God's holiness only trait of his we need to know
By D. Clay Perkins
Saturday, April 29, 2017
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” — 1 Peter 1:15-16 (The Bible, New International Version)
I love music. My wife is an amazing musician. She taught both of our sons how to play multiple instruments and how to read and write music. In fact, one of my sons often says, “You want to know how to get a guitar player to be quiet in church? Put a sheet of music in front of him and ask him to play it.”
In God’s word we find the lyrics to songs. The first and the last songs in our scripture are found in Exodus 15 and Revelation 15. While we would love to know the rhythms, the chords and the harmonies, we do not. But we do have the words, and both songs deal with God’s holiness.
Exodus 15 is reacting to God’s rescuing the Israelites from slavery. Demolishing the false gods of Egypt. The 10 plagues. The crossing of the Red Sea. Revelation 15 is reacting to seven angels and seven plagues. Listen to the words from the song in Revelation: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Exodus 15:3b-4)
Throughout scripture, God’s holiness comes up over and over. It is only natural that we should consider the unyielding pursuit of holiness in our life today. No other attribute of God is repeated in triplets. That is why we often sing, “Holy, holy, holy.” (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8)
Nothing is more intimidating. Nothing is more awesome. Nothing is more frightening. Nothing is more amazing. Nothing is more … than God’s holiness. The awesomeness of God’s holiness is seen when Moses saw a bush blazing with fire but not being consumed. And God told him, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)
Why would God say that? What does it mean to say, “God is holy”? A friend and a Bible scholar, Dr. Kevin Larsen, reminds us that basically holiness means to be “separate.” We understand this to mean that God is separated from creation. He is transcendent. He is the creator. He is not the created. He is separated. To quote Dr. Larsen, “’Holy’ is the God stuff.” He is holy.
When we talk about God’s holiness, we are not talking about another trait belonging to God or one of the many characteristics used to describe God. We are talking about God himself. He is unique, incomparable, matchless, without equal, without peer. No wonder God says, “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” .... (Isaiah 40:25)
So we have to be careful. God is not the biggest god. God is superior to other gods. He is separate. He is the only one. The only God.
No wonder David said, “Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:8-10)
Oh be very careful my friends. Many a preacher today will seek to trivialize God, seek to make God not so holy, not different from you and me. But that is not the God we are called to. God is holy. Be very careful. God – and God alone – is holy.
So we would be wise to ask ourselves this question: “What difference does God’s holiness make in my life?” The holiness that we now have because he justified us with his sacrifice on the cross, once and for all paying the price for our sins. Or are we still trying to be good enough? Are we still carrying the burden of past mistakes and pains? Or have we been saved through the holiness of God’s son?
Dr. D. Clay Perkins is president of Mid-Atlantic Christian University.