God Is: The Attributes of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:43
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I had this friend in High School who’s family, I thought was a little strange.
That’s saying a lot, b/c I know that I was a little strange.
Any way the thing that was strange about this family is that they had furniture that we weren’t allowed to sit on.
Who does that?
They had a couch that sat outside of their living room that was off limits to any and everyone.
In fact, one of my other friends jokingly sat on that couch one time and got kicked out of the house.
The thing was it wasn’t just the kids that weren’t supposed to sit on it.
No one ever sat on it.
It was set apart.
It was different from all the other furniture.
It was held in high esteem.
It was respected.
And though we didn’t understand the importance of this couch to the family, we did know that there would be consequences if we transgressed and sat on that couch.
This is true of God to a maximal degree.
No I don’t want to minimize God to the importance of the couch, but the principle is there.
God is wholly different than us.
God is worthy of infinitely more respect, reverence, and awe than any created thing.
And the reason for this is that God is Holy.
The Holiness of the Lord is the attributed that we are going to examine this morning.
Theologian Thomas Watson said this about God’s Holiness
“Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown.”
But before we examine this jewel, I want us to run to the Father in prayer so that he can open our eyes to the beauty of his holiness.

The Holiness of God

Did you know that there is only one attribute in the Scriptures that is proclaimed and the primary and highest quality ascribed to God?
We know this b/c there is only one attribute of God that is declared in the superlative.
You may be asking what is a superlative declaration.
It is the highest quality or degree.
It is when you say something is the best, or someone is the bravest, or someone is the most skilled.
To be the superlative is to encompass the quality more so than any other.
And the attribute of God that is declared in this fashion isn’t love, compassion, mercy, justice or even grace.
The superlative attribute assigned to God by his creation is his holiness.
How do we know this?
We know this by how God is spoken about in his word.
Look at
Isaiah 6:3 CSB
3 And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth.
Revelation 4:8 CSB
8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord.
Here’s the thing.
When the bible or any ancient literature lists an attribute 3 times in a row it is demonstrating the absolute highest picture of that attribute.
So the scriptures don’t say that God is love, love, love.
Grace, grace, grace.
Mercy, mercy, mercy.
or anything else.
God is only described with this type of language when comes to his holiness.
God is love, God is merciful, God gives grace, but above all those God is known by his holiness.
And God is the single most holy being in the entire universe.
Not only in these passages but in other’s God’s very name is called holy.
Ps 145.21 “21 My mouth will declare the Lord’s praise; let every living thing bless his holy name forever and ever.”
Jesus Calls God the holy father in Jn 17:11 “11 I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
And b/c Jesus is one with the divine nature of God he is also called holy.
In Luke 1:35, Jesus is called the holy one or holy child depending on your translation.
The demons in Mark 1:24 recognize Jesus as the “Holy One of God” “24 “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
The Spirit promised by Jesus is called the “holy Spirit”.
So you may be asking what is Holiness?
There are two meanings to holiness when talking about the Holiness of God.
Separated from or to
And Moral perfection
And both are true of God.
The first meaning means separation.
The idea behind the ancient word is to be cut into two pieces.
So when we think about God’s Holiness we first need to understand that God is separate from his creation.
He is distinguished from everything and everyone else.
He is “wholly other” from us.
Another way of putting this is that God is transcendent over his creation.
God isn’t in the creation, he is outside the creation.
God isn’t in the wood, grass, flowers, trees, sun, stars, or moon.
God is transcendent above and beyond his creation.
Set apart.
And we may agree with the sentiment that God is wholly different from us, but do we truly believe it.
For God to be Holy, holy, holy we have to understand that he is the holiest of all beings.
No one, nothing even comes close.
God is not merely holy as others would be holy. He is not simply holier than any of His creatures. Instead, this three-fold anthem [of holy, holy, holy] proclaims that God is the single holiest being in the entire universe.
So God’s Holiness, his separateness uniquely defines all his other attributes.
His love is holy.
