M The Holiness, Perfectionism, and Severity of God

Article aJ 1989

M The Holiness, Perfectionism, and Severity of God

Article aJ 1989

God is of faultless Holiness and perfection. It is because of this exalted standard of God that His severity is so unspeakably great toward sin and that which fails of His perfect Holiness. It is because of God's irrevocable attributes as contained in the above title, that God created hell to punish that which through disobedience to Him had fallen from the Holiness in which God had created it. Because of God's standard of perfection and Holiness it was no small matter to make a way so that man, who through disobedience had fallen into sin, could be saved from hell. Because of God's perfection, Holiness, and severity to thus save man, God required that one who was perfect and Holy must suffer and die in man's place. "He shall see of the travail of his [Christ's] Soul, and shall be satisfied..." (Isaiah 53:11). It was because of these attributes of God that God established the Old Testament sacrificial ordinances to thus remind man that the cost of sin is suffering and death and to be a likeness of the supreme sacrifice which Christ fulfilled. Because of God's Holiness, perfectionism, and severity and because of man's depravity, his proneness to disobey God's Spirit, and his lot of living among the pressures of an evil world, God has seen fit that those who are saved "...must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). The above attributes of God can clearly be seen throughout the Old Testament era. God's plan for the tabernacle, the ark of God, the royal garments for Aaron and his sons, and other related items vividly reveal God's perfectionism (Exodus chapters 25-28). Solomon's temple, it's furnishings, and it's related items also clearly reveal God's standard of perfection (l Kings chapters 6-10). Likely the earth has never before or since witnessed building structures, furnishings, and related items that compare with such perfection, royalty, and magnificence. God's exalted standard of perfection, Holiness, and severity is revealed in the Mosaic Law by it's many detailed laws on cleanliness, human relations, religious ceremonies, and by the severe penalties this law placed upon disobedience. aJ-1

M God's severity on sin is clearly seen in how that He destroyed the first world with a flood and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, raining fire and brimstone upon them. God's severity on sin is also revealed in that He required His chosen nation Israel to utterly destroy wicked nations, thus to kill all men, women, children, and beasts. It appears as God had earlier used the flood to destroy the wicked He later ordained that His people Israel do such. aJ-2

M God's Holiness and perfection required strict obedience and total allegiance of His people Israel while His severity placed severe penalties on their disobedience's. God's severity on disobedience and lack of allegiance is often revealed by His judgments upon the disobedience's of the Israelites. God wanted those that survived and witnessed these judgments to learn that disobedience brings death, so His people would fear and obey Him, be useful in His service, and be recipients of His blessings. In reading this article it should be remembered that just as great as God's severity is toward such as stray from Him and His Holy standard, so great is His goodness and reward toward those who seek and strive to please God with all their heart. In the Israelites 40 year wilderness journey often times because of their disobediences to God's commandments, God sent plagues among them which killed thousands of them. Often times the wrath of God would have destroyed them all had not Moses interceded (Exodus 32:10-14, Numbers 14:11-20, 16:20-22, 16:44-50). In one occasion because of some rejecting God's ordained leadership, the earth opened up and swallowed up the men involved, their families, and their goods, while a fire from the Lord descended and consumed 250 others that were also involved. The Israelites asked Moses, "...shall we be consumed with dying?" (Numbers 17:13). After forty years of many hard lessons the Israelites were permitted to enter a prepared blessing and responsibility. Yet Moses told the Israelites, "Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord aware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff necked people" (Deuteronomy 9:5-6). aJ-3

M Because of Achan's disobedience in taking silver and gold to himself when Israel was carrying out God's judgments on Jericho, Israel lost their next battle, then Achan, his family, his cattle, and possessions where stoned, burned with fire, and then covered with a great heap of stones (Joshua 7). Because of looking into the ark of God 50,070 Israelites of Bethshemesh which had looked into it were smitten by God, after which the surviving Bethshemites said .... Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?.." (1 Samuel 6). Because of King David's error in numbering Israel, 70,000 men of Israel died in a God sent pestilence. Yet it should be considered that at this time God's anger was kindled against Israel likely because of lukewarmness (2 Samuel 24). aJ-4

V God clearly reveals His severity on sin in that He told Ezekiel to place a pot on a fire and put water and flesh and bones into it, and to then boil it well and seethe it. God then likened the scum in the pot to the sin and corruption of Jerusalem. Then God required that Ezekiel burn the scum in the pot and even burn the pot, saying, "Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed" (Ezekiel 24:10-11). aJ-5

