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Monday, September 25, 2006

God - The Origin Of Holiness

PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1

GOD – THE ORIGIN OF HOLINESS
PSALMS 99:5,9



A. W. Tozer in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy¸ expresses the holiness of God thusly, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, all His attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.”


All holiness, whether of angels, heaven, or men finds its origin in God. There is no holiness apart from God. Our frailty keeps us from understanding the magnitude of God’s holiness. We are barred from looking upon him because of his glory, which is a visible manifestation of his attributes. Holiness is the preeminent attribute of God and is the foundation from which all His other attributes manifest themselves. To see his glory is to be ushered into his presence for no man sees God and lives. When Moses saw a veiled manifestation of his glory his face did shine!

We struggle with separation because we struggle with seeing God for who He is. We fail to see the ugliness of the world system because we do not commit ourselves to seeing God in the beauty of holiness. Most evangelical preaching reflects the embracing of a flawed premise. The emphasis has become God is love instead of God is holy. Because God is love it is assumed that he is understanding and thus has cultivated toleration for sin. God forbid! God is holy and even his love is revealed in the context of holiness. We do not see the need to separate ourselves from the world because we do not see the world as all that bad. It is bad but there is no need to shun it, after all people will think we are strange, peculiar.

Titus 2:14 - Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

This does not mean that we set our hearts to be peculiar. What it means is that if we are undergoing the purifying work of the Spirit of God in our lives and we are zealous of good works then we will be peculiar. Will we suffer reproach, very likely, but there was a day when it was understood that that would be the case for those who were serious about following the Saviour.

Again A. W. Tozer lays bare the somber reality, “Until we have seen ourselves as God see us, we are not likely to be much disturbed over the conditions around us as long as they do not get so far out of hand as to threaten our comfortable way of life. We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing. We are not disappointed that we do not find all truth in our teachers or faithfulness in our politicians or complete honesty in our merchants or full trustworthiness in our friends. That we may continue to exist we make such laws as are necessary to protect us from our fellow men and let it go at that.”

We are satisfied with being respectable and are unwilling to do the hard work of pursing holiness. The hard work of knowing God. The hard work of self-examination. The hard work of self-scrutiny in the light of the Word of God. The hard work of conforming our life to the precepts, principles, and patterns of the Word of God. Consequently we are not separated. We are not perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We are content because we can be. We have assumed the temperature of the world around us. If the world is 32 degrees below zero and we are only 30 degrees below zero we are still frozen. We are not hot. We are unprepared to be a spectacle and the off scouring of all things. All of this because we have an insufficient, inexcusably low view of God. We do not see him as holy. When we do our view of holiness is much deteriorated. Our view of the holiness of God is simply that he is a lot better than us. This is inadequate at best and blasphemous at worst. Such a view leaves us on the plain of sin and self-sufficiency. We have convinced our selves that the summit is in view when in reality the summit is shrouded in clouds hiding the extremity of God’s holiness. The result is that we think we are closer than we are and if the clouds were to break but for a moment we would fall down in shame that we have entertained so much sin in our lives, that we have given so little attention to the perfecting of holiness in the fear of God.

So tonight, let us start where we should always start, with God.
THE HOLINESS OF GOD REVEALED
The declaration of God’s holiness.
Psalms 22:3 - But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalms 99:5 - Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.
Psalms 99:9 - Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.
The word holy in the Old Testament comes from a Hebrew word that means to be sacred, consecrated, to be clean.
God is consecrated. Other things become consecrated based upon their proximity to Him.
Priests are holy because of their connection to Him.
Sacrifices are holy because of their connection to Him.
The Temple was holy because of its connection to Him.
Angels are holy because of their connection to Him.
Saints are holy because of their connection to Him.

God is independently holy. Nothing makes God holy, he simply is. Everything else is holy as a result of its/their proximity to God.

The extent of God’s holiness.
1 Samuel 2:2 - There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
It is apparent that Hannah had spent some time pondering the majesty of God's holiness and had compared him to the false gods of the pagans. Her assertion in this recorded prayer is that there is none holy as the Lord. Look far and wide and you will never discover any god, angel, or man that rivals God in holiness. He is preeminently holy to the degree that he makes everything else look unholy.

Psalms 15:1 - A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
Vs: 2-5 – To dwell in his holy hill one must be holy.

Exodus 15:11 - Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Moses declares God to be glorious in holiness. It is God's holiness that renders him glorious. If He were not holy no matter what else he was He would not be glorious. It is his holiness that renders all of his other attributes pure and untainted.

Deuteronomy 32:4 - He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
He is a God of truth and without iniquity. He has no sin. He never has, does not, and never will. Consequently it can be said, "just and right is he". He is right about everything. He cannot be wrong. He is just in all that he does because all that he does is rooted in holiness. His work is perfect for it can be nothing less.

Isaiah 6:1-3 - In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Who can imagine this scene? Isaiah sees the Lord, obviously a veiled version. He notes that he is high and lifted up and the foot of his garment, his train, filled the temple as he was adorned in regal splendor. Then Isaiah see the seraphims, those holy angels who are perpetually appointed to hover above the throne of enshrined holiness. These creatures having six wings and it is worthy of note that with two of their wings they cover their faces. Here in the perpetual presence of the Almighty they veil their faces representing their unworthiness to look upon He who sit upon the throne. And notice the theme of their perpetual song. Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts. It is not love, love, love is the LORD of hosts, or mercy, mercy, mercy, is the LORD of host, or grace, grace, grace is the LORD of hosts, or justice, justice, justice is the LORD of hosts, or righteous, righteous, righteous is the LORD of host. It is Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. It is God's holiness that is continually and perpetually acknowledged at his throne.

