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The Holiness of God

Preached at Central Uniting 22/5/94

by John Edmiston

Introduction

Tonight's topic is "The Holiness of God". There are three points I wish to make by way of introduction: Firstly the holiness of God means He has something to offer us. If God was as sinful and worldly and powerless as you and I he would have very little to offer us. If God is just a nice old chap perched on a cloud then He is useless. But if our God is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, pure, holy, sinless, eternal, full of life and glory and willing to bestow His love and power and purity on us -then that is good news.

Secondly, having a holy God means we have something to offer. God calls us to be holy as He is holy, as we progress in holiness we have more and more to offer the world. The worldly person has little to offer but the godly person enriches this world.

Thirdly, holiness means we have something glorious to aim for. Many Christians forget this. Many Christians dream about holiness and never aim at it. They get nothing because they purpose at nothing. However if you aim at holiness you will have a divine and godly purpose that will take you places - you cannot achieve nothing.

The Call To Holiness Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

God is holy and calls us to be holy, we shall look at how God is holy and how we must respond. In this vision God is proclaimed as holy by the living creatures of the heavenly courts. God lives in glory and splendor and power and majesty and is utterly beyond us in every way. And this is a good thing. Since we have a God who is greater than time , we have a God who can control the future and can assure our hearts. He knew and planned our days before we were born. Because we have an awesome God of great purity, and sin cannot approach His presence, then we are confident of His utter goodness, His complete lack of perversity and His utter truthfulness.

Because He is different to us we can know that every prophecy from Him will come true, every promise will be fulfilled, every righteous person vindicated, every wrong action punished. I do not want a God as weak as me. I want to serve the Holy God, the maker of Heaven and Earth, whose throne is Heaven, whose footstool is the Earth. God is separate from sin and utterly different from us. He calls all who follow Him to also be separate from sin and different from the world around them.

In Leviticus 19:1... the trumpet call goes out "Be ye holy, for I am holy says the Lord". Now we do not possess God's glory or omnipotence or total holiness of being, we cannot be as holy as God, but we can be holy to some extent. We can pursue holiness and fear of the Lord, we can deliberately subdue the flesh, separate ourselves from sin and unworthiness, and pursue that which is good.

The Corinthian church was riddled with people who used liberty as an excuse for unedifying behavior. Their motto was "All things are permissible..." they tried to believe in grace without discipline. Grace is good, but for grace to bear fruit it must do so in a dedicated disciplined heart that separates itself from all that is unworthy in order to pursue God with a single mind and heart and will. One area that was destroying the church was going along with unbelievers in all sorts of activities. Like today the Corinthians did not sense the spiritual powers behind "the world" but saw it as neutral and harmless.

Paul calls them to holy separation in 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

God is calling you to separate yourself from everything that contaminates body and spirit . Now you and I know that Playboy magazines and pornographic videos contaminate the spirit, but what about some R-rated ones such as Basic Instinct, and what about so called educational ones like Forum? And what about the gossip rags like New Idea which defile the spirit by promoting gossip, backbiting, envy and materialism. Everything means everything....., do not voluntarily allow contaminating material to enter your spirit or your home; keep your bodies pure for the Lord ; and do not make alliances with the world.

Holy Pilgrims In An Empty World

We are called to "perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." the concept of reverent fear of God has gone out the window. God is love after all, how can we fear love?? But God's love is a jealous love and He desires us for Himself. He says in Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. God's holiness means we must respect his demands for loyalty and ownership. He made you, every part of you, therefore every part of you should obey His commandments. Your mouth should speak wisdom, your body should be free from sexual sin, your hands should do the work God gives you to do.

1 Peter 1:15-21 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Peter gives us three good reasons for living in reverent fear: 1. God is holy 2. God is impartial 3. Our redemption was not by silver or gold, but by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and deserves a reverent response.

He adds a few more reasons to stop people thinking of the attractions of this world,; Firstly their former traditions were useless, they were man made snares that never led anyone to God but sent many to Hell. Secondly we are strangers here - we don't belong on planet Earth, we are pilgrims. As the Negro spiritual says "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through.." Holiness means we are single-minded , redeemed pilgrims passing through a world of useless and empty traditions focused on the day we stand before the judgment seat of God for His approval, remembering the one who has bought us, taking on the holiness of our holy God.

