2006-09-07 - Excuses: 2
Colossians 1:21, 22, "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach."
I started a series, or what I thought would be a series, on excuses that either keep us from following Christ, or coming to Christ. The first devotional on excuses came out on June 19, and I am just getting to number two now. I am sorry about that, but I was involved with the summer questions and have decided with the passing of Labor Day, summer is over, and it is time to return to our regularly-scheduled program.
The first excuse I put forward was that we are too busy. I will not rehash that here; you are welcome to check it out on the cfdevotionals homepage (http://www.cfdevotionals.org/links/authtim.htm). The second excuse I would like to label "God's holiness." Now this, like the first, is no real excuse for not coming to Christ or following Him. It is, rather, a great incentive to do so. God's holiness is an incentive not an excuse. The mercy with which God freely offers the sinner in Christ should lead us to view His holiness, not as standard beyond our wildest dreams, but rather as a map to guide us as we seek to live up to our position as Children of God. We strive to be holy for the very reason: that God Himself is holy.
For the Christian, there can be a mindset that God is so holy that I can't live up to His standard. Here a defeatist, can't-do attitude quells any desire or substantial effort to live up to the high calling of being a follower of Christ. But the holiness of the Lord should be an incentive to follow the Lord, not an excuse not to. We are to be "holy and blameless before Him." (Ephesians 1:4) The holiness of God is not a hindrance that sets a standard beyond our reach, but rather a goal toward which we can strive. For the Christian the holiness of God is a comfort. We are to be "perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2 Corinthians 7:1. It is a process, but we are to have as our ambition "that we may share His holiness," Hebrews 12:10.
For the non-Christian, God's holiness can be viewed as an excuse for two reasons. The first is a mindset that if God is really holy, then there is no way He would accept - and much more forgive - someone who has done the horrid things I have done. This is an improper analysis of God's holiness. For the promise of forgiveness is to whosoever believes in Him and confesses Christ, 1 John 4:15, John 3:16. God's holiness is not prohibitive to coming to Him in faith, but rather, it should drive us to Christ. He forgives sinners. He is a God of forgiveness. Let us not so exalt our sin that we view it as something that God can't handle or forgive, because it is beyond His power, ability, or will.
The second reason for this excuse is that if God is holy, then He is viewed as strict. The sinner would come to Christ, but then they would have to give up their pleasures that control them. They would like to be cleansed in the blood of Christ's atonement, but only if they can still slop around in the mire of sin. But God's holiness does not allow for this, so they continue in sin, and put off God for another day. To come to Christ means certain things must be given up. The unrenewed nature of a man flinches at this. There is a failure to see that with the holiness of God, there are also promises to those who seek to follow His standards. But the sinner only sees that Christ is intolerant to sin, loves the sin more than the Lord, and thus uses this as an excuse to not come to faith.
These are excuses, and we live in a world of excuses, but how well do we really feel these excuses will fare, when we stand before the Lord in judgment? We have to be honest. We need to both understand and live with a view to eternity. Part of that is not using the lame excuse that God is too holy for us to come to Him and live up to His standards. He is the God of forgiveness, and we must, in faith, rest in that forgiveness while embracing the truth of His holiness.
Soli Deo Gloria,