Summary: Reminder that God is holy and a call to change our posture/attitude toward a holy and righteous God in light of that knowledge.
I want to turn our thoughts towards the holiness of God…. and in particular, how we as human beings engage a holy God… how we can rediscover a healthy and holy fear of God.
The subject of holiness can be sensitive subject. Our experience may lead us to some confusing ideas about what it means to fear God.
- One is the idea that those who truly fear God will never have much fun in life. I believe those who truly grasp the fear God, will be the freest of all… as they fear little else.
- Another idea is that those who truly fear God will be those who make everyone around them feel guilty with their constant preaching. In truth, those who really understand the holiness of God will be the least self righteous and likely be the slowest to speak to others.
- Perhaps the greatest tension relates to the issue of intimacy…How can we develop intimacy with a holy God? For some, the very word “holiness” represents a rather negative experience of trying to relate to God… perhaps you were raised in a tradition which emphasized the fear of God in such a way that you never felt you could really be close to God… never felt accepted and able to experience intimacy with God. Too often we seem to be drawn to either a fear of God or intimacy with God…two internal dynamics which we find mutually exclusive and have a hard time reconciling with eachother.
> I believe the Lord wants to stir us this morning with this simple premise….that real intimacy begins with the recognition that another is truly different than ourselves… and cannot be reduced down to the comfort of what’s familiar to us.
· Nature of intimacy that we initially project our preconceptions and preferences onto the other..
· Such has always been the tragedy of our pursuit to know God…it’s part of our story…
God is on the mountain bearing revelation of Himself to Moses who is trembling before such an encounter with the living God… and receiving the commandments which begin with… and the people are down below fashioning a golden calf with their own hands. > They refashioned God to fit their expectations… and to serve their desires. Is that not our nature still?
To use the title of Donald McCullough’s book, whose thoughts I’m drawing on…we must face our tendency to trivialize God… for we face the dangerous illusion of a manageable deity.
“Reverence and awe have often been replaced by a yawn of familiarity. The consuming fire has been domesticated into a candle flame, adding a bit of religious atmosphere, perhaps, but no heat, no blinding light, no power for purification.” (p. 13)
> Intimacy with God doesn’t begin with the comfort of familiarity but with the humility of a holy distinction that separates us.
We do well to hear the wisdom of Solomon…for our heritage also includes one whom God gave gifted and lifted up as the wisest of all who lived on earth. He possessed not only the wisdom of men but the knowledge of God.
Solomon concluded that if man lives for himself alone his life is meaningless, and twentieth century philosophers have not improved on this conclusion. Only in relation to God does man have a purpose, and that purpose is: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccles. 12:13).
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
To know the “Holy One” means the one who stands fully apart and distinct from ourselves… in such a way that we realize we can make no presumption about Him…. come with a holy fear or humility.
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.”
> God is in heaven… and we on earth… that reality sets the course for any true hope of knowing God…We must not become as foolish as clay trying to shape the potter… or ants trying to fathom the universe.
> True intimacy with God begins with a holy fear of God…humility.
How can we rediscover a healthy and holy fear of God?
I. Recognizing the ‘spirits of our age’ that have slipped into our souls like a Trojan horse…
1. The pride of knowledge
Taking my son to his Science Fair… explaining that science is simply…learning about our world. I was reminded of how such an endeavor was originally inspired by God… but now we have redirected the awe from God to ourselves… as we have become enamored with our own sense of control and explanation. We ‘flatten the transcendent into the measurable data of immanence.” Control and explanation has defined our new world. Discovery that once produced inspiration now just produces information. The ‘awe’ of life has been lost to a trivial aha.