Holiness Glorifies God
There are many reasons why we should be holy. But the chief reason is because it glorifies God. He says, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” That is, “My child, I am holy and that is sufficient reason why you should be holy.” Whatever glorifies God is reasonable. It is founded on the laws of common sense.
Let us see more fully how holiness in man glorifies God. In order to more clearly illustrate this truth, let us see how else God is glorified.
Inanimate nature glorifies God. It manifests His glory everywhere. The Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth forth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge.” By a beautiful rhetorical figure he represents one day, as it departs, telling the succeeding day the glories of God, which it has witnessed, and each night telling the succeeding night what of divine glory it has seen. The glorious sun by day and the countless orbs of night are unceasingly reflecting the glory of God. No devout mind can gaze on the starry heavens without awe and devotion. The sun shining in majestic glory reminded David of his God and he exclaimed, “The Lord God is a sun.” His glory, like the beams of the sun shines upon those who love Him. When we look into the mighty heavens, we see millions of preachers who are telling of the glory of our great and wonderful God, “who stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent.” No wonder someone has said, “An undevout astronomer is mad.” No sane man can view the heavens and not believe in God. How the glory and pomposity of man fade into insignificance! No wonder that David said, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou visitest him?” The heavens and earth show the divine glory by exhibiting Him as a Designer. The supreme Architect of the universe has revealed everywhere the proofs of His greatness in design.
Go through a house or even view it from the outside and you will see the thought of the architect wrought out as clearly as if he had written it out in full and signed his name. He may never have seen the house himself, but his thought is seen in it.
As one visits Westminster Abbey, which contains the monuments of the illustrious dead of England, he sees an inscription at the entrance like this, “Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of this building. Would you see his monument? Then look around you. Would you see the monument of the great Architect of the Universe? Then look around you by day and by night. St. Paul says, “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” See the evidences of design in the movements of this little world. It turns on its axis a complete revolution in twenty-four hours. And thus we have day and night-a time for toil and a time for rest. Then while it is spinning like a school boy’s top, it also goes around the sun once a year in an elliptical pathway, inclining at an angle sufficient to produce the changes of the seasons. What force or power could have accomplished this? Only an intelligent being. Day and night and the changes of the seasons are in exact succession.
Look at our little moon, our lamp by night, which causes the rise and fall of the tides with the utmost exactness. Or consider the wonderful comets that visit our skies on exact time after absence of centuries; the eclipses of sun and moon, so exact in their time as to be foretold by astronomers; or the courses of the millions of stars and planets. Truly the heavens glorify God as a designer.
The heavens also show the glory of God in the manifestations of His power. Twirl a school boy’s top and it will go for a moment or more. It would be wonderful if the school boy could impart force enough to overcome friction and make it spin for an hour or a day. Think of the mighty power that sent millions of planets in motion, that still go on after thousands of years, without collision. One of the many comets — Haley’s — for instance, comes to our view once in seventy-five years, traveling constantly at the rate of sixteen hundred miles per minute. Job says, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty places and hangs the earth upon nothing.” Everywhere His power is manifest. It flashes in the lightnings, booms in the thunder, roars in the cataract, sweeps in the tornado and chants in the waves, ceaseless rhythm on the rock-bound shores of old ocean.
His power is revealed in the creation of the worlds of space. Our little world (one of the smallest of them) displays His glorious power and wisdom, when He scooped out the ocean, and carved the mountains, fashioned the lowly valleys, smoothed out the plains and prairies, cut out the channels of the rivers, wrapped the fiery core of the earth with belts of minerals and fuel, put on a cover of soil, carpeted it with green and garnished it with the majestic forests, decorated it with its ten millions of flowers, hung up on its walls the paintings of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets and hung out the lamps of heaven to illuminate its nights. As the poet says:
“The valleys and the mountains,
The woodland and the plain,
The rivers and the fountains,
The sunshine and the rain,
The stars that shine above us,
The flowers that deck the sod,
Proclaim aloud the glory of our God.”
Then He swathed it in an atmosphere of oxygen, fifty miles deep, for the lungs of man and beast. He gave its soil fertility, that it might bring forth “seed for the sower and bread for the eater,” and gave the vegetable creation-a perfect organization in families from the “hyssop that grows on the wall,” to the tall cedars of Lebanon, and the giant trees of California. These are thy works, O Parent of Good. “In wisdom hast Thou made them all.”
