Posting is late this week, just one of those that kept slipping away...
The Holiness of God has laid out the following major points so far:
- Understanding the concept of Holy is essential to understanding who God is.
- Understanding the Holiness of God is essential to understanding who we are.
- Holy is defined as separated from common use for a special use in a pure way.
- Only God who is Holy can make someone or something holy.
Point #2 is made clear in chapter 2:
Isaiah explained it this way: "My eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty" (Isa. 6:5). He saw the holiness of God. For the first time in his life Isaiah really understood who God was. At the same instant, for the first time Isaiah really understood who Isaiah was.And again in this chapter's quote from John Calvin:
Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.
Using examples from Scripture, the Peter Principle, students who break the curve on a college test, golfing with Billy Graham, and Of Mice and Men, Sproul makes the main point that real Holiness unsettles people.
I came away from this chapter understanding that there are two different ways Holiness unsettles people. This first way is represented by the tax collector in the parable told in Luke 18:9-14. People that fall into this group realize that they are sinners and that they are ruined in the presence of the One who is Holy. The come to God in fear and tell Him, 'leave me for I am a sinner'. Sproul has described this first group using Isaiah (chapter 2), horror movie watchers (chapter 3), and the disciples encounters with Jesus in Mark 4 and Luke 5 (chapter 4).
The second way is represented by those who are like the Pharisee in the parable told in Luke 18:9-14. They are so filled with pride, so focused on the external behavior rather than the internal heart condition, and so enamored with the attention of men that they become hostile around One who is truly Holy. Sproul has described this group by looking in more detail at the Pharisees ("one who is separate") and the Sadducess ("righteous ones").
Sproul points out that the Jews in Jesus' day revered the prophets but this was because they were safe dead heroes. But when Stephen reminded them that the Jews had killed them as well as the Righteous One they foretold they became enraged.
People have an appreciation for moral excellence, as long as it is removed a safe distance from them. The Jews honored the prophets, from a distance. The world honors Christ, from a distance.
This is a good warning for us. How are we reacting to the Holiness of God - like the tax collector or disciple who calls out for mercy and asks God to leave for I am sinner or like the Pharisee who is so blinded by his hypocritical holiness that he becomes hostile when faced with real Holiness and is fearful of being exposed as a hypocrite.
Do we want to hold Jesus back so we can feel safe or do we want the real Jesus who is Holy and makes us quake at our sinfulness?
So it was with Christ. The world could tolerate Jesus; they could love Him, but only at a distance. Christ is safe for us if securely bound by space and time.
The irony is that only when we face the Holiness of Jesus and our own lack of holiness can we actually have eternal safety. Because only in accepting the holiness that is graciously given by the One who is truly Holy are we actually made holy and blameless and acceptable to God. It is only then that we can say - there is no condemnation in Christ.
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