As Christians, we hold fast to the power of God’s love. It is a not only a primary attribute of God, but is central to our witness and testimony. However, as we seek to model something powerful to the world that separates us from all others, we need to look again at what the Scripture says is primary. As we pray for God’s tangible presence to move and be seen in our land I believe there is an attribute that is even more crucial to our lives and witness than God’s love. It is His holiness.
You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (Lev 20:26 ESV)
As powerful as God’s love is, it is His holiness that truly sets us apart from all others. In a culture filled with increasing immorality, perversion, and rebellion, it is crucial for the Church, the Ekklesia of God, to demonstrate both the power and the joy of God’s holiness. Some in the Church have strayed from this, thinking that the most important quality we must demonstrate to others is our love, even if it means bending the rules a little. However, by wrongly placing love above holiness, the Church has allowed compromise and counterfeit doctrines into the body of Christ and lost the power and presence that God’s holiness brings.
Holiness is not an outgrowth of love – rather it is love that is always subject to God’s holiness. There is no perfect love apart from the Perfect One. Without a revelation of God’s purity, perfection, and wholeness one can never truly know His love. He never said to “…be love, for I am love…” He said to “…be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev 11:44) One night a few years ago I woke up hearing the phrase, “They are attracted to His holiness.” As I prayed into this, I realized the Lord was reminding me that even the angelic host are looking for the holiness of God. In the heavens where all creation continually worships the One True God, they are not worshiping and adoring His love, but His holiness.
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev 4:8)
It is not God’s love that sets Him apart. It is His holiness. There is no other god that is holy like our God. In like manner, though we should be known by our love, it is our holiness unto Him that sets us apart in the heavenly realms and grants us the authority to overcome and defeat every foe and enemy of God. As we pray for the angelic host to war on our behalf against the forces of darkness, we can be assured that our holiness before the Lord will be a strong magnet for their assistance. To be holy is to be a true demonstration of His glory. There is no glory apart from God’s holiness. Those who prioritize “loving others” above living a righteous life will eventually find themselves lost, empty, and powerless to change anything or anyone.
Without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12:14)
Jesus didn’t come to just forgive sin, but to eradicate our flesh. Where He draws us to Himself through His love and kindness, His ultimate purpose is to form us into His image, which is holy. Though love gives us access to the throne, it is His holiness that opens the door to His presence and makes us untouchable to the enemy. One of the core principles of effective intercession is to have clean hands and a pure heart. Purity and holiness are essential if we want to do any business with God (see Ps 24:3,4). Even as we embrace Jesus’ mercy and compassion, we must not forget the same Jesus who confronted compromise and double-mindedness. He turned over the money-changer’s tables in the Temple, rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites, and called his best friend “satan” (see Matt 21:12, Luke 13:15, and Mark 8:33). We cannot attempt to redefine who Jesus is in order to appease someone’s flesh.
The spiritual depravity in our culture threatens to make our call to holiness a religious relic (see 1 Cor 15:33). We need to rediscover the revelation of what God’s holiness accomplishes and the standing it gives us in His presence. Especially for those who are praying for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, we must embrace and celebrate our call to holiness. He longs to come and show Himself strong and mighty. His heart has never been more passionate towards us. Yet, we must prepare the way. It is only when we begin to pursue Him as a holy God, not just a loving God, that we can become vessels of His glory and conduits of His Kingdom authority.
I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. (Ez 36:23)