Do we want to see the holiness of God? The answer may be more complicated than it seems. A glimpse of God’s holiness makes us aware of our own sin. But it’s also the thing that empowers our obedience and gives us hope that everything wrong with the world will be made right.
In this episode of Let’s Talk, Jackie Hill Perry, Jasmine Holmes, and Melissa Kruger discuss our complicated relationship with holiness. If we fail to appreciate God’s holiness, we fail to know God as he really is. Jackie warns, “We live in a society that continues to frame and shape God around its own cultural ideas, which means you have a God that’s always changing. He’s always becoming like whatever decade you live in, when he doesn’t exist like that. I want a God who is not mutable like me, so that I can actually stand on something that’s solid, for eternity.”
Mentioned in this Episode
- Dwell Bible App
- Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him (forthcoming) by Jackie Hill Perry
- Machete Season
- Holiness of God (TGC Essay)
- How to Be Unholy as You Pursue Holiness
- Why It’s Good that God Is Different from You
- How to Become Holy
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Jackie Hill Perry: Hey, and welcome to, Let’s Talk, a podcast from The Gospel Coalition Podcast Network, where we seek to apply biblical wisdom to everyday life. My name is Jackie Hill Perry, and I am here with Melissa Kruger and Jasmine Holmes.
Today, we’re going to talk about something a little theological, but it’s a topic that also makes a practical difference in our lives. And that is the holiness. That’s how you have to say it, Melissa, holiness.
You hear the, “sss”, holiness of God. What words come to mind when you think of holiness?
Jasmine Holmes: Perfection immediately.
Jackie Hill Perry: Okay.
Melissa Kruger: Fear.
Jackie Hill Perry: Fear.
Jasmine Holmes: Shame, in the face of holiness.
Jackie Hill Perry: Honestly, I think my first thought isn’t a word, but a memory. And it’s growing up in, or going to a Missionary Baptist church where everybody wore really long dresses, stockings, super modest, didn’t have nail polish, would not play cards, gamble, listen to secular music. Just that whole environment is what I thought holiness was. Which I think back to the question is, how do you think holiness is often misunderstood?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. Well, let’s define it. One of us is writing a book about holiness.
Melissa Kruger: Ooh, it’s not me.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s not me.
Melissa Kruger: How would you define holiness, Jackie?
Jackie Hill Perry: Well, I think the best way to define it is to define how God is Holy. Because as we base our, or should… We should walk out holiness in the way that God himself is holy.
Basically one of the words that frames holiness is to be set apart, to be different, to be unique. And different as in different from the world, different from that which is unlike God. God himself is Holy.
One of the interesting things though, as I’ve been studying holiness, is how, I think a lot of times when people think about the holiness of God, they only think about it in terms of moral perfection, when it’s not limited to that. God’s holiness is that he is morally perfect. He cannot sin. Will not sin. Does not delight in sin.
But it’s also that he’s transcendent. Meaning he is the I am, he is different and distinct and unique from everything he has ever made. And so, in holiness, it isn’t just, he doesn’t sin, but it’s also, he is not like us.
Melissa Kruger: So even when we’re heavenly an imperfect, when we’re made perfect, he will still be different?
Jackie Hill Perry: Completely.
Melissa Kruger: Than us.
Jackie Hill Perry: In every way.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: Because he doesn’t exist like us.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, we don’t become all knowing, or all sovereign, those are reserved. Yeah. That’s a good, I hadn’t thought about it that way before.
Jackie Hill Perry: It makes holiness much wider.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, it does.
Melissa Kruger: That’s good.
Jackie Hill Perry: I think, than we’ve thought about it. And so with that, that’s one way holiness is misunderstood, is not seeing how God being holy also is connected to God being different.
Because, I think some people don’t even like this conversation, because they think holy, so they think wrath, hatred, anger, hell. It’s like, nah.
Because he’s transcendent, it also means he exists differently. And because he exists differently, it means he can answer all of your prayers in a way that no one on earth ever could, because he sees you at all times. Like he can act whenever he wants. He knows what’s going to happen, so you can actually pray for future events.