V God's greatest severity on sin is yet to be revealed which is hell. The punishment of hell makes all above punishments seem as nothing and boggles the human mind. Moses speaking the words of God, concerning God's unspeakable wrath on sin, and hell to come said, "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deuteronomy 32:22). God, at the hand of Ezekiel, not only burned with fire the scum but also the pot that contained it, so God will not only burn with fire the wicked of the earth, but also the earth that contained them. Prophet Isaiah in awareness of this dreadful place, and of the danger of individuals from among God's chosen people experiencing God's wrath of hell said, .... who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14). Jesus the Son of the same God who revealed such severity among His people in the old era, often spoke of hell while in His earth life, saying it is a place where the fire is not quenched, the worm dieth not, and where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Paul in awareness of God's severity said, "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). aJ-6

Within God's exalted standard of perfection, Holiness, and severity is found the secret which obviously reveals that the Bible is not teaching anything at all contradictory, in that it so often and clearly teaches that man is not saved by his good works and yet that one must strive, produce, and be zealous of good works to be saved. Because of the above attributes of God and man's contrasting depraved nature, man could have no part in bridging the vast gulf that exists between God's Holiness and man's depravity nor could the merits of any of man's good works contribute anything in building this unspeakable bridge. The bridge of Salvation is a gift solely of God's mercy. Yet because of God's Holiness, perfection, and severity He will permit no one to cross this bridge but those who sincerely do their best to please His perfection and Holiness, maintaining the good works involved in keeping His commandments. This principle could also be similarly expressed saying, because of God's exalted Holiness and man's contrasting depraved nature, man by the merits of his good works, could contribute nothing to salvation's gift, yet because of God's Holiness and severity, He will only give a gift of such value to those who sincerely do their best to please His perfection and Holiness, maintaining the good works involved in keeping His commandments. It is with respect to the above principle that Paul in Titus 3:5&8 said, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...", then a few verses further said, "I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works...", and in Philippians 2:12 said, ".. .work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". aJ-7

"Jesus said, "Strive to enter in at the strait (difficult) gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24). Jesus with respect to how one must give Him undivided allegiance, and love Him more than all else, to come to Him in an acceptable way said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and, children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). Yet when one comes to Christ satisfying this deep requirements and walks with Christ in this way, he will find joy in being a recipient of salvation's gift and will find Christ's help and comfort in all difficulties as also did Paul who speaking of God said, "...who comforteth us in all our tribulation..." (2 Cor 1:4). Jesus comfortingly said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30). aJ-8

Jesus knowing His Father's exalted standard of perfection and Holiness told the multitudes that if their righteousness did not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (who had much good form and thought they were righteous), they would in no case enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20). Jesus being one with God and possessing the same standard of perfection, Holiness, and severity as His Father after pronouncing many woes upon the scribes and Pharisees because of their ignorance, love for honor and ease, and lack of effectual, whole hearted, and all allegiant service to God said, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt 23:33). Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in the name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity". (Matt 7:21). Those who heard these soul shuttering words of Christ were unaware of God's exalted standard of perfection and Holiness and in deception had settled for too shallow a standard. God spoke through Isaiah saying, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people" (Isaiah 62:10). Deu 6:7-9 reveals how maintaining God's standard requires diligence efforts, reading "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." God's standard of Holiness, perfection, and severity will not tolerate lukewarmness. God said, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. so then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev 3:15-16). aJ-9

M At Christ's return many will think Christ to be like an easy going and easy to please friend but will find Him to possess a nature of Holiness, perfection, and severity such as was revealed to the Israelites in the old era and is portrayed in Christ's teachings. Jesus knowing man's depravity and proneness to become deceived into thinking that Christ is something He is not, often warned of false Christ's saying, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt 24:5). Any teaching that does not align with the simplicity of the teachings of Christ, nor with Christ's standard of holiness, perfection, and severity as is revealed above, comes from the false christ. The false christ today is specializing in teaching a counterfeit faith which does not align with God's standard of perfection, Holiness, and severity. aJ-10

