw us closer to him. And if God is the source of all ultimate and unbroken happiness then the closer we are to him the happier we will be (Psalm 16:11). In “Only the Good Die Young” theologian Billy Joel got it dead wrong when he said
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners have much more fun.
Truth be told, sinners do most of the crying and saints do most of the laughing. And the saints will have the last laugh because of our third reason to pursue holiness.
Holiness is Heaven
Holiness is heaven. Listen to the back half of our Hebrews 12:14 passage
Pursue holiness without which no one will see God.
You might object, “Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute.” “I’m not getting into heaven unless I pursue holiness?” Right, you won’t. Heaven if for the holy! However, this aspect of holiness is not speaking of attaining sinless perfection. If it were, no one would ever get into heaven. This “won’t see God” warning is tied to Jesus’ Beatitude of Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
This dimension of holiness speaks of being set apart for God and being fully and faithfully devoted to him. Are we?
John Wesley, an original member of the Oxford Holiness Club, said that our first task is to pursue holiness of heart and life. We do so because God is holy and by pursuing holiness we will lead healthier, happier, and heavenly lives. Let’s do it.