What do we naturally hate most about God?
Now that’s a tough one.
After all, the list of things that we inherently despise about God is, according to Scripture, quite long; comprehensive, you might say. We’re born with a thoroughly anti-God, self-centered perspective on
pretty much everything.
We hate His holiness.
We hate His justice.
We hate His law.
We even hate His grace in that it doesn’t conform to our man-centered notions of how a “gracious God” “ought to act”.
As far as we’re concerned, the God of Christianity has a lot of problems.
Many of us pretend not to notice as we fake our way through long lives at church and in choirs and in Bible studies, but there are some very basic realities about this God as portrayed in Scripture that disturb us deeply.
But the thing that bothers us most – the one thing about this God that really makes us squirm – isn’t the fact that He is holy, just, lawful, and gracious on His terms.
No, the thing that tends to make us squirm the most is the fact that He is sovereign.
His holiness, justice, law, and grace define every bit of His creation.
We’re fine with Him being holy, just, lawful and such over there wherever he wants to be, but not right here and right now in our space and time. We can handle a Heaven where He rules way out there in the future somewhere, but right now? Right here?
We hate that. We hate that He is the personal standard against which our everything is to be measured, tested, and judged.
Our traditions, habits, loves, hates, and idols – our politics, religion, economics, and educational pursuits – all of them are completely subject to His standards as defined by His nature as revealed in His Word right here and right now.
He is undeniable.
He is inescapable.
He is everywhere.
Moreover, He owns everywhere and everyone therein. They are all His property, and they will ultimately do that which His eternal decree has determined from before the foundation of the world.
Oh, they will do what they do according to their free will, of course, but even that is owned and given by Him. Even our will is defined by our nature, which is self-centered, sin-loving, and holiness-hating until and unless He gives us a new nature through the supernaturally imposed act of salvation.
As Reformation Day draws near, it seems like a good idea to take a moment to remind ourselves of the beautiful and complete sovereignty of God, whose promises and prophecies are as certain as the extent of His rule and control over His creation.
To that end, I’d like to share here a subsection from Fire Breathing Christians entitled The God Who Struts: It’s all about Him:
“God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“If you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God that you have found.” ~ Thomas Merton
Before my parents divorced, we lived in an old farmhouse. I was four. I remember sitting out on the porch one day with my dad. We were sitting side-by-side, looking up at the sky and talking about God.
He said he could see His footprints up there in the clouds. His eyes were locked in a fixed gaze upwards. He was definitely focused on something up there as he spoke and I was convinced that God must right at that particular moment be walking amongst those particular clouds. What a privilege to have Him so close, I thought. I only wished that I could see Him, too.
When I was a little boy, I thought that people naturally wanted to find God. Now I know better.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” ~ Revelation 4:8 (bold emphasis mine)
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” ~ Isaiah 6:5
There are, at this very moment, the most peculiar and magnificent of angelic creatures circling the throne of God. They sing without end or interruption of our Lord’s defining attribute: His perfect holiness.
They do not tire. They neither relent nor regret.
They somehow even manage to resist the most terrible scourge of our age: boredom. Where we cannot imagine tolerating, much less desiring, such an existence, they yearn for nothing else. Nothing less than audibly proclaiming the holiness of God even appeals to them.
This is the task for which they were made: To endlessly announce God’s perfect holiness. He made them for this purpose, and that truth alone tells us much about Him, if we’ll let it.
Hundreds of years before John the Revelator was granted a vision of these amazing six-winged heralds of God’s majesty, the prophet Isaiah had a momentous encounter with one of them.
The creature approached Isaiah just after he had beheld the holiness of God. In that instant, having been confronted with his own complete depravity in light of the Lord’s perfect holiness, Isaiah utterly unraveled and collapsed, proclaiming, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
R.C. Sproul described the encounter this way:
“Once Isaiah had an accurate understanding of his own wretched nature and his Lord’s perfect holiness imposed upon him, and the infinite gap between God and the “holiest” of men was made plain, he was fully prepared for service. Then God used him.”
Holy, Holy, Holy
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” ~ Isaiah 6:8
“God saved you for Himself; God saved you by Himself; God saved you from Himself.” ~ Paul Washer
Our God is holy. We are on the opposite end of the spectrum…in every way and without exception. When Isaiah was made to understand these things, he was transformed.
In all of Scripture, there is not an attribute of the Lord more emphasized or highlighted than that of His holiness. When we view His every other identifiable attribute with this over-arching holiness as a guiding light, we better understand any characteristic under consideration and, as a result, increase in right knowledge of Him.
The seraphim do not sing Love, love, love! They sing Holy, holy, holy! This is not accidental.
God is love, insofar as we understand this as holy love. Of course, the love of God tends to bear little resemblance to this fallen world’s numerous redefinitions, reincarnations, and repudiations of the biblical concept. It is important to note that the same world that has so radically redefined the notion of love would very much like to have us focus on any of the resultant soft counterfeits as our guiding principle when we seek to gain a better understanding of God and His truth. This is a temptation that we must not only resist, but refute whenever and wherever we find it lurking about.
How many times have you heard God’s holy wrath questioned, disputed, or openly refuted because “God is love” and that such a thing as this “holy wrath” deal is simply incompatible with love? The same is often said of God’s holy justice, His holy vengeance, His holy discipline, and His holy jealousy.
These perversions and slight-of-mind tricks aside, God’s perfect love is and must always be understood as holy love, just as his wrath is always holy wrath, his jealousy is always holy jealousy, and his judgment is always holy judgment. God is not held to man’s standards on any subject at any time. God is the author, origin, and continually sustaining source of all of these things. God owes man no explanation. God, in short, is God.
God defines what is good and true simply by His actions, which are the demonstration of His will.
God’s love is not soft. It is not easy. It is perfect. It is holy.
Once we rightly understand this, we will not merely accept it. We will celebrate it as nothing else. When we celebrate the fact that God, and only God, is capable of this perfectly holy love, wrath, jealousy, and justice, we are then made able, willing, and even eager to fully and completely trust in the sheer perfection of His nature as our very sustenance. Only then can we accept and ultimately celebrate what is, to this fallen world, the most terrifying attribute of our holy God: His complete sovereignty.
The above post is taken from the book Fire Breathing Christians. I hope and pray that the sovereignty of God will grow more and more beautiful to His people with each passing day.
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© 2014 Scott Alan Buss – All Rights Reserved.