His mercy is holy.
His grace is holy.
His justice is holy.
God’s holiness is one of the ways we can draw a distinction between the attributes that we share with him and the attributes he alone has.
Even though we share in his love, mercy, grace, and justice, the magnitude of his attributes far outweigh ours.
He is on a completely different plane when it comes to who he is and what he does.
The attributes we share pale in comparison to his holiness.
After Moses and the Israelites are saved from pharoah they sing a song to the Lord and one of the lines in this song are
Exodus 15:11 CSB
11 Lord, who is like you among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?
The answer is there is no one like our God.
Not the demons that are worshipped by false religions.
Not the most powerful man in the world.
No government, no king, no ruler, no principality.
No one is like God.
There is a wide chasm that separates God from his creation.
Ex 8.10 … “As you have said, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God,”
Not only is our God distinct and separate from his creation, Everywhere God dwells or visits is holy.
The first time we read that God declares something as holy is at the burning bush. The Lord Tells Moses:
Ex 3.5 “5 “Do not come closer,” he said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.””
Here we see that God is manifesting himself in the bush and the place where he is has been set apart for this specific purpose.
It is holy ground b/c that is where God is.
This isn’t ordinary ground it has now been set apart for the Lord and is being used for his purposes.
We see another example of this in the OT when it comes to the Tabernacle and Temple.
There was a room on the innermost part of the tabernacle and temple that was called the holy of holies.
This was the place where God would come and dwell with his people.
This was a special and set apart room that was to be pure and unadulterated.
So much so that only one man could enter it on one day of the year.
and if he was impure or unclean he would drop dead.
God takes his holiness seriously.
Which now leads us to the second aspect of holiness?
God’s perfect moral purity.
This is probably what most people think about when they think about holiness.
We used to have a name for those that avoided sin and put off the air of self-righteousness. Holy rollers.
These individuals would by all appearances look and act holy.
For God though, His moral purity isn’t a game or something that he strives to be.
God is morally pure and flawless.
His very essence is holy.
There is not trace of flaw.
There is no spot. No stain or taint of sin in either his thoughts or actions.
God is marked by moral Excellency in his being, nature, and motives.
Everything that God does is morally excellent.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t even fathom a reality where I’m morally perfect.
Sure I try to do what honors God, but I fail time after time.
And here’s the thing, God never had to attain holiness he simply is holy.
Unchangeable holy.
For humanity if we want to be declared holy we have to have our holiness derived from God himself.
We can’t be holy outside of an Act of God.
I want to spend a little time looking at a beautiful scene that happens in the Old Testament between Isaiah and God.
If you don’t know Isaiah is a prophet chosen by God to proclaim his message to the Israelites of Judah.
Isaiah 6:1–8 CSB
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth. 4 The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies. 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for. 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me.

God’s Holy Throne

The reason I want to look at this passage specifically is b/c it is one of the times that God is declared Holy, Holy, Holy.
Isaiah has a vision of the Lord.
Where is the Lord and what is he doing?
He is sitting on his throne.
This throne is lofty and high. or as some translations say High and lifted up.
This description distinguishes God as being above and separated from his creation.
He is seated on the throne. Meaning that he is actively ruling over his creation.
Though he is distinct and separated from his creation, He is involved in the ruling over what he has created.
And then we get this beautiful picture of the hem of God’s robe filling the temple.
Now, I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I’m no seamstress.
So it took me some time to really wrap my head around this verse.
The hem of his robe filled the temple.
The hem of the robe is the edge of the robe.
The bottom part where the fabric is sewn to itself.
And simply that is filling the temple.
What could be seen as the most insignificant part of God’s attire is so overwhelming that it fills the temple.
Why is this significant?
B/c to the ancient mind the greater a king was the bigger his robe is.
And Isaiah is seeing here that There is No one, not one being that could even compare to the greatness of our God.
He is so great, so big, so majestic that even the bottom of his robe is grandiose and mind blowing.
