Saturday, January 25, 2014

So Far Away From Musty Theologians

God's holiness, despite our assumption that it's a dry and pedantic doctrine best left in the musty libraries of equally musty theologians, gives Christians the starting point for understanding our relationship to Him. Of course He has many other attributes, all of which should draw us into worship and adoration. Indeed, each attribute deserves careful consideration. But His holiness, rightly understood from prayerfully examining Scripture, establishes the most fundamental reason that we need salvation.

Far from a mere academic discussion, the eternal destiny of every human being hinges on our response to  His holiness. Do we believe we can match it with our own good deeds, spiritual practices or obedience to self-selected Scriptures? I'll admit that, for far too many years, I fell into that trap. But such self-righteousness actually eclipses the true holiness of the Lord with an imaginary "holiness" of our own.

In our imaginary holiness, we can't recognize our desperate need for Jesus. In fact, one of His parables illustrates this very point:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” ~~Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)

The Pharisee saw God in light of himself. Regarding himself as holy, based on works that he performed, he believed God was indebted to him. He did not approach the Lord with a sense of reverence. Rather than bowing before God, he demanded that God shower him with admiration. In so doing, he denigrated God's holiness.

Conversely, the tax collector saw himself in light of God's holiness. And the realization of how unholy he was left him no option but to cry out for mercy.

Musty theology doesn't cry out from the depth of the soul when it comes face-to-face with the Holy God of creation. But applied doctrine does. And the soul that glimpses God's holiness in a way that produces humility will find a compassionate Savior Who paid the penalty for sin with His own shed blood. What a life-transforming experience!

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