Frozen by the Holiness of God
“What am I supposed to do, just sit right here?”
It’s a question my friend and I like to quote (and laugh about) often. I grew up a believer, but my faith in Christ really became the foundation for my life during my college years. That particular day my best friend and I were sitting in a dorm room discussing sin, how hard it is to eradicate, and how grateful we were for the Lord’s patience in making us aware of unrecognized sin in our lives. I said to her, “Thank God He doesn’t reveal it all at once! I’d be like, ‘What am I supposed to do, just sit right here?’”
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” (Psalm 24:3-4)
It’s a lot. Sanctification is lifelong process. We are born sinful people. So sinful. Like crazy sinful. But we don’t even realize it. If we were to stand there on the day we were granted salvation and become suddenly aware of all our transgressions— every evil thought, every selfish action, every white lie— we would be utterly immobilized.
Thankfully, it doesn’t work that way. Most of us were probably aware of some sin in our lives when we began walking with Christ, but we certainly weren’t aware of all of it. The longer we journey with Him, as we grow in maturity and faith, learning more about His character and more about our own, the clearer we see the sin in our lives. Even the subtle sins become obvious, but it’s not immobilizing, because it’s God working to restore us to the children He created us to be, and the longer we are with Him, the better we know Him and learn to trust Him.
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3)
I am aware of God always. Always. This doesn’t mean we are always communicating. You can read a little about a recent experience of my disconnect here. Every minute of the day, I consciously acknowledge God’s presence, but not necessarily on purpose. I guess it has just become so, because He has become the purpose for me in everything.
This is fairly new. As I said before, I grew up a believer. For as long as I can remember, I acknowledged Him daily, but there were definitely moments— chunks of moments even— that God wasn’t even a blip on my radar. That is not the case now. It’s taken three decades to get here, but here I am, constantly face to face with the Creator of the universe.
That makes recognizing sin pretty easy, and ignoring it pretty rebellious.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
I was thinking about that dorm room conversation from fifteen years ago recently, and felt frozen once again, not by my sin, but by the Holiness of God. He has been faithful and (mostly) gentle as He continues to cleanse me, and He has remained unsullied by sin all the while. Through eternity. Through the Fall, through the wandering, fickle hearts of the Israelites, through countless stories in the Bible of people choosing everything but Him, through His humanity, temptation, and even crucifixion, through continuous rejection by me and everyone else that claims to love Him. It’s amazing, and when I consider it, it stops me in my tracks.
“But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
When I am confronted by the holiness of God, I cannot escape my sin, and as much as that sucks, I welcome it, because I want to be free. The longer I know my Savior, the more I want to serve Him, and I know if I want to do that effectively, I have to repent of the sin in my life. I have seen my sin tally grow exponentially over the years, but that only makes me more willing to say, “Show me, Lord! And purge me of my wickedness!” (This is a lot easier to do with God than people. Just ask my husband. I may be happy to stand before the Lord and let Him point out all my flaws, but when standing before my husband, I like to wear self-righteousness like full body armor. Remember that rebellion I mentioned earlier?)
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
Asking God to show you sin is not quick or painless. There is fear and trembling. Tearing away sin hurts. Sometimes it’s almost unbearable, and sometimes it takes years. My family and friends could tell you how I’ve been hurting them in the same ways for decades. There are some sins that seem ingrained in our personalities, as if they are actually a part of us, and removing them can feel crippling, like removing a limb. But we welcome the amputation even though we know it will be long and tormenting, because we know He is better. We want less of ourselves and more of the amazing God that has come through for us every. single. time.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)
He is holy, and that is frightening. But He is good, and knowing that frees us from fear. His way is so loving. The more we see His holiness, the more we see our sin, and the more we see how He is faithful and good when He eradicates it.