By Henry Blackaby
Holiness is God's plan for our "fullness of life." In fact, God is our fullness of life! He is holy and He wants to be actively present in our lives both personally and corporately. He has created us for an intimate and personal love relationship with Himself. Jesus said, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). So, we come to know God in all His holiness when we experience the love relationship for which we were created.
But sin has so affected the people of God in America today that we neither see the need for holiness nor do we desire it. Our hearts have turned away from God and we've lost the fear of Him and His judgment. And as we turn from God, we choose to disobey God and we replace Him, His purposes, and His ways with something of the world. We substitute work, recreation, relationships with people, and a love of worldly things for our love relationship with God.
Of course, this is not new as God's people have always had the tendency to depart from Him. The Bible is filled with examples of people who turned, lived in disobedience, and chose substitutes for God. God knew His people would shift and so He warned them: "...if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish..." (Deut. 30:17).
In love God wants us to choose life and prosperity, not death and destruction. His command is that we love Him with all our heart, obey Him fully, and release our life to Him so that He can take up residence in us and express Himself through us to a watching world. But if we fail to heed God's warning and continue in sin then His judgment is certain. According to the Scriptures, there are never alternatives to these two actions. We either repent or we perish. In repentance our right relationship with God is restored. Without it, we experience God's judgment.
History reveals how severe that judgment can be. When God judged Israel, the Northern Kingdom, He annihilated them. Likewise, His judgment on Judah, the Southern Kingdom, was very thorough. He destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple and kept them in bondage for seventy years. And in Jesus day, He dealt with His people so completely that they remained scattered for nineteen hundred years.
While the history of God's judgment should cause any of us to tremble, it is the loss of the fear of God that characterizes the people of God in America today. We no longer believe that God disciplines and judges His people. We have become complacent, and we feel that we have no need to tremble. It sounds strange to this generation of believers because we only see God as our friend!
But hear the grieving heart of God: "Will you not tremble at My presence..." (Jer. 5:22)? And the Scriptures tell us that He looks upon those who tremble at His word (Isa. 66:2). So why does God expect us to tremble? Holiness! When we're truly in God's presence and we experience His holiness our sin is radically exposed!
Isaiah experienced the holiness of God. And when he suddenly found himself in the presence of God Isaiah trembled in the fear of God and cried out:
Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst
of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts (Isa. 6:5).
The whole of Isaiah's life was quickly reoriented out of a self-centeredness into an immediate God-centeredness! And he then realized that there was much in his life, and the people he associated with, that was full of sin.
Then, after God cleansed Isaiah of his sin, he had an ear to hear God asking for someone to give everything they had for what was on the heart of God. And He heard God saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And Isaiah responded, "Here am I! Send me" (Isa. 6:8). Thus, out of an encounter with holy God Isaiah entered in the fullness of life that God had prepared him for. the heart of God. And He heard God saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And Isaiah responded, "Here am I! Send me" (Isa. 6:8). Thus, out of an encounter with holy God Isaiah entered in the fullness of life that God had prepared him for.