Summary: It was C.S. Lewis who said, “How little people know who think holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.”
As a young boy I was really bored in church. My mom would give us pep talks every Sunday morning in an effort to remind us to pay attention and not goof around. Unfortunately, I often disregarded her instruction. I was either yawning out loud, poking my sisters, making faces at the minister, or laughing about something that seemed funny – and you know how hard it is to stop laughing in church, don’t you?
My mom had a go-to punishment for bad church behavior. She wouldn’t say anything in the car – which was my first clue that there was something wrong. And then, when we’d pull into the driveway, she’d say something like this, “Because you didn’t pay attention during mass, you need to have your own personal church time with God. Go and kneel in front of the TV for 30 minutes and tell God about your bad behavior.”
The reason we had to kneel in front of the TV was because there were some statues on top of it – I think Joseph and Mary and maybe even a statue of Jesus were there. We were instructed to fold our hands and pray silently for the entire time. My sisters didn’t receive this punishment very often. Let’s just say that I learned how to turn the Packers game on and turn it off quickly whenever I heard my mom making her way to the living room!
Church was a drag to me – and frankly God seemed boring as well. It was C.S. Lewis who said, “How little people know who think holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.”
Once, as an experiment, Isaac Newton stared at the image of the sun reflected in a mirror. The brightness burned into his retina, and he suffered temporary blindness. Even after he stayed behind closed doors for three days, the bright spot would not fade from his vision.
I pray that you and I would have a similar experience as we fix our gaze on the penetrating purity of the holiness of God. May His brightness burn into our lives in such a way that it would never fade from our vision. May we find His holiness beautiful and not boring.
I came across a quote that could have been written today: “I have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holiness and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country. Politics, or controversy, or party spirit, or worldliness have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us.”
This statement was actually made by J.C. Ryle in 1879!
I want to say that just because I’m drawn to the topic of God’s holiness, that doesn’t mean that I am therefore a holy man. In fact, as I have prepared I have become aware that the reason I have a deep hunger to learn of the holiness of God is because I am not holy. I’ve tasted just enough of God’s holy majesty to want more.
The word holy means, “to divide, to mark off, set apart from all else.” Our English root refers to that which is whole and complete. Used of God, holiness is that which divides God from everyone and everything else. God’s holiness refers both to His majesty and His moral purity.
In Exodus 15:11, after God parted the Red Sea, Moses asked, “Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” The awesomeness of the Almighty is His majestic holiness. Revelation 15:4: “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy.” A.W. Pink adds, “He only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy.”
We could call God’s holiness His transcendent attribute because it runs through all the rest. His justice is a holy justice, His love a holy love, His power a holy power.
As we approach this topic, let’s admit that we don’t really understand God’s holiness like we should. A.W. Tozer said it like this: “We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproacable, incomprehenisible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.”
In order to help us focus on our holy God, we’re going to unpack Isaiah 6:1-8. If you have your Bibles, please turn there. Let’s listen to God’s Word now (read by Rick and Vikki Huisman, Megan Bill, and Nick Castillo).
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’ And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’”