God’s Holiness and Us
Sure, God is holy, but how big a deal is that? I mean, isn’t God ultimately a God of love? Wouldn’t He overlook the bad, as long as we tried to be pretty good people? How then, I ask, do many of us learn best? Visually, right?! Then let us take a look, as God gets out His “canvas and begins to paint,” using impressive visual displays, so that we can learn the most vital of messages! Let us now see what God is “painting”…
A Few Quick “Paintings”
Right smack dab in the middle of the marvels of the garden of Eden, we find the first two human beings God had created! However, the forbidden tree was also in the garden! This tree, if eaten from, came with deadly consequences, God had warned. But, God had been so good! Would it really matter if they had just a little nibble – just once? Let’s see… “Adam…died…Seth…died…Enosh…died…Kenan…died…Mahalalel…died…Jared…died.” (Genesis 5:5-20) Yes, clearly sin does have consequences! “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Indeed, “There is no distinction [whether Jew or of the nations]: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22-23)
Step forward in history, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) What would the holy God do? Would He overlook their sin? Would there be consequences for their sin? We read that, while they were, “Eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all,” said Jesus.
Move onward in history a little further, and we read, “Then the LORD said, ‘…the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave…” (Genesis 18:20) Would God let them be? Would God allow them to continue as per usual, as they were, “Eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building…” while indulging in sin? (Luke 17:28) We read the Words of Jesus, “…but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:29)
No question, our holy God is getting His point across in shocking clarity – sin does have horrific consequences! We move now to a most vivid of real-life illustrations – constructed by the Creator Himself, this, to help us understand an extraordinarily vital truth! What truth? That the holy God is separated from sinners! Now, just how serious is this? It is, a life-and-death situation! What can we do to rectify things? For, we find that we are helpless sinners! So what is the real-life illustration God is going to use to demonstrate this critical truth with? Let us find out now…
The Ten Commandments
The backdrop was shockingly intense! The Lord would come down on Mount Sinai! Before the stupendous event would transpire, preparations were ordered by God. Firstly, the people were to be consecrated. That is, they were to be clean. Then, they were to, “Set limits for the people all around, saying, Take care not go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.” (Exodus 19:12) Finally, after all was done that was commanded by God, it was time for God Almighty, to enter the “stage.”
Oh, what a dramatic entry it was! “There was thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled…Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.” (Exodus 19:16-18)
So now, what was about to happen? God was going to give the Ten Commandments! But why…
The Ten Commandments Purpose
With great gravity, God was driving His point home to mankind! The line was clearly drawn around the mountain, the people were not permitted to approach the holy God, for the people were sinful! Yes, indeed, sin has made a separation between humanity and God! As we read of God, that He is, “Holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Again, and again, we find these illustrations in the Old Testament Scriptures! We see it distinctly in the Temple. Most strikingly, we find that only the high priest was allowed into the holy of holies, and that only once a year, and not without the blood of a sacrifice! In fact, upon coming to the Temple, one would encounter barrier after barrier, restricting sinful humanity from having access to the holy God!
So, what was the point in this all? What is the message God is communicating to us? He is driving home to our hearts, this, that we are helpless sinners who must avail ourselves of the substitutionary work of Christ upon the cross! Why so? The commandments themselves, should really cause the reality of the situation to sink in for us! For, what was Israel’s response, with respect to the commandments? It is recorded, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 24:3) In essence, their hearts said, “Oh, easy, we can do this! It’s not hard, God!” Yet, before they even left camp, they had produced a golden calf, and “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:6) Indeed, the Lord said, “They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them.” (Exodus 32:8)
Without a doubt, humanity has one massive problem – pride! People do not want to acknowledge that they are helpless sinners! They don’t want to admit that, “Yes, I am a bad person!” And, this is specifically the purpose for which God gave the commandments! As we read, “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.” (~Romans 3:19) For, as long as people didn’t have these precise set of rules, one could imagine that self was a pretty good person! Indeed, an average person could imagine themselves to be a robust runner, until placed side by side with an olympic athlete! Then, one would be quickly humbled, and realize one’s true standing! So it is with us, we may well imagine ourselves as “good people,” that is, until God places before us the standard to measure oneself with – Himself! And this is precisely why we read, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Indeed, the law does much more than merely point out sin in one’s life, it points out that we are sinners! Thus, pointing out that we are separated from God. That we are guilty and condemned to the Lake of Fire! God uses the law to bring us to realize that we are in enormous trouble! That we don’t stand a chance to enter Heaven, by our attempts at obedience!
Now that we have dealt with the “bad news,” we can move on to the “good news”! So then, we see that, “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh could not do.” (Romans 8:3) So what did God do? “He sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
No, we didn’t just need to be reformed – we needed to be made brand new creations! As we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
The astounding truth is this, “For while we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) Wow! Jesus did not die for good people, but for wicked people! No wonder it is said that, we are saved by God’s amazing grace! Yes, as Jesus hung by those nails, the wrath of God fell upon the Savior for the sins of our whole lifetime! Do you believe all of your sins were counted to Jesus some 2000 years ago? Do you believe that God’s wrath was 100% exhausted on Jesus for all the sins of your lifetime? For, “The LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) No, God did not forget any. Indeed, at the time Jesus hung on the cross, being punished for your sins, all of your sins were future! Think about that!
Yes, Jesus died in your place, and they laid Him in a tomb, but praise God – on the third day He rose from among the dead! He is the living Savior! Question is, are you trusting in Him alone to save you, or, are you also leaning on your obedience to the commandments? Truth is, you will never obey your way into God’s holy Heaven! No, Jesus alone is, “The way…No one comes to the Father except through me,” said Jesus. (John 14:6) This is why we now read, “Therefore…we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.” (Hebrews 10:19-20) Yes, it is through Jesus alone that we can now have access to the holy God! For He took care of our sin on the cross and credits His righteousness to those who place their confidence in Him alone to save them! For it was, when the payment for sin was finished upon the cross that, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:51)
Truth is, your attempts at obedience – self-righteousness – will never do! One must accept, as a gift, the righteousness of another – the Lord Jesus Christ! Question is, will you? Reality is, “None is righteous.” (Romans 3:10) However, most astonishingly, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.” (1 Peter 3:18) Therefore we read, “And to the one who does work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) And again, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only [uniquely born] Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) (See my post on what it exactly means to “believe in Jesus.”) Simply, though, it means to place our confidence in Him to save us. For He is the long-expected Deliverer!
I ask, therefore, what will you do with Jesus? What will you do with the gift of eternal life that God is extending to you at this time? Will you accept, or push His hand away? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
And this is way I end my posts – with God’s promise – “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Victor J Reimer
FEEL FREE TO SHARE!
Photo credit: “Nonchalant_Cool_Disdain” by Michelle Robinson
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
~Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.
All Rights Reserved