God is Good (3)
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4.8
The perfect and uninterrupted unity and concord God enjoys in His being, is good, and is only possible because God is pure. He is wholly God, only God, always and in all ways God, and alone God. In the being of God, and in the relationships binding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into one perfect Godhead, a divine purity exists that takes the form of holiness. God is holy, and only God is holy.
This purity of God - His holiness - is a second expression of what makes God good. God is good because God is pure and holy. If we would be good, we must strive to be holy. God has determined that it is good for us to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1). When we are holy, we are pure in our motives, thoughts, desires, priorities, and works. And that holiness expresses the goodness of God, and is in fact, God’s goodness coming to light in us.
The living creatures in the heavenly court extol the greatness of God, by singing His threefold holiness. God is holy, holy, holy, and holiness is pure and good.
In most cases, impurity is not a condition to be desired. Hand me something to eat or drink and mention the word, “impurity,” and I am very likely to decline.
Conversely, to be pure is, in general, a good thing. Advertisers know this. A well-known brand of soap used to market itself as “99 and 44 100% pure.” The value of gold and precious gems is determined by the degree of their purity. We install special filters to purify our air and water. We want our steel to be pure and without flaws. We want our foods to be pure and free of fillers, additives, and the like. Just give us pure beets, pure beef, pure beans, and pure beams, thank you.
Try selling a product by boasting of its impurities, and you’ll be out of business before you start. People recognize that purity in consumer goods is a good thing, and impurity, not so much. We want our products to be pure, to be holy.
In the realm of morality, however, the notion of purity is apparently not so clear. Moral purity is very often ignored or redefined to suit our own peculiar sense of goodness, as we have seen. We insist that those who supply our food, water, air, and gems make them as pure as possible. But when it comes to our personal purity, our moral conduct, we’re often willing to stretch the definition of purity – or to ignore it altogether – to satisfy our selfish desires. We forsake holiness for me-ness, and thus goodness goes out the window.
When our morality is not pure, goodness cannot prevail, except, of course, in only the most relative of terms, which is to say, not at all. Our own standards of goodness fail us here, because we are not holy. We are selfish, finite, and inclined to look out for our own interests and wellbeing above all. Our idea of good is itself impure, and this impurity – this want of holiness – pervades all aspects of our lives, all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
God is pure. God is holy. All the most noble, edifying, and enduring attributes emanate from that holy purity and point the way to goodness for us. If we want to know what is good, and how to be good, we must look more carefully at the holiness of God.
The strength of holiness
There is strength in holiness, in purity of motives, aspirations, and actions, and that strength empowers people for good works, like the good works of God Himself.
But when you compromise holiness and purity, good works cannot long endure. If you build a bridge out of impure concrete, buttressed with impure steel, while the bridge may function for a while, it will break down soon enough. Strong bridges need pure concrete and pure steel, uncompromised by any admixture of anything else.
Like God, in His holiness.
So it is also with people, if they are to live in unity and concord and be good toward one another. If our motives are pure and holy, like the purity and holiness of God, the goodness of God will inform our actions and lead us to those works that edify and bring peace. It is good to be holy, as God is holy, and as His holy and righteous and good Law is holy. In the magnificence of His grace, God sends His Holy Spirit to indwell us, and guides us through His holy Word so that we might recognize any impurities in our souls and flush them with the goodness of God. God wants us to be holy because to be holy is to be good, like God.
God is holy, and He has made it clear that He considers it good that we be holy, too: “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy (Lev. 11.44).” The goodness of God is evident in His holiness, both as we see it revealed in His Word, and as we know it to worked out in our lives.
If we would be good, and know good, then we must be holy, as God is holy.
1. How would you explain the meaning of holiness?
2. Why is holiness a good thing? What should we think of someone who downplays the importance of holiness?
3. What makes being holy so hard? How do we bring holiness to completion (2 Cor. 7.1)?
Next steps – Conversation: Do your Christian friends think about holiness as a good thing? Ask a few of them. Ask them also how we can help one another to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God.
T. M. Moore
What are you doing at 8:18 am? If you’re with Bruce Van Patter, you’re observing the goodness of God in your immediate surroundings. Take a look at Bruce’s column, and let your world come alive with goodness (click here).
Everything makes sense in life, and is good in its time and place. But only when we see things “under the heavens” rather than merely “under the sun.” Our book Comparatio shows you how Solomon struggled with this distinction, but ultimately returned to the place of seeing all goodness as of the Lord. To order a copy, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.