Not Perfect Yet

Do you ever notice God picking a theme for different seasons of your life?  Is there something specific that He is teaching you right now?

He’s definitely working on teaching me something new, and it all started with a bedtime story…

At night, my little people look forward to Bible time with me.  They ask for it.  Recently we read about the Tower of Babel, and there were so many questions!

Why did God confuse the language of the people?

Why didn’t one people group stay and continue working on the Tower?

Why didn’t they come back to it later?

Why didn’t God return their languages later?

And so many more… until I finally told my persistent 7 year old son that this is when we remember that God always has a plan and his plans are good, and for those of us who love Him and live for Him, He has promised that all things will work together for our good.  Because God is faithful, we can trust Him no matter what, and that means we can have peace no matter what happens.  That ended our discussion.  Children were happy, but something stirred in my heart.

As I tucked the littles into bed that night, I felt God remind me that He’s not just faithful.  He is perfectly-faithful.

Perfect~ completely free from fault or defect

My own study returns often to God’s intentional moulding of our character into His likeness, and the many ways He uses to that end.  I found myself rolling back through as many of God’s qualities as I could remember, only this time I placed “perfectly” before each one…

He is Perfectly Loving {1 John 4:7}

Perfectly Patient {Romans 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9}

Perfectly Kind {Luke 6:35}

Perfectly Gentle {Matthew 11:29}

Perfectly Faithful {2 Timothy 2:13, Psalm 33:4}

Perfectly Unchanging {Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8}

He is the Perfect Friend {Proverbs 18:24}

How many other qualities of God’s character can you name?

I just stood in awe.  God took everything I knew of Him and carried it deeper.

What do I know about perfect in a world where everything is marred by the consequences of sin?

How do I wrap my head around something I cannot completely understand?

How do I intelligibly communicate it to someone else?

I carried this around with me the next few days.  I decided I wanted to take time aside to study each of God’s attributes and meditate on them.

As part of that, I’m reading this book:

In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character  by Jen Wilkin

Jen is a teacher at heart, and I am appreciating her writing style.  She tackles the issue a lot of Christians have today with feeling paralyzed by a need they feel for direction in their lives.  “What Should I Do?” they ponder, and they worry about whether their choices are keeping their path in God’s plan.

Kevin DeYoung and Joshua Harris wrote a book called, “Just Do Something” in which they tackle this subject, telling young people that for most of us God doesn’t care so much about WHAT we do as how we do it… simply living in a way that honors God in the process.  And if God does have something big planned for us to do? Well, God steers moving ships.

The premise for Jen Wilkin’s book is similar, but dives deeper into what that looks like.  Jen says that if we want to align our lives with God’s will, we will need to ask a better question than “What should I do?”  The first question we should pose is “Who should I be?”

The Bible tells us that if we want to know what God the Father is like, look on Christ who was the exact representation of His Father.  Who should I be?  I am to be like Christ.

However, a distinction is made between those attributes of God that are only able to be filled by HIM, and those which He commutes to us and expects us to live out in a practical way in this life.  Only God is infinite, incomprehensible, self-existent, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign.  For us to strive to be any of these things would be to strive to be God.  We can’t be.  Jen addresses these traits in another book, called “None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (And Why That’s a Good Thing)”.  I have not read that book, though I hope to at a later date.

But those traits that are commutable? Those that are addressed in “In His Image” are: Holy, Loving, Good, Just, Merciful, Gracious, Faithful, Patient, Truthful, and Wise.

So, what is Holiness?  It has two definitions.

 

Holiness 

  • the sum of all moral excellence; “absolute moral perfection”   
  • antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement
  • set apart 
  • sacred 
  • utter purity of character
  • A communicable trait; God gives us His holiness and tells us to be holy because He is holy.

Another word used for holiness has a different meaning:

Holiness

  • utterly unique
  • other
  • What makes God completely different from us and anything in creation.  Not a communicable trait.  It is who God IS.  

“We repeat what we want others to remember.  And we learn what we hear repeated.” pg. 20

Based on repetition, God wants us to remember that He is holy.  The word is repeated almost 700 times throughout the Bible.  No other word is used with greater frequency when referring to God than the word holy.  The verb form of holy is the word sanctify, which is mentioned 200 times in scripture.

Earlier this summer I was reading about the completion of the temple that Soloman built for the Lord, and what happened when the priests brought the ark to rest in the holy of holies.

1 Kings 8:6-10

“The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.” {Emphasis Mine}

If you read Isaiah 6:-3, you find that the temple mirrored what is present in the holy of holies in heaven.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 

In the presence of God’s holiness, Isaiah was convicted of his own sinfulness, yet God touched his lips with a hot coal, purifying him, and then appointed him to be His prophet.

R.C. Sproul wrote, “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree.  Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession.  The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy.  Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy.  He is holy, holy, holy.  The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice.  It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory.” 

It strikes me so strongly that we as believers are the temple of God.  God’s glory in us should be so great that we are changed and others are affected by His presence in our lives.

God expects us to live holy lives; to be holy because HE is holy.  We can be encouraged in this because of scripture like 2 Peter 1:3 which tells us that we’ve been given everything pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us to his own glory and excellence…  

In this world, if something imperfect and soiled touches something pure and clean, the clean thing is tainted.  Yet, God’s holiness doesn’t work that way.  Like the coal that touched Isaiah’s lips, when God touches us he takes away our imperfection and gives us His holiness.  Then He commands us to live that holiness out in practical terms while we remain in this world.

How?  While we know from God’s word that He sees us as forgiven and perfect because Jesus’s blood has removed our sin, we still sin.  We cannot do this on our own.  Yet, God’s Holy Spirit fills us… He is constantly in the process of sanctifying us (that verb form of holiness)… conforming us to His will and his character.  We are His image bearers, carrying God’s glory within us, set apart and devoted.  Compared to the world, we should appear as “other”.   Different.  Godly.   Empowered by God’s Spirit, we CAN live our lives in such a way that His glory will spill over from us and onto others.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”                                                                                                                                              Psalm 34:8

A friend was speaking of this verse, and pointed out that other can taste and see that the Lord is good by our lives.  Glory, spilling out…

showing others the perfect love of God, which is the next attribute of God that I get to enjoy meditating on and savoring.

My thrilling realization?  Perfect and holy are interchangeable.  Matthew 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Yes, God is perfectly faithful.  He is faithful out of utter purity of character.

He is perfectly loving.  He loves out of utter purity of character.

He is perfectly just.  He acts justly out of utter purity of character, and so on.  🙂

Scripture to meditate on:

Leviticus 19:2

Job 34:10

Isaiah 47:4

Habakkuk 1:13

Matthew 5:48

Hebrews 12:14

 

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