Hello everyone I pray everyone had a restful and blessed Christmas, we are continuing our sermon series on the attributes of God we have looked at His wrath, His eternal nature, His grace, His aseitic nature, and now we are looking at His holiness. This will be my final sermon in this series until the new year. I will be back online in February 2013. So let’s pray: Holy and Everlasting God we thank you for Your Spirit which Christ said would be the counsellor and comforter. May your Spirit connect to ours and teach us new truths through Your Word, in Your Son’s name Christ Jesus, amen.
Today I will be taking for my inspiration Isaiah 6:1-8 which states: 6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 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.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
In my research I realised the attributes of God has been analysed many a times, and I would encourage you to read some of these sermons because each one adds something very different and very special. When people think of God they like to think of a loving Father, all forgiving. A recent study indicated that the two most unpopular concepts when analysing God is His wrath and His holiness. Yet we must know that above all God’s characteristics and how He is defined, He is holy. Walter Chantry said that in the Bible God’s holiness is referenced more than His love. This is true in fact, God’s holiness is mentioned over 613 times in the Bible. His love is mentioned only 314 times. It is clear that above all else God is holy and He expects us to be as well, to be set apart not just from the worldly values and practises but in our own thoughts and behaviours. Now there are many quotes about God’s holiness and clear instructions on holy living for Christians so let us look at the characteristics of God’s holiness, the images of it in the Bible and what we can do to fulfil that facet of holiness in our own lives.
The first image of holiness in God is His very Spirit the HOLY Spirit. There are many meanings of holy in the Bible, the Bible itself has been called holy since the Middle Ages stemming from a Jewish tradition of calling the Talmud and Tanakh were called sacred, and made synonymous with holy, the reasoning behind this is that anything touched by God has been sanctified by God and made holy. This is backed up 1 Peter 1:15 “Be holy for I AM holy.” God does not say try to be, there is no middle ground because like the Bible it cannot represent God and be a symbol of Christ unless it is perfect, in the same way we cannot enter God’s presence unless we are holy-it is not possible. God’s Spirit is first named as holy by David in the Psalms but earlier in the Old Testament its actions and presence characterise it as holy. In the New Testament alone there are some 261 passages which refer to the Holy Spirit. He is mentioned fifty-six times in the Gospels, fifty-seven times in the book of Acts, 112 times in the Pauline epistles, and thirty-six times in the remaining New Testament. But how can we become holy like these verses? The following are some of the New Testament verses on holiness whether it is God’s or our command to be holy:
A.) The Spirit of God. (I Cor. 3:16
B.) The Spirit of Christ. (Rom. 8:9
C.) The eternal Spirit. (Heb. 9:14
D.) The Spirit of truth (Jn. 16:13
E.) The Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29
F.) The Spirit of glory (I Pet. 4:14
G.) The Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2
H.) The Spirit of wisdom and revelation. (Eph. 1:17
I.) The Comforter (Jn. 14:26
J.) The Spirit of promise (Acts. 1:4, 5
K.) The Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15
L.) The Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4
M.) The Spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13
The Emblems of the Holy Spirit. Like the thirteen names and titles, his six designated emblems throw light upon both his nature and mission.
A.) The Dove: indicating purity, peace, and modesty. (Jn. 1:32, – Ps. 56:6,
B.) Water: indicating life and cleansing (Isa. 43:3 – Jn 7:37-39
C.) Oil: indicating light, healing, and anointing for service (LK. 4:18 – Acts. 10:38
D.) A Seal: indicating ownership, finished transaction, identification, security, genuine, value, and authority. (Eph. 1:13, 4:30, 2Cor 1:22
There are three important occasions in the Bible when a seal is used:
1.) As used by Darius to place Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6:16, 17
2.) As used by Ahasuerus (upon the advice of wicked Haman) to plot
the wholesale murder of the Persian Jews. (Est. 3:8-12,
3.) As you by Pilate to seal the tomb of Jesus. (Mt 27:66
E.) Wind: indicating unseen power. (Acts. 2:1-2, Jn. 3:8
F.) Fire: indicating presence, approval, protection, purifying, gift, judgment. (Ex. 3:2, Lev. 9:24, Ex. 13:21, Isa. 6:1-8, Acts. 2:3, Heb.12:29
Applicable methods of being holy:
1) The Spirit must begin the work, we cannot initiated it, when we come to Christ God begins the process of sanctification and holiness. It begins in our heart of hearts and grows outwards, my senior pastor once said that it reduces the darkness of our souls a little bit each day and if we see no improvement in our conduct of holiness then we need to question if we have come to a full saving grace in Christ Jesus.
