Celebrating God’s Attributes: His Holiness

Mark Verkler

“The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.” ‘ A.W. Tozer

If Tozer is correct we need to understand, meditate and grow in the knowledge of God’s Holiness. But what is holiness? The most significant meaning of holy is to be ‘separate.’ God is separate, unique, and apart from us. Being holy includes moral purity. When something is made holy it is set apart to purity. And we learn from scripture that God is holy in every part of his nature and character.

In the book The Holiness of God,( p 40) R. C. Sproul says this about Isaiah 6:

‘The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.’

The emphasis from scripture shows us that God is Holy and separate; above and apart from us. Though we were made in the image of God, we were not made God. His holiness is above and beyond our imagination. And yet we are called to meditate and grow in our knowledge of God and his attributes.

Let’s look at some great scriptures to help us learn about and meditate on the holiness of God.
Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11, NKJV).

No one is holy like the LORD,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2, NKJV)

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He. (Deut 32:4, NKJV)

Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.” (Rev 15:4, NKJV)

The Holiness of God is something to meditate on, something to chew on. I urge you to spend some time meditating on these verses’chew them up. G. K. Chesterton said ‘The object of opening the mind as of opening the mouth is to close it again on something solid.’ The Holiness of God is something solid. It is something to meditate on and hold onto. Reverence and awe should be a natural result of our growing in knowledge and understanding of God’s Holiness.
We find the scripture gives us a progression from the Holiness of God to our calling as believers in Christ.

Later we see that because God is holy, we are called to be holy. Many believe that is something that is unattainable and therefore unreasonable to aim for. We might ask the question ‘If I am not aiming for holiness, what am I aiming for?’

Let’s look at some verses about this:

For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. (Lev. 11:44a, NKJV)

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16, NKJV)

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6, NKJV)

Can we be holy like God this side of Heaven? Apparently not in a complete way, but it is still to be our aim. And when we miss the mark we confess our sins to God and our brothers in Christ. It keeps us humble and dependent on our need for the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross. Joseph Caryl said it this way, ‘Perfect holiness is the aim of the saints on earth, and it is the reward of the saints in Heaven.’ And in 1 John 3:2 (NKJV) we read this:
‘Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

So we see that our calling is to pursue the knowledge of God and His holiness, to grow in our understanding and reverence for His holiness. If we look to God and His holiness it will draw our hearts and minds in that direction. George McDonald said, ‘We remain such creeping Christians because we look at ourselves instead of Christ.’
We’ll close with an excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest September 1 devotional, Oswald Chambers:

Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is. The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. Nowadays we have far too many affinities, we are dissipated with them; right, good, noble affinities which will yet have their fulfillment, but in the meantime God has to atrophy (whither) them. The one thing that matters is whether a man will accept the God Who will make him holy. At all costs a man must be rightly related to God.

Confronting the Resistance to Change

Chris Cole

Have you had the situation where you decided to change a habit or behavior and are successful for a couple weeks (maybe longer), only to find the habit or behavior returning? I have. Change is hard. It is difficult to give up old habits and patterns of behaving and relating. How many times have you said to yourself and others that you are going to change and yet resort back to the old way of acting? Maybe you are just beginning recovery and are not sure about making changes others say you need to. What is the resistance to change about, and how can you overcome this resistance?That is what this article addresses.

Resistance is a force that pushes back against movement in a particular direction. In terms of dealing with sexual addiction (and addiction in general), resistance will be encountered as you try to change the old way of behaving. This resistance will manifest in several ways. The first resistance encountered will be simply to admit you have a problem that needs change. This admission is the first step in the recovery process. It is the step of honesty. Overcoming denial often results when the pain of our behavior is worse than the rewards it brings. Pain is a powerful motivator in breaking down resistance to change. Admitting the consequences of our actions can make us face reality and the pain it brings. It further helps one see the unmanageability of life and powerlessness over one’s behavior. When one sees the insanity of what you have been doing, you are ready to truly move forward in recovery. I have found that in the early stages of recovery, being in a recovery group and in individual therapy is indicated in order to break through the denial and have the needed support to deal with the pain of the addict’s life. I have more to say on denial a little further on.

In understanding resistance to change, one must take into account the physical impact of addiction. Research on sex addicts’ brains show a striking similarity to the brains of cocaine addicts. The implications in terms of treatment is that the hyperstimulation that comes from engaging in a sexual addiction alters the brain chemistry, leaving a clear biochemical component as one quits the habit. Withdrawal symptoms include distress, anxiety, restlessness or irritability when unable to engage in the behavior. Resistance can be experienced simply yet powerfully as the person goes through withdrawal. A person must consider a good evaluation by a therapist familiar with addiction with the possible recommendation for referral to a doctor for medication where indicated.

As a person begins to give up the old patterns of behaving, all of the emotions he or she has been medicating through the addiction will begin to come back. Simply put, there will be an awareness of emotional pain. Resistance here will be to find another way to medicate the pain. No one likes to feel pain, yet it is God’s way of driving us to look to Him to find solutions rather than in our own resources. Here again, one must confront and put into place new strategies for handling pain. Addicts generally have more than one addiction. So while stopping the sexual addiction, the addict may increase the activity in another addiction to medicate the withdrawal symptoms. Or while the person gives up the sexual addiction, he replaces it with another addiction with the majority of emotional and behavioral features remaining the same (Carnes, Pat. Addiction Interaction, p.2). Here, the person has not dealt with the core problems. He has simply found another way of self-medicating.

