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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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theophilus

The holiness of God

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Isaiah had a vision in which he saw the Seraphim praising God for his holiness.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Isaiah 6:1-3 ESV

John later saw the same thing.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

Revelation 4:6-8 ESV

The seraphim were praising God’s holiness in 740 BC when Isaiah had his vision. They were doing it when John was taken to Heaven in about AD 90. As far as we know they are doing the same thing today. This suggests that holiness is God’s most important attribute.

 

Today we hear more about God’s love than about his holiness. Many ask, “If God loves us why doesn’t he just forgive everyone’s sins? Why do we have to put our faith in Christ?” If we only consider God’s love those are legitimate questions. We need to remember that God can’t express love in a way that contradicts his holiness. All sin must be paid for; either the sinner must be punished or the sin must be atoned for with a blood sacrifice.

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9:22 ESV

The only blood that atones for human sin is that of Jesus Christ. His resurrection proves that God has accepted his sacrifice. Whoever puts his faith in Christ is made holy and fit to enter the presence of God; anyone who fails to do this must bear the punishment he deserves.

 

The holiness of God explains why Hell must be eternal. Anyone who sins against an infinitely holy God deserves eternal punishment.

 

When Isaiah saw God his first reaction was a consciousness of his own sinfulness.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:5 ESV

Most people think they live good lives. They are generally aware of areas where they don’t fully measure up to what they know is right, but they don’t think their failures are of vital importance. That is because we are in a state of spiritual darkness where we don’t see things as God sees them. The light of God’s holiness enables us to see ourselves as we really are.

 

If we want to know God we need to begin by understanding his holiness. Until we see him as holy our understanding of his actions will be flawed.

 

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There's this expression which we're so fond of using:

 

"God loves and accepts us unconditionally."

 

Revelation 3:14-16 says:

 

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.'

 

God understands us but we cannot keep committing sins and asking for forgiveness. God won't just accept us, regardless of whether we commit sins or do bad things. The stories of the Israelites and Cain, you can see that God won't tolerate such behaviours. And it's just right, because by doing so, we will just commit and commit mistake after mistake. God does not accept things that aren't holy, that's the truth.

 

We must live our lives as holy as God wants us to be. We must educate people that God won't accept us regardless of what we do. You can fall one time, but you cannot fall a hundred times and expect God to accept you unconditionally. God is holy and he wants us to understand what being holy means so we can begin living our lives worthy of an eternal life.

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"Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect." If it were impossible for people to be perfect, Jesus would not have asked his disciples to seek perfection. The people who lived and died before Jesus came to the world, didn't have the help of the Holy Spirit so they, no matter how hard they tried, couldn't be perfect. But when God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit [having God with us all the time] we don't have an excuse for failing to be what God wants us to be — holy.

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