Meditating on God’s Holiness…
The Bible teaches us that God is holy. That means that God is morally perfect. He is perfect in goodness. He is always righteous and just. He always chooses to do what is right and best. He is excellent in virtue. He is perfect in character. He is flawless. He is worthy of all praise, worship and devotion.
God takes no pleasure in what is evil. To the contrary, He abhors evil and hates sin. God’s holy nature detests all people who impersonate sin and evil. It hates sinners and those who do evil and encourage others to do so. (Psalm 5:5-6, Psalm 11:6)
While God is perfect in holiness, man is totally the opposite. Just listen to the description of Romans 3:9-18:
9What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16in their paths are ruin and misery, 17and the way of peace they have not known.” 18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Man is unholy and defiled in character, motives and deeds.
Because God is holy and man is sinful, man’s sin separates him from God. Man can not approach God on his own accord. The Bible says that our sins even prevent our prayers from reaching God. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
Because of God’s holiness, sinful man would die if he would see God. Moses pleaded to see God’s face. God told him that no man can see God and live. (Exodus 33:20). After pleading with God, God made a way for him to briefly see God’s back. But in order not to die, God hid him in a cleft of the rock. God put His Hand over Moses while His glory passed by and only removed it after He had passed, so that Moses could only catch a glimpse of God’s back. (Exodus 33:21-23).
When God’s holiness is revealed to man, man sees His sin. Isaiah had a vision of God. He saw the Lord seated on His throne and heard the seraphim calling one to another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” The foundations of the threshold shook at the voice of him who called. (Isaiah 6:1,3 & 4)
Isaiah said “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)
After the Lord had done the miracle where Peter and his fellow fishermen had caught so much fish, it must have dawned on Peter that Jesus is God. Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees and said “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
The sad reality is that man’s heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Without the grace of God, man does not even see his sinful state. Man is conceited. At the best man can pretend to be holy. Even though he might be able to deceive himself and others into thinking that he is holy, God knows that man is evil, vile and abominable. The Bible says that our own righteousness is like filthy rags. That is why self-righteousness is so detestable to God.
If God is holy and man is so evil, how can man ever be reconciled with God and enter into God’s presence?
This is where the glorious gospel comes in. Today we know that the rock in which Moses was hidden, when he had a glimpse of God, symbolises Christ. It is only through Christ that man can approach God, see God and be accepted into His presence.
The Bible teaches us that our Lord Jesus Christ walked in perfect holiness and fellowship with God, the Father, from birth. On the cross, however, Christ took our sins and iniquity upon Himself. Therefore, God turned against Him and poured out His wrath, which we deserved for our sins, upon Him.
Christ bore the wrath and fury of God, so that we can be forgiven our sins and acquitted of all our guilt. (1 Corinthians 15:3, Isaiah 53:5, Ephesians 1:7)
On the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me”. (Matthew 27:46) He was forsaken by God, because of our sins which he bore, so that we can be accepted by God.
He became sin so that, in Him, we might become the righteousness of God. He became unholy and defiled so that we, by believing in Him, might become saints and be blameless in God’s sight. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He was rejected by God, so that we can be accepted by God and be adopted as sons and daughters of God. (Ephesians 1:5)
He bore our shame so that we no longer have anything to be ashamed of. (Isaiah 53:3)
He bore our sorrow so that we can have eternal joy. (Isaiah 53:4, Revelations 21:4)
When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are given a new heart and a new spirit. (John 1:10, Hebrews 8:10, Ezekiel 11:19-20) God works in us to will and to do what is pleasing to Him. (Philippians 2:8) We are transformed by God’s grace into Christ’s image. (Romans 8:29, Titus 2:11). We become God’s holy people. (1 Peter 2:9)
Oh, the beauty and splendour of the Gospel! It makes one cry for joy when one just thinks of what Christ has done for us. Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!
Tragically, however, so many people do not accept God’s gift of grace and holiness, which we receive freely, through faith in Christ Jesus. Instead they try to become acceptable to God by their own “good” works and religiosity. This so-called righteousness of man will never be acceptable to God. This will, heartrendingly, result in many people experiencing the eternal wrath and fury of God upon a sinful and wicked people. (Romans 1:18, Revelations 14:10-11, Revelations 20:11-15)
May God in His mercy reveal the mystery and the beauty of the Gospel to us. May we forsake our sin and self-rigteousness. May we in faith grasp hold of Christ’s holiness and righteousness, which is imputed to us as a gift, when we believe in Him.
Other Scripture references: Isaiah 53, John 3, John 6:28-29, John 7:37, John 8, Romans, Galatians, Colossians 1-2, Ephesians 1–3, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16, 2 Corinthians 3, 4, &5.