Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Holy, Holy, Holy

Sometimes the most intimidating thing about God is His holiness and justice (Isaiah 6:1-3; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 1:18). Being confronted with God's majesty and holiness can bring a person to their knees (Isaiah 6:4,5; Luke 5:8; Revelation 1:17). But the alternative to a holy God is a universe with no basis for moral right. A universe where the strong oppress the weak and everyone is simply out for their own self-interest. But the problem is that all people are sinners and fall short of God's standard (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). Even those who are believers in Christ fall short of what we should be (Philippians 3:12-16; Romans 7:14-20; Galatians 5:17). The solution is not to bring down the standard so that we can keep it, but to realize that we cannot keep it (Romans 3:19,20; Galatians 3:10; Titus 3:5,6). Rather, we need that failure to live up to the standard to be paid for so we can be forgiven (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14) through faith in Christ (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 3:9). God can then begin to change us (Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6) based on our love for God, for what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Romans 12:1,2).

But the standard needs to be upheld. The standard is the character of God (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Colossians 3:10) and being conformed to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29,30; 1 John 3:2). This is important because it totally undercuts our self-righteousness. If we recognize the standard, we will recognize how badly we fall short. And even we who have put our faith in Christ will realize we are far from where we should be. Also, we will see we will not get there in this life. Certainly, we will not lightly think we have attained to that standard of perfection. But we will realize that nonetheless we can, based on what Christ has done, enter boldly into the presence of God and call Him Father (Romans 8:14,15; Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 4:16). And this is not based on what we have done, but what Christ has done (Romans 8:31-39; 5:1,2; 2 Corinthians 2:14). This destroys at the same time the discouragement that we will never measure up and the pride that thinks we can do so by our own deeds. And it leaves the goal as something we are pursuing but have not yet reached. And the majestic holiness of God is what it should be, without our being crushed under the weight of it.

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