The Holiness of God: His Unfathomable Holiness
Read Isaiah 6:1-7
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty”
Of all the attributes God possesses, the one we have the most difficulty comprehending is his holiness. It is one attribute that we have no starting point of reference. We can understand his goodness for we see goodness in ourselves and others. We perceive his love because we know what it is like to be loved and to love. However, intrinsic in the holiness of God is the reality that he is completely untouched and separate from all that is evil. It is not just that God is morally good, but that he is completely separate from all that is tainted by sin. Therein lies our challenge. Because we are sinful by birth and by choice, we cannot envision being free from its effect and presence. Instead of being repulsed by sin, we tolerate it and accept it. Whereas God, in his holiness, finds sin offensive and abhorrent, we find it pleasurable and agreeable. This is what leads A.W. Tozer to conclude, “It is doubtful that even the most sensitive and committed child of God even begins to fathom the significance of what is represented by the holiness of God.” In a fallen world where everything we do, experience, desire and think is tainted by our sinful nature, it is impossible for us to comprehend what it is like to be truly holy. The very fact that we find sin tolerable and desirable reveals how little we understand what holiness is.
It is not without significance that when the heavenly host sing the song of God’s praise, the one word that serves to encompass the totality of God’s attributes and his being is his unmitigated holiness. While we would sing the song of his love and grace, the angels proclaim his holiness. If God is not holy, then he would no longer be good, loving, just, righteous and perfect. Instead he would be an evil and capricious tyrant to be feared rather than worshipped. Thus, the holiness of God is not just one attribute among many, it serves to describe the inherent nature of all his attributes. He is not just a loving God; he possesses a holy love. He is not merely a gracious God, his grace is holy, untainted by the effects of sin. This is what puts God in a class all by himself, for the gods of our creation are inevitably tainted by sin.
Not only is the holiness of God the most difficult aspect of his nature for us to grasp, but it is the one attribute that we most deny. To be confronted with his holiness is to be confronted with our sinfulness. Consequently, we desire to bring God down to our level, to conform God to our image in order to make us more like God, elevating ourselves to be equal with God and enabling us to live independent of him. But in the process of creating God into our image, we inevitably project our sinful nature upon him and upon his moral standard. What God finds repugnant; we label as an acceptable lifestyle.
This week, as we contemplate the holiness of God, we must begin with a humble recognition how impossible it is for us to genuinely understand what it really means. We must set aside our own sense of self-righteousness, our own self-determination of right and wrong, and instead, in complete humility, ask God to give us an expanded vision of his holiness. Today, set aside all your own perceptions of God and ask God to give you a new and fresh view of his holiness.