The Reality of Unholiness

I have been considering lately that we fail to often emphasize the holiness of God. Most of us do not see holiness as a good topic. In fact, in our day and age, it’s a boring and humdrum topic. The holy almost has a negative connotation to it. We think we have to wash our hands automatically or be wearing only white or not speak a word. Many of us live in a world though of action where things happen and things not explicitly religious and we wonder how holiness plays a part.

Why is it we don’t think about holiness?

There are numerous biblical passages about holiness. In Isaiah 6, the angels before the throne of God sing “Holy, Holy, Holy.” In Leviticus, we are told several times by God to “Be holy, because I am holy.” In Hebrews 12:14, we are told that without holiness, no one will see the Lord, a proposition we ought to take extremely seriously! It seems holiness ranks quite high on God’s list.

Why not on ours?

I thought about this last night reading “Christian Reflections” by C.S. Lewis. I was reading his section “On Ethics” and how he spoke of how when we are poor, we automatically put money on a high list of priorities. When we are ill, we suddenly value health. Now we might value these things otherwise, but we often seem to put a more than usual value on them when they are absent.

I also thought about that afterwards as I was relaxing watching a Smallville as I do many a night and sipping on a Green Tea Ginger Ale, which I am convinced is the nectar of the gods. I thought about how refreshing it was and considered how it is when I am truly absent of a drink for a time and get one that all of a sudden, that taste is there. Many of us have probably picked up a drink wanting that same cool refreshment, and it just isn’t there. However, there are times we could be most aware of the absence and then experience it as we are truly longing for it then.

I think about a friend of mine also as I write this who is struggling with this now in that he wants to live a better life but he just keeps messing up. As I pondered that I would say such this afternoon though, it occurred to me that my friend is in the same boat I and everyone else is in. Unless you are an unfallen angel or unless you are God, and I seriously doubt you are either, then it would seem that you must struggle with holiness in some area. If you are not, then you have a far greater problem than you realize.

And this brings us to our position. We realize we are unholy, but I wonder how much we have realized it. I think my friend is in a great position actually for he realizes his lack. It is indeed, the person who thinks he’s a really good guy and doesn’t need to be concerned with holiness who I would be more concerned with. It is not the person who struggles with sin we ought to be concerned about so much as the person who doesn’t struggle with it.

And yet, we often come to God and I believe we conceal our unholiness. Do we really bring our sins to God? Do we realize that maybe we really need to own up to our sins for truly, they are our sins and they are not his. We need to, in a sense, embrace them and drag them before the throne of God and admit our crime. 

In fact, such is not so much realizing the unholiness of sin as it is realizing the holiness of God. If we say that God cannot use our sins for good, then we are denying Romans 8:28-29 and we are saying that sin is greater than God. We are saying that sin can wreck the divine plan in some way.

If we consider our futures hopeless because of sins we’ve done in the past we’re greatly ashamed of and hope no one ever finds out about, and let us face it, we all have them, then we are also denying him for we are saying his holiness is not enough to overcome the unholiness of us.

In fact, it could be good for us to look those sins straight in the eye and realize them. Only when we realize how unholy they are are we truly ready to approach the throne of God and accept his holiness on our behalf. If we make our sins light, then we can expect to get a light idea of holiness. If we see our sins as divine treason, as I have argued before that they are, and see them as serious cancers that must be eliminated, then we can truly see serious holiness.

Our lack of thinking about holiness is partially because of our thinking about ourselves. We don’t see sin as sin and we don’t often see our need. When we do commit a sin, we suddenly do realize that need, but until then, we are often unaware. Now I am not for a moment suggesting we need to be beating ourselves up for our sins. That is not good for the Christian life. However, we need to see sins as sins and realize that when we do, it does reveal not just a bad action, but an attitude within us that needs to be changed.

We need to see ourselves as unholy in contrast to God and then, only then, do I believe we’ll realize how important holiness is and how much we need him. We need to accept the reality of unholiness.

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