A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 10

God is Holy

From this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the concept of holiness, primarily focusing on Isaiah 6. It emphasizes that God's holiness is not about being separated from sin but being dedicated to His creation. The repetition of "holy" three times in Isaiah 6 signifies God's ultimate holiness. It explores the proper posture of a sinner in God's presence, moving from confession to an upright, eager attitude. The lesson challenges the idea of God as distant and angry, instead highlighting His compassionate and gracious nature, which motivates Him to bring redemption to sinful creatures. Ultimately, it emphasizes that holiness means being dedicated to God, rather than being separated from sin, and calls for a shift in understanding within the American church.

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 10
Watching Now
God is Holy

I. Introduction

A. Discussion of Exodus 34:6-7

B. Introduction to Isaiah 6

II. Isaiah 6: Vision of God's Holiness

A. Description of the Vision

B. Seraphim and Their Song

C. Isaiah's Response

III. Understanding God's Holiness

A. Meaning of "Kadosh" (Holy)

B. Holiness as Dedication and Separation

C. Holiness Motivating God's Redemption

IV. Isaiah's Call and God's Character

A. Isaiah's Volunteering and Changed Posture

B. God's Compassion and Cleansing

C. God's Authority and Human Independence

V. American Church's View of Authority and Independence

A. Distrust for Authority

B. Desire for Independence and Doing It "My Way"

VI. American Tradition: "Don't Tread on Me"

A. Origin of the Phrase

B. Symbolic of Narcissistic Independence

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
God is Holy
Lesson Transcript

Well, we talked about Exodus 34:6-7, the most quoted verse in the Bible by the Bible. There's another passage that's really, really, really critical about the nature of God, and that's Isaiah 6. So I want to talk about that and the holiness of God. So if I go to Isaiah 6, oh, let's see, Isaiah 6, this is the passage where, in the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high, exalted, seated on a throne, the train of His robe filled the temple, with Him the seraphim, six wings...

There's the only passage about wings on angels. But it ain't quite the little cherubs flying around with cute little wings. They're calling to each other. And this is the key phrase, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory," is the normal translation. "At the sound of their voices, doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke," and he responds, "Woe is me, for I am ruined." We'll come back and talk about it in detail, but that's what holy is.

So God is the thrice-Holy One. And this is the only place in Scripture that we get a thrice. So we never talk about His love, love, love. We get God is love in the 1 John. The merciful is repeated a number of times in Scripture, but it's never merciful, merciful, merciful. This is the one place where it's kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. So when He repeats it three times, that means He is the holiest of the holy kind of thing. And it's obviously a very critical question.

So let's just explore the question a little bit. And I mean, there are a number of things in here that intrigue me. First of all is, which temple? When Isaiah sees God there high and lifted up and the train of His robe fill the temple, what temple are you talking about? Well, the possibilities are the Jerusalem Temple or a heavenly temple. And, okay, well, let's think about it. What are seraphim? They're angelic beings. What the word seraphim means is... Seraph means "burning." And so these seraphim are burning ones. And they're singing, "Holy, holy, holy."

So a question here that's significant, when he sees God, he hears, "Holy, holy, holy," from the burning ones, and the doorposts and the thresholds shook. Isaiah, good guy, bad guy? Isaiah, good guy or bad guy?

Good guy?

Good guy?



Guy, he's a guy. Good. Yeah. Got that. Yeah. Yeah, he's a guy. This is one of my favorite questions. Good guy, bad guy? And there's neither. Well, I mean there are good guys, and there are bad guys, relatively speaking. But if you read verse 5, what do you come up with?

He sees himself as a bad guy.

In verse 5, good guy, bad guy?

Bad guy.

Bad guy. Woe is me, man. I'm a dead man. I'm man of unclean lips, and I live with people of unclean lips, and I've seen the King, the Lord Almighty. This is where you get the idea that a sinner in the hands of the angry God or the holiness of God, that as soon as you come into the holiest God. So I ask a question, what is Isaiah's posture, physical posture, in verse 5? Now, it's not in the text. This is how you... I mean, just read it. What is his physical posture here in Isaiah 6:5? What's his physical posture? What do you think?




