September 20, 2012

Thinking on God's Holiness

As I have been reading through the Old Testament in the 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge, I have been overwhelmed by God's holiness.  To me, that seems to be the attribute of God that stands out the most.  God was very explicit with details and instructions as he laid out the laws for the people of Israel, and although there was much mercy shown to them, there were many instances of swift and even final punishment for their disobedience to those laws.  Reading the high (and seemingly impossible) standards God set for Israel made me think further into what we Christians call the "Age of Grace."  The Bible clearly teaches that God never changes.  So, have His standards for holiness changed?  Have His expectations of His people changed?

Here's the famous first argument...the law was given to the people of Israel to keep before the Messiah came; therefore, they do not apply to us now.  This is true, and I do not believe we need to keep the laws given in order to receive salvation.  The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is through grace alone by faith in Christ Jesus alone. However, I am looking at the ATTRIBUTE of God's holiness.  Has it changed? Does God no longer expect those who have received His gift of salvation to be different from those who haven't?   God gave those many laws to Israel for the specific purpose of setting them apart as His chosen people.  In other words, He wanted other nations to have no question as to who Israel's God was.  He also says over and over that Israel was to be holy as He is holy - once again showing the desire God has for His people to reflect Himself. 

Now for my loaded question...Are God's standards and expectations for Christians different today than they were in the Old Testament.  I don't think so.  GOD DOES NOT CHANGE!!!  He is still a holy and righteous God.  I believe with all my heart that God is giving us this Age of Grace as an opportunity to glorify Him even more through the FINISHED WORK of Jesus Christ, but we Christians are squandering it and misusing it.  There are too many Christians, myself included, who want to be as much a part of the world as we can be and still be a Christian.  We live in a time where we have the opportunity to show our love for God by the choices we make.  And , Christians, we are clearly trampling the grace of God by our lack of holiness in our own personal lives.  This sounds so harsh, I know.  It is something I have been wrestling with all summer long.  I have begun a post like this several times and not finished it because I don't want to be labeled a legalist or looked at as  "holier than thou."  That is not my desire at all in writing this.  It has saddened my heart as I've looked at myself through the eyes of God's holiness.  I have used the fear of being labeled as an excuse to become more like the world instead of pursuing the holiness of God, and I am not alone.  It is has become an epedemic that is spreading quickly through individual Christians, into families and has already very much overcome our churches. 

My next loaded question....What are God's expectations for Christians in this Age of Grace?  What standard of holiness does He have for Christians today?  Tomorrow, I will share what I have discovered as I have searched this out for myself.  Until then, will you think on this thing of God's holiness?  What do you believe about this awe-inspiring attribute of God? 

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