March 17, 2023

How Holiness Changes You

By Skip Heitzig

Show me a prideful person, and I'll show you somebody who has never met God. Meeting God will change you and deflate your pride. That's why I cringe whenever I hear people say stuff like this: "When I see God, I have a few things I'm going to tell Him." Really?

Listen, when you see God, you're going to do what John did in Revelation 1:17: "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead." You're not going to be mouthing off to the Holy One. In fact, in Isaiah 6, when Isaiah saw a vision of God on His throne, he said, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because 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 Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts" (v. 5).

Isaiah was essentially saying, "I am ruined." The Good News Translation puts it this way: "There is no hope for me! I am doomed." In seeing God, Isaiah really saw himself. God's holiness magnified his own unholiness.

This is a theme throughout Scripture for people who encounter a holy God. Job said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Peter said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8).

Here's the principle: unholiness cannot coexist with holiness. God must either destroy that which is unholy or somehow remove the sin. And the message of the gospel is that a holy God made a way for unholy people to become holy. His solution wasn't to destroy the unholy—though He will do that one day. No, His solution for us is to declare the unholy as holy. How did He do this?

First Peter 3:18 neatly sums it up: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." Jesus died so He can declare the unrighteous one righteous. So as soon as Isaiah said, "Woe is me" and confessed his sin—"I am a man of unclean lips"—that area was touched and a proclamation was given: You're forgiven. You're cleansed. You're purified.

And what keeps us going back to God's throne of grace is His holiness. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). His holiness is an attribute He wants to share with us. He wants us to be like Him. "Be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45).

The bottom line is this: a relationship with God is always transformative. As somebody put it, God loves you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way. So you are transformed by an encounter with Him, and it's a constant transformation. As you "pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14), you find yourself hating what God hates—sin—and loving what God loves—righteousness. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

It doesn't mean we're ever perfect, but it does mean we are purposeful in our pursuit of God and in becoming what God wants us to become. Chuck Colson said, "Holiness is the everyday business of the Christian. It evidences itself in the decisions we make and the things we do hour by hour, day by day."

When you make the right choices, you find yourself growing in holiness. So come into contact with the holy nature of God—you'll never be the same.

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