Yeah. Where are his hands? Yeah, either on top of his head to protect his head or something. He's on his face, in abject, I'm a dead man. So that is the posture of human in the presence of living God. What's God to do? Well, actually, now, God is the seraph, verse 6, "The burning one flew to me with a burning coal, which He had taken with tongs from the burning altar." And He's coming, this seraphim, the seraph, is a burning one flying toward a bad guy with a burning coal taken from a burning altar.

What's Isaiah expecting? Was he expecting becoming a crispy critter? Yeah, he's expecting to become a crispy critter. That's what he says, and rightfully so. He's a sinner in the presence of God, and he's by his own admission. But what actually happens in verse 7? "He touched my mouth and said, "This has touched your lips."" And He says something absolutely amazing. "Your guilt is taken away. Your sin is atoned for."


Your guilt is taken away. Your sin is atoned for. Now, this is the holy God. So the question is, at this point, can the thrice-Holy God has sin in His presence? Can the thrice-Holy God have sin in His presence? And the answer is?

I think so.

How would you say, seems so?

Well, He let Isaiah...

Isaiah's there. Now, to be sure it's God who has come to Isaiah, Isaiah's not waltzing into God's presence. But in the Garden, Genesis 3, Eve and Adam both sin. Adam commits the greater sin. Eve was deceived. Adam wasn't deceived. Paul tells us. So Adam commits the greater sin. And what does God do? He comes to them. Can the thrice-Holy God have sin in His presence? And the common answer is no. The biblical answer is yes. And it has to do with your picture of holiness. But here's a key, key, key, key phrase. When you look at this, what God does is He brings a burning coal, touches the mouth, your guilt is taken away, your sin is atoned for. And that is just absolutely astonishing. He takes away Isaiah's sin.

And you can think a bit further, and we'll come back to this passage in a lesson, just in a couple of lessons from now. What does He do with Isaiah's sin? When I look at 2 Corinthians 5:21, it's a passage that's often quoted, and the nub of the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is talking about Messiah. He, Father, made Him to be sin, who knew no sin. Father made Him, Messiah, to be sin. Doesn't say made Him carry the guilt of sin, though I think that's true. He made Him, in some sense, to be sin. So I think what happens to Isaiah's sin and ours is actually God takes it into Himself in the person of Messiah, in some mysterious way that we can't define. He made Him to be sin. So what happened to sin? God takes it into Himself.

And then the outcome is that we might become the righteousness of God, and that become the righteousness of God is not just get to receive the alien righteousness of God, it's that we might actually become the righteousness of God, which is the full Christ-like righteousness. That's the goal of sanctification or life. So what happened to Isaiah's sin? He went into God. It's one of those amazing kind of things. Your guilt is away. Your sin is atoned for.

Then, verse 8, "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?"" That us becomes significant. We'll come back to that in a minute. We talk about Trinity in a bit. And here, Isaiah, second half of verse 5, "And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"" What's he doing there when he says, "Here am I. Send me!" What's he doing? God said, "Whom shall I send?" What is Isaiah doing?

He's responding? He's volunteering?

He's volunteering. Now, what is his physical posture in verse 8? Verse 5, on his face, in abject terror. What's his physical posture in verse 8?

Standing. Pick me, pick me.

Pick me. Pick me. Yeah. I think so. Jumping up and down like that little girl we saw jumping off the bus here a little bit ago. Let me do it! Let me do it! What is the rightful posture of a human in the presence of the thrice-Holy God? Upright, saying, "Let's do it together." What's the proper posture of a sinner in the presence of the thrice-Holy God? On your face, confessing sin, knowing that He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, faithful, loving, forgiving, and just.

Because, see, what happens is Isaiah confesses his sin. He didn't say, "Hey, I'm okay." He didn't do the Nadab, Abihu thing. "Come on, I can come in here anytime I want. I'm a human. Don't you know?" He's confessing his sin and his uncleanness and his need. And God comes and takes his sin into Himself. And I think that's the thing. He nominates himself. He is upright and eager. And let me do it, let me do it, because his identity has gone from the unclean sinner back in verse 5 to the eager son of a compassionate God.

