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.

Knowing the ROCK: Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 2

David Mackey

Just as false intimacy was part of what fed our addiction, True intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others.

Last month we looked at the Psalms and discovered that David used the word pictures Rock, Refuge, and Fortress interchangeably. For David, God, as his Rock, Refuge or Fortress is intimacy. Most often when David uses these descriptions they are associated with terms and phrases that are actually part of intimate relationships. In other words, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately.

Perhaps one of the more common and basic counseling issues I come across in my practice has to do with shame. Is it any surprise? We are a people based in shame. It can manifest itself in so many different ways. It is first seen in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned and we have carried the shame mantle ever since.

Check out our primary text: Psalms 31:1, In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame’‘.

David begins by equating taking refuge in God with never being put to shame. Again, in Psalm 25:20 David says ‘let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.’ Yet again in Psalms 71:1, David repeats Psalm 31:1 saying In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.’

Is there any greater source of shame then the misuse of our God-given sexuality? That’s why it was such a well hidden secret. We wouldn’t have dreamed to actually share this with anyone. Certainly we carry shame in our sin.

What a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to know Him as our Rock, Refuge, and Fortress and in so doing never be put to shame! This is what He wants in our relationships with others as well.

One of the more profound observations at the EMB (Every Man’s Battle) Workshops is to see men arrive Wednesday night with shame (along with fear) written all over their very countenance.

Then a remarkable thing happens. The men tell their stories in all their shame to other men and strangers in a small group. And perhaps for the first time they know they are being listened to, heard and understood and NOT put to shame. In understanding they are accepted. In the listening is heard repentance and sorrow. They are tasting of an aspect of intimacy. They have shared their shameful secret with another and they have been understood and accepted. They have allowed ‘In-To-Me-See’ and have been accepted; not judged, not condemned, not belittled.

These men also find themselves on the giving end of intimacy. They listen to another’s story; they see into another and find themselves listening and understanding and accepting that man.

Everyone connects, perhaps in a way never experienced previously. False Intimacy had hindered and destroyed any possibility of True Intimacy in the past. Now they are experiencing it for perhaps the first time. This needs to be a piece of recovery.

God, of course, offers us a far greater acceptance. He will not put us to shame as we let Him be our Rock, Refuge and Fortress.

Certainly He throws our sin as far as the east is from the west’ because of the work of Christ on the cross. But that is not the emphasis David focuses on. He focuses on the picture of a man sitting in the safety of the cleft of a Rock or within a Fortress or Refuge. God is that Rock and so surrounded by, held by, and protected by God we share our sin, our struggle, our failure and He only holds us tighter, listens more deeply, protects use more. He does NOT put us to shame. He just accepts. He just loves us deeply.

Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock.

What will recovery be like knowing God in a way in which we are no longer put to shame? We can sit and look Jesus in the eye and share our deepest struggles.

What will recovery be like knowing others in a way in which we are no longer put to shame? We can sit and look another in the eye and share our deepest struggles.

One final thought: Intimacy is a two-way thing. It is not just being able to share with God but him, through His Word and Spirit shares with us. He lets us look into His heart and mind. How wonderful is that?!! And how powerful is that in recovery?

In our recovery, we need to develop intimacy with God and others. We also need to invite others to find shame-free safety in finding intimacy with us.

In Psalm 31, David starts with one of the deepest aspects of intimacy perhaps because we all long so deeply to be free of our shame. We long for someone to look ‘In-To Me and See’ past our ‘ugliness’ and find value and wonderment. Remember, God told Samuel that David was a ”man after my own heart.’ Perhaps this is because David, as seen in the Psalms speaks to God, full of emotion, with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all you being. This is not a command from God but it is an invitation. Terrifying, in our sin to be sure, but it is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery.

Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Spiritual Loneliness: When the Lord Seems Far Away

Brad Stenberg

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” – Psalms 13:1-2

Spiritual loneliness is an experience we’d like to avoid because we feel excluded, punished, and abandoned by God. Still, there are times when we all experience that strange inner gnawing or hunger, that unsettling unrest that makes us say, O God, where are you? Few struggles are as acute as our soul’s search for God. We so desperately want His attention as we grope for answers, support, and relief.

You might have felt it when your prayers went unanswered, making God seem remote and uncaring. You may have felt it when you heard a friend’s experience of God’s presence in ways you’ve longed for, but never had. You might have felt it when your attempt to hold on to a word or promise from the Lord was not enough to keep you from acting out. You likely felt it when your sin separated you from God and the experience of His grace.

So what can we do? Spiritual loneliness is maintained by passivity, so it’s important that you get up and do something about it. Here are some things to consider.

Connect with others. Spiritual loneliness is a problem of relationships. People who feel like God is distant usually disconnect with others because a part of their soul is hidden, isolated, and lost. So the commands to love God and others as ourselves are not being realized. 1 John 4:20 says we can’t love God whom we haven’t seen if we don’t love others whom we have seen. So begin with the deficiencies in your relationship with others. Find out where you’re hiding from relationships and seek to connect with others. In the process God will find you and restore the connections.

Draw near to God. Though God may at times remove His presence to develop our faith, it is usually us that has moved, not God. Richard Foster says that ‘God aches over our distance and mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He longs for our presence’ (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 1). So, draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:4)

Listen to what God is saying. Embrace this time as an opportunity for listening prayer. Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16) Be intentional. Like Jacob, seek the blessing that comes from a spiritual battle fought alone. (Gen. 32:26) Turn off the radio, TV, cell phone, pager, PDA, fax machine, computer, and take time to listen. Reflect on what is happening to you. God will meet you and speak to your heart.

Focus on who God is. He is with you. God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) He knows what you’re going through because He has been there too. Jesus experienced a painful spiritual loneliness at Calvary when God forsook him for a time. So, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathized with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are ‘ yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15) God cares about you. Knowing would be empty if God did not also care with His concrete love. “He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” (Ps. 72:12)Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7)

Tell God how you feel. Our honest, candid complaint to God leads to a more authentic relationship with Him. Prayer is not about “theological correctness,” but about a real relationship in real life with a real God who really wants to know the real you. Pious words will not fool the One who knows the attitude of our hearts. Thus, Job cried out: I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter: I have to speak!’ (Job 7:11)

Take control of your mind. It takes an inner determination and discipline of spirit to take the reins of your mind, speak to your situation, and choose to praise God. The psalmist repetitively did this: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” (Psalm 42:4, 11; 43:5)

Also See:
Transformation