Consider God’s holiness

By Bob Kauflin

It is impossible for us to rightly consider God apart from his holiness – his wrath against sin, his steadfast opposition to injustice, and his righteous judgment of the wicked. These aren’t exactly popular or seeker-sensitive topics, but they describe the God we worship. But the more we love “worship,” the more we should hate sin in all its manifestations. If God wasn’t fiercely opposed to evil in every form, including our sin, he would not deserve our worship. He would not be good. He would not be God.

God’s Word speaks of our being holy in numerous ways. In the first sense, it means we’ve been sanctified, or set apart for God. He has purchased us through the blood of his Son and we have no other Master (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Second, to be holy means we’re different from the world in our thoughts, words, and actions (1 Cor. 6:11). Holiness is typically not on anyone’s top ten list. People magazine will probably never run an article called “Holy People We Most Admire.” But holiness is precious in God’s sight. Third, holiness refers to moral purity. Negatively, it involves resisting sin, fighting temptation, and taking no part in the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Positively, it means pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22).

That’s one of the reasons we occasionally confess our sins together as a church before God. It’s not that we’re trying to make ourselves feel bad or that we enjoy morbid introspection. It’s not that we’ve forgotten we’re saved. Rather, we’re seeking to counteract our continual attempts to justify, minimize, ignore, and neglect our acts of defiance against a holy God. We are seeking to cultivate what Scripture calls the “fear of the Lord.” The fact that God doesn’t kill us every time we sin leads us to think God doesn’t feel strongly about sin. But he does. He’s holy. That’s why it’s good to remember our sins together in the shadow of the cross.

The cross reminds us that the holiness that cannot dwell with evil is also the love that died for us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8). Righteousness and mercy embrace in the perfect sacrifice of God’s Son. God’s love and holiness are not contradictory – they are inseparable.

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;

For thee all the follies of sin I resign.”

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