The God of Holiness
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ (Isaiah 6:3)
If you have ever had to pick up something completely filthy when you are clean and in smart clothes, you’ll know how absolutely disgusting it can feel. Everything within you cries ‘Yuk!’ and wants to drop it as fast as you can, as you run for the wash basin to get clean again.
The Bible says that this is exactly how God feels about sin. He is so clean, so ‘holy’ (to use the Bible’s word), that he cannot bear the sight of it. As Habakkuk put it, ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong’ (Habakkuk 1:13). This in itself is bad news: that God cannot bear the sight of us; but there’s worse to come! For not only can God not bear to look at sin, his perfect justice demands that he also judge it.
But now for the good news! For God’s judgment is not his last word, but rather his mercy. God does not simply tell us to be holy, and then leave us to it; he himself provides the means of our becoming holy. This is what Isaiah discovered when his vision of the holy God made him to want to run, but when God stopped him. An angel touched his sinful lips with a coal from the altar and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’ (Isaiah 6:7). God himself dealt with the problem!
Still today we do not need to run from our holy God, though our sin may often make us feel like doing so. No matter what we have done, or failed to do, God himself has promised to deal with our sin through the death of Christ. The promise of his word is that his forgiveness is still available to us today. As Peter put it on the Day of Pentecost, ‘The promise is for you and your children and all who are far off’ (Acts 2:39). Those ‘far off’ include you! And that means that, right now, you can call on God and know again the reality of God himself making you clean. Don’t wait; just do it!
I am the Lord, who makes you holy. (Leviticus 20:8)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont