Last week we took a look inside what it means that God is love. I believe this is important to what we are meditating on this week, which is the holiness of God.
There are more references in the Bible to God being holy or righteous than there is of God being love. God's holiness does not diminish His love, and His love does not diminish His holiness.
Just as His love demanded a response from us, His righteousness demands a response.
"He who has been forgiven much loves much."
"Be ye holy as I am Holy."
Read with me this passage from 1st Peter, which is titled "Living Before God Our Father."
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear."
There are a lot of truths in this passage, let's dig a little deeper.
1) - "Be sober." When we interact with God our Father we're not meant to be flippant of light. His holiness is meant to be sobering. His holiness demands a response filled with respect and awe. Later on in the chapter it talks about the sacrifice of the precious blood of Jesus that has been spilled for our redemption. We're walking in sin when we enter His presence without the context of His sufferings.
2) - "As obedient children." A loving father and His obedient children is the relationship we're meant to have with God. His love manifests itself in grace: an unmerited or undeserved favor. It also manifests itself in disciplining. This next passage will blow your mind if you let it get inside you:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."
Love, Sonship, Fatherhood, Chastening, Respect, and Holiness are all linked together!! You cannot have a loving father without his disciplining. And you cannot truly love God without respecting Him, obeying Him, and fearing Him.
3) - "Not conforming yourselves to your former lusts." You don't get to be adopted into the Kingdom and keep your sin. The whole Bible is full of rebuke for those that claim to want to follow God but continue in sin. The Bible is described as a two-edged sword, capable of dividing our soulful nature (our feelings and thoughts) with our spiritual nature (the part of us that wants what God wants).
4) - "He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct." Yes, God's standard is high. Yes, the law is impossible for anyone but Jesus to walk out blamelessly. But God doesn't just wink at our sin. He calls us to be holy just like Him! Bear in mind these are all New Testament verses. Even in this new covenant we're still supposed to be holy!
5) - "Judges according to each one’s work" Anyone who tells you that God will not judge you is not telling you the truth. Take a look at 2nd Corinthians 5:
"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord"
When Jesus comes back it won't be an option to arrogantly say, "Because of Jesus' sacrifice it doesn't matter what I did." This verse says that we're going to receive something in return for all of our good deeds, as well as all of our bad. And I find it appropriate that the writer of 1st Peter goes into the "terror of the Lord" just in case you missed the mood in which you should be taking these things.
6) - "In fear." Take a look at what the Bible has to say about Godly fear:
Psalm 111:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 10:27: The fear of the Lord prolongs days,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (The fear of the Lord will make you live a long time!)
Psalms 112 takes a good look at what the fear of the Lord looks like.
His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Don't let your ideas of what you think holiness is put God in your little box. When He asks you to remove sin from your life don't call it unloving. When He forgives and gives you mercy for the sins you've committed don't use it as an excuse to sin more. God's holiness will never fit into your idea of what holy is, just as God's love will never fit into your idea of what love should look like.
So how do we walk this out?
Tip #1 - Ask God to make you holy as He is holy. Once you became a Christian God cleaned you of all unrighteousness. Now it's your turn to be devoted to the kind of lifestyle that will keep you in that state of holiness! The Psalmist did it like this in Psalms 139: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Tip #2 - Worship God in the beauty of holiness. (Psalms 96:9) Holiness is beauty to God. It was the spotless lamb that had everyone's attention in the book of revelation. Ask God to reveal to you the beauty of His holiness, and worship Him for being Holy. God is worthy of worship just because He's holy, regardless of the things that He does, so this is something that you can worship Him for even if it seems like your circumstances aren't the way they should be.
Tip #3 - Stay rooted. Stay locked into the Word of God, which is sharper than any two edged sword. If you are living in sin, the Word of God will root it out quicker than anything. And it's a strategy of the enemy to keep you as far from the Bible as he can keep you.