Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Of Radioactive Power Plants and the Holiness of God
Wow, I can't get over how greatly people fear radiation. In Japan we will learn that over 20,000 people have died as a result of the tsunami. Whole towns were wiped away with every soul in them. The news has reported very little on this massive loss of life, instead we keep hearing that there might be radioactivity in the water and the spinach. The focus is all on the Nuclear Power plants and the potential loss of life (no one has actually died of radiation in Japan) and say very little of the 20,000 who HAVE died.
Here in the US people are buying up Potassium Iodide tablets for fear that the radioactive cloud or wind will make it around the world. Yes, these concerns are within the realm of possibility but probability says we are over reacting and that we are TERRIBLY frightened of radiation.
I want to take advantage of this powerful fear to speak about something that very few people fear - the Holiness of God.
The word 'holy' means 'separate'. Whatever God calls holy is separated for a holy use or purpose. It becomes holy because God says so. It can be an article (the ark, a candle stand, a wash basin), it can be a day (the Sabbath). Anything associated with God is holy but only God is HOLY. The divine attribute of holiness means that God is the most unique entity in the universe. There is nothing to which you can compare Him, no created thing is like Him, no power or idea is like Him. God is wholly OTHER, totally separate from creation. Holiness is the umbrella attribute that describes ALL of God's attributes. What is the effect of God's Holiness upon us?
Our progress in sanctification (being transformed for a godly purpose) is tempered by this idea - that God's holiness is radioactive to us. I say it this way because very few fear God's holiness but everyone fears radiation. Look to Isaiah 6:5. Isaiah had a vision of God in the temple and he saw His Holiness and he pronounced a very shocking curse upon himself, he said, "Woe is me, I am undone." The words literally mean "I am disintegrated". God's holiness rips us apart at a cellular level. There is nothing good in us, not one cell and when we come in contact with God's holiness we realize the horrible danger we are in. The seraph flew to Isaiah and touched his lips with a cleansing hot coal. Of course the cleansing is the application of the Gospel. Because of the blood of Christ, the Gospel, we may stand in the presence of God's holiness, we come together enough to stand.
But what happens if we hunger to know God more? We read the Word, we hear it preached, we hide it in our hearts and we begin to draw closer to God, we apprehend more of the knowledge of God but in doing so we come closer to his holiness and once again we begin to disintegrate. We turn again to the Gospel for cleansing and the power to stand in His presence and draw closer still.
This is sanctification, the constant tension of the Gospel enabling us to move closer to the Holy One to be stopped by our sinfulness and knocked back, to rely on the Gospel to enable us and it continues in this cycle until we stand before His throne. The unsaved man understands neither the Holiness of God nor the utter destructiveness of sin and the inability for the two to be reconciled. God is revolted by sin and man is the most revolting thing in creation. But the one in Christ is in a constant state of transforming as we learn to rely on the Gospel to allow us to withstand more of the Holiness of God.
This is Law and Gospel, the Holiness of God is revealed in the Law and legalism only clarifies the fact that God is holy and we are not. It's like putting on a hat made of cesium to protect us from uranium. The Gospel is our protection that allows us to move closer - in Him we live and move and have our being.