by Emily Grooms
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) – Rev. Mike Stone, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga., addressed an identity crisis in America during Truett-McConnell College’s Feb. 7 chapel service.
Stone stated the crisis we’ve experienced in America is the loss of the identity of God.
Noting the United States’ cultural shift away from God, Stone said that one reason “we are seeing some of these things we are in our country and in our world is because we don’t know who God is,” he said. “We need to have a new understanding of the attributes and character of God.”
Stone noted the importance of a proper understanding of God’s holiness: “Out of all the attributes of God, the one I believe is most central, pivotal, and foundational is His holiness.”
“Our God is a Holy God,” Stone said.
Preaching from 1 Peter 1.14-17, Stone said the Scriptures report of God’s holiness.
“The Bible uses the term ‘holy’ over 600 times, in some form or fashion, to describe the character of the God we serve,” he said.
Stone pointed out the first time the word ‘holiness’ is used as an adjective to describe God is during Moses’ encounter with the burning bush: “God says to Moses, ‘Not so fast! There are some things about you that are going to have to be dealt with. Don’t think you are going to simply rush into My presence.’”
“We must approach God the same way,” Stone said.
He also noted the holiness of God is revealed through all He does: “Everything He does is Holy; that’s all He can do.”
“Over and over again, the Bible uses the word ‘holy’ to ascribe the character of God; His house, His prophets, His word…”
Stone added that “His holiness is also reflected in His wrath.”
People today, in our world, do not like to think of His wrath, Stone alluded. “In the Bible, we see accounts of God’s wrath; and in it is a picture of holiness.”
Using Adam, Eve, and Moses as illustrations, Stone claimed the necessity of consequences to sin: “God is a holy God and He must deal with our sin.”
Stone told a story of a man who went to court due to a speeding ticket. The judge waived his fine and said, “Go home; you don’t have to pay your fine today.” The man was overjoyed and as he walked out of the court room, he thought to himself, ‘Man, that judge is just like God.’ As soon as the words came off his tongue, the man realized he was wrong: ‘That’s not like God at all.’
“An earthly judge can do that,” Stone said. “A holy Judge cannot. A price has to be paid for sin.”
Stone claimed the importance of clinging to the Cross: “Because of His love, God said ‘I will pay for their sin Myself.’”
“His holiness demanded the cross. His love provided the cross.”
While noting the attribute of God’s holiness, Stone pointed out the results of His holiness: “Because God is holy, He is immutable. He is beyond mutation.”
Addressing the unwavering character of God, Stone alluded to the mixed theology of the world: “If you follow culture very much, you will see people who call themselves Christians who have a processed theology.”
“There are those who deny the God of the Bible and claim ‘He changes and transforms with the times,’” Stone stated. “This is a violation of the holiness of God. He is immutable because He is holy.”
“If God was against it yesterday, He’s against it today. If He was for it yesterday, He is for it today.”
Stone also claimed the holiness of God results in His invincibility and intolerance: “God is intolerant of sin,” he said.
“He is so holy; his eyes are so pure, that He cannot look upon our sin and approve of it. He can’t look at our sin and say, ‘I understand because that’s how you were raised.’”
“He can’t give us a free pass,” Stone stated.
While he explained the concept of identity theft, Stone claimed the number one target of our day is God: “There are so many false gods and cultural icons and idols going around pretending to be God; they’re really not.”
Stone offered a litmus test for every individual who desires to know if they’re following the true God.
“What does your God say when you sin?” he asked.
“If we can sing praises to God and preach and still watch pornography – that is sin!”
If we find ourselves failing the test, Stone added that we may need to check on the validity of our relationship with Christ: “What do these things say about our God?” he asked. “It says, ‘He’s not home.’ If He’s not home then you’re not saved.”
Stone then noted our response to God’s holiness, demonstrated through actions: If we’ve come face-to-face with God’s holiness, “we would give to God a sanctified walk.”
“If we are going to be obedient children we cannot live the way we used to live in spiritual ignorance,” Stone said. “What’s down in the well comes out of the bucket – the mouth is a window to the soul.”
“We will also give God sincere worship,” he added.
Using his experience in the church, Stone reminded those attending that worship is not about them. “People come into worship sometimes and they just don’t sing; they look mad. You don’t have to like it,” he said. “It’s not for you.”
“We don’t spend all this money and put in all this time for rehearsal because we want to float your boat,” he said. “We’ve come to worship God.”
God’s holiness will transform our worship, Stone said.
Giving his last point, Stone used a story to illustrate how a proper view of God’s holiness will transform our work.
“A man came to his pastor one day and said he’d seen God while shaving in the bathroom. ‘What did you do once you saw Him,’ the pastor asked. The man started to give a lengthy response: ‘Well, I finished shaving…’ The pastor interrupted: ‘You didn’t see Him,’ he said. ‘You didn’t see Him because when you see Him you can’t keep doing the same thing you were doing before you saw Him.’
“Pray for a newfound view of his holiness,” Stone said.
Emily Grooms is Truett-McConnell senior English major and a freelance writer for the college.