Isaiah 57:15 - For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
You will notice that the word Holy here is capatilized indicating that Holy is a proper name for God. It is one of His many names because it reflects his attribute of attributes.

1 John 1:5 - This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Yes, that's right not darkness at all, none! Who can fathom it. We tolerate sin because we have a low view of God. We are worldly in our dress, attitudes, priorities, entertaiment, recreation, speech, music because we are used to the dark and come to see it as light. But it is only because we have gotten use to the dark. Our eyes have adujsted to it. Which more than anything else is a reflection of the fact that we have not been focusing upon the one who is light and in whom is no darkness at all, for if we were we would see the darkness for what it is.

The pervasiveness of God’s holiness.
Psalms 11:4 - The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
The Lord makes the temple holy; the temple does not make the Lord holy.

Psalms 68:5 - A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
It is not a place that makes God holy; it is God that makes a place holy.

Psalms 111:9 - He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.
He makes the name holy; the name does not make him holy.

Psalms 145:17 - The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
All his works are holy. Why? Because it is his nature to be holy. He cannot do anything at odds with his nature.
All of his attributes are exercised and revealed in the context of holiness.
His work of love does not compromise his holiness.
His work of mercy is characterized by holiness.
His work of grace is engaged from the foundation of holiness.


THE HOLINESS OF GOD EXPERIENCED

Gen. 3:7-10 – And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Why did they attempt to clothe themselves? Was it to cover themselves because of other people? No, there were no other people. Was it to cover themsevles because of each other? No, from the very beginning everything they did was done with no clothes on, they were comfortable with each other. They clothed themselves because they knew God would be coming. They were ashamed for God to see them in that condition. They hid themselves. They were afraid. They knew God was holy and they had transgressed his commands. Their sin drove them to hide from God.

Ex. 3:1-6 – Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Moses hid his face. When he realized that he was in the presence of the holy God, he covered his face. It was the natural response in keeping with the seraphims before the throne. Moses was afraid. In the presence of God our sin becomes more glaring. We become more aware of our inadequacy.

Job 40:1-4 – Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Job confessed his vileness. This is intresting when we consider the testimony of God in the first chapter of Job concerning this man, that he was perfect and upright and one the eschewed evil, or one that separated himself from evil. Yet, when confronted with the presence of God Job declared of himself that he was vile and that his hand would be put over his mouth lest he utter anything inappropriate before the holy God.

Is. 6:1-5 – In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah saw himself as undone. Having seen the Lord in his glorious holiness and heard the testimony of seraphim Isaiah cried out, "Woe is me". He saw himself as undone. It is hard to look at these examples without drawing the conclusion that we spend little time in the presence of God for if we did would not our response be kindred to what these men experienced.


THE HOLINESS OF GOD PERFECTED

God’s holiness the basis for our own.
Leviticus 11:44,45 - For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
Sanctify yourselves. Or to put it another way, separate yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Consecrate yourselves. Holiness is achieved by sanctifying ourselves. To the degree that we separate ourselves to that degree we will be holy. And why should we desire to be holy? Because He is holy. Why can he demand that we be holy? Because He is holy. Unfortunately most do not evaluate their lives on the basis of will this make me more holy but rather on the basis of will this bring me under the scruitny of my peers. If it is acceptable to our peers then the issue of holiness ceases to be an issue. This is a sure sign of worldliness.
Leviticus 19:2 - Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
Leviticus 20:7 - Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
I know, I know, this is in the Old Testament. We are not under the Old Covenant people object. I would agree that we are not under the Old Covenant, but it is a shame how some people use the smokescreen of the Old Covenant to justify departing from the old paths. The reality is that the moral law of God has not changed under the New Covenant. The demand for holiness has not been diminished under the New Covenant, if anything the bar has been raised. I am sickend by those who with a wave of the hand dismiss a moral precept simply because it is located before the book of Matthew. God keep us from being so dismissive concerning your Word.
As for the issue of holiness, at least in the broadest sense the concept is brought into the New Testament and continues to be present as the standard for which we should strive. Consider:

1 Peter 1:16 - Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
You notice the words "it is written". Where is it written you might ask? Well, in the Old Testament, in the verses referenced above. Our lives are to be lived in the context of holiness because God is holy. We entertain sin, justify it, rationalize it, and defend it because we are not concerned with being holy. Would to God that piety would once again become a priority with God's people! That we would strive first and foremost to be holy. Why? Because He is holy!


The fact is many do not see the importance of perfecting holiness because they do not soberly reflect upon the perfection of holiness. Instead of filling our hearts and minds with an awareness of the glorious perfections of God we allow ourselves to be dictated to and desensitized by the world in which we live. Our passion is not to be holy but to be hip. Our desire is not to be zealously effected in a good thing but marginally identified with religion.

The sin we are willing to entertain is a frightening manifestation of our low view of God. The pursuit of holiness will never be a passion with those who seek contentment instead of consecration, acceptance with the world instead of sanctification, and mediocrity instead of excellence.

We are worldly because we are not godly. We are not godly because we do not give due consideration to the Great King of heaven who is glorious in holiness.
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