“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”
The holiness of God is reason to celebrate Thanksgiving!
Today I’m thanking God for holiness – His holiness.
For me, one of the most moving passages in the Bible has always been Isaiah 6. Here we read that the prophet Isaiah “saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).
He also saw seraphs, six-winged angelic beings, who “were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’” (Isaiah 6:3).
What a scene! What an experience! To see God on His throne – wouldn’t that be incredible?
What I find most intriguing are the words of the angels. They could have said many things about God. “Loving, loving, loving is the LORD.” Or “Merciful, merciful, merciful is the LORD.” Or “Forgiving, forgiving, forgiving is the LORD.” And they would have been correct.
But the holiness of God is center stage.
First and foremost, God wants us to know that He is holy. So let’s spend some time reflecting on this glorious attribute of the triune God. Our Father is “the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 71:22), the Son is “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24), and Spirit is “the Holy Spirit (numerous verses in Scripture!).
What does the Bible mean when it says God is holy? “God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology).
God has been and always will be without sin, morally pure and perfect. Let the weight of this truth boggle your mind. The concept of sinlessness is so far from our own experience, it is difficult to fathom either its meaning or its significance.
A.W. Tozer has this to say about the holiness of God:
“Neither the writer nor the reader of these words is qualified to appreciate the holiness of God. Quite literally a new channel must be cut through the desert of our minds to allow the sweet waters of truth that will heal our great sickness to flow in. We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of.
God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine” (Knowledge of the Holy).
And so as we ponder the holiness of God, we are blown away by the simple fact that God is infinitely different than us. He is holy. We are not.
I started this post by saying how thankful I am for the holiness of God. But how can I thank God for something that is so difficult to grasp? Here’s why I thank God for His holiness.
His holiness leads me to worship Him.
When I consider the holiness of God, I am awe-struck and dumbfounded. Mentally and emotionally, I stagger in amazement. And I lift up my soul in adoration! God can be worshipped for many reasons. For me, this is Reason #1 – He is holy. No one else in the universe can make that claim or even come close.
“Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is.” (A.W. Tozer)
His holiness leads me to understand my sin.
What was Isaiah’s reaction to his encounter with God? “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5).
When confronted with God’s purity, we see our own impurity like never before. This will be painful. And it should be. This is the beginning of the godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Tozer again has a good word for us:
“The sudden realization of his personal depravity came like a stroke from heaven upon the trembling heart of Isaiah at the moment when he had his revolutionary vision of the holiness of God. His pain-filled cry, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts,” expresses the feeling of every man who has discovered himself under his disguises and has been confronted with an inward sight of the holy whiteness that is God. Such an experience cannot but be emotionally violent.”
His holiness leads me to experience His forgiveness.
God did not leave Isaiah in his state of ruin. He saw God’s glorious holiness. He saw his own utter depravity. And then he experienced God’s mercy. “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and you sin atoned for’” (Isaiah 6:6-7).
We, too, must regularly see our own sin for what it is. And the longer we follow Jesus, the more evident our sin will be. Spiritual maturity brings a greater awareness of sin. We recognize it more quickly and will therefore repent more frequently and more intensely.
But the biblically informed believer will not remain in the state of repentance indefinitely. Once we have confessed and forsaken our sin, we must then allow God to enthrall us with the joy of our salvation and the bliss of His forgiveness.
This is the cycle of the genuine Christian life. Seeing the holiness of God causes us to see our own sin, which leads us to the cross of Christ and the amazing kindness of a God who is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 103:8).
Oh God, for your incomparable holiness, we give you thanks!
NOTE: For the other posts in this Thanksgiving acrostic, visit Click Here.
To date, there are 6 posts in this series, one for each letter of the word T-H-A-N-K-S.