My wife and I are currently reading through The Holiness of God with our oldest son. Reading good Christian books together has been a good way for us to stimulate our thoughts and our discussions. Reading this book has definitely been making me spend more time pondering the holiness of God and how it does and should impact my faith and worship. Last night as part of our reading, we hit the following quote:
Holiness provokes hatred. The greater the holiness, the greater the human hostility toward it. It seems insane. No man was ever more loving than Jesus Christ. Yet even His love made people angry. His love was a perfect love, a transcendent and holy love, but His very love brought trauma to people. This kind of love is so majestic we can’t stand it (The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul, p. 67).
In the Bible, we see this hatred of Jesus holiness in any number of places. In one example, Jesus lovingly heals a man’s withered hand:
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (Matthew 12:13-14).
Now, you can argue that the Pharisees hatred for Jesus was based on a number of issues, but a big part of it was their hatred for Jesus’ holiness. As Sproul argues elsewhere in his book, the Pharisees had a superficial, fake holiness. Jesus had a real holiness. Until Jesus came along, the Pharisees may have appeared holy to the others around them. But, when Jesus arrived on the scene with his transcendent, perfect holiness, the holiness of the Pharisees was exposed for the empty facade that it truly was.
I wonder how I would react if confronted directly with God’s holiness. Would I fall at his feet and worship like Thomas (John 20:28), beg for him to go away from me, the sinner, like Peter (Luke 5:8), or conspire as to how to destroy him like the Pharisees? How would you react? The one thing the Bible makes perfectly clear, we cannot be indifferent once confronted with the holy, holy, holy God.