And again, I think the people who say that the proper posture of human is on your face, I don't think that's the case. I think the case is like Adam in the Garden, walking together in covenant partnership. Now, it's not arrogant. That's a posture of a child. That's a posture of a son. That's a posture of... I think that's the attitude. And again, it's your concept of God. And my concept of God is the compassionate and gracious.

Now, key question. What does kadosh mean? I mean, it's translated, "holy." And if you listen to preachers, they'll say it means "heavy," which may mean, if you think God is heavy, it means you just need to go on a diet. It does not work for me at all. But kadosh, if you look it up in HALOT, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, it will give you two meanings as primary meanings.

If you look in HALOT, the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, which is a very standard lexicon, and if you've got Logos or Bible Gateway or some of those things, you can look this up. The first meaning of kadosh is "awesome," a supreme glory, something like that. The second meaning that's right beside the first meaning is "dedicated to" or "consecrated." The meaning of holy is not separated from or set apart. That's not the first meaning. The first meaning is dedicated to.

So you see God is holy before Creation. He can be dedicated to the three persons that the Trinity are dedicated to each other. He can't say He's separated from because there's nothing He's separated from. Now, that's a result, dedicated to or consecrated means... Well, Sherry and I were consecrated to each other, March 22nd, 1968. Our daughter, Cindy, was consecrated to us, June 8th, 1989, when she signed the papers. She was an adult, so she had to do it herself. So it's "dedicated to" is the first meaning. So God is awesome, so holy, holy, holy, awesome, awesome, awesome, but also dedicated to.

When you read in Old Testament and New, "Be holy as I am holy." And you say "awesome." Be awesome as I am awesome? No, I don't think that's the point. But if you say "dedicated to," can we be dedicated to God as He is dedicated to us? Interest, absolutely. Can we be morally pure in the sense that God is morally pure? Not in this life. But see, "separated from" and "morally pure" are results of "dedicated to." If I'm dedicated to somebody, I want to do things that enhance the relationship. I want to stop doing the things that degrade the relationship. Thus, I'm separated from degrading things. And I get rid of unclean things in my life and become clean to enhance the relationship because I'm dedicated to the relationship.

The first meaning of holy is "dedicated to," not "separated from" or "set apart from." Now, "set apart from" is legit, but it's a result. "Morally pure" is legit, but it's a subsequent thing to get dedicated to. For us, now, God doesn't have to purify Himself. But if you look in HALOT, the first meaning is "dedicated to" or "consecrated," right after "awesome," and "separated from" and "set apart" come later.

And I think that's important when we think about God, because we think of Him as... If we think of Him as separated from sin, then He's unapproachable. If we think of Him as dedicated to, then He comes to His sinful creatures. And I think this is true. His holiness is actually what motivates Him to come to the place of sin to bring redemption.

If he is dedicated to His people, His holiness will motivate Him to come to His people to bring redemption and cleansing. And if you are like Isaiah and respond positively with confession and say, "I need your cleansing," here it comes. The burning one flies to you with a burning coal from the burning altar, and instead of becoming a crispy critter, you become a clean child. However, if you say, "I don't need that. I'm fine. What are you talking about?" then you become a crispy critter, but only after a long time of calling, because God will remove the sin one way or another. He'll remove it through cleansing for the receptive one or through judgment to the unreceptive one. Thus, the just will not leave the guilty unpunished.

So I think a proper understanding of holiness, in fact, the biblical understanding of holiness, changed a lot against some of the theological traditions that talk about the holiness and the distance of God, because He can't tolerate sin in His presence. I mean, they're building on true things. But I think where it comes out is the wrong picture of God. The angry, distant, separated God is not fundamentally the God of Scripture. That's a result of our sin as God withdraws His presence, or better yet, drives us out of His presence. But He's also coming with us and calling us back, I think is where it comes from.

