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Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Justified, Aug 3, 2002.
What is your thinking on God's Holiness?
Backed by God's Word, and not your feelings.
Holiness should not be divorced from the other attributes of God, but my understanding of holiness (at least from the teachings of purity from Leviticus) is that God is pure in truth, thought and action. God does only good from the ultimate perspective of the Creator. (That's not to say that we may see things that God does or doesn't do and think that He may not have it all together...)
God's holy character is the character by which right and wrong is judged. ("You shall be holy for I am Holy." -- both a commandment and a promise!)
The holiness of God also motivates God to eventually eliminate sin from His presence. (This is not stated very well because I made it sound like God's holiness might be some sort of higher law over the rest of God's character. It is also stated clearly in the New Testament that "God is love." We should never try to position holiness and love as two contradictory aspects of God's character. There certainly seems to be tension between the two, but it is more like the tension that a parent feels when they are trying to raise a rebellious child.)
I didn't give all the scripture references because I'm assuming that people know their Bibles. But if you can't figure out where I'm getting something, let me know and I'll get you chapter(s) and verse(s).
This could prove to be a very interesting and helpful discussion unless someone starts fighting over "Calvinism" and "Arminianism" instead of dealing with the more fundamental questions.
Thanks for a great topic!
Of all the attributes of God, holiness is the "governing" or controlling one. All others must fall into some sort of hierarchy; when they might conflict, one HAS to come out on top.
God is love. If that were to be the governing attribute, His love would override his judgment of sin and everybody would be in heaven.
And so on thru them all.
But His love and mercy and grace et al are tempered by His holiness and the moral outrage at sin.
So why do I feel the Bible teaches Holiness is the most important of all attributes? Because the living creatures circling His throne while I type are not crying,"Loving, Loving, Loving, Lord God Almighty", are they?
One aspect of holiness is that God is not like us. You and I are alike in many ways. God is totally different.
"Your thoughts are not my thoughts."
"Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,"
"I am the LORD your God; you shall have no other gods before me." Yes, I know you have ideas of what God is like, but I am far beyond what you can imagine.
That's why there is a prohibition against idolatry and making of images; it's not just that we would worship other gods, it's also that by creating images we would be limiting God (or our concept of him.)
As C.S. Lewis said, God is the "Other," the presence that we know exists but cannot understand, the force we feel when we look into the night sky. Wonder, or awe, is the response it generates.
But God is not only transcendant; he also is immanent. What a paradox.
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
[ August 03, 2002, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: rsr ]
Do you think that we can dissect the character attributes of God and place them in some sort of order? (Serious question, not meant to be sarcastic or rhetorical!) Where I'm going with this is that I'm wondering if the "holiness" of God is an overarching description of God's character that includes love, grace, judgement, Self-satisfaction, artistry, etc.
Any thoughts/scripture references?
God's holiness is incomprehensible! I can only take a swing at it (and miss!). Although the Bible speaks much on God's holiness, it draws a very vague and incomplete picture.
What we know is:
1) We are not holy
2) God is so holy that He cannot allow sin in His presence.
3) Therefore, sinners (unforgiven) will never be in His presence.
4) We are made holy by our faith in Jesus Christ (and his atoning sacrifice/shed blood on the cross).
5) Were it not for what Jesus accomplished on the cross, no one would achieve the holiness that God requires in order for us to dwell in His presence.
Praise God and His Holiness!
Just to be clear, you aren't saying that a Christian who continues in sin cannot be in God's presence are you. As a Christian I believe we are no longer under the penalty of sin, and even if we continue is some type of sin (even unknown sin) that we are allowed in Gods holy presence.
This hinges on once saved always saved which I believe.
In number (3) sinners are what we Christians continue to be, you should use another word like "unsaved". Agree?
If God started out ominpotent then it is he that must have limited himself and place the hierarchy into place. He created himself. Currently he has created himself into a limited being unless he changes his mind which would still maintain that he is still technically an omnipotent being. But should we stop thinking that he is omnipotent, or omniscient and deal with the reality that he is finite in many aspects through his own choice?
[ August 03, 2002, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: post-it ]
I would think that “unforgiven” would distinguish your first question. To clarify – yes, I believe a Christian who “continues in sin” is forgiven, unless it is with blatant disregard for seeking earnestly to live one’s life for Christ. I believe Paul dealt with this well in Romans 6! To clarify even further – to be satisfied with one’s present state of sin is to be “unsaved!”
From your comments on 3), it would seem you are unclear on “regeneration” in regards to “sanctification.” Sanctification does not mean perfection. It means separation. It speaks of being set apart from sin and set apart unto God. Every Christian is sanctified. Regeneration is monergistic: that is, entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. It raises the elect among the spiritually dead to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Regeneration is a transition from spiritual death to spiritual life, and conscious, intentional, active faith in Christ is its immediate fruit, not its immediate cause. Regeneration is the work of what Augustine called “prevenient” grace, the grace that precedes our outgoings of heart toward God.