The animal creation manifests the glory of God. His works are perfect in the construction of the various species, from the cricket on the hearth to the behemoth who churns the waves of old ocean; from the insect that lives but a day to the megatherium, who lifted his head above the ancient forests. The divine wisdom has shown as much care and skill in the delicate tint on the wing of the butterfly as the majestic form of the royal lion. He knows every animalcule who sports with his million brothers in a single drop of water. His care is over the sparrow. He sees and causes the happiness of the myriad insects that sport in the sunshine of the summer’s day. He has made arrangements for the food of the beast of the field. He has adapted the fish to the sea and the birds to the air. He endows them all with marvelous instinct. We have no space to enlarge on the wonders of the animal kingdom. But it everywhere manifests the glory of God.
The spiritual and physical nature of man glorify God. The soul of man created in the image of God! What a nature! What power and capabilities! Psychologists are still studying it and have not yet fully comprehended it, after thousands of years. See its triumph over nature and the brute creation. It has not only overcome much of the ruggedness of nature and gained dominion over the brute creation but it has climbed to the stars and measured their velocity and discovered their substance and laws of motion. By its inventions it has enabled man to whisper through the seas and air; to live beneath the waters and mount into the sky. It has harnessed the lightnings and made them do its bidding. It has been gifted with a free will that can even defy the Omnipotent One Himself.
God has incased this indescribable soul in the tabernacle of a wonderful body. Scientific men are still studying its mysteries. It is one of the most perfect instruments ever made. What a variety of processes are constantly going on in this marvel of the Creator’s handiwork. In man’s body are a chemical laboratory, an observatory, a telephone, a system of sewerage, hydraulics, a system of ventilation, a telegraph system, a refrigerating process, a talking machine, a system of levers and mechanical powers, a reproductive agency, a system of musical instruments, and other wonders all in a small compass. There never has been anything ever made or dreamed of in the world that contains so much in so small space. It is a manifestation of the power and skill of our wonderful Creator.
The angels glorify God. They tell forth His glory and holiness. Without doubt reference is made to them in Job 38 where it says “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” in creation’s morning. Isaiah had a glimpse into heaven and heard the seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of thy glory.” Over the plains of Bethlehem, they shouted, “Glory to God in the highest.” Yes, the angels glorify God. The Psalmist says in Psalm 148, “Praise ye the Lord from the heavens; praise ye him from the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels; praise ye him, all his hosts.”
But alas! there is a sad side to the picture. Devils and wicked men do not praise God or glorify Him. While the angels and all nature are glorifying God there are two classes that do not glorify Him. They are devils and wicked men. There is a dark abode where “no Sabbath’s heavenly light shines.” Where no praise or glory is ever given to God. Hallelujahs never break the awful monotony of its wails and curses. There wicked spirits and men show forth only the heinousness of sin. The very absence of praise, by contrast, shows what a blessed privilege it is to live where men do glorify God. Wicked men, who do not glorify God, are like devils. What company are unsaved men preparing themselves for!
We have now reached the point where we may inquire what is the highest glory of God. It is not in His attributes. Omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness as displayed in the universe are not the manifestations of the highest glory of God. His real glory is something far beyond these. His highest glory is in His holy nature. He is unique in this respect. He is the only absolutely holy being in the universe.
Inanimate nature cannot manifest His holiness. Nature cannot display His perfect love. It can tell His wisdom, but fails to display His love. The lightning displays His terrific power, but cannot show His mercy. Gravitation and magnetism display His potent arm but never can reveal His holiness or His love that stoops to save a fallen race. When God overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang a song of triumph and thanksgiving to God. If ever there was a time or an occasion for celebrating the displays of omnipotence that overthrew the great army of Pharaoh, it was at this time. But they sang about His holy character saying, “Who is like unto thee, O, Lord, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises.” The theme of their song was the holiness of Jehovah.
Moses prayed that God would show him the divine glory. Doubtless Moses expected something spectacular, that would appeal to the senses-a vision seen by the natural eye. The divine answer to his prayer was, “I will make my goodness to pass before thee.” His highest glory is in His goodness, not in His attributes. When the angels spoke to the shepherds they said “Glory to God in the Highest.” That is, in the highest degree. The announcement of Jesus, the Saviour, the announcement of the love and mercy of God in sending a Saviour to a lost world.
