The Holiness of God
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.. - Revelation iv:8
The character of God is perfect. It may be considered the brilliant center in which all moral beauty and excellence and glory meet. Nothing is more important than the formation of suitable views of this character. Entertaining proper conceptions of it, and animated with the spirit of devotion, we shall worship God acceptably. But without correct views of the divine character there can be no acceptable service.
Another fact should be taken into account: The object of our adoration exerts an assimilating influence over us. Tell me the character of the gods of a heathen nation, and I will tell you the character of that nation. So where the true God is devoutly worshiped, there will be conformity to his moral likeness.
I. The Holiness of God.
Is the theme suggested by the text. Let us consider it attentively. What considerations are there illustrative of the holiness of God?
1. The nature of his law. - To reason from effects to causes is perfectly logical. The law of God is
holy. It peremptorily requires holiness and prohibits sin. Holiness in creatures is conformity to this law, and sin is a transgression of it. Now, if a sweet stream indicates a sweet fountain, a holy law indicates a holy Lawgiver. The argument, derived from the holiness of the law in favor of the holiness of its Author, acquires much strength from the spirituality of the law. Its requisitions reach farther than to the external conduct - even to the heart. Every evil desire is forbidden without regard to its development in action. It is not tolerated, though it leads to no action. The law demands purity of heart as the proper basis of purity of life. An unholy being would not enact a holy law. God is holy, for his law is holy, etc.
2. His hatred of sin and his declared purpose to punish the guilty, illustrate the holiness of God. - Sin is the abominable thing which he hates. He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and can not look on iniquity." This infinite hatred of sin can be ascribed only to the infinite purity of the divine nature. In his spotless holiness originates an abhorrence of sin too intense for the language of mortals to describe.
God says, "I will by no means clear the guilty." His purpose has been partially, and will be fully executed. Angels that kept not their first estate are suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. His determination to punish the guilty is seen in the destroying waters of the flood, and in the fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah. "The
wicked," it is said, "shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Why? Evidently because God's holiness is so immaculate that he can not permit his creatures to sin with impunity. He hates sin and must punish it. Both the hatred and the punishment proclaim the holiness of the divine character.
3. The indispensableness of holiness to salvation illustrates my theme. - The pure in heart shall see God. Jesus saves his people from their sins - redeems them from all iniquity, etc. Nothing that defiles can enter the New Jerusalem. The saints are called with a holy calling. The Spirit is termed the Holy Spirit - not to indicate that his holiness is superior to that of the Father and the Son - but because it is his province to make holy. Christianity proposes to conform all its votaries to the image of Christ, in whom is exemplified the beauty of holiness. How are we impressed with the holiness of God, in view of the fact that he will permit no soul to enter heaven till it is cleansed from all sin - washed in the blood of the Lamb, and made as pure as the angels before the throne. And our bodies must be resolved into their original elements and undergo a refining process in the grave before they can be admitted into his kingdom. They are like the Jewish houses infected with leprosy, and must be utterly demolished. How holy a place must heaven be, that such operations are performed on the souls and bodies of the saints before they are fitted for its sacred mansions! And how
strikingly does the indispensahleness of holiness indicate the purity of the divine nature!
4. The death of Christ illustrates the holiness of God. - He who died without the gates of Jeru-salem - the illustrious sufferer of Calvary - was the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person - his beloved Son, on whom rested his complacent affection. He stood in the place of sinners; for he "suffered for sins once, the just for the unjust." If sin could here be passed by with impunity, would it not have been done when Jesus died? Was it done? It was not. The rending rocks - the quaking earth - the Darkened sun - opening graves - and sympathizing nature, all say it was not. The question is now settled that God can not connive at sin. That question need not be agitated while eternity endures. It has received a quietus which will know no disturbance. But why this non-connivance at sin when Jesus died? The spotless holiness of the divine nature enables us to account for it. In no other way can it be accounted for. The divine purity shines forth in awful grandeur in the cross. The man who taices his stand on Calvary's mournful summit, will adopt the language of the text: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.
1. As God is holy, we should be holy. He says, "Be ye holy, for I am holy."
2. "What cause have we for profound self abasement, before this holy God, on account of our sinfuluess!
3. How highly should we appreciate the Mediatorial work of Christ? "We could have no ac-cess to a holy God without a Mediator. Adam, in Paradise, needed no Mediator; but to sinners, God would ever have been unapproachable, if Jesus had not become the way, the truth, and the life.
4. This subject will enable us to determine whether we are prepared for heaven. Are we like God in his hatred of sin and love of holiness? Do we exemplify this hatred and this love? If so, we have the moral preparation to enjoy the bliss of heaven.
5. The unregenerate are unfit for heaven. They love sin. They could not relish the sacred joys and services of the celestial temple. They would be miserable in heaven. Sinners! you must be born again - you must become new creatures.
[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via ILL through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. - Jim Duvall]
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