Perhaps the greater battle will be found in changing your belief system. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things. We have this capacity to deceive ourselves. It also says that change comes by the renewing of our mind. When we get caught up in a pattern of acting that gets entrenched, we find numerous ways of defending that behavior. Stronghold beliefs (II Corinthians 10 3-5) are the ways we protect patterns and actions that we wish to engage in that are contrary to living the way God wants us to live. Denial is the way addicts protect sexual behavior that they want to continue to engage in. Resistance will be found in the reasons one continues to justify engaging in self-destructive ways. Rationalizations (‘I don’t have a problem, you all are just sexually too conservative’), minimizing (‘it’s not a problem’), and comparison (I’m not as bad as some of the others’) are just a few. In twelve step language, this equates to ‘stinking thinking.’ One must be relentless in rooting out distortions in thinking. In order to do this, the individual must ask help of others in the recovery community to confront distortions when they hear it. You must not allow pride (‘I can do this on my own, or I don’t need to tell others or ask for help’) to get in the way. Remember, it is your own thinking that has got you in the mess in the first place. We must recruit the help of the recovery community in overcoming resistance to change.

Recovery and change doesn’t just happen. Breaking through resistance is a daily battle that Paul reminds us in Galatians 5 of the spirit and the flesh at war with one another. Paul had to crucify the flesh and its passions. To overcome resistance, one needs to be honest. Find safe people where you can share and be held accountable. Get a sponsor to assist you to work through a twelve step program and establish and maintain sobriety will really be helpful. Establish good spiritual habits of devotion, bible study, and fellowship with other believers. Avoid isolating. We need each other in this battle.

See Every Man’s Battle for more help.

The Great Accelerator of Sexual Addiction

Darren Lowman

The Internet’s ‘triple A’ ‘ “access, affordability, and anonymity” (Cooper) has allowed pornography to escalate in ways thought impossible. Men struggling with sexual sin/acting out are finding that they can explore their every fantasy in complete privacy and utter anonymity. Long gone are the days of sheepishly sliding into the corner liquor store to purchase a sleazy magazine. At a cost of less than 50 bucks a month, a DSL connection provides millions of pages of pornography. Before internet access, thirty dollars would buy a single steamy porn magazine or video.

It has become so easy to destroy one’s life.

Internet pornography has changed the way addiction counselors assess compulsive sexual problems. Generally, it takes 2 years or more for an addiction to become established. In other words, counselors want to see a pattern of maladaptive behavior over a long period of time before naming a problem addictive.

The Internet, however, has significantly reduced the time it takes to become “hooked” and for the destructive nature of this disorder to become realized. This is why Dr. Patrick Carnes, known as the grandfather of sexual addiction, states that “the Internet has become the great accelerator of the addictive process.” Internet porn, also known as the crack cocaine of sex addiction (Al Cooper), can grab a hold of a man or women in less than 60 days. Men attending Every Man’s Battle conferences are known to express the pivotal Impact internet porn has had on their lives. It is often a great accelerator of their addiction or it is the beginning point.

What makes the Internet such a risky proposition? Why should men remain vigilant in their stand against the evil lurking inside the computer screen? The internet, unlike any other medium, offers rapid fire information. Not to mention the 1,000 new pornographic web sites that enter the super highway daily. The brains circuits are quickly overloaded and require more and more stimulation in order to maintain or increase the “high”. The pleasure seeker is driven to explore the next image, surprise, or fantasy with no end to this search.

Carnes writes about one such individual in his book, Clinical Management of Sex Addiction:

Robert sat in his attorney’s office wondering how things had gotten so out of control. It was only six months ago that he discovered pornography online and now he was being charged with possession of child pornography. He was at a loss for words when his wife asked why this happened. What could he tell his own children about the fantasy life that he developed online? Robert remembers discovering the illicit pornography and then his life becomes a blur as his addiction spirals out of control and into a world he never thought he would enter. The next thing he remembers is being arrested at his home and his computer being taken away as if it were a weapon from a crime scene. As his attorney entered the room, Robert realizes how much worse things could have become if he had continued to progress in his cyber sex addiction.

Additionally, the World Wide Web is turning some not only into sex addicts but into sex offenders. Many would have never gone down such a road if it weren’t for access to the Internet. Such a case was reported by Natalie Pona, a staff reporter for the San Jose Marital & Sexuality Center:

This is new for forensic psychologists, said Dr. Al Cooper, a California based therapist and author of Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians. What were finding is a lot of these people have no history of sexual problems’. And we believe they would not have had problems without the Internet. Take the case of the 21 year old Winnipeg man who allegedly lured a teen from her home. He allegedly gave her marijuana then videotaped himself sexually assaulting her, said Stonewall RCMP Sgt. Gerry Thomas. The attack was interrupted by a passing RCMP officer. The man didn’t have criminal record.

Certainly, this type of situation is an exception and should not be understood any other way. However, men are generally unaware that engaging in cyber sex accelerates an established sex addiction and can lead them places thought impossible. Additionally, it leads many to sexual compulsion that, without the Internet, would never have developed such a problem

Most would agree the internet has changed the way we all do life.
There are many, many up sides to the Internet. However, access, availability and affordability have allowed the ignorant pastor, father, husband, employee, etc to get caught in its evil web before ever knowing how devastating it may prove to be.

Men who have been successful at rooting sexual addiction from their life have taken extreme measures to ensure the Internet doesn’t “take them down”. For example, many have removed their Internet (or computer all together) connection. When the internet is unavoidable in the work place, these men maintain accountability, meeting with others on a regular basis ensuring that their sexual behavior is “an open book.” Men in recovery must be aware of just how vulnerable they may be to losing all that matters to them, in part, because of the great accelerator of sexual addiction’. the Internet.

Are you viewing Internet pornography? See Every Man’s Battle for help.
For an Internet Filter see, Every Home Protected.