It is once again time to prepare for worship. The last five weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for five weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, God’s power, God’s patience, and God’s grace. This week I want to focus on the holiness of God.
Let me just start by mentioning several verses on the holiness of God:
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”-Exodus 15:11
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”-Isaiah 57:15
“I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”-Isaiah 43:15
“To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”-Isaiah 40:25
“God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.”-Psalm 47:8
“Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!”-Psalm 99:5
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory!”-Isaiah 6:1-3
R.C. Sproul says this about Isaiah 6: “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
In Isaiah 6:5 after Isaiah gets a vision of the absolute holiness of God, he pronounces a judgement on himself and says: “So I said: Woe is me, for I am undone! Because 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.”
R.C. Sproul says that Isaiah: “was a together type of a fellow. He was considered by his contemporaries as the most righteous man in the nation. He was respected as a paragon of virtue. Then he caught one sudden glimpse of a Holy God. In that single moment all of his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath the gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed―morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart…He saw the holiness of God. For the first time in his life Isaiah really understood who God was. At the same instant, for the first time Isaiah really understood who Isaiah was.”
A.W. Pink says that: “God only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy. In Scripture he is frequently styled ‘The Holy One”: He is so because the sum of all moral excellency is found in him. He is absolute Purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin. ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). Holiness is the very excellency of the Divine nature: the great God is ‘glorious in holiness’ (Exodus 15:11).
A.W. Pink goes on to say that if we really want to see something of God’s holiness we should go to the cross. “God’s holiness is manifest at the Cross. Wondrously and yet most solemnly does the Atonement display God’s infinite holiness and abhorrence of sin. How hateful must sin be to God for Him to punish it to its utmost deserts when it was imputed to His Son!”
Stephen Charnock says it powerfully: “When God had turned His smiling face from Jesus, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He adores this perfection—”Thou art holy,”
Implications of the holiness of God
What are some practical implications of God’s holiness? One thing is that we should approach Him with reverence. A.W. Pink says: “Because God is holy the utmost reverence becomes our approaches unto Him.” Psalm 89:6-7 says: “For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?”
I would say another practical implication of the holiness of God is that apart from the shed blood of Jesus covering us we are utterly ruined and undone! We have committed cosmic treason against a holy, holy, holy God every day of our lives. How on earth could such a God allow us into His presence? As Voddie Baucham has said: “Look me in my eyes and ask me this: “How on earth can a holy and righteous God know what I did and thought and said yesterday and not kill me in my sleep last night?”
Then Voddie reminds us of the gospel: “But in the merciful providence of God there came a day when God the Father crushed and killed his one and only Son in our stead in order to satisfy his wrath, “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26 ESV). Was that enough for the sins of Adam, Abraham, and Moses? Can you hear the rhetorical questions from Calvary? Was that enough for your sin? Was that enough for you to recognize the supremacy of Christ in truth as it relates to redemption? There was nothing else that could have been done that would have allowed God to be both just and justifier. But in the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ we find a resolution to the question, “How can what is wrong be made right?” Listen as the hymn writers proclaim:
‘What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’
‘There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.’
How can what is wrong be made right? The spotless, sinless Lamb of God was crushed, rejected, and killed to pay a debt that he did not owe on behalf of sinners who could never pay him back.”
Let’s be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Molly as they will lead us in worship. If you could pray for me as I will be doing the time of confession I would appreciate it. Also, let’s be sure to pray for Mark as he will open up God’s Word to us. Mark will be looking at Galatians 1:1-5 this week. The link to the ESV text of chapter 1 is below: