Date: May 13, 2018
Pastor Matthew Burt
Title: Discipline for Duty Part 4
Text: Numbers 15: 37-41, 1 John 4:7-21, Hebrews 12:14-17
Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass.
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears
BIG IDEA: Disciplined for Duty Part 4
On Mother’s Day, 1971 PB came close to making two mothers bereft. As he came to a corner marked 45 mph, he took the corner at 60mph. As he hit the corner he lost traction, swung into a telephone pole and nearly killed the children of two mothers. He did that not just because he was a dope but because he refused to take seriously the warning on the yellow diamond sign that said 45 MPH! We all often ignore warnings in our lives. We all, like an 18 year old boy, think that we can ignore warnings and come out unscathed. People smoke cigarettes and think they are not the one to get cancer. People drink and think they will not become an alcoholic. We find ourselves overweight, diabetic or heart attack victims. We are warned not to date or marry an unbeliever. Scripture tells us to guard our heart and we think we can ignore this warning. We are warned here that we are to strive after holiness. The call to holiness is far more important than watching what you eat drink or how fast you drive. The warning here is that we are to fight after holiness because if we don’t we don’t see the Lord. Jesus says it in the beatitudes this way: blessed who those who are pure in heart for they will see the Lord. The warning is this – without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
Last week we looked at this concept of holiness. Sometimes we think of holiness as a rigidity that has no joy or delight in it. But as we looked at the word holiness we saw that it not only means to be filled with moral rectitude but it also means that there is a devotedness to God. The word devoted has two connotations. The first is to be devoted to a person. Certainly today many mothers will hear that their children are devoted to them. The second connotation is a set apartness for a specific purpose. As believers in Christ, we are devoted to the use and purpose of God so that the perfection and love of God might be reflected not only to other people but back to Him. All we are and all we do extends His reputation and shines light on Him.
Today we are going to dig deeper to understand the attribute we call holiness in God. We will look at what it is so that next week we can understand what holiness looks like in the child of God.
OUTLINE FOR TODAY:
Point 1: Look at holiness as an essential quality of God
Point 2: Look at holiness as a practical attribute of God
Point 1: Look at holiness as an essential quality of God
When we speak of God singular, we generally think in terms of God the Father. Then we have Jesus and the Holy Trinity. But here we are speaking of the Godhead.
Moral perfection is essential: meaning it is part of the essence. One way to hear essence is a character that makes a thing a thing. For instance, the essence of a diamond is hardness and clarity and brightness. Another way we can speak of essence is like if we were able to squeeze God down to His essence, what would it be? It would be holiness. So when we talk about God’s essence; it is His holiness. God says be holy because I am holy.
Here is a rather long quotation from the Puritan, Stephen Charnock in his magisterial treatment of the attributes of God:
“The notion of …[the] God [of the Bible] cannot be established without separating from him whatsoever is impure and bespotting both in his essence and actions. Though we conceive him infinite in majesty, infinite in essence, eternal in duration, mighty in power, wise and immutable in his counsels, merciful in his proceedings with men, and whatever other perfections may dignify so sovereign a Being, yet if we conceive him destitute of this excellent perfection and imagine him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make him but an infinite monster, and sully all those perfections we ascribed to him before; we rather own him [think of Him] a devil than a God. It is a contradiction to be God and to be darkness, or to have one mote of darkness mixed with light. It is a less injury to him to deny his being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes him no God, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable God.”
A) No other attribute of God is tripled; holy, holy, holy. You never find in the scripture loving, loving, loving or mighty, mighty, mighty or faithful, faithful, faithful but God chooses to triple His holiness. In the Hebrew language, they didn’t have the word very. So if you wanted to say “very” you said it twice! God chooses to show His essence in the tripling of this attribute.
B) He singles out His holiness by which He swears by. We swear by the Word of Truth, the Bible, that we will tell the truth. What does God swear by? He swears by Himself. In Psalm 89:34 God says“If I lie to David, let me never be considered as holy, or thought trustworthy by men or Angels. He swears by His holiness! He swears by the highest attribute that He has.
