Sunday, May 25, 2008 -
1) GOD’S HOLINESS IS WHAT MAKES HIM WHAT HE IS. HOLINESS IS WHAT MAKES ALL OF HIS OTHER ATTRIBUTES PRAISEWORTHY AND BEAUTIFUL
Theologians frequently distinguish between God’s natural attributes (His power, knowledge, self-existence, etc) and His moral attributes (His love, justice, purity, faithfulness, and the like).
Here we begin to see the reason for the centrality of God’s holiness. It is what makes all the other attributes of God lovely and praiseworthy. What if all the other powers and attributes of God remained the same, only without the regulating presence of God’s holiness? This would be our worst nightmare. God’s power would not be a benevolent power. He would not have any obligation to keep His promises. His love would be undiscerning. He could love rape as much as tithing! No. It is only God’s holiness that makes everything else about Him praiseworthy.
2) THROUGHOUT THE SCRIPTURES, EVEN CARNAL PEOPLE CAN BE SEEN TO BE MOVED AT TIMES BY THE NATURAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
a) Daniel 4:1-3 - “King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you!  It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.  How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.”
The important point here is this response by the king is not a distinctly spiritual response. It is certainly appropriate and proper. But it was a purely natural reaction to God’s kindness to Daniel, which preserved the king’s reputation. Of course, the king felt very good about this out-turn of events.
b) Daniel 6:25-28 - “Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: "Peace be multiplied to you.  I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.  He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions." So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”
Notice that Darius sings of God’s might and power, but not His holiness. Darius is moved but not converted. His response is polite and proper, but it carries nothing of holy, spiritual transformation.
There are lessons for our worship here. Thankfulness is certainly proper and right. Seeing God’s greatness is important and good. But the proper goal of spiritual worship is holy transformation - 2 Corinthians 3:18 - “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
3) IT IS A CERTAIN SIGN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK WHEN OUR ENCOUNTER WITH GOD LEAVES US LONGING FOR HIS HOLINESS BEING FORMED IN OUR OWN HEARTS
Now we begin to trace out the roots of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We begin, not only to admire God, but to bask in His holiness, finding rising in our own hearts a holy dissatisfaction with our own shabby lives. The Holy Spirit leads our hearts to cry out, not only for God’s blessings, which is fine enough, but for the wonder and beauty of His holy character being formed in our own souls.
What is the process of this holy harvest in our own souls?
a) We must wait on the Lord until He instills the desire for deeper holiness in our own hearts. This won’t bubble up in our lives as we pour over the Financial Post. Each Christian must be in blood earnest in taking the time - gazing upon the beauty of the Lord until a frustration with sin and self becomes unbearable.
b) We must follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit when He reveals the things we must sacrifice to make more room for His deeper work in our lives. We must shun and turn from the common North American understanding of the Christian life as an additional life to our regular routine. The work of the Spirit is always a pruning work - Jesus said so, and Paul expanded this power secret to spiritual transformation:
Galatians 5:22-25 - “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”