Nobody can do that, because nobody’s him. So that’s the definition, set apart, different, unique, distinct other.
Jasmine Holmes: Higher.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yes.
Melissa Kruger: That’s good. I picture that throne room scene in Isaiah 6. And it says, “In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated upon his throne.” And it talks about the robe filling the temple. And it’s this picture of the grandeur and holiness of God. And Isaiah says, his response is, “Whoa.”
Jackie Hill Perry: “Whoa.” Like, saved by the bell.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, whoa is to me, for I’m a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips. And I do you think there is this, “Oh.” There’s an amazing awe at the difference of God.
But I do think there can be a fear. We can fear difference sometimes just because God is so different from us, and we are so not like him, that we understand this gap. And it can cause us to fear. So how do we live with this knowledge that God is holy, and righteous, and all good, and all knowing, and perfect, and lovely, and beautiful in all his ways, and we are not?
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, like what should our response to God’s holiness be?
Melissa Kruger: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: What should it be, Jasmine?
Jasmine Holmes: So many responses I come to mind, but I think the one that is fighting to be said first, and I’m not sure why, is obedience. But I think that something should precede the obedience.
Because for me, I think my response to God’s holiness is not to behold him, but to immediately look back on myself, and compare, and be like, “Ooh, I got to get this together. Because he’s really holy. And I need to get better so that he can behold me.” Instead of just basking in his holiness, like taking a moment to really behold, and trust, and love, and revere. And for obedience, repentance, faith and obedience to follow, I think my initial thought is, obedience. Do what he says.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. Because, I think it’s hard to conceptualize how to delight in his obedience, which perhaps is another misunderstanding of it.
Because that always makes me think about Genesis 3, and how after Adam and Eve sinned, they ran. Or not ran, but hid from God.
God was Holy. And so is there a real fear that when he comes on the scene, because we just listened to this dad gum snake, that we’re about to die today.
But actually, his holiness means that you can come near to him, and should come near to him, for forgiveness because he’s the only one that can give it. Another product of his uniqueness is that he’s the only one able to offer forgiveness for our sins.
And so that’s the weird balance.
Melissa Kruger: And there was no place to hide.
Jackie Hill Perry: No. He sees everything. [crosstalk]
Melissa Kruger: You’ve got to be laughing, like we’re going to hide.
Jasmine Holmes: He’s like, got to put some fig leaves over this.
Jackie Hill Perry: God is everywhere.
Jasmine Holmes: Just make it real enough.
Jackie Hill Perry: This tree will keep me from your wrath, that’s for sure.
Jasmine Holmes: I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between shame and godly guilt, which I think 2 Corinthians talks about, how godly guilt leads us to repentance. And worldly guilt, it just basically leads us to hide.
And so Adam and Eve weren’t experiencing guilt over sin. They were experiencing shame. I want to hide. I want to go away. Whereas honest guilt leads us to repentance, and to lay ourselves bare before God in all of his holiness, knowing that he is good.
Shame does not trust that God is. It trusts that we’re good. We can be good. We can earn good. And goodness. And so, I’ve just been really convicted lately of how often I’ve substituted shame and pride for true repentance, and true guilt over sin, and true beholding of God’s holiness and goodness.
Melissa Kruger: I think one thing we try to do in that, if we sometimes take the other route, and we try to make God more like us.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: So he’s not really that holy, so therefore for I’m not really that bad.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. This is basically what the Greek gods, Zeus, they all act like really bad humans. And that was more comfortable.
So I think one way we try to deal with God’s holiness, is rather than seek atonement for ourselves, or seek… I think of Isaiah with that coal, that comes and he’s like, “Your sin as atoned for, your guilt is relieved.”
We seek to make God lesser so that we can be more like him, which is basically what Adam and Eve, they were trying to be like God. And so if God, he’s a little more human, then I’m not so far off the mark. And so we lessen, rather than say, “Oh my goodness, you’re so different from me. You’re so beautiful. You’re so glorious.”