I can see a huge line of Christians at the gate of heaven and the record-keeping angel, the watchers of heaven call out "Joanne Bloggs, watched 30,000 hrs of soap operas, saw 1 million acts of violence, became a Christian at the age of 18, led her sister to Christ 10 days later, accomplished nothing else." Another would call out "Joe Bloggs watched 50,000 hrs of sport and news, saw 2 million acts of violence, became a Christian at the age of 15, gave regularly, did nothing else.." would it not be better to hear "Peter Bloggs, spent 50,000hrs reading the Scriptures, prayed for 10,000 people, saw 50 people become Christians, loved God and man, did much for His kingdom, enter into your rest..."

Holiness and The Ten Commandments

We cannot finish a sermon on holiness without touching on the ten commandments. Except for the command on the Sabbath they are all re-stated in the New Testament. They are God's fair and just standards for judging our lives. We need such a standard. If you go to England or New Zealand and see lovely white sheep on green hills you think - how white that sheep is, but then suppose it snows, you think how grubby that sheep is, its not really white at all. It is the same sheep - just a different background. Against the background of humanity our sins are camouflaged, but against the background of God's law they stand out as clear as black on white.

The book of Hebrews says " we are destined to die once, and after that face judgment'' (Heb 9:27). God is fair, He has revealed His holy standards in the ten commandments, written them into the law codes of every country, burned them into every conscience. We cannot steal without offending against Scripture, against conscience and against the law of the land. God's ten commandments are not unfair or unreasonable. No one is advantaged by them or disadvantaged by them, men and women , rich and poor all are under them and all can fulfil them. Yet what is the result - we break them all!!! Who has not schemed or manipulated to get what their neighbor has -that is coveting, who has not stolen at some time; that makes you a thief, who has not gossiped about someone things that were later untrue - that makes you a false witness; who has not lusted - which makes you an adulterer in the heart; who has not been angry without just cause - Jesus says that he who is angry with his brother without cause commits murder in his heart; who has not been disrespectful to their parents, who has not used the name of God in vain, as a swear word, the same as any four letter word; who has not made God according to their own mental or physical image; said that God is a force or God is the love inside us or that God is a statue or a creature; finally who has loved God with all their heart and mind and strength so that all other things have faded into nothingness, so that the love for family or friends or one's own life seems as hatred compared to the way we love God.

They are God's commandments, that is how we will be judged on judgment day by a holy God. But God in His infinite love and mercy has offered us a way out from eternal hell-fire and that way out is accepting Jesus as Lord of your life. You may think you have lived a good life compared to other people. Compared to man's standards you are OK, compared to God's holy standards you and I are abysmal failures, we are sinners, we will end up on a one-way trip to eternal damnation in Hell unless we accept God's offer of friendship and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

The Cross - Holiness and Mercy

What then is the way out? How can we deal with such a Holy God? A God who never compromises? A God who is passionate about righteousness? A God we have offended against in all points? To be frank - we do not stand a chance. Justice demands that the Source of our Life condemn us. Justice demands that He who is eternal punish us for eternity. Justice demands that our outrageous rebellion against the holy be put down forever. "But God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners - Christ died for us!" (Romans 5:8). In the Cross Jesus took all the punishment for all our sins forever.

It was as if all our sins had been written in a book, a thick book for most of us. This book stood as a barrier between us and God. Christ removed that. Colossians says that He "nailed it to the cross". (Colossians 2:14 NKJV)"...having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." There is now no "book of sins" between the believer and God. Christ has set us free. God is Holy - Christ took His wrath - for those who believe. Christ has become our shelter from the red hot wrath of a holy God.

Some of you are not yet Christians, some of you are backslidden and compromised believers, others of you are just feeling a need to concentrate on holiness again. There are three prayers following. Choose one and dedicate yourself to God anew.

Prayer for people to become Christians " Dear God, I want to become a Christian and live a holy life, and obey your commandments. I realize I have not obeyed you and I am sorry. I thank you that Jesus took the penalty for my sins on the cross. I now ask you into my life to make it new and to take control."

Prayer for people to renew their Christian walk." Father I have made a mess of my Christian life and I want to quit sinning and come back to you. I know I cannot live a holy life in my own strength. I commit myself to being holy in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit".

Prayer for commitment to holiness; "Lord I have realized I need to be holy. I realize that I cannot be content to be "just average" and luke warm or just like others. Instead Lord I want to be just like you. I commit myself to the pursuit of holiness with all my heart and soul and strength. I know I cannot do it alone so please Lord fill me with your Spirit and make me holy now.


This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.