C) When the Father redeems a lost sinner, the attribute that He gives to the new born person is His holiness. SO we can look in Ephesians 4:24 – put on the new self…. In true righteous and holiness. That is what He wills that His children will be and show as a sign of the relationship to the Father. The sign of your sonship is your holiness.
When David prays his heart longing, it is to see the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4) where? IN the holiness of his temple. Where did the presence of God dwell in the tabernacle? In the temple? It was in the holy of holies. He is separated three layers away from His creation.
D) If God were not holy, He would cease to exist. He cannot be God and unholy. It is necessary that He is holy. We are thankful for this because His judgement without holiness would be fearful. If God loved sin, He would cease to exist.
Point 2:Look at holiness as a practical attribute of God
How does this come down into my life practically? What does it mean to me that God is holy?
A) God never wills anything contrary to His character. So everything God does, wills, purposes is a result of His character – the essence of holiness. He always knows the right thing to do. We don’t. We might think we do! God never has to weigh the alternatives. He also knows fully. He is not hampered by insufficient knowledge, fear of the unknown, memories of the past or lack of information. God is never trapped by these things.
B) He is never uncertain.
C) He has the ability to do what He knows is right. His knowledge begets action so His actions are perfect in holiness. You might know what is right to do but you may be incapable of following through because you are afraid of the consequences. God never has this problem. We hesitate so often to do what is right because we enjoy the fruits of disobedience far more than we have confidence in the fruits of obedience.
D) He is free from any restraint in His holiness. His holiness is infinite.
E) His holiness is unchanging. It is immutable. God does not choose to be holy. He IS holy. If he chose to be Holy then that would mean He could chose to not be Holy.
So whatever is your circumstance, the holy God has chosen the best situation for you because He knows the situation and He has the ability to carry it out and He has no hesitancy. This comes right on the heels of discussion of God’s discipline. God has chosen to discipline me so that I may be holy. When we don’t celebrate our lot in life or say with David that the lines of our life have fallen in pleasant places then we say that God’s decision in my life is an unholy decision.
One other piece – here’s an ultimate practicality of the holiness of God: the plan for redemption from sin. God’s holiness is exhibited and proven in the cross. His holiness is shown in the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ in order that He might bring persons to Himself. Because God is holy, He hates sin. We tolerate sin; we laugh at sin. We don’t hate sin like God hates sin. To love holiness is to hate sin. God’s perfection, His essence is that He loves holiness. He loves Himself and He cannot help but hate anything that is opposed to His holiness. IF God did not hate evil, then He would hate Himself. We need to consider this because we have an inclination not to hate sin; to justify sin, even to blame God for making us the way He has made us. We need to understand that God hates all sin. We need to ask God for a burning hatred of God in our lives. How is this shown? It is shown in the cross. Sin broke the relationship that God had with Adam and Eve. They had a sweet fellowship with God. Because of sin, that intimacy was destroyed. There was a catastrophic change in human- creator relationships. Not only does God hate the sin that caused the disruption, He hates the disruption that sin caused. God can’t live without peace. I know this because on a hill we see a cross raised and we hear the desperate heartbroken cry “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” Who cries out this way? Who’s throat constricted with dryness and pain cries out these words? The one who is called “this is my beloved son”. It is the only begotten son of God. The most perfect relationship has been broken. The father hates the sin so much that He is willing to forsake His son. The answer is because He loves holiness and He loves so much that He wants the disruption over with. So He pours out His hatred of sin upon His son so His holiness may be restored and the relationship repaired. His holiness is proven by the death of His only begotten son. And that is the most incredible and practical proof of the holiness of God. Salvation is granted to all who will take the fruit from the tree called Calvary; that fruit is His holiness.
Upon taking that gift, He says I see only the perfection of my son. The cross is the purest and surest emblem of God’s love for us. But do not miss this – we have to be careful that we do not make ourselves the supreme object of love at the cross. It is holiness. God loves His holiness and because it is so precious to Him it pleased Him to bruise the Son. God and His holiness are central to the cross. The holiness is central; not human beings. Anyone who receives the gift of the purchased holiness of Christ for us will be wrapped and robed in His holiness and God’s detestation will be removed. His love for His holiness caused the death of Christ so that He might restore the image in us.
Holiness is essential and practical in your day to day life!