Andy Hynes is the Director of Admissions and Dean of Men at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary and a PhD candidate there. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.
The battle within me
Today’s society is enthralled with self. We live in an era of persistent narcissism. The constant clamor of people bragging about themselves; engaging in constant self-promotion, seemingly drowns out other voices. However, it may be that there are times when focusing on self is really not a bad thing. When it comes to how we understand the qualities and characteristics of God, and apply them to our lives, it becomes necessary, even Christ-like to consider self. The great Puritan, Stephen Charnock once wrote, “This is the crown of all His attributes, the life of all His decrees, the brightness of all His actions. Nothing is decreed by Him, nothing is acted by Him, but what is worthy of the dignity, and becoming the honor of this attribute.” To stand back and glimpse the Biblical understanding of God’s unique holiness should persuade the authentic believer to evaluate himself. Consider Exodus 15:11 when Moses ascribes to God the majestic quality of Holiness. The Psalmist, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, attested to God’s own description in Psalm 89:35, of His holiness. Arthur Pink, in Attributes of God, gives us four areas where God’s holiness is fleshed out.
- In His works – Through the rule of His actions according to Psalm 145:17, and the genuine approval of His own creation in Genesis 1.
- In His law – The law forbids sin in any and all modifications.
- At the cross – The atonement displays God’s holiness and abhorrence of sin
- Through His hatred of sin – God never forgives sin, but the sinner. Sin was dealt with on the cross (Hebrews 9:22)
Loving sin more than we love Christ
All of this begs the question, so what? In what way does God’s holiness affect us? Allow me to suggest a couple. First, God’s attributes should produce revulsion toward sin. The closer we come to a greater understanding of how deep our sin is, and a fuller understanding of Paul’s attestation of darkness and deadness before Christ in Ephesians, a detestation of sin must be the natural result. Also, as Paul clearly teaches the wrestling match of flesh and spirit in Romans 7, the end goal; the pursuit, is holiness. How long will it be before today’s professing Christian community will strive after 1 Peter 1:16? If this true, why don’t we hate sin? Could it be because we do not have a proper understanding of the holiness of God? We actually do not have a proper understanding of God. In our practice, and in our churches, we passively allow individuals to “half heartedly” commit to Christ, maybe because it helps to bolster numbers in the pews, or maybe so that at our associational meetings we can receive the “biggest growth” award. Whatever the case, we seem to be contributing to the problem.
Worshiping God in His purity
Secondly, a proper grasp of the holiness of God necessitates reverential worship. Our worship today is often conveyed best through emotional singing. Worship is a deep expression of gratitude, love and reverence toward God. It is comprehending who He is, and realizing whom we are, and knowing that if He didn’t act on our behalf we are hopeless. Charnock has also said, “Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, Mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty.” Therefore, to fathom the beauty of God in all His majesty, glory and perfection permits one to begin to convey proper worship toward God. Ask yourself, how often do you mindlessly participate in worship? The habitual pattern of the majority of churches seems to foster that very result. There are thousands of thoughtless worshippers each week because we do not have a right comprehension of the purity of God. What would a proper comprehension of God sound like? The Westminster Confession of Faith presents God as “. . . the Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.” Would we beg God in His mercy to shower upon us the capability to comprehend Him this way?
Commit to the holiness of God
In Jerry Bridges’ book Pursuit of Holiness, he challenges every Christ honoring believer to pursue the uttermost consumption of God. To settle and be satisfied with anything less is to have a faulty understanding of the richness of God’s holiness. This pursuit takes total commitment, but I challenge us to not only commit to pursue holiness individually, but also to train up the next generation to do the same!