Holiness and Incarnation

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:1-5,14,17

The Holiness of God
Moses asks God for His name (Exodus 3:13). The name God gives Moses will speak to the very character of God. I am sure Moses was very curious as to what God would say. And what does God say? “I AM WHO I AM.” Well, that’s odd. You and I would never say that. And that is exactly right. God cannot say, “I am like ___________.” There is no point of reference outside of Himself to which God can point and say, “There, look at that, I’m like that.” He is. He is like none other. All of who He is is. We are to talk about the attributes of God, i.e. what He is like, we must understand that whatever we learn about God, we must learn this: He is other. We say that God is “holy,” or separate.
RC Sproul writes,

There is a special kind of phobia from which we all suffer. It is called xenophobia. Xenophobia is a fear (and sometimes hatred) of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange or foreign. God is the ultimate object of our xenophobia. He is the ultimate foreigner. He is holy, and we are not. (The Holiness of God, 45)

God does the defining. We are subject to His definitions. He is original. We are derivative. God is being. We are becoming. Hannah was right when she prayed,

My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:1,2).

We read in Isaiah 40:25:

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.

And then in Hosea 11:9

…for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst…

Because of His holiness, God is unable to tolerate sin (
Hab 1:13). He is pure, and we are impure.

Now you may ask me, “That is nice, but what does this have to do with the passage from John 1?” It is an act of gracious condescension for God to dwell among us. It has been rightly declared that God, in all of His holiness, has been made accessible through the finished work of Christ. Christ has made the holiness of God not merely tolerable; Christ has brought the impossible to reality by making the holiness of God enjoyable (cf. Psalm 2:11-12)!


Dan Richardson said...

Yes yes, I can't add other than say, thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a joyful and wonderful truth: Our God and His Son.