“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The Gift of Holiness
Exodus 20:18-19 reads, “All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Romans 7:9-12 says, “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”
When we are in the presence of holiness there should be a reaction. It is normal when the immediate reaction is trembling, being frightened, and mourning over one’s lack of holiness, goodness and righteousness. It would not be normal to react with a cavalier attitude to the presence of the sinless pure God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere at all times. He see’s everything, knows everything and does not break a sweat when He speaks the entire material universe into constant existence. When He was speaking to the nation of Israel their reaction was to request that He stop speaking because of the fear He was driving into their souls.
His Law is holy. God speaks His holiness into our hearts through His Law. Paul said that he was once alive apart from the Law but when the commandment came he died. What he is saying is that when he finally understood God’s holy Law then it cut him to his soul when he realized he cannot and has not fulfilled the demand of God’s holy Law. Holiness includes sinless purity and when one compares themselves like Paul did to the Law then trembling of the soul should arise and respond like Isaiah did, “Woe is me, for I am ruined, I am a man of unclean lips who lives among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts – Isaiah 6:3” Isaiah saw God’s holiness and died like Paul explained He did in Romans 7.
When we are presented with God’s holiness in His expectations for us then we are cut to the heart. His expectations are nothing more than being the ones who display His image. His nature is our standard of holiness. It should cut us to the heart because no one who can say they are holy, righteous and good. The consequence is death for not meeting His standard – Romans 3:23. Just compare yourself to Jesus Christ in how He thinks, acts and speaks then you will get a deep understanding of God’s expectation for your life. Does it cut you to the heart like ours?
Matthew 27:50-54 says, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared too many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
The purest most visible sight of the holiness of God came at the cross of Christ. This moment in history was the most visible form of God’s selfless holy nature. The one He desires us to imitate. Sin requires death and Jesus showed God’s Holy selfless nature by dying in the place of sinners. God’s Holy just nature was on display when God the Father exhausted His anger onto His Son for sinners. The Son showed God’s Holy selfless nature by praying for those around Him who were crucifying Him. The display of Christ on the cross served as the apex of God’s holiness.
This vision of holiness came with an earthquake, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, and rocks were split. Tombs opened and many bodies of dead saints came back to life and roamed Jerusalem. What an event! It was the event of all events in human history. It came with much fear and trembling as the centurion declared, “Truly this was the Son of God!” When a visual of God’s holiness is proclaimed it comes with much fanfare in many forms like thunder, lighting, earthquakes, miraculous signs, wonders, and conviction of the human heart which is our own personal earthquake in the presence of holiness.
What is the point of talking about God’s holiness so much and how it should makes us feel? How does God’s holiness tie into Christmas? Because we need to be holy in order to see God – Hebrews 12:14. God knows that we are not and He designed it so that He could show us His grace – Ephesians 1:6. God is a gift giver and the truth of the Gospel is that holiness is something we cannot perform or earn but it must be received, unwrapped, and possessed as our own from now and forever.
Christ and the life He lives implanted by the Spirit is God’s gift to us – Ephesians 2:8. We know that we have received that gift when we look to Jesus Christ as our risen Lord and Savior, who has defeated sin and death by rising from the dead. We come into an agreement with Him that His ways are better than our ways, we confess our sins to God as our loving Father, and begin to imitate His Sons way of living. Seeing God’s holiness is a gift, feeling a sense of pain at the vision of God’s holiness is a gift, realizing our Father loves us through Christ is a gift, each step forward we take in holiness is a gift, when we fall it is a gift of our Father to remind us how much He loves us by pointing us back to Jesus, our gift – 1 John 3:7-8! All of life from now until eternity is a gift from the Father of Lights!
Merry Christmas to you if you are a child of God! Merry Christmas to the redeemed ones as everyday of your lives in pursuit of holiness is one that was purchased for us by the Holy One on Calvary. Merry Christmas to you child of the Most High God who has covered you with the holiness of His Son and adopted you as His beloved child! Merry Christmas to you, our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, whose Father is the creator of all things! May this new year be one where more come to know our family through our awesome Lord, Jesus Christ! Amen!