I do believe that in our times we do not properly observe the holiness of God. What does it mean to be holy? It is perfection, fully pure, separate and above all else. Today we see people with "Jesus" bumper stickers, "God is great" printed on t-shirts.....the name is casually flung around, but with what understanding? HOLY is His name, and I believe that if people would pause long enough to reflect on this, the holy name would not be so casually tossed about, either on products or in the manner in which we speak it.
Let's look at some verses pertaining to the holiness of God.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground--Exodus 3:5
What happens in the presence of perfect holiness? Even the ground itself was made holy merely by the presence of it!
Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, --Leviticus 22:32
A meaning of "profane" is to treat with irreverance, which is ANY instance of not showing honor and devotion. How do you treat His name? Just His NAME is holy and it demands that we treat it with respect and reverance. There is another verse that uses the adj. "reverand" with His name. It means "worthy of reverance." Think before you let the name leave your lips, because if it's used in any other way other than above mentioned, you are profaning it.
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. --1 Samuel 2:2
There is only ONE who worthy of this respect. Nothing compares.
Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.--Psalm 99:3
Perhaps you ask "But how does His holiness affect me personally? How does it relate?" [bold]lenge you to examine yourself for that answer.[/bold] What differences, what changes, and what reaction do you have to God's holiness?
Some other verses to ponder.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. -- Isaiah 6:3
To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. --Isaiah 40:25
I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. --Isaiah 43:15
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. --Revelation 4:8
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. --Revelation 15:4
To add to (in my own insufficient way) what Dr. BowTie wrote, we don't say Father, Son, and Loving Spirit.
Of course I hope you wouldn't disagree with me if I said that the Holy Spirit is loving as well -- not to mention the Father and the Son!
Just to add an extra dimension to this --
For a number of years I led a deaf women's Bible study. They would ask questions no one ever asked before! One day one of them signed to me "Mean holy?" Instead of giving some flip answer, I told her to let me study for a week and I would get back to her at the next Bible study (in a week).
Then I hit the Concordances and tracked every time the word holy was used for a number of books. I didn't have time for the whole Bible, obviously, but something became very very clear in the way the Bible uses that word.
First, it means "of God" or "belonging to God" in the Old Testament as well as being an attribute of God, but it is an attribute by definition because God = holy, so there is a circularity about it that we really can't break into with human ideas and words.
But there were some other things that I learned.
1. When an animal or inanimate object touched the altar, it was declared holy on the spot. That was it. No longer could it be used for profane purposes but it was at that point dedicated to the Lord and belonged to HIM. It was holy.
2. But not men. Men had to become holy as a process directed by God (and enabled by Him, not arguing that, but sticking to the OT for a minute). Man alone could not simply be declared holy by touching the altar or doing anything else.
Conclusion? Sin nature. We alone have it, and that makes all the difference. As God changes our nature bit by bit then we become holy -- we become more and more of Him and less and less of ourselves.
It was an interesting week. I'm sure if I had kept going I would have gotten a lot, lot more, but time with six kids and teaching and such was much more limited then.
[ August 04, 2002, 12:13 AM: Message edited by: Helen ]
Great answers Helen, thanks.
Helen, are you saying that we are all partially holy?
Anyone born again is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who Himself is holy. Any holiness we have is His doing, first of all. Secondly, only God can measure it. Thirdly, any progression we make in this area is due soley to the dying to self and the Holy Spirit conforming us to the image of Christ, who is holy.
And there is NO WAY I will go further than this on this subject! God knows and God is the judge and eventually all who are His will be conformed to His image and be holy because they belong fully to Him, not because they are holy in their own right. Whether any of us is therefore 'partially holy' is something only God can judge, not me.
Yes, we are post-it. Not only that, but we are COMMANDED to be.
Do you need verses listed or are you already aware of them?
Helen, I'm certainly not making an argument here, I fully agree with everything you said, it is just that I have always felt that one was either holy or not holy. But I can see where you make an excellent point on becoming more holy. Thanks
The word hagios or "holy" is often also called "sanctified" or set apart. Same word.
I like to clarify it by saying I was TOTALLY unholy in every aspect of my life. God, for reasons of His unmerited grace alone, opted to do a work IN me.
So my SPIRIT is now "sactified" and I am holy in my standing before God. He regenerated me and justified me. This is positional holiness. Done deal. Kewl.
My MIND/SOUL/WILL however is in the process of "being sanctified". It is progressive to be renewed (Rom 12:2) and made holy thru the Word (Jn 17:17)
My BODY will NEVER be sanctified or holy until it is changed at the coming of Christ. That is ultimate or future holiness, when this mortal shall put on immortality.
So I AM holy, am BECOMING holy, and WILL BECOME holy some day!
But not today!!
Well put Brother Griffin! That really connects! Thanks