I have been praying for God to reteach me about things that I learned when I was younger, in an effort to have a more mature grasp of what they mean. One thing I wanted to learn more about was holiness and this is what I learned in my studies.
God simply IS holy. I was struck by my Old Testament reading in Exodus, particularly Exodus 33. One of the things the LORD says to Moses is, “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” And in verse 5 the LORD says to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.'” (italics mine).
Whenever I read this, I’m like, “HE MIGHT DESTROY THEM!?!?!” Well, yes, because He is that holy. His holiness is so pure and perfect that He cannot even be in the presence of evil or He will destroy the unholy vessel. God chooses to withhold himself from the Israelites here because He knows how powerful His holiness is, which also sets in further motion the gospel redemption story through Christ (God wants to be with us, we are unholy & would be destroyed by God because of his holiness & justice, He sends Christ to live a sinless life and to be sacrificed as a lamb to pay for our sins, we are purchased by God through the blood of Christ, God chooses those to bring to Himself so we can return to our original purpose of glorifying and worshipping Him…something like that).
God’s holiness is jealous. In Joshua 24:19, Joshua says to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.” This struck me because I recognized that God originally made us for the purpose of glorifying and worshipping Him, in a pure and holy state. When we allow sin, no matter how seemingly small, it is like bringing a mistress or idol in between us and God. He longs to be with us, and is jealous of anything that turns our thoughts and heart away from Him. His holiness wants us fully, completely.
What does this mean for me? First, it gives me a stronger understanding of how my sin defiles my relationship with God. This then gives me a deeper longing to have no sin – to be with my God purely and wholly. Because I am unable to live a sin free life, it makes me cling to Christ even more, knowing that I cannot be good enough to free myself from the things I do even though I hate them. It pushes me to touch the robe of the one who bought me and redeemed me.
In the book I’m reading, The True Woman, there is a quote by Elizabeth Prentiss, “To love Christ more – this is the deepest need, the constant cry of my soul. Down in the bowling-alley, and out in the woods, and on my bed, and out driving, when I am happy and busy, and when I am sad and idle, the whisper keeps going up for more love, more love, more love.”
This prayer and thought of Prentiss is shared by me; that my life could somehow reflect more love to Christ, more love to Christ, more love to Christ.