Holiness is not peripheral

The book of the month for January is The Holiness of God (Tim Challies has a good review of the book).

Why pick a book on holiness?  Aren’t we over-saturated with talk about holiness?  Do we need to read another book or hear another sermon on holiness?  We are Christians; we do know that holiness is important, don’t we?

Three thoughts about why we cannot talk enough about the holiness of God — one from me and two from some favored writers:

We cannot speak too much about the holiness of God because it will be our eternal preoccupation.  In Isaiah 6, the throne of God is surrounded by seraphim who stand above that throne and call out to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory” (6:3).  Hundreds of years later John would have a vision of the throne of God and there were the very same angels saying the very same thing!  And the implication is that those angels still are speaking the same truth and will for all eternity.  How marvelous must the holiness of God be to be an eternally satisfying word on the lips of these angels.  That holiness of God will likewise be satisfying to us far more than we can even comprehend it now.

In addition to this, David Wells and D. A. Carson have helpful comments also:

…the holiness of God is not peripheral.  It is central, and without this holiness our faith loses its meaning entirely.  As P. T. Forsyth declared a century ago, ‘sin is but the defiance of God’s holiness, grace is but its action upon sin, the cross is but its victory, and faith is but its worship.’  And so without a compelling vision of the holiness of God, worship inevitably loses its awe, the truth of God’s Word loses its interest, obedience loses its virtue, and the Church loses its moral authority. [Wells]

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.  We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. [Carson]

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