Why love God? The simple answer is that He commands it (Deut. 6:4-5 and Mark 12:28-34).
A reason for love is given in 1 John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.”
Our love for God is based upon what He has done for us in Christ, and because He has poured out His Holy Spirit on us. But what is interesting about the command to love God is that it came before Christ. So what is it that should cause God to say, “Love Me”? What is it that should have caused there to be such awe of God?
I would like to suggest that there is something absolutely wonderful about God Himself, something so awesome and terrible that it makes people long to see Him and yet makes those same people quake in fear when they get but a glimpse. There is something about Yahweh that prompts people to love Him with all that they have and yet tremble in fear because of Him (Provb. 1:7 and Acts 9:31). There is something that we should value—not just because there is punishment if we don’t, or that we should value it because we can use it. It is better than any gold, silver, or money. It is more precious than beauty because beauty receives its quality from this reality about God.
What is it? It is the holiness of God.
Of course when “holiness” is brought up some people cringe—even Christians cringe or at the very least hesitate when the idea of “holy” or “holiness” is applied to anything but the Holy Spirit. But the fact that we cringe or hesitate demonstrates that we have no idea what holiness really is. For if we truly understood God’s holiness we would not cringe; we would tremble.
Holiness is the most frighteningly wonderful and beautiful thing about God. It is what made Moses want to see Him. It is the thing that causes the seraphim, those four living creatures circling the throne of God, to cry out, “Holy, holy, holy!” (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8). This statement, this constant cry of these beings who are always in the presence of God should cause us to want to know what they know, to see what they see. This thing about God, this holiness that should fill these creatures with wonder is that thing that is supposed to grab hold of our hearts. It is what makes the love of Jesus so spectacular. It is what makes God’s adoption of us so astonishing and astounding.
Think of it! These exalted creatures that get to hover above God’s throne, that get to be in His presence night and day, don’t have something that we have. They cry, “Holy, holy, holy!” and the whole world shakes. If we saw what they see, if we were in His presence then we would shake and tremble and be like Isaiah the prophet who, when he stood in this holy presence, cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah. 6:5). We would fall on our knees and implore the Lord even as Peter did, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). The holiness of God is so majestic, so beautiful, so awesome that because of our sin we want God to go away. Because of our sin we look with awe at the seraphim and think that is as close to God as any creature can get.
But the awesome work of God lifts us up.
He lifts us up, washes us clean by the blood of Christ, and fills us with His Spirit so that the seraphim look at us in amazement, and envy our place. While they circle the throne and cry out holy, we get to draw near. We get to cry holy too, but we get to approach closer and closer. We move past the ranks of angels, past lofty seats of ancient creatures, through the circling seraphim to the very throne of God. We come, not as mere creatures, but as sons and daughters. This one, who is so holy and awesome, we get to call, “Daddy,” (Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6).
Want a more detailed discussion of monotheism and its implications for truth? Check out chapter 3 of The Trinity Mystery.
- Leviticus 10:1-7
- II Samuel 6
- Isaiah 6:1-7
- Revelation 4:1-11
- The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
- What is “holiness?” What does it mean that God is holy? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
- Why do you think the reaction of Isaiah was “Woe is me!” and Peter’s reaction was, “Go away from me!” when they were in the presence of God? How does this relate to the holiness of God?
- How can we keep God’s holiness in mind? What benefit is there to us, and how would it affect our lives and witness?
About the Author:
Sam Andersen is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of Oelwein, Iowa where he has the opportunity to teach in different capacities. He holds a MA degree in History from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development. He is the author of The Trinity Mystery a book that explores the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications, and the children’s book Falling Through the Creek. Email Sam at: firstname.lastname@example.org.