God’s Holiness – and how we then should live

6 11 2007

God is Holy, separate from sin, pure and undefiled, far – far beyond our minute comprehension in the transcending splendor of His glory. We struggle to even have any idea of the beauty of His holiness – and often to retain a God-honoring fear of the Lord as a deterrent against committing sin. If nothing else as believers, we should be motivated by our appreciation of the atoning penalty for our sin paid by Jesus Christ in his sacrificial, propitiatory death on the cross of Calvary.

Following are some important Scripture passages for us to think about that focus upon the holiness of God. Some commentary on this subject by J. I. Packer from his book Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton Illinois – 1993, pp. 43-44) is also included.
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Leviticus 11: 44-45

(44) For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.

(45″ For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.'”

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J. I. Packer states:

“When scripture calls God, or individual persons of the Godhead, “holy” …. the word signifies everything about God that sets him apart from us and makes him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of his transcendent greatness and moral perfection and thus is an attribute of all his attributes, pointing to the “Godness” of God at every point. ….. The core of the concept… is God’s purity, which cannot tolerate any form of sin (Habakkuk 1:13) and thus calls sinners to constant self abasement in his presence (Isaiah 6:5).”

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Isaiah 6: 1-7

(1) In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. (2) Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (3) And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

(4) And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. (5) Then I said,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

(6) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. (7) He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

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Packer also states:

“Justice, which means doing in all circumstances things that are right, is one expression of God’s holiness. God displays his justice as legislator and judge, and also as promise-keeper and pardoner of sin. His moral law, requiring behavior that matches his own, is ‘holy, righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). …. His “wrath,” that is, his judicial hostility to sin, is wholly just in its manifestations (Romans 2:5-16), and his particular “judgments” (retributive punishments) are glorious and praiseworthy (Revelations 16:5, 7; 19:1-4).

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Revelation 16:5-7

(5) And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; (6) for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” (7) And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”

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A Call to Holy Living on Our Part

Finally, Packer makes the following statements that need to impact our lives as followers of Jesus Christ:

“When John says that God is ‘light,’ with no darkness in him at all, the image is affirming God’s holy purity, which makes fellowship between him and the willfully unholy impossible and requires pursuit of holiness and righteousness of life to be a central concern for Christian people (1 John 1:5 – 2:1; 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1; Hebrews 12:10-17). The summons to believers, regenerate and forgiven as they are, to practice a holiness that will match God’s own, and so please him, is constant in the New Testament, as indeed it was in the Old Testament (Dueteronomy 30:1-10; Ephesians 4:17 – 5:14; 1 Peter 1:13-22). Because God is holy, God’s people must be holy too.”

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God, please forgive me for my lack of concern and conviction about sin and holy living. Thank You for the grace of God in Jesus Christ, that I may be saved from my sin. Lord, through your indwelling Holy Spirit, please enable me to resist temptation and live and walk in a manner that pleases You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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3 responses

7 11 2007
Paul M Martin

I think you put your finger on a problem there: how it is that “believers, regenerate and forgiven as they are,” are to find a motive to lead good lives. If that motive is to be external, if living morally and well in no sense pleases us, than I can see how you’d cite pleasing God as a motive.

But then, why God should need to be pleased by the regenerate does crop up as a question. One would think God might have no such need.

7 11 2007
churchlayman

Paul,

This is good question and probably is worthy of someone such as Mssrs. Packer, MacArthur, Sproul or Piper to answer adequately. In trying to address this question, it seems best to remember that our faith and the ability to do anything pleasing toward God is “all of grace”. Human effort or works or sincerity never saved you or I before we came to Christ, and our feeble abilities wont sustain us now apart from the empowerment and enablement of the Holy Spirit of God by faith.

It seems that we need to be careful about going too far in the direction of completely disconnecting or disassociating the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives with the newly seeded desire of our hearts to please God. Given our lost state of total depravity or total inability apart from God, we did not have the ability to even look to God or please Him in any respect apart from His Spirit’s enablement. Now that (thank God) we are saved by grace through faith, the leading of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives should be toward honoring God with our lives and living in a manner consistent with the character of God – pleasing Him in all respects. Of course we can only do so by grace.

The word “external” in this context almost implies that it is of our own fleshly ability rather than the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we would or should desire to please God. Again, the truth about ourselves as totally incapable sinners and the capability provided to us by the grace of God to come to Him and walk with Him trumps any notion of our fleshly ability playing some part in our living to please God. Additionaly, the Scriptures are full of admonitions to avoid sinful living and of numerous exhortations to live in a Godly, holy manner that pleases God. God has provided in His Word entirely adequate instructions to read and apply the Scriptures in order to be equipped to live in a manner worthly of Himself, so that Christ may be formed within us. Again, the enablement to do so is from God and not ourselves.

So given all that, I desire to please the Lord in my actions, and to avoid sin for the sake of His pleasure as well as that of having a good testimony before my family and the world for Christ’s sake. It is not a “work” to do so if done in manner consistent with the will of God. Rather, it is a submission on our parts to the call of God as revealed in Scripture to live in the manner of which He has revealed that He desires of us. (Personally, my prayer is to be diligent to keep the “little foxes” out, i.e., the sin that so easily entangles me, and keeps me from holy living and sincere worship and devotion to Christ)

Regarding why God would desire or need this “holy living” of us, well, my poor, untrained guess is that as He is about the business of securing a people for Himself, the character of this group will need to be consistent with His character if indeed “the rabble that we are” will be spending all eternity in His company. Given our natural sinful lost condition apart, He had to do the work for us to make us worthy of being in His holy presence. He accomplished this sanctifying act towards us by His grace through the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

And the mystery goes even deeper as we consider that God will reward believers, not based on works, but based on what they did with the resources God gave them according to God’s judgment of merit (1 Corinthians 3). This is all of grace of course, and ultimately brings glory to God. To be consistent with all the revelation of God, we have to understand it to be so – i.e. that all things in God’s decree bring glory to God, and that it is extremely fitting that this should happen. The why of God’s plan to work this out in this way including both saved and unsave people is no doubt beyond our ability to fathom or understand, at least on this side of eternity. These are issues having to do with God’s righteous decree over all things past, present and future. I dont know why God designed moral laws to govern all His creation in the manner that He has, but I am thankful for the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ that I am saved.

Thanks for your thought provoking questions. Hope all is going well with you and your family.

Churchlayman

14 11 2007
Brandon Tomlin

Dear churchlayman,

I am trying to put my little brother (22 years old) in contact with biblical godly Christians in the Western Kansas area. He lives in XXXXXXXX. I normally recommend Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, but now I am also recommending Bible churches, and other Calvinistic/Reformed Baptistic churches. However, I do not hold to pedo-baptism, Covenant Theology in toto (just some), or Hardshell-Hyper Calvinism, which denies “duty” faith/repentance.

I have agreed with all of what you have written on your blog. Please see my site at Vision Forum to know more about me. Please help me help my brother, or find some one that can disciple him. He is definetly looking, but is in a hard spot right now. Western KS is a wasteland for truth! Praise God for you!




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