God is Holy and We are Not
So far in this study of the Gospel we have seen that Christ is the only way to salvation. We looked at why this might be from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and saw that God has designed salvation so that He might receive glory and we would be humbled. We will see this idea further in this study as we consider how God is a holy god and we are a sinful people.
God is Holy
It is important to remember that our worship is always focused on God. When we sing, we reflect on what He has done. Our goal is to bring Him glory and honor, and if we mention ourselves, it should always be in reference to what He has done or is doing in and through us. Having a rich understanding of God’s holiness not only allows us to worship Him more fully, but it also reminds us of what we strive to be as Christ followers–holy as He is holy. Even more than that, it allows us to realize the great need we have for Salvation.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
What does it mean that God is holy? God’s holiness carries two primary ideas. (1) God is morally and ethically pure. God is without sin or the contamination of anything that is less than Himself. God’s attributes always make the most sense when we remember that He is infinite. This means that He possesses all of His characteristics fully and infinitely. So, when we say God is morally pure, it means that all of Him is morally pure. Not one minute spec of His being is anything less than righteous. (2) He is set apart. Nothing is like God. Yes, mankind is made in the image of God, so we are like Him, but this doesn’t always go the other way around. God is different than what He has made and is distinct from it.
It is good that God is holy. God being holy means that He is the most appropriate object of glory and worship in the universe. We can praise many things that He has made, but those praises must ultimately be praises of Him, because He is the source or Creator of those things. If God were less than holy, He would be like us and unworthy of praise. This provides us with confidence as we worship God that our devotion is not misplaced, but is centered on the most right and appropriate thing. It is also good that God is holy, because we want someone with a precise and accurate moral center ruling the universe.
Separated by Sin
Where does that leave us, mankind? It is now that we need to discuss that though we are created in the image of God, we are not holy. We are marred, sinful, fallen people who are born apart from God.
In recent times sin has almost become taboo. People don’t like to talk about our depravity, because they’re afraid of it being offensive. Well, on one hand these people are right; it is offensive to be told that you’re wrong or not living up to a standard. No one likes to be wrong; however, we all know in our hearts that we do wrong. As Christians, we must be careful how we define and discuss sin. Sin is not something to be taken lightly. Sin is whatever we do that is contrary to God’s character and nature. We must also remember that sin is more than doing wrong, but is a state of being that is set against God, His Word, His wisdom, and His way.
Because we were made in the image of God, we were designed to be like Him to a great extent, but we have traded the riches of His glory for the rags of our pride. All people are born rejecting God’s plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ and are damned to an eternity in Hell, forever separated from God. We mourn over this because it is both an offense to God’s nature and a sad fate for those who reject Him. However, God has extended to mankind the way of salvation. If we ignore these truths, we cannot be effective ministers of the Gospel. We need to help people recognize their sin, so that they can see their need for a Savior.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
What This Means for Our Music
Being aware of these truths greatly affects the songs we choose to sing in church. Leaders may be tempted to shy away from songs that mention man’s depravity and separation from God, but these are essential elements of the gospel. Without a recognition of sin, we have no need to be saved or anything to be saved out of. We must be unashamed of all of the gospel including the bits that make people uncomfortable. The worst thing we could do for an unsaved person on Sunday morning is let them leave assuming that they are on good terms with God.