Sadly, most of the churches in America will never preach on sin or Holiness for fear of offending someone's sensibility or bringing conviction on someone who does not want to be convicted. Thus, in an age of exaggerated political correctness, many pastors and church leaders will play it safe, seeking not to offend anyone, thinking this will prevent them from causing division. They think they are safe if they tiptoe around such subjects rather than attacking them head-on, and presenting a challenge for people to live by. The result of playing it safe has created much more division than could possibly be known. It has left many people in the church suspended in a fog of ambiguity and relativism, alienated from a deeper, more complete knowledge of our Lord.
This attitude has led countless people in the church into that bog, and has even filtered into secular society, causing misunderstandings and suspensions that lead away from Truth. One cannot know truth if one has convinced oneself not to see it, or has prevented others from seeing it. People are left not knowing, or not even desiring to know, the great truths of the Christian faith. Rather, they are seeking only what is interesting and exiting in the moment of the now.
In these new belief systems, God is placed in a nice box, removing the knowledge of His majesty, wrath, and judgment from us. In so doing, we have placed God in a bog of indistinctness, preventing ourselves from the realization of who He is, and what He has done for us. When this happens, the average person in the pew will fail to see Holiness as relative, so, they will live life based on what feels good, and what they desire. With these ideas, they will fail to grow in maturity and faith, and they will not be able to take His call to the next level of action, as He collectively calls on us to do.
Why do we fear Holiness and conviction? Most secular people, and even some Christians, perceive Holiness in the wrong way. They see it as a set of rules and judgments, not the majesty and awe of God. They fail to see the benefits of seeking and knowing Holiness that, in turn, produces character, maturity, and growth. They fail to see the harsh reality and destructive nature of sin, how much they need to be forgiven, and how much Christ is willing to forgive.
God calls us, not to conform to the world, but to Him. This requires conviction, and the willingness to peruse through difficult times and people who have opposing ideas. We do this because we desire to because of what He has done for us, not because we feel obligated, or forced. Holiness is also a trust that many do not see, a trust that He is there, and that we can have comfort and confidence in Him in all aspects of life. Otherwise, we remain chained to the despair of loneliness and self-destruction.
When I was a small child, my grandma taught me to say grace before each meal. She taught me these effortless, easy to remember, yet profound words, "God is great, God is good, and thank You for this food!" It was a very simple and uncomplicated prayer, but it had an insightful, reflective meaning and depth to it.
Even though, as a child, I did not comprehend the depth, this effortless prayer did help me understand, at a young age, that God was different. I was able to see that God was not only my Provider, who gave me the food I was about to eat, but also that He is different from me. He was not like my father or grandfather, or that pastor who scared me. He had an awesome-ness to Him that mere people did not have. Yes, He provided, but this was not what He was all about. This prayer meant to me that there is much more to God than the food that was in front of me.
Sadly, most people seem to seek God only for what they can get from Him. They see only the food, not from whence it came. If all we seek is a divine vending machine, we will not see much in God, nor will we respond much with what He does give. We have to understand who He is before we can understand and respond to what He does, what He did for us. I did not fully comprehend this prayer of grace until my seminary days when I started to learn more about Holiness. I realized further that by knowing who God is, I would come to appreciate Him more, and would strive harder to make my life more pleasing to Him.
This prayer is about whom God is, that He is Great and Good. In His greatness is purity, Holiness, and, of course, righteousness. These are some of the things that describe His character. These give us, within our ability to comprehend and understand, glimpses of who He is. God, in being, transcends space and time. He is omnipresent (all present everywhere), and omniscient (all knowing all of the time). He is unknowable to our limited and finite being and understanding. It is just as we are unknowable to a worm, or to the bacteria that resides within us.
So, how can we know Him? By what and how He has revealed Himself to us. These revelations are coupled to and filtered through our limited human understanding. Because He has sought us, and revealed Himself to us, we can now comprehend Him in a limited way. And, what we need to know about His character and attributes is His Holiness.
Holiness is the fundamental aspect and essence of the core nature of who God is, that He is all pure and perfect, sinless. God is unique and unapproachable by anything that is not pure itself. Because He is so perfect, and we are so sinful, He is the object of dread and fear to us! Just as He awes us, He also terrifies us. He is great! His pureness cannot tolerate any form of sin (Isa. 6:5; Hab. 1:13). Therefore, we cannot approach Him. That is why as Christ lived in perfection, without sin, His purity and sinless state was imputed upon us. He took our place of wrath with His perfect life, so we can be seen as pure, covered by His nature so we can commune with Him.
Because He is holy, He is also just in all that He does, including His judgments (Gen. 18:25; Psalm 7:11; 96:13; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:5-16; 7:12; Rev. 16:5-7; 19:1-4). He is good! We can trust that He always makes the right choice in bestowing the call upon our hearts. He has what is best for us in mind. Even when bad things happen, we can trust in His providence, and that He will bring us through.
The primary attribute of His character that is given to us is His Holiness. Holiness means pure righteousness, right actions, and right being. Because He is set apart, far beyond us, He is the Object of awe to us.
There is a profound difference between God, humanity, and creation. God is transcendent and majestic, which causes an imposing barrier. This runs the range from adoration to dread. He is ultimately perfect, and we are ultimately sinful, in need of His love and forgiveness. Thus, we can see how important this subject is, as it will show us how we really are, filled with sin, and in need of a Savior.
Even in God's pure state, He is filled with love, forgiveness, and compassion, when we turn our hearts to Him (Isa. 51:5-6; 56:1; 63:1; Rom. 3:25-26; 1 John 1:9). He is of more good than we can ever imagine! Our punishment has already taken place. Christ is the One who took it on our behalf.
The result of pursuing Holiness in the Christian life is realizing the importance of passion and conviction so we are determined in our faith. We have a deeper and more unwavering trust and belief for our Lord that gives us more faith; so all aspects of our life are transformed. Holiness will help us cultivate a life long pursuit of knowing and making known our Lord Jesus Christ. Being pursuers of righteousness, seeking His knowledge through His Word, as well as seeking growth and maturity in our faith development, put into action, will cause a fire we do not nor cannot put out.
So, let us go out and live as if our life belongs to our Lord, as it does, and be Holy!
©2002, totally revised 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org/