No other robe had a place in the throne room of God.
There is no room for any other ruler.
No room for any other person, place or thing to be worshipped.
Not even the hem of another garment can fit into the temple.
And Isaiah saw Seraphim standing above God.
And we read that these seraphim had 6 wings.
Two over their face.
Two over their feet
Two used to fly around God.
Seraphim is a strange word.
It means burning or fiery ones.
They are only mentioned twice in all of the scriptures and both times are in this section.
And what were they doing?
What were these fiery created to do?
They were created by God almighty to proclaim to one another.
Isa 6:3 “3 And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth.”
Those in the presence of God.
Those closest to God were burning in worship of him.
Day and night, night and day do you know what is happening in the throne room of God?
His Seraphim are proclaiming “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Armies, his glory fills the whole earth.”
And we will cry out with them these same words when we meet him face to face.
God’s glory demands intense worship.
Those who have seen him for who he is still shout and proclaim that he is glorious and holy.
And they proclaim with such conviction that the foundations of the doorways shook.
The holiness of God is so overwhelming that when in his presence you can’t help but to worship.
Not only do those in his presence worship him, but they are also confronted with their sin.
Let’s look again at Isaiah’s response to being in the Holy presence of the Lord.
Isaiah 6:5 CSB
5 Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies.
I want you to notice what Isaiah says is unclean about him
His lips.
Why is this significant?
B/c Isaiah was a prophet of God.
The words that he speaks are God’s Words.
But here he recognizes then even his lips are unclean in the presence of the Lord.
The tool used by God was unclean in his presence.
This goes to show us the moral purity of God.
Even at our best, using the gifts that God has granted to us we are unclean compared to the moral purity of God.
Not only are Isaiah’s lips unclean, he also recognizes that his people’s lips are also unclean.
Seeing the holiness of God reveals the reality of our sin.
That’s one of the reasons we need to take God’s holiness serious.
And unfortunately we don’t.
There are many who claim to be followers of Jesus that are so flippant with their sin that they make a mockery out of God.
If you have never understood God’s holiness you will never truly see your sinfulness.
Here is a man, Isaiah who by all standards was a righteous man.
He was a good man living a life listening to God and obeying his word.
He was called and chosen by God to speak God’s words.
To prophesy to the people about God’s coming judgment upon his people.
He was called into the presence of God to receive a message from the creator himself, and all he can do.
The first way he addresses what’s going on.
It to recognize how unclean he is.
To recognize how holy God is.
To see the chasm that stands between the Holiness of the Lord and the sinfulness of man.
If that doesn’t slap you in the face, I don’t know what will.
Isaiah doesn’t stand before God and say,
At least my sin isn’t as bad a joebob’s down the street.
I haven’t commited adultery like he has.
I haven’t lied about my neighbor like she did.
I’m not like the rest of the Israelites that out there worshipping false gods.
I haven’t abandoned you.
So I’m pretty good.
I’m pretty good compared to the rest of the world.
I don’t sin that much.
No, he says “I am ruined”
Isaiah now sees himself as he has never seen himself before.
The purity and holiness of God truly does reveal the wickedness of men.
Compared to the rest of the world you may be a holy roller.
You may be pretty good.
But when we stand before God we are ruined.
all of our good deeds.
all of our righteousness is as filthy rags.
If we love Jesus,
If we are following after him we must recognize that outside of his grace we are hopeless.
You see God’s perfect and pure morality means that he has to punish sin.
He cannot let sin go unpunished.
His holiness demands that sin be dealt with.
God hates sin b/c it stands in stark contrast to his nature.
It stands against everything that he stands for.
So therefore God hates sin.
Sin is an affront to his holiness, his glory, and his beauty.
Therefore there is punishment for sin.
And as sinners we all deserve that punishment.
The wage of sin that we have earned is death.
God’s holy nature means that sin must be dealt with.
He must necessarily punish sin.
And this can rub us the wrong way.
If he is all powerful then can’t he just forgive me.
