G-d is Holy
(Leviticus 19:2 KJVA) 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.
If we are to begin any inquiry into the attributes of G-d, we must begin at the point where most of us would rather run from. Perhaps I am just speaking for myself but the idea of me being holy is as possible as a dragon turning into a boy. Yet in a very real sense it is holiness which is the ideal that I desperately pursue. I both love it and hate it. I both desire it and fear it. First I need to begin by getting a good mental picture as to what exactly holiness is, or even what does the word holy mean.
It is too easy to give a simple definition of how holy is to be set apart. Although that is true, it is also so much more than that. First looking at our English word Holy we discover that it came from an Old English word halig meaning whole or healthy. But as you dig deeper we soon discover why we, ok, sorry, why I, have such a holy terror of the word. It is because it really means absolutely perfection, without a single flaw. And when I look at myself I see so many flaws. It is my sinfulness that makes me so afraid of holiness and it is my sinfulness that makes me desire holiness so much. In our scripture verse we see how G-d calls His people to be holy. Does that mean that He expects us to be perfect? Well, in a word.. Yes! Thatís absurd. No, that is the standard. Our problem is that we have lowered the standard.
I think that is why the secular world has such a love affair with the religion of evolution. And believe me evolution is just as much a religion as Buddhism, or Islam or Christianity. Evolution teaches us that we are evolving into higher beings. The funny thing is mankind has not changed since we first walked upon this earth. Oh, we might have changed the way we live, but we are still so much the same. And why is it that it is just man that is evolving. I mean, look at the way a bird makes itís nest, It is the same design that birds have been making for thousands of years. But not man, why we have evolved. We went from cave, to hut, to house to condo. But have we become any more ďholy?Ē
I think we all, in one way or another, have a built in hatred for sin. After all, we are created in G-dís image. All you have to do is to look at the evening news. We hate it when we see someone who has murdered innocent people. We hate it when we see someone who steals from people in need. We hate it when we see corporate corruption. We hate the wars and the killing and the hatred. We want to see the people to blame caught and brought to justice. But then, all we really have to do is to look inside each of us and we see that same sin that we so hate. It might not be a Hitler or Helter Skelter type of sin, but it is there. It might not always be a sin of doing bad stuff. Sometimes it is the sin of not doing the things that we know we could of, or should of, or would of.
And it is because of that sin that we hide from holiness. How can we be perfect? How can we be without a single flaw? How can we be holy? And according to this Bible, it is not just a good idea, or something to aim at. It is a commandment. Even in the New Testament, where we discover so much love and grace and peace.
(Ephesians 1:4 KJV) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
(1 Peter 1:15 & 16 KJV) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
I want to really get relevant with this because I believe this is foundational to our living the abundant life that Christ died to give us. The first step towards the holiness that inside each of us we are drawn towards, like a moth to a flame, is the realization of the awesome flame that we are flying into. Like the moth we can not even touch holiness without being utterly destroyed. Moses was only allowed to see the hind side of G-dís glory and it changed him forever. We want so much to be better people but we keep messing up. We want so much to really live a blessed and highly favored life but death keeps bursting through our front door. We want so much to overcome bad habits only to be defeated by them again and again. But the answer is not to run away from the flame. The answer is to surrender to it. Much like when you are driving on a slippery road and you begin to skid. Your first instinct is to steer way from the skid, but that only sends you further out of control. It is when we learn to steer into he skid that we regain control of our vehicle. Likewise when our lives start to slide out of control, we need to learn to steer our lives back to the Lord.
I want you to read this short excerpt from C.S. Lewisí Chronicles of Narnia. To set it up, the Children have gone back to Narnia and are on the ďDawn Treader,Ē a sailing ship in search for the 12 lords of Narnia. Edmond is listening to the tale that his obnoxious cousin Eustace, who has recently really become a new person, tells him of what happened. It seems that Eustace slipped away and discovered a dragonís cave full of treasure. He hoards the gold for himself and places a bracelet upon his wrist then falls asleep. When he wake up he has turned into a dragon and the bracelet is ever so tight upon what is now his front leg. Here we read how indeed a dragon turns into a boy.
``Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly towards me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn't that kind of fear. I wasn't afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it - if you can understand. Well, it came closer up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it.''
``You mean it spoke?''
``I don't know. Now that you mention it, I don't think it did. But it told me all the same. And I knew I'd have to do what it told me, so I got up and followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains. And there was always this moonlight over and round the lion wherever we went. So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on top of this mountain there was a garden - trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well.
``I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells - like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not.
``I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't had any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bath.
``But just as I was going to put my foot into the water I looked down and saw that it was all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bath.
``Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
``Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
``The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse that anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.''
``I know exactly what you mean,'' said Edmund.
``Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. I smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again.
