“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2 (NIV)
“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:2 (KJV)
What is holiness anyway?
When I was younger I heard a sermon on holiness. My memory of it was that it talked about the things we should NOT do in order to be holy.
But God is holy, splendidly holy! Beautifully holy! And how many of us think about God’s holiness primarily in terms of what He does NOT do?
I’m not saying that it is not important for us to abstain from evil. We should. Nor am I saying that the Bible never explains God’s holiness in terms of what He is not. It does. On occasion. Like in 1 Jn. 1:5:
“God is light; (what He is)
in Him there is no darkness at all.” (what He is not)
So, maybe if we looked at holiness from a positive point of view, we could have a better idea of what it is, why it is beautiful, and why it is necessary to truly worship God.
God, who is holy, is described in the following terms in the Bible (this is just a partial list), and He tells us to “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16):
1. “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
Do we always love Him wholeheartedly and our neighbor as ourselves?
2. God is merciful and compassionate. (Lam. 3:22,23; Matt. 5:7)
Are we merciful to those who offend us? Do we show compassion to those who are hurting? Do we ever withhold mercy or compassion from anyone?
3. God is faithful. (I Thess. 5:24; 1 John 1:9; Rev. 19:11)
Do we always keep our word?
4. God is joyful. (Hebrews 12:2; Psalm 16:11; Nehemiah 8:10)
Do we rejoice always? Do we perfectly avail ourselves of the joy of the Lord? Do we rejoice with those who rejoice? (Rom. 12:15)
5. Jesus is our Peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
Are we peacemakers? (Matt. 5:9) Do we do our best, if at all possible, to be at peace with all people? (Romans 12:18)
6. God is good. (Psalm 136:1) He shows us goodness by His words and deeds.
Do we do the same to those around us? What about to those who are different from us?
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble or made you depressed because you know you don’t measure up. I don’t either. None of us do!
That’s why Jesus had to die in our place. He knew that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) and that we would never be able to be holy on our own. So He shed His own blood so we could be forgiven and be clothed in His holiness!
Unfortunately, even after we have received this precious gift of forgiveness and salvation and a right standing with God on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness, we still sin. Sometimes we even forget where we came from and the grace that picked us up. We begin to take on airs as though we had somehow earned a place with God (who are we kidding, anyway???) Then we start acting like we have the right to look down our noses on others.
This is not a holy reaction to the amazing grace that God has shown us. It does not give glory to God, and it is not the pathway to the joy of the Lord. It grieves the Lord and hinders us from truly worshipping Him.
Fortunately, God is faithful even when we are not. (2 Tim. 2:13) He promises to forgive us when we confess our sins and to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The irony is that we walk in holiness by daily humbling ourselves and confessing our sins to Him. When we empty ourselves of self and let Him fill us with His Holy Spirit, we allow Him to clothe us in His holiness. And clothed in His holiness is the way He wants us to be when we come to worship Him.
Oh, and by the way, God describes His holiness as beautiful and splendid! So, ladies, let’s put on His holiness! The clothes we bought at the mall will pale in comparison to “the beauty of His holiness.”
May our greatest desire be like that of the psalmist when he said,
“One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4 NIV
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