Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Discover God: God's Holiness

When we think about God we are trying to comprehend the One who goes beyond comprehension.

God. Infinite, loving and Holy. Perfect in every way.

How do we, imperfect, sinful, beings even begin to relate to the One who is absolutely Holy in every way?

This is a paradox that every Christ follower has to engage, and once you do, you will never be the same. Take for instance the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:1-4 we read:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

What an awesome sight. Think for a moment about this vision. He SAW THE LORD. Not many Old Testament prophets could boast of a vision like this. The words used to describe the Lord are "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY" And here we are again at this word Holy. What does it mean and what does it mean for us? In this image we have descriptions of majesty and heavenly beings covering their faces in the presence of God. They say that the "whole earth is full of his glory" and at the sound of THEIR voices, not God's, the doorposts and thresholds shook. At the very least, a correct view/image of God will lead to praise and proclamation. Yet there is something more we need to look at.

What was Isaiah's response? Did he leap for joy and join the party? Did he pen the greatest Psalm of praise ever written or write a best selling book about how it led him to lead his best life now? No. Here is Isaiah's response in verse 5:

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

The first thing that Isaiah was aware of in himself was His own sin. As he was in the presence of God, in the presence of absolute perfection, all Isaiah could do was mourn his own imperfection, and the imperfection of His culture. Which is how it should be. Jesus said in Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

As a person discovers God, he/she finds more and more just how Holy, perfect, good and loving God is and then, in the process, sees how imperfect, evil, and hateful he/she really is. What was once acceptable becomes repulsive. What once went unnoticed is suddenly at the forefront, and we mourn. We mourn because we realize we have rebelled, offended, and spat in the face of the God who created us and loves us. We mourn because we realize we were created to bring Glory to God and instead we have brought reproach. We mourn because we know there is nothing we can do to fix ourselves.

Then, something wonderful happens. God intervenes. Look at what happens next in Isaiah. Verses 6-7 say:

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

God ordains/creates a way for our guilt to be taken away. What we can't fix, God fixes for us. And how does he do it? By taking from His own Holiness and giving it to us. Isaiah had his lips (the source of his sin) touched by a coal from the heavenly altar. For us, we find our Holiness through Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross and took away our sin. When we believe in Him, God's Spirit comes to reside within us and we are made alive. God takes away our heart of stone (the source of our sin) and gives us a heart of flesh that will be molded to bring glory to God.

But, this only happens when we first get a true sense of God's holiness. When we sense his perfection, it brings our imperfection to light and reveals our need for a savior. Discover God and discover true Holiness. Discover Holiness and you will find a cross, the Son of God, a death and a resurrection three days later. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." When we Discover God's Holiness, we discover that which takes us far Above Reality.

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