- C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, chapter 7 (How the Adventure Ended), pp94-96
I know this might be hard to understand at first, but if we can get our head, and our heart around this, we will really be well on our way towards our own personal struggle for holiness. Like the dragon, no matter how often we try to strip away our failures or shortcomings, or cover-up and make amends for our mistakes, we discover that no matter where we go, there we are. We have not changed. And holiness, rather then being our aim and goal once again becomes our enemy and the thing we despise. Because no matter how much we try, we can not get there. There has to be a complete and total surrender of our hearts and our minds for the transformation to take place. It takes that turn of faith. Just like the first time you learned to steer into a skid, you have to go against your instincts and rush towards the flames of Godís awesome holiness. I want to close with a familiar passage of scripture. But please do not let the familiarity of the words diminish from the life changing power within them.
(Isaiah 6:1 Ė 8 CEV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I had a vision of the LORD. He was on his throne high above, and his robe filled the temple. Flaming creatures with six wings each were flying over him. They covered their faces with two of their wings and their bodies with two more. They used the other two wings for flying, as they shouted, "Holy, holy, holy, LORD All-Powerful! The earth is filled with your glory." As they shouted, the doorposts of the temple shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I cried out, "I'm doomed! Everything I say is sinful, and so are the words of everyone around me. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD All-Powerful." One of the flaming creatures flew over to me with a burning coal that it had taken from the altar with a pair of metal tongs. It touched my lips with the hot coal and said, "This has touched your lips. Your sins are forgiven, and you are no longer guilty." After this, I heard the LORD ask, "Is there anyone I can send? Will someone go for us?" "I'll go," I answered. "Send me!"
The first thing we need to get the vision of is who G-d is. He is high and lifted up. He is holy beyond compare. You might think you have G-d figured out but he is bigger then the box you have put Him in. He is the G-d of all creation. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When we really get a glimpse of the holiness of G-d we are desperately humbled. But His word tells us that if we who have been called after His name would humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways, He will hear our prayers and heal our land. Oh how the grace of God desires to lift you up. But you must be lifted up. You can not bring G-d down to your standard, you must be lifted up to His holiness. And it is that burning coal from the alter of sacrifice that purges us of our sins. G-d desires a people that will worship Him is spirit and in truth, with sacrifice and obedience. You can not simple do one or the other. You can not simply give to the poor or a charity or the church and expect that to be acceptable unto G-d. You can not just get into heaven by your good works no matter how holy you might appear. We all need, every day, to lay down and let the Holy Spirit of G-d strip away all the filth of this world and plunge us into the cool waters of His grace and love.
I know more than most how holiness can be offensive, but do not run from it today, I run to it. Let the truth of G-dís awesome power ignite within you a newness of life. Within you lies the latent power of all creation. Your Heavenly Father is calling you to holiness. He is calling you to the waters of life. Fire and water, life and death, joy and sorrow, hate and forgiveness, they all come into complete harmony when we humble ourselves and surrender to G-dís perfect will.
In this passage of Isaiah we see the Lord, high and lifted up. Isaiah realizes his sinfulness. God has prepared a way for Him. Then he calls him to go and tell the world of G-dís Love. I have been humbled by the presence of the LORD. I know without a shadow of a doubt that His power is beyond compare. I also know that I am a sinful man living in a world of sinful people. Isnít it interesting how it is the lips that need to be cleansed? Have you heard the words that have come out of your mouth lately? Have they been encouraging and uplifting? Have they been full of hope and grace? It is so easy to give into defeat. And whatever comes out your mouth is only a discovery of what is embedded within your heart. Donít run from the pain of redemption. Donít turn away from the cleansing power of G-dís love.
If you are ready to really start living, G-d is asking you today; ďIs there anyone I can send? Will someone go for us?Ē It really all begins with seeing who G-d is, in all His holiness, and humbling yourself before Him. He made the sacrifice, and died in your place so that you can really get on fire for Him and live. If you are ready to have all, I mean ALL of your sins forgiven, Then get ready to pray. If you are ready to let the revival fire of G-d ignite within you, then get ready to pray. If you are ready to turn from your old way of life and start something completely new and exciting then get ready to pray. I do not want you to just read these words over in your head. I want you to pray them with all your heart. Are you ready for G-d to enter in and make all things work together for the good? Then pray with me right now and believe!!!!
Heavenly Father; You are holy. Holy, Holy, Holy is the L--D almighty. I know that I am a sinner, I know that you have called me to holiness, but I fall so short. Please forgive me. Oh Father Thank you. Thank you so much for paying the price that I could never pay. I accept you Jesus and my savior. I know that you died in my place and I believe that G-d raised you up from the grave and now, right now I am asking you to live in me. Come into my heart of hearts. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and let me never be the same. Set me on fire to serve you. Set me ablaze with the zeal of the LóD. I am yours, I am yours, I am yours. Let your holiness shine in me and through me and let me continually come to the fountain and drink of your goodness, forever and ever. Amen!!!!
If you prayed that prayer, and really meant it; great things. I meant great things are going to begin to take place in your life. In fact they already have. You are a child of the Most High. You are a joint heir. All spiritual blessings are yours, and you are indeed blessed and highly favored of the LóD. Let me hear from you. Let me pray for you. Get into a good Bible believing, church and make some new, good G-d loving friends. Behold all things have become new!!!! And that means YOU!!!!!!