Attributes of God: Holiness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 31, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the attributes of God that is known but very infrequently mentioned is that God is holy. There are a number of attributes that we really don’t understand and cannot fully comprehend. Many make the mistake of thinking, “I can’t fully grasp this, so I am going to give up and not even try it.” Others make the mistake of thinking, “I can’t understand this, so I am going to pretend it does not play a factor into things.” The logic on both of these directions is really weak. We are never going to fully grasp everything there is to know about math or science, so should we abandon trying to get even some of it, or pretend it doesn’t exist at all? What about studying history or military techniques, or English, or a sport? No matter what it is, you simply are not going to really master everything about a particular topic. But that does not mean we should not try.

Holiness is a topic that can be confusing. The word “holy” means “to separate” often for a particular purpose or for a particular reason. Holiness is not common. It is not average. God stands out. Just two examples of this are in regard to the Hebrew people: in Exodus 19:6, where God formally separated them out from all other nations to be the means through which God would bring his message of salvation to all peoples, and in Exodus 20:8, talking about the Sabbath Day of rest, a day separate from the rest of the week to rest and to refocus on the Lord. There are many more examples and I will keep emphasizing that entire books can be written about each of these attributes, what they mean, and how they apply.

There is another picture of holiness and that is one of purity. But this is a different kind of purity. Many of us know what it is like to have a clean room, a clean shirt, a clean desk, etc. How long does it take for that room, shirt, desk, etc to get dirty? Not long. It takes no time at all for that which is clean to get dirty and messy and needing cleaning again. We have that same problem with sin. We initially started out pure and clean (referring to Adam and Eve), but then sin corrupted us. It stains us. We all have experienced that shirt or object we like that gets a stain on it that never goes away. Sin has that effect. Scripture tells us our sin is like scarlet. Scarlet is a deep red color and often describe as a dye or a stain. Something that is scarlet is not easily, if at all, washed clean.

But this is where God’s holiness comes into play. Scripture does describe God as holy, but it also describes him as “holy, holy, holy.” That’s not mere emphasis. That is a whole different meaning. Something that is holy can be pure but it can also be tainted. Something (or someone) that is “holy, holy, holy” not only is pure and clean, but anything that touches it is made clean. It’s the reverse effect. There is nothing that can taint or stain something that is “holy, holy, holy.” The thing that does the tainting or the staining is itself cleaned and purified.

There is an amazing fact about this and a terrifying fact about this. The amazing fact is the blood of Christ washes us white as snow. What Jesus did on the cross covers us and cleanses us. In physics, you can do some neat things with light. Check this out on your own. Take a red object and then look at that red object through a red lens. When you do that, that object will appear white. This is an image that agrees with Isaiah as he says “though our sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” This is an amazing fact.

But there is a terrifying fact as well. What about those who are not covered by the blood of Christ? God’s holiness will purge that which is evil. And if we are still identified in our sin, just being in the presence of God will not just take out our sin, but us out with it. God’s holiness is so great, so pure, so perfect that sin cannot dwell in his presence. Yes, we have this idea that God cannot dwell with sin, but that idea indicates that God has a weakness. That is like saying Superman cannot be in the presence of kryptonite. It is really that sin that cannot handle being around God.

This is important to understand. I wrote about God’s love two weeks ago. Yes, God loves us so much that he died for our sin, but think about it. Why could not God simply forgive us? It is because his holiness would annihilate us if he did not deal with it. He had to punish the sin without destroying the sinner. God is just as I described last week. He must punish sin. And unless we are separated from our sin from God’s eyes, we won’t be able to spend eternity with him without being destroyed ourselves. God could not simply “forgive us” and let it slide. It would violate his character to do that.

When we continue to sin, and continue to rebel against God’s methods, he will pull himself away from us. This is actually an act of love, because if he stuck around, his holiness would destroy us then and there. Even though God knows that our sin will lead us to death, he allows us to reap the sin we sow, hoping we will recognize that sin never can satisfy. Our rebellion against God is never going give us what we want. It will give us what we ask for, but not what we want. And this is why man goes to hell. It is not because God sends us there. It is because that is the only place where God’s presence is not found. It was created for Satan and his minions. It was not created for man. People go there, not because God sends us there, but because that is where we ask to go, by rejecting him.

God is a holy and pure God. He is holy, holy, holy. He longs for us to repent because he does not want to have to carry out his justice upon us. He does not want any of us to perish. He longs for us to repent so he can begin the process of restoration. The process of removing the sin from us so that Jesus may have a pure and spotless Bride. I am one who, being far from perfect, am striving towards that goal. Let us all strive for that goal.

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