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KNOCKED FLAT IN THE PRESENCE OF A HOLY GOD

 

 

By Marsha West

September 8, 2006

NewsWithViews.com

The other day a Christian friend mentioned that her sister’s getting married next year and is planning a big wedding. Then she added in a caviler manner that the future bride is considering becoming pregnant as soon as possible as she may have to undergo a hysterectomy. She and her fiancé want to have a child "before it's too late." My friend said to me, "She wants a baby so badly. I'm sure God will understand." As the words rolled oh so easily off her tongue, I was reminded that God forbids sexual immorality, for any reason whatsoever. The Bible tells us that morality is grounded in God. God is unchanging and His morality is unchanging. Morality doesn’t come from within the individual, morality is completely apart from His human creation.

My friend is a professed Christian, yet she doesn’t understand that we serve a holy God. An explanation was necessary.

In Isaiah 6:1 the Prophet Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord God Almighty, seated on His throne “high and exalted.” Hovering above the Almighty are a number of six-winged angels, a special class of celestial attendants called the Seraph. The Seraph are powerful angelic beings whose description challenges the imagination. We know that these mighty angels cannot look upon God’s brightness and purity for we are told, "With two wings they cover their faces..." As the Seraphim guard the holiness of God they cry continually to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

“The loss of the traditional vision of God as holy is now manifested everywhere in the evangelical world. It is the key to understanding why sin and grace have become such empty terms. What depth or meaning, P. T. Forsyth asked, can these terms have except in relation to the holiness of God? Divorced from the holiness of God, sin is merely self-defeating behavior or a breach in etiquette. Divorced from the holiness of God, grace is merely empty rhetoric, pious window dressing for the modern technique by which sinners work out their own salvation. Divorced from the holiness of God, our gospel becomes indistinguishable from any of a host of alternative self-help doctrines. Divorced from the holiness of God, our public morality is reduced to little more than an accumulation of trade-offs between competing private interests. Divorced from the holiness of God, our worship becomes mere entertainment. The holiness of God is the very cornerstone of Christian faith, for it is the foundation of reality. Sin is defiance of God's holiness, the Cross is the outworking and victory of God's holiness, and faith is the recognition of God's holiness. Knowing that God is holy is therefore the key to knowing life as it truly is, knowing Christ as he truly is, knowing why he came, and knowing how life will end.”[1]

Have you ever run over a dead skunk in the road? I have. The disgusting odor hung in the air of our stuffy garage for days! To God, the stench of sin is far, far greater than the foul odor of a dead skunk.

God hates sin. If you have any doubt, grab your Bible and read First and Second Kings. It’s chilling. Just to give you an idea, in chapter 16, God says to Baasha who’s one of Israel's evil kings, "I lifted you up from the dust and made you leader of my people Israel, but you walked in the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people to sin and to provoke me to anger by their sins. So I am about to consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country." God had already destroyed Jeroboam for his flagrant sins, yet Baasha repeated the same mistakes. Time and time again God warned the Israelites about their propensity for sin. He even told them how they would be punished!

All this is actually in the Bible. Read it for yourself.

Many people call themselves Christians even though they reject the Bible and live as heathens. This is unacceptable. Christians are to have a biblical foundation so that their lifestyle will mirror the lover of their souls, Jesus Christ. Admittedly, when someone is new to the faith, the fruit on the vine doesn’t bloom immediately. Sanctification is a life long process. It doesn’t just happen over night. (At least for most Christians.) There comes a time, though, when the vine brings forth fruit. If the fruit tree remains barren for years on end, one can't help but wonder if the tree was pollinated!

One of my favorite pastimes is discussing (debating, dissecting) the Bible with other Christians. When I have a discussion with a long time believer who knows very little (or nothing) about what God’s Word says I’m incredulous. Most Christians have heard the verse, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105). In plain English, God’s Word gives us guidance on how to live our lives, which is why we’re supposed to read it.

To have a close relationship with someone you have to get to know him or her, right? So your course of action is to learn everything you can, which means you probe and you dig deep enough to uncover the intimate details of the person’s life. But, of course, you do this only if you want to develop a relationship with someone. Otherwise why bother?

Because our Father in heaven loves His children, He wants to have a relationship with us. The Creator of the universe actually wants to pull us into a bear hug and hold us close to Him! Christians, if you want that kind of relationship with your Heavenly Father, you must dig into the scriptures. It’s the only way you can get to know about God and His ways. And it’s important what you believe about God! "What we believe about God," said the late A. W. Tozier, "is the most important thing about us."

