Christian theology in a Sudanese context. The essential nature and character of God.
The Holiness of God ‘Holiness’ can be described as being ‘other’. There is nothing and no-one who is close to being like God. God has no faults and is incapable of errors. God is distinctly different from our human expectations and values. He is attractive in His glory and yet, at the same time, we are fearful of His purity. Fire is sometimes used in the Bible as a symbol of God’s holiness. Like fire, God’s holiness shows us our lives by His warm light. Like fire, God’s holiness burns the dead, diseased and dirty from our lives. In Old Testament history, we see both destruction and salvation coming from God’s holiness (Exodus 15:1-10). The hymn of Exodus 15:11 declares this: “Who is like You – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
The English word ‘holy’ means ‘of, relating to, or associated with, God’. The Bible’s words, in Hebrew and Greek, carry the meaning of ‘being devoted to, or consecrated’ with ‘being separated, set apart’. Holiness for us has two sides. One is that we live totally committed to God. The other is that we live to very different standards from the world around us. Love for God is the root of holiness in our lives. Christians want to be like God, with His characteristics in our lives. The Christian church is described as “a holy temple in the Lord”, Ephesians 2:21. God’s holiness means that He seeks His own honour and glory as the Creator and Keeper of all things. We must live for this too (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15,16). When two soccer teams have a match with each other, let’s say El Hilal against El Merreikh in Omdurman, how do you know which player is playing for which team? You should be able to decide by watching the usual direction he is kicking the ball, the team members he is calling to and passing with, and of course from the colours of the shirt and shorts he is wearing. Blue with a crescent for El Hilal. Red and yellow with a star for El Merreikh.
Our personal holiness should be visible to people around us, because we are followers of God Who is holy. American theologian R.C.Sproul writes: “God’s holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance – everything that we are involved in. God is inescapable. There is no place we can hide from Him. Not only does He penetrate every aspect of our lives, but He also penetrates our lives in His majestic holiness. Therefore we must seek to understand what 'the holy' is. There can be no worship, no spiritual growth, no true obedience without it. It defines our goal as Christians”.
Because God is holy He hates all sin. This shows itself in His wrath. He strikes against sin in judgement. God’s holiness is perhaps best seen in Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 1:18; Romans 2:5-8; Romans 5:8,9).
Thinking it through.
(a). What effect should God’s holiness have in our church?
(b) In our relationships with our neighbours of different faiths?
(c) In our politics?
(d). If we sin easily or carelessly, what should we expect from the holiness of God?