Consequently man is the only being who can properly glorify God, in all the world. Inanimate nature cannot display his holiness. The animal creation can display and glorify His wisdom and power only. Angels are not permitted to come to earth to display it. Devils neither would nor could. So man is the only being who can properly show that God is holy. This means much, for God is not only holy, but He is a specialist on holiness, as is shown all through the Bible. The first thing he did after He brought the Israelites out of the degradation of Egypt was to give them lessons in holiness. They were so ignorant that He began His instruction by object lessons. He separated the animals into the two classes-the clean and unclean-and commanded the Israelites to offer only the clean animals in their sacrifices, thus teaching them that He was a holy being, who demanded the clean and best offerings. A recent writer has said, “God has a passionate desire and love for holiness. When He punishes sins, He at the same time shows His love for holiness. He not only punished the antediluvian world but at the same time He showed His love for holiness by washing the earth clean with water. He not only showed His hatred for sin by punishing filthy Sodom but showed His love for holiness by purging the whole country with fire and brimstone. He not only drove out the Canaanites as a punishment for their sins, but He settled the country with His own people, and made it the location of His own temple.” He gave us only one book, and that book makes a specialty of holiness. Browning in his Epistle of Karshish gives the experience of Lazarus after he came back from the dead and says he came back to earth with new sense of spirituality and a passion for holiness, such as he never had before.
If we should be allowed, like Lazarus to return from the dead, what enthusiasm we would have for holiness. Some of us are called enthusiasts on holiness, but if we should come back from the dead, our present interest in holiness would be but as child’s play, in comparison. No wonder the angels shouted, “Glory to God in the highest,” as the plan of saving men from sin and making them holy began to unfold, after a preparation of four thousand years. No wonder Isaiah, as he caught the vision of Him, who was coming from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah” mighty to save, cried “Who is this?” No wonder Gabriel told Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.” John the Baptist wished his disciples to know that the great mission of Jesus was to “take away the sin of the world.” And John, the beloved disciple, declared that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and that His blood “cleanseth us from all sin.” No wonder Paul declares, “Wherefore Jesus that he might sanctify the people with his own blood suffered without the gate,” and Peter says, “Who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we being dead to sin might live unto God, by whose stripes we are healed.” The great event of history is that God gave His Son to make us holy. This was the greatest act of God, ever yet revealed. This is the crown of His glory. The great glory of Jesus Christ, who came to earth to represent God, was His holy character. His death exhibited the divine glory in its power to save sinners from sin. What was His hurling tens of millions of newly created worlds off the tips of His fingers into space, compared with the displays of His holiness and His atonement to make holy. As the poet says:
‘Twas great to speak a world from naught,
‘Twas greater to redeem.”
The angels shouted for joy at the creation of the world, but they did not shout, “Glory to God in the highest,” until they came to announce a Saviour that should save men from sin. This was glory in the highest degree.
Inanimate nature cannot be holy. The animal creation cannot reflect the holiness of God. Angels are not allowed to come to this world to do it. Theirs is the subordinate position of guarding the saints. Devils neither can nor will glorify God. Consequently only men can glorify God in the highest, by being made holy, through the blood of Jesus.
Let us see more particularly why Christians glorify God by being holy.
l) Because we are His children. We have been adopted into the divine family by reason of the new birth and have become “partakers of the divine nature,” and are “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ,” who is our Example. His great life purpose was to glorify His Father. He said to the Father, “I have glorified thee upon the earth,” and He said of His disciples, “I am glorified in them.” We then are to glorify God as Jesus did. How did Jesus glorify the Father? In wisdom and in power? But others had done that. Elijah brought glory to the power of God in raising the widow’s son. Solomon glorified God in displaying the wisdom he received from God. But, besides displaying divine wisdom and power in His wonderful words and works, Jesus glorified Him in the highest degree by the display of His holiness. After two thousand years of the study of His holy character, like His seamless garment, men find no flaw in it. The holiness of Jesus is greater than all His miracles. It is the miracle of the ages. We are to be like Him, our Elder Brother, in glorifying God in holiness. Nor is this unreasonable. An honest child glorifies an honest parent, and a holy child of God glorifies a holy God. Why should it be thought unreasonable for a child to be like his parent? That is the reason God wants His children to be holy, because He is holy. “Be ye holy for I am holy.” St. Peter therefore says, ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye might show forth the praises of him, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Anyone, viewing the sunset for the first time, might conclude that it had disappeared forever. But there is a way of proving that the sun is still shining although we cannot see it, for the light of the moon is but the reflection of the light of the sun, as in a mirror. The holy man is like the planet that borrows its light from the sun. As long as we see his holy life we know there is a holy God, for he shines in the light of holiness that is not natural to him, and cannot be accounted for on natural principles. It comes from God. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” A holy man proves the holiness of God. Jesus says, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” And Peter says, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts, but as he that has called you is holy so be ye holy in all manner of living for it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy.” We never can truly glorify God until we are holy. Any sin in us glorifies Satan.
