Modern-day Christians struggle to recognize God’s holiness and the ramifications of it, and this error is stealing their joy.
Defining holiness is difficult with a finite mind. We know the standard of holiness is God Himself. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
However, we cannot fully define this standard because our minds cannot transcend to God’s level to know His perfection. Isaiah was so taken aback when he saw the glory of the Lord that all he could do was notice his own inadequacies. “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:5).
Isaiah may have been seen as a holy man of Israel, but in comparison to God, he could not help but see himself for what he really was. He could not compare with God. In fact, the attribute of holiness is incommunicable, meaning it is uniquely belonging to God. Interestingly, God still calls us to holiness, and the ramifications of this call are important.
God calls us to holiness because He knows what is best for us. By holiness, He means we are to be set apart from sin as He is. Even though on this side of heaven we will never come close to this goal of holiness, even now God can see His children as holy because He sees the blood of His Son covering our every failing, and this blood is the perfect substitute for sin. However, in light of our redemption, we are to sin no more and follow that which is better.
Many redeemed Christians struggle deeply with this call to holiness, and it often goes back to an inaccurate view of God’s holiness. The enemy wants us to think of God as just another person Who lets us down, Who leaves when things get hard and Who does not understand our hardships. This picture makes sense to us because it is like every single other person in our life that we have ever known. If the enemy can succeed in reducing God to this, we will fail to trust and see Him as the greatest thing and solution to life’s problems.
However, God is infinitely and majestically greater than anything we could ever hope for or imagine. His ways are higher. He knows what is truly best for us. If you cannot trust Him, your joy will never be full, and you will never defeat sin in your life. A call to holiness—to separate oneself from sin—is to reject the lesser things of this world and run after the greatest thing.
There is a misconception that screaming at people about hellfire will be enough to talk them out of sinning. But we do not choose God over all else and take up our crosses daily because we are being held at proverbial gunpoint. We choose God because He is lovely, He is holy and He truly is the greatest thing.
Once you realize that He is so much greater than your sin, your desires will turn towards Him, genuinely wanting what He wants. Humans desire that which is greatest in our own estimation; we were designed to do so.
Bith this in mind, we can strive for holiness, knowing that it is better than the desires of our flesh. We can rejoice despite life’s trials. We can reject sin for that which is better. We can celebrate the truth that sets captives free because God is so good.