TRUHT FOR TODAY - BIBLICAL ESSAYS BY PASTOR PAUL MIZZI

Godís holiness manifested

Being self-communicative, God reveals himself to his creature.

(1) Especially his holiness is revealed in the moral law, the sense of right and wrong implanted within every man's breast, and speaking (in accusation or defense) through the conscience.

But most prominently the law of God's holiness and righteousness shone forth in the Decalogue given to Israel from Sinai, together with other statutes and commandments, both civil, ceremonial, and moral.

The law was calculated to impress upon us:

(a) the idea of the holiness of God.

(b) the necessity of leading a holy life.

(c) the urgency of seeking mercy from God, which mercy is shown in the Mediator Jesus Christ.

(2) The highest revelation of God's holiness is embodied in the Incarnation of his Son, who is appropriately called "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14). His whole life is a brilliant and perfect manifestation of how much God is holy.

(3) The same holiness, though not in the same degree, is revealed in the church as the body of Christ, who is sanctified by the blood of Christ, by his Word and by his Spirit (John 17:11,17; 1 Peter 1:16; Revelation 4:8; 6:10).

Godís holiness appears in his laws: (a) the moral laws; (b) the ceremonial laws.

(a) The moral law has to do with what is essentially and intrinsically right and wrong, with the obligation to choose and practice the right and avoid, even hate, the wrong. Every civilisation, every nation has its own laws and legislation; it is impressive how much is in conformity to the divine law, as found in the Scripture.

Only God is the rightful legislator: he is the One who draws the dividing line between what is wrong and what is right. Law is in God, but law is not above God. God is supreme, and as the holy God, he must uphold his own law. When God pronounces adultery to be sin, it is because adultery is essentially evil; God did not so pronounce in a capricious way. Only He can say and define what is right and wrong.

In the moral law, which is unchangeable as his character is unchangeable, his holiness shines forth. For God always uses the same standard with everybody. We are to be judged by the royal law, the law of liberty, as James calls it, because those who follow it wholeheartedly find true freedom from sin. To His own people God gives the Spirit so that his moral law may be fulfilled in them who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit (Romans 8:3).

The unique position and importance of the Ten Commandments is indicated by the fact that they alone were spoken by the voice of God, they alone were written by the finger of God, they alone were placed in the ark of God (Exodus 25:16,21; Deuteronomy 10:5; 1 Kings 8:9). They alone were accompanied by the terror of God on Mount Sinai and they alone were inscribed in stone. All these facts indicate that the holiness of God is unalterable, unchangeable and, as God is holy, he demands holiness from his people, indeed from all men.

(b) The ceremonial law, together with the judicial, has been abolished in Christ, while the moral law continues to bind all men. Though Scripture does not neatly divide the Mosaic laws into these three categories (since the Law is one unit, see James 2:10), nevertheless the difference between the individual laws is there.

While the Ten Commandments alone were written on stone by God himself, the judicial law, and perhaps the moral and ceremonial law also, is written in a book by Moses (Exodus 31:18; 32:15,16; 34:4,28; 24:4-7).

In consequence of such a clear distinction, Old Testament believers did distinguish between the moral law and the civil and ceremonial ordinances, while they still endeavoured to observe the whole (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalms 40:6-8; 51:16,i7; Jeremiah 7:22,23).

The ceremonial law impresses upon us the necessity to obey God even in things that we do not understand the reason why we should render obedience. They are of such a character that they should be obeyed for the simple and profound reason that God says so. His holy sovereignty is thereby enhanced.

His holiness was more constantly expressed in the continual sacrifices. The occasional washings and sprinklings upon ceremonial defilements, which polluted only the body, gave an evidence, that everything that had a resemblance to evil, was loathsome to him. Add, also, the prohibitions of eating such and such creatures that were filthy, such as the swine that wallowed in the mire.

Though they are fulfilled in Christ and are now done away with, the ceremonial laws still teach us the basic Creator-creature relationship that must ever be kept in mind. As Creator-Redeemer, God commands; as his covenant people, we obey out of a willing and grateful heart.

God wanted his people to be a distinct and separate people, different from the other nations around them; that was one reason he gave them laws that other people did not have. He wanted them to be a peculiar people, sanctified to him. He wanted to be manifested as the Holy One among them, dwelling in their midst.

The holiness of God shows itself in man's redemption

The cross work of Christ is not primarily, if not solely, accomplished for the sake of man. Calvary has a distinct Godward reference, indeed a fundamental reference to the divine holiness.

The Bible teaches the wrath of God as plainly as it could. God is angry with the sinner, and his holy outrage against the transgressor must be assuaged if the sinner is to escape his due punishment. It is for this reason that Christ's death occurred. Our damnation was borne and carried away by Christ because of the Triune God's holy character.

God's wrath is his personal divine revulsion to evil and his vigorous opposition to it. It is his steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising antagonism to evil in all its forms and manifestations. If sinners are ever to be forgiven and redeemed, then their sins must be punished. Accordingly, above everything else, it was this demand in God himself - that his offended holiness (which when confronted with sin must react against it in the wrathful outpouring of divine judgement) must be "satisfied." Here, then, we see the necessity of Christ's redeeming sacrifice. When Christ died, he fully paid the penalty for the elect's sins and thus fully discharged the debt which those sins had accrued before God.

By satisfaction (Latin, satis, enough, and facere, to do) then, Christ met the demands of the glory of God's offended holiness and justice. The Biblical doctrine is known, appropriately enough, as the satisfaction view of the atonement. And it springs from a correct view of God's holiness.

"To this dear Surety's hand will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfils his Father's broken laws.
Behold my soul at freedom set;
My Surety paid the dreadful debt." - I.Watts.

And what impelled Him to do so (voluntarily) was His Father's holy love to a lost world.