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.

Thoughts on Courage in Recovery

Mark Verkler

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” –G.K. Chesterton

 “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” –Mark Twain

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” –Sir Winston Churchill

It takes courage to face the real me. Those dark parts of my heart. The places I’ve tried to ignore or deny or cover up. I find it much easier to focus on the darkness of other hearts, or the passing pleasure of sin, or escape’anything but look at the darkness of my flesh. In Psalm 32 from the translation entitled The Message, we read of the freedom that comes from facing the darkness inside and letting it out into the light:

Psalm 32: 1Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be–you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. 2Count yourself lucky–God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. 3When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. 4The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. 5Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone–my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.

We try to do it our way; we try to ‘fix ourselves’–anything to avoid the dreadful exposure of our darkness to another.

In C.S. Lewis’ ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader,’ the young man Eustace describes how he changed from a dragon back to a boy, but only after unsuccessfully trying to peel the dragon skin off of himself three times before. After these failed attempts, Aslan, the story’s Christ figure, removed the dragon skin for him. In Lewis’ story, Eustace retells the event like this: The very first tear he [Aslan] made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off’.Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off’just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt’and there it was lying on the grass; only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been.

Jesus said to find life we would have to lose it for his sake (Matthew 16:25). It may seem a perilous thing for us to say, “search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). How can we have the courage to let God in? To let others in? To look at ourselves?

First John chapter one teaches that this begins with the honest admission of sin. If we say we have no sin or have not sinned, we are lying to ourselves and to God, the apostle tells us. But he also tells us that if we have the courage to confess our sins, the cleansing comes. A simple definition of confession is to agree with God. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and we must agree with God about it. Sin is there; sin is evil; and sin deserves punishment. When we honestly confess the blackness of our sin before God, we can then thank God for the cleansing blood of Jesus that was shed on our account.

Do you have the courage to consecrate yourself to him, or will you hold back? Do you have the courage to face the depth, the breadth, and the blackness of you sin, or the pain that it has caused you, others, and even God himself? Have you become so accustomed to denial, excuses, and self-justifications as to be content to stay in that neighborhood? Do you have the courage to move into the unknown–the unknown territory of confession, surrender and consecration?

We find exhortations in Scripture to take courage! The Lord wants us to face the unknown, knowing that he is ahead of us and with us. “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). “Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take” (Joshua 1:9). Friends, we can know, with anything God is asking us to confront–in ourselves or otherwise–he will be with us. So, in the words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.’

God at the Brothel Door!

Sam Fraser

100 years ago, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God.”

God at a brothel door? Provocative thought. What was he getting at? Perhaps we have turned to sexual encounters, via prostitute, massage parlor, sexual affair or the good old standby porn because we don’t know how to connect more deeply with God?

What we hunger and search for in this old world cannot, will not be satisfied through the ways of the world. Being made in God’s Image, we can only satisfy those deepest longings by being in relationship with Him. Perhaps, what we are resorting to is a disappointment that we cannot seem to remedy in isolation, by ourselves to ourselves, alone. Alone, in that deepest part of being, yearning to fill that part of us that is empty, in pain, or a deep desire for transcendence, but disappointed, falling short every time. It requires effort and self discipline, and more than a little suffering as we work through our immaturity, dig down into our unfinished business from the past. It is very much in our human fallen nature to not want to make the effort. It is much easier to settle for mediocrity and resign ourselves to second best. The easier way, the counterfeit, that is less demanding. Sexually acting out in whatever form we have established will always be a far cry from what God’s best… and we know that.

“Every time a man
knocks on a brothel door,
he is really searching for God.’
G.K. Chesterton

As good as the anticipation may be, the acting out and release that takes place, it is not long before whatever gratification we enjoyed, gets exchanged for the condemnation, guilt and shame that follows. The old hollow feelings return to haunt and taunt as it becomes the seedbed for the next acting out to occur as the cycle repeats itself all over again.

Although there is a momentary pleasure, however shallow and temporary it may be, it does draw us back again and again, over and over, even though it never remedies our deepest longings. It only medicates and distracts us from the pain. Until next time, when the unmet need reels us back to the old unsatisfactory acting out. We knock, and knock again at the brothel door. It is safer, easier, and a less demanding counterfeit in lieu of the real deal.

With a little thought, it begins to make sense what old G. K. was getting at. But the kicker is how can we find a way to enjoy the pleasures of God more than the pleasures of sin? If sin didn’t feel so good, it would not be so difficult to stop. We are sexual beings and as men we are designed to respond to stimulation. Putting ourselves in stimulation’s way has become very easy these days. But how to de-sexualize our need for intimacy with ourselves, others and God makes sense upstairs in our heads, but doesn’t seem to have much pull downstairs in our hearts where the emotions and drives can seem so overwhelmingly powerful and seemingly impossible to stop at times. It is easy to get discouraged and resign ourselves to defeat.

To experience more pleasure and enjoyment with God than through the old, old habits of sin is the $64,000 question (with inflation maybe it is now the ten million dollar question).

Each one of us in our own way needs to discover how we can enjoy God, to find pleasure in relationship to Him to such a degree of depth and intimacy that the pleasures of the flesh, of this world, or of our own selfish indulgence can be confronted, battled and defeated. Ephesians 3:17-19 says it this way:

May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (NLB)

The point I want to raise is to get you thinking about the making a conscious choice between the two types of pleasures. It will take a little thought and some creative experimentation and you may have to try out several different activities to make the right connection, of enjoying the pleasures with God, but it is worth the effort.

Through this growing process, there are as many different ways that fits us to a ‘t’ that can fulfill the knocking inside. So experiment: try this, try that, don’t stop, the Lord will help you. He wants this even more than we do! Get those legitimate needs met in a healthy expression of an intimate relationship with the Lord….regularly.

For me, one of the greatest ways, when I am alone and circumstances dictate that I have to find a way to enjoy myself without access to others has been to whip out my ever-growing collection of praise and worship c’d’s. Worship opens the door to all the Lord’s goodness. Psalm 30:4-5 says,

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!

I particularly like the Vineyard style of contemporary music. To each his own. The point being is to try out some different activities, get creative, find some ways that will bring you to God and experience deeper pleasure with Him rather than our own former discretions.

Knock, knock, knock…. go in.