God’s Holiness

I grounded my kids until Christmas—from technology. It’s usually my parenting mantra to make every punishment work for me.

I didn’t think this one through, which means I pretty much punished myself until Christmas.

However, when I sent them to their grandparent’s for the night, I had compassion. Not on my kids—compassion on my parents. I broke down and allowed one movie. I’m sure it was a hard decision, considering the fact they won’t see another for months. They agreed on The Prince of Egypt.

My 7-year-old wasn’t happy with the decision. It turns out that the sight of a burning column of fire leading the Israelites to safety was too scary for her.

The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)

At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. (Exodus 14:24)

I can see why this would terrify a child.

As I thought about it, I began to wonder why God's holiness has lost its ability to terrify adults. Click To Tweet

The Immutability of God.

God is immutable. Simply put, immutability means not subject to change. Our God cannot change. He does not change. He has never changed. He will never change. The God who protected Israel with a terrifying column of fire thousands of years ago is the same God we worship in church on Sunday.

In Hebrew 12:29, the writer quotes Deuteronomy 4:24, telling us that God is a consuming fire.

On the subject of God’s immutability, A.W. Tozer reasoned that for God to change, he must do one of three things:

  1. Go from better to worse.
  2. Go from worse to better.
  3. Change from one kind of being to another kind of being.

None of that is possible. Malachi 3:6 says, “For I, the Lord, do not change.” Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

The God of the Old Testament IS the God of the New Testament. The God of the New Testament IS the God of the Old Testament.

Do we understand Holiness?

God is holy. So holy, we can’t wrap our minds around it. After the Fall—and because of his mercy—God put barriers between people and himself. No sinful man can look on God and live. His holiness is too great. His holiness incinerates all sin in his presence. His grace put boundaries in place so that we were not burned away.


Exodus 33:17-23 

Exodus 19 

Hebrews 9:7 

Exodus 25-31

Jesus didn’t come to bring us a changed/different/better God. Not even a different view of God.

He came to sacrifice himself as the perfect sin offering so that we can approach God while covered in borrowed righteousness. #devotional #holiness #christian Click To Tweet

He died so that we can approach God without being consumed.

Are we now so used to our privilege that we diminish God’s holiness? Do we take it for granted? I know that I am repeatedly guilty of waltzing into his holy presence without a healthy fear for—and grateful appreciation of—the price that entrance cost.

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Fear or Indifference?

It’s so easy to let small things slide. Things the world would laugh at—white lies, gossip, bad attitudes, wrong thoughts—it’s easy to tell ourselves, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Having trouble with some thoughts recently, I took it to God—later than I should have—and asked for help.

As I fell asleep that night, an Old Testament story flashed through my mind. Not exactly the help I was expecting. Miraculous deliverance from wayward thoughts? Yes, I expected that. An upbeat Bible verse about Jesus helping me overcome? I was waiting for something along those lines.

I wasn’t expecting fear and fire from the Old Testament. But isn’t that what Proverbs is telling us? Answers can be found in fear [yir’ah: fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety]?

Can answers to our problems be found in the fear of God? Proverbs 9:10 #christian #devotional Click To Tweet

Achan’s Sin.

Jericho, the fortressed entrance into the Promised Land, had just fallen into Israelite hands. Joshua was riding high on victory and had sent a force of three thousand men to obliterate the next obstacle in their way—Ai, a city of twelve-thousand.

But there was no miraculous victory. Only embarrassing defeat as the Israeli warriors fled for their lives. Thirty-six of them never made it back to camp alive.

Now the aged leader was up, early in the morning, ready to find who was responsible for this crushing defeat.

I wonder if, at first, the culprit strutted along with his tribesmen, sure that the small sin he had committed wouldn’t be found out. He’d only taken a robe, some silver shekels, and a bar of gold. After all, his family had wandered the desert for forty years. Before that his ancestors had slaved away under Egyptian rule. Surely a few spoils from their first victory in the Promised Land couldn’t be such a grievous sin.

As the lot fell to his tribe, did the stone of fear drop into Achan’s stomach? When his family was singled out, did sweat trickle between his shoulder blades, wetting the tunic on his back? When Joshua’s eyes landed on Achan’s household, did the man’s legs turn to jelly?

Achan came face-to-face with God’s holiness that day, and the consequence of his disobedience was to be consumed with fire. Afterward, it says, “…the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger.”

This is the God we serve. The God who never changes. This is the holiness we can’t stand before.

This is why Jesus died.

By the Father’s great compassion, Jesus came to make peace between us. To remove the barrier our sin creates. #devotional #christian Click To Tweet

Colossians 1:20: And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Ephesians 1:7: In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

Hebrews 9:14: How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 10:19: Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus.

Romans 5:9: Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Our Response.

 In light of God’s intense holiness and understanding the heavy price that was paid to cover our sins, let us worship with reverence and rejoice with trembling, grateful for the peace that was made through Jesus’ blood, knowing it was his great sacrifice that allows us to approach God without fear.

24 thoughts on “God’s Holiness”

  1. Oh, this is a refreshing blog post! There are simply too many bloggers out there that do not understand the Holiness of God. Many seem to preach “cheap grace,” as if nothing we do will have consequences, since Jesus forgives us all. It’s as if they just simply want to embrace all, and sing “Kum ba ya.” (Don’t get me wrong, I love that song, but…) One thing I have seen happening lately is that people not only don’t think they are sinners in need of a Savior, but they don’t know how Holy God really is to even comprehend WHY they need saving! Thank you for the great scriptures and the reminder of WHO God truly is! Amen.

