Saturday, June 18, 2011

Embracing the Biblical View of Depravity, Part Two. God's Awesome Holiness: A Contrast.

     "And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory,'" Isaiah 6:3.
     "And I said: Woe is me!  For I am lost; for 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!" Isaiah 6:5.

     While volumes of books could be written about my depravity and ignorance, God has actually had volumes of books written about His holiness and wisdom.  He is all powerful, all knowing, all good and sovereign over all things.  Even more, He is perfect in all his affections as I've heard it put.  The constant thread running through all His perfections is His holiness.  God is completely separate from all His creation.  Sin has marred all of creation yet God is holy, He is separate and cannot tolerate sin in His presence or have any relationship to it at all as the Moody Handbook of Theology puts it.  This is why Isaiah was so terrified in the presence of God and why he had to be temporarily purified by burning coals to be in the presence of the Lord. 
     God's holiness is terrifying and illuminating.  Isaiah was terrified, Moses had to watch his step in approaching the burning bush and Peter knew that he was unworthy to be in Jesus' presence after the relatively minor miracle of a great haul of fish.  God is so different than we are.  We find it hard to understand God at all.  That is why God gave us His holy word, the Bible.  The Bible's description of God is awe inspiring.  He created all of everything out of nothing, with just a word of His mouth.  That is just the first line of the first book of the Bible.  The rest of the Bible fleshes out God's greatness, love and perfection against the backdrop of our weakness, evil and depravity.  We are told relentlessly, in this day and age, that we must see things through other peoples eyes.  We must try and understand things according to their culture, race, gender and background.  Yet, do we try and see things from God's perspective?  Do we want to see things as God sees them may be a more important question.  This is what we should strive to do every day of our lives as we seek God in prayer, ministry and His word.  This will be terrifying coming to understand God, who is holy.  Even more, the closer we come to God, the more His complete uniqueness and purity will illuminate even the tiniest sin we have.  Isaiah was likely the holiest man in Israel yet he could not withstand the purity of God.  This illumination will drive us to our knees and humble us.  There is no doubt that wherever you see a man, professing faith or not, who thinks that he is the stuff, he has not been in the presence of God recently.  Humility flows generously from a heart that is close to God.  Proverbs teaches that "Pride comes before a fall".  It stands to reason than that humility comes before a glorious resurrection.  Moses was called the most humble man in all the earth and God allowed him to see a portion of Him passing by.  Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross as His word so eloquently tells us.  God's holiness will humble us.  If we are not humble, we have not seen Him.
     While this seems unbridgeable, our depravity and God's holiness, we are instructed in Leviticus and in Peter's epistle to "Be holy for I am holy."  This is impossible!  On my best day, I am stuck in the world, apart from God more times than I can count!  I can hardly say that I have separated myself from sin.  Yet, the command is there and we must be obedient.  We are told to, "Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh," in Galatians.  Holiness is commanded and we must be obedient and God has graciously, unbelievably and fortuitously given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to lead us into holiness.  Oh grace be to God, He is awesome!  We can be holy, not in our power, but in His and He gives us His word, His Spirit, His church and an awesome Gospel to preach.  Truly we must understand that while we are weak, He is strong and stronger is Him who is in us than he who is in the world.  God just wants us to surrender to His power and walk in His strength.  We have no strength in our depraved condition. 
     God's holiness truly illuminates our depravity and draws us closer to Him.  We need to abide in Him and He will give us the desires of our hearts and our hearts will be holy.
     God Bless you and learn, live and love the Gospel of our glorious Savior!

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