So is God holy? Yup, thrice-holy. But it's the compassionate, gracious God who is dedicated to, and ironically, it's His holiness that drives Him to bring redemption to the place of sin. And I think that's what happened to Isaiah, because the reason He comes to Isaiah, this is the call of Isaiah to give one more call to the people before the destruction comes.

And what you find in the rest of that chapter, and I'm going to unpack here, is that He sends Isaiah to call the people one more time. "Come, let's reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they can... And if you're willing and obedient, you'll eat the best of the land. If you resist and rebel, you'll be devoured by the sword." That's the message of Isaiah. It's one more call. And Isaiah says, "How long shall I call until the day of judgment?" Until the day of judgment, God keeps calling. But there's an end when the day of judgment comes if you do not repent, and they didn't.

But even then, the last verse of Isaiah 6 is incredible. Even in the clear-cut, a forest with the clear-cut stumps, and the holy seed, the Genesis 3:15 Messianic seed, the zera, is still in the stump. And I'm going to do the first sermon of our Advent series this year is following through Isaiah 6 through Isaiah 11. The Messianic promise of that passage should begin with the zera in the stump that becomes the netzer, the branch of Isaiah 11 and all the stuff in between.

I'm looking forward to doing that service. It's a little biblical theology. I've never preached it before. It's going to be fun to try to put it together, and I've got to put it in 35 minutes. It will be a blast. But that's the thing it is. When you understand the character of God, He is gracious, compassionate. He is holy, but you [inaudible] those means. So there you go. We got more to say about God, but we'll quit for now. Questions?

Why do you think that we don't have this theology as an American church? It seems like, as a whole, we just don't understand this. And why do you think we gravitate the other way?

It's certain tribes in the American church.


And that's a key. I think the fundamental reason is that, when we look at authority from an American context, and this is historically true, we tend to look at authority as a bad thing. So here in the America, the beginning of a thing is the king of the bad guy. We're going to rebel against him. Now, they were loyalists, to be sure. But the founding myth of, I don't mean myth in a bad sense, the founding story of America is we will not submit because you're a bad guy. And that picture of authority as the oppressive authority has carried up and down through the history. And we tend to see God in His authority as a mean authority.

So if we put it in, and then that holiness comes in, and we take the picture of people approaching God in their uncleanness and their arrogance, and we take that as the picture, as God can't have sin in His presence, what happens is, if we have people who are worshiping other gods and coming as narcissistic abusers, God's not going to be okay with that at all, and you see His anger. But then what you also see is even a way of cleansing and preparing. So you can come confidently into His presence at various levels, depending on where you are.

He wants relationship but on His terms. And we say, "No, I'll define it for myself." That gets you in trouble, big time. But you take that picture of sinners being under the wrath of God. And the conclusion comes, "Well, God is holy and can't have sin in His presence, and He is distant and angry until we do something in it." It's not completely unbiblical. I just think it ruins it backward.

But in our American context, we tend to always be distrusting authority. Now, that may be true in another context too, but I think that's a big piece where it comes from. And there's a logical tightness that comes in the Pharisaic theology, if I use that way, logical rigor that just begins with the sovereign, distant God who is the controller of everything, which we'll talk about here in just a little bit.

Would you say that's partly, along with that, the distrust for authority is our desire for independence-

Oh, absolutely.

... and for doing it our way?


Because when Isaiah saw the fire coming at him, he could have responded one of two ways, right? Either repenting and accepting the cleansing from that or rejecting that and saying, "I want to do this my way." And then the result would have been different, right?

Yeah, very much so. Yeah. When I talk about sin, which we'd do someday, the sin is defined for myself, what is good and bad, instead of submitting to God's design. And that's still true. And the other gods are the ones who are, "I will define, and I will do it my way." Yeah. And that's what we tend to do. Do you know the original American flag told the details of history?

Don't tread on me.

Yeah. Don't tread on me, the rattlesnake.


That was the original proposal for the American flag. And that narcissistic, arrogant "I'll do it my way" is deeply ingrained in American tradition. Don't tread on me, I'll bite you.


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