  2. Hi Stephanie, God is indeed holy and I’m so thankful that Jesus died for me so that I can approach God’s throne of grace confidently with full assurance of faith. Because Jesus absorbed the fire of God’s wrath at the cross 2000 years ago, I don’t have to today. The price for our salvation was so costly that it’s impossible to fully comprehend the exact value of that sacrifice. I’m also so thankful that God is holy because it means that He will surely give me the correct measure of rewards and justice that is due to me. A holy God is a God I can fully trust in. Hallelujah!

    1. I love that point, Milton. A holy God is a God we can fully trust. That is exactly true. That encourages me today. It’s a point I need to hear over and over. Not only is he holy, but his holiness will reward justly. Thanks!

  3. Ok, I will be praying for you from till December, lol. We do serve a Holy God that we do not understand and because of that we do try to bring Him down to our level. God loves us and gives us grace but He is the Almighty and must also be revered.

    1. That made me laugh, Yvonne. I will definitely need it. Though our adventure into no media has actually been surprisingly pleasant. We do allow some documentaries, etc. The kids are much better behaved now! I like your point that we try to bring God down to our level. We just can’t wrap our minds around all that he is. And of course our level is filthy rags so we try to filter what we know through that. Thank you for your insight.

  4. Prince of Egypt is an intense movie! But I love that it sparks such discussion, especially with our kids. There’s something so secure about knowing God doesn’t change… Thanks for this post!

    1. Right? I wonder how they would react to The Ten Commandments? No one ever watches that anymore. 🙂 I love A.W. Tozer’s points on God’s immutability. Knowing he doesn’t change really does give such a measure of security. Thanks for reading, Annie.

    1. That’s an interesting point, Melissa. About some not studying for fear. I’ve not considered that before. There are definitely hard points that can’t be pushed under the rug. But I agree with you. Studying is so helpful to me.

  5. Oh, yes, Stephanie! Love this post! “He came to sacrifice himself as the perfect sin offering so that we can approach God while covered in borrowed righteousness.” Amen and Amen!

    Love all your Scripture references and:

    “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth” Psalm 96:9 NIV.

    “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” Psalm 29:2 ESV.

    May we participate in unadulterated worship. Because glory, honor, and holiness belong to Jesus alone.

    1. Thank you for these verses, Karen. Yes, glory, honor, and holiness to Jesus alone. May we come to understand more and more what unadulterated worship means. I know I’m so far from understanding.

  6. I think we all get so used to God that we lose our awe. I have that written in my Bible. “Don’t just read the words, behold the mighty works of God!” Do I still stand in awe? Have I lost my wonder? Because sometimes I find myself reading a familiar passage and I just have to stop and realize what I’m reading. God did what?!? That’s amazing. That’s our God!! It’s so easy to glaze over and let it become common knowledge instead miraculous acts of a holy God.

  7. Love your thoughts here, and how much scripture you interjected into this post! Far too often, I think we (me) don’t fully comprehend Gods holiness which is why we end up doing the things we should not be doing (sin). If we REALLY truly grasped what it means that we serve a holy God and that He takes our sin very seriously, I don’t think we would be able to willingly sin knowing that He is literally with us through His Holy Spirit and we are subjecting HIM to that sin. That thought has really challenged me lately, so I resonated with that part of your post. Thanks for putting it out there!

    1. Yes, Paul! That’s exactly what was on my mind. When we really grasp (and hold onto) that reality, it really puts a whole different light on the thoughts/attitudes/actions we allow ourselves to entertain. It’s so easy to lose the awe though. I like what Heather said about writing a reminder to ourselves.

  8. After a series of calamities in the early 1990s that had wiped us out financially and sent one kid after another to hospitals, ERs, and surgeries, I realized that while I loved Jesus, the New Testament God, I was afraid of and did not like the Old Testament God. I thought of him more like a thunderbolt hurling Zeus. I had to learn what you said: They are the same God. I dug into God’s Word through Kay Arthur’s Precept Studies, beginning a decades long study of each book of the Bible that I might truly KNOW God. It’s a lifetime lesson. We get glimmers. We learn what the Word says. Our relationship with him grows. This is such a good post, because it speaks to the place we all must get to in order to comprehend why it is that we need Jesus. Great post!

    1. That’s an amazing testimony, Melinda. I love how you dove into God to learn more instead of turning away. Kay Arthur’s Precept Studies are a great resource. Very useful for in-depth study techniques.

  9. You do a great job of sharing the holiness of our God and the grave condition we are in without Christ’s sacrifice! Achan’s story is heartbreaking but one that truly paints the picture of what our sin deserves. It’s a sobering account. Thank you for the depth of your study! Very insightful!

  10. I so enjoyed this post, Stephanie. Yes, the NT is about grace, but so many of us are satisfied with receiving God’s gift and indulging in our newfound freedom without recognizing or responsibility to the God who has not changed. I’m saddened to see this in our circles where people who earnestly follow God are considered fanatics who go a bit overboard when they should be the norm. Thank you for your commitment to “the norm.”

    1. I agree, Stephen. I think some mistake grace for the license to sin or for the freedom to not address sin within the church. But as Romans 6:15 says, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” Thank you for reading.

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