(Photo taken by Erik Johansson)

Written by Amanda


Comprehending Holiness

If I am honest with you all, as I sit down to write on the holiness of God, I have no idea what to write. I love telling stories and finding ways to convey an idea. But what can I possibly say that would reveal the holiness of God? It’s as though I am attempting to describe to you a giant, but I’m standing on my tippy-toes and I can’t even see to the hair on the top of his feet.

Holiness means separate, other—completely without evil. God isn’t a bigger, grander, sinless version of me. God is separate from me, other than me—nothing like me. God tells the prophet Isaiah that the distance between heaven and earth is exactly how far apart His ways and His thoughts are from ours (Isaiah 58:8-9). Perhaps this explains my difficulty in explaining God’s holiness.

When we think of God, it might come natural to our finite minds to put God in our own image. For example, when we think of God as loving, we imagine how we love the people we love most and imagine God as loving like that, plus a little extra because He’s God. But when we come to the topic of God’s holiness, it undoes us. We recognize that we can’t even begin to comprehend Him. We are on our tippy-toes, not even up to God’s big toe, and His greatness goes beyond all that we can see or imagine.

We can strive for holiness—to be sinless, pure, worthy of being in God’s presence. But we will fall so short. Only God is holy. I think of my own struggles, the yells that come out of my mouth when the stress piles up, the ways I wish I was better—a better wife, a better mom, a better friend, a better Christ follower. I wish I could handle more. I wish I didn’t mess up so much. I can try so hard and despite all my striving I am keenly aware: I am not holy.

But here’s the good news about God’s holiness: God’s holiness pursues us. We think of all our impure thoughts and actions as though they would scare God; we want to hide them from God. We are so like Adam and Eve hiding in the garden. But don’t miss that in that story, God searches out Adam and Eve. God covers them. God sets a plan in motion to redeem them. (Genesis 3:8-16).

Dear heart, God is searching you out. He’s not afraid of you or your bad decisions, not even the ones you keep making. Maybe science tells us that if you were to take something pure and it come into contact with something impure, that pure thing would be tainted. But God isn’t like that. His holiness pursues our unholiness and makes us holier. In His upside-down, not-at-all-like-our-ways kingdom, it is the bright crimson blood of Jesus that washes away our stains (I mean, if you do laundry at all, this doesn’t make sense). You can’t change God. You can’t dirty up the Holiness of God.

But God’s Holiness can undo you. Transform you. Clean you.

Where can we go from here?

  1. We need to unmake God in our image. We can get stuck trying to explain God and His actions, but God makes it very clear, we aren’t going to understand. His ways and thoughts are above ours and not subject to our rationale. Until we begin to grasp that God is Holy, we will only ever see Him through the filter of our own humanity. Understanding that we don’t understand is our way of tuning our ear to finally hear what God would explain to us about Himself. Otherwise, we are rather like that obnoxious friend who only lets us start our story before she’s taken it over and made it about her.
  2. I already said this in different words, but it really is such good news. God pursues you. Wherever you are, whatever you’ve done: you are never too far gone. It’s not about how hard you’ve tried (or not tried) to live a pure and holy life. It’s that He loved you first, and He desires you. The precious blood of Jesus can cover and transform you. Stop striving to obtain a holiness of your own, and receive it by faith in Christ.

Untitled design (2)Amanda is a law enforcement wife and a homeschooling mom to three. Her family has called Reality Church of Stockton home for three years. When Amanda’s not pulling her toddler off the bookshelf or explaining to picky eaters why vegetables need to be eaten, she enjoys iced lattes, bird watching, and deep conversations. She lives clinging to the hope she has in Christ that in spite of all her short-comings, she shall be called an overcomer yet. You can also find her writing her broken stories on her blog.