2) We ought to be holy to glorify Him because we are His workmanship. God originally created man in His own image, which is “righteousness and true holiness.” And every individual restored from sin to holiness is a specimen of His saving work. Paul says, “We are his workmanship.” We are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” A building reflects the mind of him who designed and built it. God is showing the world that He can make saints out of sin cursed humanity. There are some wondrous processes of making things of beauty, called the byproducts, out of refuse. Go to the great stockyards of the land and we find nothing wasted. Every bit of refuse is made useful. God has been doing this for centuries. It is related of a beautiful cathedral in Europe, that the most beautiful window was made by an apprentice. The young man took the broken bits of glass that his master had thrown away and made the window that surpassed the best work his master had ever done. The master could not endure to be eclipsed by his apprentice and committed suicide. This is just what Jesus Christ has been doing for two thousand years. He has been taking the ruined broken bits of humanity and making saints of them, when it would seem that the devil had ruined them forever. Paul spoke of some at Corinth who were samples of the divine saving power thus, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither idolaters, nor fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the spirit of God.”
He says a little farther on, “Ye are the temple of the living God.” What a transformation, from the worst of moral conditions! Without doubt the Apostle John is the most saintly character in the New Testament. We love to think of him as the most Christlike character of the Bible. But what was he before he was transformed by divine power? A rough, turbulent, vindictive, revengeful man. He and his brother, James, were called the “sons of thunder” because of their turbulent dispositions. They wanted, at one time, to pray down fire from heaven upon those who slighted them. They wanted the best places in the kingdom. John wanted Jesus to forbid others to work in His name. But what a change came over him! He testifies to a glorious experience. Hear him: “Of his fullness have we all received. Herein is our love made perfect.” “We ought to love one another.” How such cures extol and glorify the Great Physician. A holy heaven filled with saved sinners will be the glory of God throughout eternity. It must delight the angels as they see one after another who have escaped the pollution of sin enter eternal glory with their robes washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. The glory of the material universe pales into insignificance before the glory of redemption. Is it any wonder then that God says in Psalm 50, “Gather together my saints. They that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice”? In another place He calls them His jewels.
3) Holiness in man glorifies God because it is His vindication. Holiness is not at a premium in this world at present. Sin and error are popular. There are millions of people, who do not believe that God can make and keep man holy in this world. They believe Satan has more power than God in this world. We see an instance of this in the experience of Job. The Lord said he was perfect but Satan denied it, claiming that Job was living a sham holiness. Notwithstanding all this unbelief, even among professed Christians, the Bible has always taught it. It is the nucleus of the Ten Commandments. David and Solomon urged it. Hezekiah came up to it. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Joel prophesied it. John the Baptist and Jesus preached it. John and Paul professed and taught it. All this when the devil was getting in his strongest blows against God and righteousness. The devil and wicked men are sneering at it today. Infidelity is saying, “Your Bible teaches holiness, but it is an impossibility; therefore your Bible is a cunningly devised fable.”
But God always has a way of vindicating Himself and His truth in all ages. See for instance how He vindicated the claims of Jesus on the cross. He had been condemned for blasphemy in claiming to be the divine King of the Jews. What ridicule they poured upon His kingly claims. They arrayed Him in mock royal robes; put a reed in His hand for a scepter and placed a thorny crown on His head, and shouted, “Hail, King of the Jews.” Oh, what a jest it was with them that this despised Man should claim to be the King. But see how God vindicated His claim. To their dismay and chagrin, Pilate wrote over the cross in the three great languages of the world, “This is the King of the Jews.” In spite of their opposition the truth came out. But still more astonishing was the utterance of the dying thief. While the chief priests and rabble and soldiers were deriding and mocking His claim as king, the dying thief cries, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He recognized the King; believed that that suffering, abused, thorn-crowned Man at his side had a kingdom, and prayed to be in it. The divine claim of kingship was vindicated in the eyes of impartial people.
And, so have we seen it, in the thickest of the fight. When men were denying the possibility of being holy in this life, humble souls have stepped into the cleansing fountain. Thank God the work goes on. This can be clearly seen by those who have eyes to see. “”He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied,” said Isaiah. Every sanctified soul vindicates the divine claim of making men holy. It is vindicated in the eyes of angels and good men. Let men take their brooms and try to keep back the tides of the ocean or attempt to pen up a cyclone in a pill box and they will have an easy task in comparison with stopping the vindication of the holiness that God has given those who take advantage of the atonement that saves from all sin.
Again we have proved that holiness is the most reasonable thing in the world, for it brings the highest glory to God.