The Transforming Power of the Gospel (Chapter 2)
This Week: Chapter 2
1. When thinking about the holiness of God, why is it necessary to grasp the meaning of His transcendent majesty before we can understand His moral purity? Transcendent majesty speaks of the infinite power, authority, royalty, dignity, and splendor that is God’s. Transcendent meaning all surpassing, above and beyond anything we can comprehend. He is so “separate” from us that the Hebrews did not have a word to describe it – they had to use repetition to give his holiness the emphasis it deserved. Holy! Holy! Holy! It is only when we can begin to catch a glimpse of his “otherliness” that we can begin to grasp his moral purity.
2. Do you think Christians tend to believe Isaiah’s declaration that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment”? Why or why not? Not so much. We are called to “be holy as He is holy”. But we tend to measure ourselves against others rather than against Him. As long as we are doing better than the people around us then we can feel good about ourselves. It is hard for us too believe that even the “righteous” stuff that we do can be so polluted because it looks pretty good to us. We have no idea what the holiness of God looks like.
3. In view of God’s transcendent majesty and infinite moral purity, why is wrath necessary? Because of God’s holy nature He cannot look at sin with indifference. He hates it. His wrath “reflects His holy hatred of all sin and His determination to punish it.” It is His “infinite justice in action – a justice that cannot allow any sin, be it ever so small in our eyes, to go unpunished.”
I really like the illustration that Bridges uses on page 26. It is given to elucidate this quote by George Smeaton: “The guilt of the offense is proportional to the greatness, the moral excellence, and the glory of Him against whom the offense is committed and who made us for loyal obedience to Himself.”
Suppose you want a new rug to cover the wooden floor in your living room. Being of modest means, you go to the local discount store and pay three hundred dollars for a rug. I come into your house with a bottle of black indelible ink and spill that ink on your rug. I have just ruined your three-hundred-dollar rug. But suppose you are a wealthy person and your pay thirty thousand dollars for an expensive Persian rug. If I spill ink on that rug, it is an entirely different matter. Why is that true? It is the same act on my part. In both instances. I have spilled black indelible ink on a rug. The difference, of course, lies in the value of the rug.
This is the way we should view the enormity of our sin. God’s holiness cannot be compared to even the thirty-thousand-dollar rug. It is infinite. It is immeasurable. Furthermore, we do not accidentally “spill” our sin on God’s holiness. For the most part, we rather pour out our sin; that is, we choose to act out our pride and selfishness, our judgmental attitudes, and our unkind words about others. And when we do that, we deliberately pour out sin on the holiness of God. That is why our sin, be it ever so small in our eyes, is always an abomination to God.
Next Week: Chapter 3