Thankful for God’s Holiness.
One of the most basic and obvious things that we should realise about God’s holiness is this one very simple insight: that if we are to have any hope of knowing God, he must reveal himself to us. Now why do I say that? Well, let’s just remember for a moment and ask the question once again: What is God’s holiness? God’s holiness is the sum expression of his consummate perfection and total glory, wherein he is revealed as being separate from all else that exists, transcendent and infinitely exalted over all. In other words, God’s holiness means that he totally transcends us. He is on a plane of reality that is infinitely beyond our reach and comprehension. Since he is holy, therefore, the only possible way that we can know him is if he reveals himself to us.
If you want to learn more about some particular country in the world, you can study it. You can read books on it or research it on the internet. You could visit or even potentially live there. It’s within your grasp. Our opportunity for learning about the distant stars are much more limited, but still within the realms of possibility. What we learn must be based upon distant observation or applying what we know about physics, but there are certainly things that we can learn about the stars. When it comes to God, however, there is simply no sense in which we can reach out to know him of ourselves. How can the finite, limited mind of man reach out and grasp the infinite, unlimited being of God? No, he must come to us – there is no other way to know him. That is one of the inevitable consequences of God’s holiness.
Now, thanks be to God, in his goodness he has come to us. We see it very plainly in the fact that his glory is constantly revealed through his creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19:1). But God’s self-revelation does not only come through his created order, but comes most supremely through Christ, the Son of God (Heb 1:1-3), whom even the demons confessed to be “the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34).
Now think about this, this should blow our minds and fill us with wonder! God, the Holy God, the infinite, transcendent God, can be viewed on full display through the person of Jesus Christ. In Colossians 2:9 we have that incredible and astounding statement: “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Just pause for a moment and consider what that really means. What it means is that the entirety of God’s consummate perfection and excellence, his total glory, his infinite, transcendent majesty – the whole fullness of deity, the very holiness of God is entirely revealed, and completely residing in Christ. Though he took on human nature, he did not forsake his divine nature, and so it is – incredibly – that the fullness of God’s infinite holiness is perfectly revealed in the man Jesus Christ.
Once we begin to understand this, the weight of it is truly staggering to contemplate. Let’s think about this! God infinitely transcends us in every way, he is utterly beyond our reach – that’s what his holiness means. God’s holiness is the sum expression of his consummate perfection and total glory, wherein he is revealed as being separate from all else that exists, transcendent and infinitely exalted over all. And yet not only has this Holy God descended down to reach us, but he has fully and completely revealed himself to us in Christ. As we gaze upon Christ, we are gazing upon the full holiness of God! Still more incredibly, through Christ God calls us into union with himself!
In John 17:3 Jesus says that the essential nature of eternal life is to “know God”. On top of this, God the Father sent Christ that we may have eternal life (Jn 3:16). God, the Holy God, the infinite transcendent God, not only desires to reveal himself to us, but to bring us into intimate union and relationship with himself. Thus Christ prays in John 17: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in my through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one” (Jn 17:20-23).
Truly, then, our God and Father has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3), and that blessing, of course, is the blessing of knowing God and of being united to him. The Holy God has fully blessed us by granting to us unlimited and full union with… himself. Truly the mystery of godliness is great, for the infinite and Holy God has been manifested in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16). As we gaze upon, believe in, and come to know Christ, we come by greater and greater degrees into a fuller and greater intimacy with God himself.
So… is this not a reason for thanksgiving? God hasn’t left us to ourselves. He has not withdrawn himself, he has not left us to perish. Instead, he has fully revealed himself to us, that we might know him, that we might dwell with him, and even that we might be united to him. To know him, and to be fully known by him. These are unspeakable truths! Had not God revealed them to us himself, they would be unthinkable to imagine. Had he not gifted himself to us, it would be blasphemous for us to even contemplate it. And yet, it has been done – the fullness of the godhead dwells bodily in Jesus Christ, and Christ has called us to come and know him, to follow him, that we might be one, even as he is one with the Father. Be thankful, believer, for you are only just beginning to understand the magnitude of what God has done for you, and how much he truly loves you. Give thanks to him, bless his name!
Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). If God had not bridged the gap between us, God’s holiness would amount to a total and unassailable separation between God and sinful man. We would be utterly helpless, without life or hope in the world. In Christ, however, God has torn down the divide (Mt 27:51), and we can enter in to the very holy of holies itself – into the very presence of God. As we then enter into the holy place, as we gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (Ps 27:4), God’s holiness will increasingly become a fount of thanksgiving in our lives. And as we then increasingly realise that knowing God in his holiness is altogether a gift of grace, that fount will become an ocean – clear and blue, ever wider, ever deeper. It is in this that we begin to understand the why and the how of giving thanks in at all times, and in all things (1 Thess 5:16-18). God’s holiness is a never-ending and ever-growing source for the response of our thankfulness. To God be the glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Question. How should the knowledge of God’s holiness make us thankful for his gracious self-revelation in and through Christ?
Answer. In four ways: first, by showing us that the infinite separation between God and man has been removed; second, by showing us that our defilement, which further separates us from God, has been washed away in Christ’s blood; third, by showing us that the fullness of the Holy God dwells bodily in Christ; and fourth, by showing us that our Holy God has united himself to us through Christ. These things show us that God’s holiness is and ought to be an infinite source of thankfulness in our lives as we are united to him and live in the joy of knowing him.