2) Once the Spirit has begun its work we need to identify the factors in our old life that kept us from knowing fullness in God; For example partying, gambling, profanity, sexual immorality, certain friends, and certain activities. Most if not virtually all new Christians are not strong and rooted enough to withstand these, they are like Christ says the plants that shoot up quickly but because their roots are not deep wither quickly. The Bible says be in the world but not of the world.
3) One of God’s characteristics of holiness is the all consuming fire. We saw in the burning bush, the greater light referred to in Genesis (literally the sun, metaphorically God). We must be allowed to be refined by a holy fire; “11 “I baptize you with[a] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.” If we do not allow ourselves to be all consumed it means that portions of us are still tainted by sin. In Australia for thousands of years aborigines have done controlled burning of the outback because their plants pollinate that way. Even today the Australian government does it to pollinate and control wild fires because when they control burn it does not get out of control. In fact the entire country is set to burn to the ground and re-sprout and regrow almost immediately if you look at areas burned by wild fires they are nearly regrown within a few years. We are similar to this. It is only by this wild fire of a HOLY fire can we be remade a new.
4) Holiness cannot be replaced from when it was destroyed by Adam. When Adam and Eve sinned they initiated an event that had long lasting and eternal consequences that they could not have foreseen, they forfeited their own holiness and the perpetual holiness of all humankind for the rest of eternity. Since only One Being is holy He must be the one to extend the olive branch so that holiness can be restored unto us. And we see this in Jesus. I love the series of verses in Isaiah when the prophet comes before the Temple of the Most High; God extends His holiness so Isaiah can fulfil his commission.
5) We are meant to be Holy because God created us in His image. Our natural state was always meant to be pure and holy, we are called to be perfect and holy for that is what we were originally. We were meant for it and so as such it is only natural by pure logic to cling to the one Being who can help us return to our original natural state.
6) Part of the Great Commission includes the importance of preaching on the holiness of God. While the unsaved are often attracted to the love of God, the fellowship of community, or His forgiveness they must also be aware of His holiness and His wrath.
We are as a people both fascinated and frightened of a holy God, we are afraid to approach Him. In the Bible it was said if we were to see the face of God we would fall dead. When Moses came down the Children of Israel could not look upon him because his face shone with the residual traces of God’s glory and holiness. In the end it all comes down to one thing, the sacrifice of Christ. See because of our sin there is chasm that is so vast that it spans oceans of time and space. The sacrifice of Christ builds that bridge that we may go through, be purified, and enter into the holy of holies. How does the love and sacrifice of Christ achieve this?
1) God’s holiness and justice is always balanced He could not just say to Adam, Eve, or us “well all is forgiven and forgotten-don’t worry about it.” Every action has a consequence and there must be a payment, people say that is very cruel of God. Why is that cruel? Would we ever want someone who has wronged us when we have done nothing wrong to go unpunished?
2) We are human beings with a faulty, dying, and finite human brain. We could not comprehend the beginnings of God’s holiness without the work of Christ and the Spirit.
3) The first thing that is done when we are forgiven of our sins, whenever we confess whether it is the first or 400th we are made holy and pure.
In the Bible we see terms such as God is love, but we see repeated quotations of “holy holy holy Lord God Almighty who Was and Is and Is to come.” Rev 4:8. There are many references to God’s holiness and I feel, no I know that I have done an insufficient job to portray that holiness. Truly in this series I have done an insufficient job all around because there is no way a simple preacher, minister, priest, theologian could adequately portray an attribute of God. But we do know His holiness is perfect, sanctified, humbly to us, it is all consuming, it reveals all. His holiness makes everything holy when it comes into contact with unholy things. But we must always remember that like anything to do with the Lord it is meant for our betterment and our salvation. Praise be to God for His holy standards for us!