*Pastor’s Note: These lessons MAY be Scripture “heavy,” and though I am forewarning you I cannot apologize because it is the Word of God that brings things into the light. Remember that the Word says in the mouth of two or three witnesses, let everything be established. This is a spiritual principle that applies to the Word as well. (Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1). Also because of the need to explain, the lessons will have to be divided up into parts.
In the last lesson, which we left off in November of 2021, we discussed God’s Immutability or His state of being forever Unchanging. God is absolutely unchangeable. The lessons leading up to the last lesson dealt with Character, Nature and Attributes that are what makes God, God, as well as absolute in His Being. No other being or creation shares those inherent characteristics that make Him TRULY God.
In this lesson we will begin to discuss what is called and described as His moral attributes, or characteristics and nature that He has also endowed, to an extent, within His creation, mankind. These are attributes that are within our ability to emulate or imitate, though most assuredly not without the help of His Spirit living within us.
The Apostle Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Ephesians. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” – Ephesians 5:1-2.
So in other words, these characteristics ARE within our ability to manifest and demonstrate. However, understand this very direct point; these characteristics and attributes make up Who God is as God. They are a part of Him and cannot be separated from Who He is. They are inherent in Him as part of His Being, they are not inherent within us. The ability to walk in those attributes are in us, with God’s help. The capacity is there, but sin has destroyed whatever aspect of them were inherent, and that is one of the many reasons why Christ Jesus HAD to come to Save us and Redeem us. It isn’t by a long stretch, to just get to Heaven. The very act of cleansing us from our sin and sinfulness is so that we can relate AND fellowship with the Father in Spirit and in Truth, according to those aspects of which He has commanded! (John 4:24).
With that as a foundation and firmly in mind, let us begin with what appears to be from all study and Scripture the one aspect of His nature that He would have His children and people remember Him for more than any other and in fact which all the other attributes seem to derive from.
HOLINESS: One of God’s greatest moral attributes and the one that, according to Scripture, causes Him to stand out and above any imagination of other “gods” is His Holiness! I say this because if you have ever studied the Old Testament and reference the visions of God that the early Prophets and Patriarchs had, you will see that Holiness is the one trait that sticks in their minds the most. For example, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of Jehovah, some thirty times alone as the Holy One!
It would seem if you were to take the whole Old Testament and look as it as a whole instead of individual writings, the message in its simplest form would be that God Almighty is Holy. It is His holiness and our recognition of it which seems to bring Him the most glory.
Now I want you to understand that what the written Word describes as holy is God’s nature AND character. Just like the previous characteristics that we studied, His moral nature is a part of Him and as we stated earlier cannot be separated from Him. God IS Holy. He doesn’t make Himself so; His actions don’t necessarily dictate His Holiness, He just IS. This can be a daunting thought to try and comprehend with any of His attributes and nature, but if we try thinking and meditating on how these characteristics make Him God, it does get easier with time.
Now what the Bible describes as holy, especially in relation to describing God and His character, is His greatness, His superiority, His supremacy, predominance, preeminence and His incomparability. He is in His nature and character, above ALL things. There is nothing that can or does compare to Him! Now most of those words I used are similar and mean predominately the same thing, but the one that best describes His greatness is His incomparability. There is NOTHING, absolutely nothing that can be compared to Him!
When you begin to truly grasp that thought, it makes you want to jump up and shout and praise Him to the highest Heaven! Yet, even that seems a bit lackluster compared to how GREAT He is in His Holiness!
Now I want you to understand that God’s holiness even goes beyond that explanation, for when referring to Scripture, the word holy also denotes His absolute purity, His infinite ethical and moral excellence. This aspect is what God has given His creation the ability to emulate or imitate when He says in Leviticus 11:44, “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.” Again we are reminded of this in Peter’s writings, “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.
Now this holiness as it applies to God means that there is absolutely nothing within Him that can or does defile Him. God is completely separated from and is parted from the very presence of evil. This is why the Apostle John could emphatically state, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that is unholy within Him.
You can see why sin is so terrible in our relationship to God as our Father. This is also why, when Jesus was hanging on the Cross and in that one moment took upon Himself ALL the sins of the world, past, present and future, that God HAD to turn away, turn His back in that moment on His Son and this is why Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46.
To say that God hates sin is to be putting it mildly. God is absolutely uncompromising when it comes to sin. “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:1-2.
Think about this, the distance between God and the sinner, due to sin, is infinite! It is immeasurable. God and the sinner are at total opposite ends of the moral spectrum and without intervention, the two can never meet. This explains the need for the atonement where the infinite distance between a Holy God and a sinful man can be bridged and the gap between God and man can be removed.
We all know the Scriptures penned by the Apostle John; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:16-17.
When you meditate and think upon this Scripture in the light of God’s Holiness, you see that He truly loves righteousness in the lives of His children and His creation, to the extent that He sent His only uniquely begotten Son to bridge the gap between us. Thus, the Cross doesn’t JUST signify God’s unfailing love towards His creation, but it also stands for His Holiness! Christ didn’t just die so that we might go to heaven as I’ve often stated, but He died that we might have a relationship with the Father based on holiness by removing the stain and defilement of sin.
When we accept AND believe in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus we are then “grafted” in to the Vine which is Christ and thus we are renewed inwardly by the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates us and the One who works for our sanctification. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us to bring us into conformity with the image of Christ, that we might fulfill the mandate for holiness that God has commanded us be. It is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we are being made holy, and we look forward to that time when we will be completely sanctified and purified of all sin. As the Bible states it, “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:27.
Through the Redemption of Jesus Christ and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, we CAN be “holy as God is Holy,” and thus have an unblemished relationship with our Heavenly Father as He desires to have with us, His creation.