When we don’t get holiness right…

Last evening, I taught our church briefly on the ever important topic, the holiness of God. The result was typical; I was deeply convicted during my preparation time.

Good definitions of holiness:

  • Wayne Grudem describes holiness as God’s being “separated from sin and devoted to seeking His own honor.”
  • “The essence of our God’s holiness,” writes Bryan Chapell, “is that He is wholly other. He is separate from anything that could sully His glory or diminish His perfection. He is majestic, elevated, high and lifted up. He is not entangled by His creature’s failures. He is not tainted by earth’s stain. He is pure.”
  • R.C. Sproul maintains regarding holiness, “At times it points toward pure, at other times it points toward separate and at other times it points toward transcendent.”

I believe that there are some serious ramifications in our personal spiritual lives as well as in our corporate spiritual lives when we fail to get the holiness of God right.

  • If we don’t get the holiness of God right, we are committing idolatry. At a certain level, we have all committed idolatry. Each time we sin, we fail to think rightly about God and thus end up worshipping a creature of our own creation instead of the true God who created us. If we miss the fact that God is altogether separated from sin, we cannot possibly be worshippers of the true God at any level.
  • If we don’t get the holiness of God right, the amazement of His love, mercy, and grace will fade into regular, ordinary, common-place cliches that are stripped of their spiritual power. God’s love is amazing precisely because it is undeserved. His mercy captivates us because the judgment we deserve has been withheld. His grace overwhelms hearts because by it we are granted what is undeserved and could never be earned. When holiness is ignored, minimized, or even inaccurately conceived, then in our estimation love becomes deserved, mercy a misnomer, and grace expected.
  • If we don’t get the holiness of God right, we will never see the seriousness of sin nor will we be able to understand the target that we pursue, holiness as God is holy. Isaiah had to see the Lord in all his splendor, grandeur, glory, and holiness before he could respond, “Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips…” (Isaiah 6). If we don’t grasp the holiness of God, then we will lose sight of what He expects of us (1 Peter 1:13-16). If we are not careful, instead of seeking to measure up to the holiness of God, we will content ourselves with measuring up to others in our Christian communities or perhaps even comparing ourselves with our unregenerate neighbors.
  • If we don’t get the holiness of God right, we will not be able to worship with the right heart attitude. We cannot possibly have the proper gratitude for our salvation, if we miss God’s holiness, and then we cannot possibly worship Him with a heart overwhelmed from that salvation and overwhelmed with the majesty of His person.

Hebrews 12:4 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

  1. #1 by Cliff Richardson on February 23, 2011 - 6:12 am

    Excellent and well done. Too often I think we simply forget to thank God for saving us, to show good old fashioned gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice. I was talking to a young gentlemen yesterday who thought Christianity was too restrictive and we should “get a life.” I explained to him that as Christians we don’t do certain things not because we are strict but because we want to please God.

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