Christians must set aside a few minutes a day to spend with the King of kings and Lord of lords. Sitting at the feet of our Heavenly Father, who loves us more deeply than human words can express, will give us great joy! At his feet, we can thank him for our many blessings, pour out our hearts to Him, make requests, believing that the answers will come. Sitting at His feet, our hurts will be healed, our joy restored. God says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

What’s the point of being a Christian if you can’t find the time in your busy schedule to meet regularly with God? Countless Christians admit that they don’t pray much, nor do they attend a Bible study and they rarely meet with other believers. If this is you, consider this. Would it be honest for anyone to say they’re an avid skier if he or she never hit the slopes? Could a person that pumps iron three or four times a year ever develop into a body-building champion? In the same vein, is it right for someone to claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ if he or she rarely spends time pumping spiritual iron?

Christian apathy is a distraction from my main point, so I’ll move on.

The Bible makes it clear that Christians are to be completely intolerant of sin. Not only that, sin must be removed from a believer’s life. Any way you look at it, my friend’s sister and her fiancée having sexual relations apart from marriage goes against the clear teaching of Scripture; therefore they’re intentionally going against God! Author David Kupelain put it this way: "Scriptures as laid down by the Hebrew patriarchs and recorded in the Old Testament -- and as reiterated largely intact in the New Testament -- constitute the objective and immutable standard by which morality, sexual or otherwise, should be measured. And they believe that sex, other than monogamous, heterosexual sex within the confines of holy matrimony, is immoral and sinful." [2]

In regards to sexual sin, C. S. Lewis pulls no punches,

"Our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so 'natural,' so 'healthy,' and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour. Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth ...that sex in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is 'normal' and 'healthy,' and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal. Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that is the reverse of health, good humour, and frankness. For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing. Every sane and civilized man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and to permit others. One man does this on Christian principles, another on hygienic principles, another on sociological principles. The real conflict is not between Christianity and 'nature,' but between Christian principles and other principles in the control of 'nature,' for 'nature' (in the sense of natural desire) will have to be controlled anyway, unless you are going to ruin your whole life."[3]

There’s no getting around it. Sex without holy matrimony is a sin, so “quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary.”

Recently I was listening to a friend give a play-by-play of a football game he’d just watched. The man could have given John Madden a run for his money! He loves the sport and it shows. His statistical knowledge of the game was nothing short of remarkable. Here’s the downside. The guy’s a professed Christian and I happen to know that he couldn't find the Gospel of John in his Bible if his life depended on it. Why, I ask, do Christians ignore the very words of Jesus? Our Lord spoke plainly when he said, "Whoever serves me must follow me..." (John 12:26 ) And, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15) Again, "If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching" (John 14:23). Jesus wasn’t just talking to the Apostles. He’s talking to all Christians!

Which brings me back to my biblically illiterate friends. Jesus also said, "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that bears fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:1-2). For clarification, Jesus Christ is the vine and the fruitful branches are Christians who, through a personal relationship with Him, will bear much fruit. The unfruitful branches are the people who make a superficial commitment and bear little or no fruit. The Father will prune the vine and discard the fruitless branches. He offers no second chances.

Those who professes Christ and behave like heathens could find themselves lopped off the vine! Not because God is intolerant. On the contrary, God is long suffering, not willing that any should perish. Those who are separated from the vine have a superficial commitment, not a genuine faith.

Like it or not, when Jesus spoke of His followers, He called them sheep. In John 10:27 Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." Followers of Jesus Christ must quit being stubborn mules! Those with a genuine faith must resist the entrapment of sin and stick like glue to the Good Shepherd. Peter gives us fair warning, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Christians understand that God loves us. That Jesus Christ died for our sins. Christ’s crucifixion was the ultimate act of love. What is equally important, and I can’t stress this enough, is that the God who loves us and died for us is holy. Too many Christians don’t understand the holiness of God, and it’s imperative that they come to grips with who God really is.

Going back to the vision that God gave Isaiah, when he gazed upon the magnificent winged creatures and heard their praise echoing through the temple he was awestruck. Seeing the Lord seated on His throne, “high and exalted,” knocked him flat. Instantly Isaiah recognized his sinfulness. Terrified, he cried out, “Woe to me..I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah knew he was in the presence of holiness. His knees buckled and he fell on his face in fear and trembling.

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Every single sin a person commits is a capital offense. As R.C. Sproul so aptly puts it, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”[4] Food for thought.

"Submit yourselves, then, to God...Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail...humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up." (James 4:7-10)

Footnotes:

1. Holiness - Something we should keep in mind during our worship before God.
2. A Worldnet Daily article by David Kupelain.
3. Excerpt from Book III, Chapter 5, of Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.
4.
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul.

© 2006 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved

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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.

Marsha is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville Oregon.

E-mail: EMbrigade@aol.com

 


 

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Have you ever run over a dead skunk in the road? I have. The disgusting odor hung in the air of our stuffy garage for days! To God, the stench of sin is far, far greater than the foul odor of a dead skunk.