A Holy Spirit inspired and genuine faith assuredly believes in God's standard of perfection, Holiness and severity. A faith as such is a power and gift from God and accepts one's need of salvation's gift, and causes one to give all allegiance to God to be eligible for it. A Spirit inspired and genuine faith is a powerful inspiration which transforms and sanctifies those who receive it, who then may come and dwell within the good pleasure of God and their be granted the assurance and seal of eternal life at His hand. Forth coming good fruit and works of the body definitely will follow with the exception of physical disabilities. Faith as such saves and is truly of utmost importance. Paul in awareness of this said without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). The true faith cannot but produce and be zealous of good works and without this faith it is impossible to provide proper fruit and works, it is with respect to this principle that God's word so often teaches the importance of faith and yet says at the judgment we will be judged by our works. Christians of times past knowing the importance of faith, called it saving faith and repeatedly wrote that the workings of faith is that it effectually assures and changes the affections of the heart. They wrote saving faith draws man from earthly tastes to heavenly tastes. They wrote of faith's sanctifying powers saying it enables it's possessors to gladly suffer for Christ, counting all such sufferings of this life as brief and light. aJ-11

The false christ in his strategy against men's souls does not deny the importance of faith but rather specializes in preaching it, yet he has provided a counterfeit faith which holds little transforming and sanctifying powers and such as partake of it lack that that transformed humble and contrite spirit to which God will grant eternal life. Yet the false christ loudly and boldly preaches that man is saved by faith and says you have such, yet he subtly conceals the counterfeit faith which they possess, the need of earnest works, and the exaltedness of God's true standard. Satan's counterfeit faith believes in Christ with the mind in many degrees but lacks the sanction which Christ placed upon Apostle Peter's faith saying, "...flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". It is very sad that many throughout life unknowingly will have loved and praised the false christ and throughout eternity in hell's flames will likely hate and curse the true Christ. aJ-12

Faith in Christ, anchored in a revelation from God as had apostle Peter, is the rock where upon Christ said He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). It is when one believes in Christ with a revelation from God as had Peter that his faith saves and the rivers of living water flow. The apostles and Church at Pentecost had a faith with this anchor thus were assured that God's perfection, holiness, and severity not only established hell and it's eternal terrors for those who do not strive against sin but also established heaven with it's unspeakable bliss for those who love and obey God. At the time of Pentecost, it was the church's assured awareness of the eternal contrasts. their keen awareness of Christ's teaching to seek first the welfare of His Kingdom and to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and their assured faith in all the promises of God that moved the church with power and vehement desire in the effectual saving of souls. aJ-13

It appears in both the Old and New Testaments, that when God's people were walking closely to God's will He would miraculously reveal His severity upon sin to them in ways that were not revealed to His people when they were not walking as closely to His will. Also in both eras of time as God's people walked closely to Him, God could best use them to reveal His power and severity on sin to one another and to an evil world. When God's New Testament church was in the midst of it's thrust of Pentecost, God vividly revealed His severity on sin by His slaying at the feet of Peter both Ananias and Sapphira, after which .... great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things" (Acts 5:11). The activities of God's Church at Pentecost, such as their powerful witness of signs and wonders and their demonstration of an assured faith whereby they could not but speak the things which they had seen and heard, reveal that God's flew Testament people are not handicapped to vividly and effectively reveal God's miraculous power and His severity, to one another and to a world that is largely unaware of it. Concerning both eras of time, it is sad that often as God's people strayed from Him, and His people's need of having God's power and severity revealed to them thus increased, God's power and severity was revealed to them less and less. The following teaching of Christ's also portrays this dangerous principle, "For whosoever hath to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matt 13:12). "Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have" (Luke 6:18). It is sad that those who lack fear of God and His severity during their earth life will experience it and be very aware of it throughout eternity in hell. aJ-14

Apostle Paul knowing man's depravity and proneness to lose sight of God as He is and take on a shallow and false gospel which unduly accents God's mercy and evades His exalted standard of perfection, Holiness, and severity, and knowing that after his departure false teachers would arise among them from within and without, warned his people saying, "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). Through out both eras of time it is very sad that God's people often drifted from God's true standard for His people and that when God again called His people back to His exalted standard of Holiness, perfection, severity, and power it seemed as idol tales and was rejected by most and only a remnant kept the true faith. Paul tells how he was with the church in fear and much trembling and how he wrote to them with many tears. It appears he was very aware of the danger of man to fall short of the true faith and salvation and thus became a subject of God's wrath. aJ-15

V In conclusion may all yet remember, that although God's severity is so dreadful, that yet through Christ's redemption, their is a living hope for a blessed eternity for all those who come to God with all their heart. Also may God's people not unduly exalt and honor the Apostles, the martyr brethren, and past zealous, careful, and grave Christians, but rather understand why they were like they were, and see the possibility and need to be like them, least today many meet the heinous fate of the foolish virgins and miss the eternal prize aJ-16

(Count 3605 2/17/01)