Why does their need to be punishment for sin?
B/c it would be against God’s very nature for sin to go unpunished.
It would be against his holiness for sin to go unpunished.
It wouldn’t be just for sin to go unpunished.
I love what AW Pink says about this.
It follows therefore, that he must necessarily punish sin. Sin can no more exist without demanding his punishment than without requiring his hatred of it. God has often forgiven sinners, but he never forgives sin; and the sinner is only forgiven on the ground of Another having borne his punishment; for without the shedding of blood their is no forgiveness of sin.
Did you get that.
Sin must always be punished.
B/c of God’s holiness it must be.
No exception.
No exemption.
Sin must always be punished.
Many Christians joke about the book of Leviticus and that’s where many read your bible in a year reading plans go to die.
But do you know the purpose of Leviticus?
Do you know the beauty of that part of God’s revelation?
The book of Leviticus with all it’s sacrifices.
With all its rules.
With all its guidelines shows us the absolute holiness of God.
That’s the purpose of Leviticus to show us the reality of sin and uncleanliness
In light of God’s perfect, pure, and majestic holiness.
Yes we can sit here and laugh about it, we can joke about it, but if we put on the lens of God’s holiness we will see that God really means business when it comes to our lives and his demands.
For one sin Adam and Eve were cast from the garden.
For one sin Moses was stripped of the right to enter into the promised land.
For one sin Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead.
For one sin.
One sin is all it takes to stand guilty before a Holy God.
And I hate to break it to you, but each one of you has sinned.
and each one of you will stand guilty before God.
And not only that you will recognize your guilt.
You won’t be able to justify it.
You won’t be able to wiggle out of it.
You won’t be able to avoid it.
You will stand before God and notice that like Isaiah “you are ruined”
Guess what
God did something amazing.
He sent Jesus to die in you place.
Jesus came to live the perfect sinless life that you couldn’t live.
And he died the sinners death that you deserve.
And God was pleased with his sacrifice and obedience that Jesus was raised from the dead 3 days later and now he sits at the right hand of the Father.
While Isaiah is in the throne room and recognizes his own shortcomings, one of the Seraphim fly over to him with a burning coal and touches his mouth and declared that Isaiah’s sins had been atoned for.
His sin had been covered up.
His uncleanliness has been made clean.
And through placing your faith and trust in Jesus you’re sins can be removed from you.
You can be cleansed.
Your sins can be covered.
But it is only through faith in Jesus that this can happen.
Now I don’t want you to believe that all you have to do to be cleansed is say a prayer.
There’s more to it than that.
If you truly recognize your need for a savior.
If you truly understand the holiness of God.
If you truly see the beauty in salvation, then you will want to follow God anywhere he leads.
This isn’t a call to easy believe-ism, this is a call to transformation.
Jesus says that there is a cost to following after him.
He says that there is a price to pay.
You have to lay down your life.
You have to purposely and earnestly seek him. or as he says
Matthew 16:24 CSB
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
The call to have your sins forgiven is followed by obedience.
Seeking after Jesus.
Living a life that honors God.
Pursuing holiness.
We should desire to be conformed to God.
To be like him.
And he commanded it.
1 Peter 1:16 CSB
16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
We will never be as holy as God, but b/c he is holy we must pursue and chase after his holiness.
This means that we abstain from sin to the best of our abilities and as enabled by the HS.
This means that we love what God loves and hate what God hates.
A call to be cleansed and saved by God’s grace is a call to pursue after him with all that you are and all that you have.
Conforming to his standard and becoming more like him.
So let me ask you have you given your life to Jesus.
Have you recognized your wicked and sinfulness in light of God Holiness.
Do you want to be washed clean?
Do you want to be set free?
Give your life to Jesus.
Pursue him.
If you have given your life to Jesus, are you chasing after him wholeheartedly?
Where are you holding back?
He wants all you not some, not most, all.
Pursue him and be changed.
Lord’s Supper
Matthew 26:26–30 CSB
26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
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