And yeah, there should be a moment of, whoa. But then, what Christ did for us on the cross, saving us, redeeming us, and then making us holy, we’ll never be significant, if I don’t understand how different he is than me.
Jackie Hill Perry: And the wild thing is, because I think that’s a part of idolatry, is making a God in your own image, or exalting a created thing as if it is God. And truth be told, you don’t really want a God that is like you.
Yes, you want to God that’s personal. Yes, you want a God that’s intimate, therefore can hear, can speak, can relate, in a sense. But you don’t want a God who is limited in the way that you are. Yet at the same time, we do it all the time. We live in a society that continues to frame and shape God around its own cultural ideas, which means, you have a God that’s always changing. He’s always becoming like whatever decade you live in, when he just doesn’t exist like that.
I want a God who is not mutable like me, so that I can actually stand on something that’s solid, for eternity.
Jasmine Holmes: I’ve been reading the Bible through an a year. And got past Leviticus.
Melissa Kruger: Woo!
Jackie Hill Perry: Did you?
Jasmine Holmes: And I enjoyed it. It was weird.
Jackie Hill Perry: Invisible confetti.
Jasmine Holmes: It was my first time reading it, and I was like… Not my first time reading it, my first time reading it where I wasn’t just like, “Okay. All right. And then…”
Jackie Hill Perry: Leviticus is bomb.
Jasmine Holmes: It is.
Jackie Hill Perry: It is a bomb little book.
Jasmine Holmes: I did not realize it, but it is. And reading Leviticus, God is so holy.
Melissa Kruger: Uh, huh.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: The things that the Israelites had to do in order to be close to God, hit the illustrations over and over again of the things that man had to do in order to be right with, close to God, like walk with God, is just… I always wanted to like-
Jasmine Holmes: God… Walk with God. I always wanted to rush through Leviticus and be like, “We get it. We get it. We get it. The law was really bad, so then Jesus had to come-
Melissa Kruger: Unclean, unclean, unclean-
Jasmine Holmes: … and fix it, because that stuff was really hard. I listen on the Dwell Bible app, which really helps me because I am just one of those really research-y, super fast reading, nerdy people who’s-
Melissa Kruger: We know.
Jasmine Holmes: … races through things without considering them. Do you know what I mean? So I’m like, “Yeah, I did it. Check it off.” But Dwell forces me to listen-
Melissa Kruger: Dwell.
Jasmine Holmes: …and dwell, because my prideful self was like, “I get it. I get it.” And I didn’t get it. So listening to Leviticus for the first time, I was like, “Okay. All right, pride. I see you, dying a slow and painful death.” But I heard so much more about the ways that God was illustrating over and over again, His holiness and our humanness. And I guess before I had read Leviticus this time, I was always like, “Yeah, Leviticus was just showing how bad the law was. So then when Jesus came, we could see how good he was, because the law was really terrible.” But I was able to see so much more illustration of God’s goodness, to provide a way and to provide deep illustration and rich illustration. The more you understand the law given in Leviticus, the more beautiful the parallels throughout the Bible become. And I saw in just this one, slow reading, I saw a different perspective than what I’d never seen before.
Melissa Kruger: And you see the graciousness of God. He’s like, “I’m going to set up this whole sacrificial system, so that when my son comes, you don’t miss it.”
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: Come on here, Melissa.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, this beautiful thing. That’s painful that you do year after year after year. And there’s all this bloodshed, and one day my son’s going to be that sacrificial lamb.
Jasmine Holmes: You’ll see it.
Melissa Kruger: And you’ll see it.
Jasmine Holmes: You’ll get it.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. Romans talks about the removal of condemnation and the removal of shame, because in Leviticus it’s like, shame is really real in Leviticus. Go outside the camp. You are not holy again until sundown. You touched a dead body. You ate something you weren’t supposed to eat. You had weird discharge. You need to go. You got leprosy. It was like, “Man, God, you… Wow.” Our humanness is problematic.
Melissa Kruger: That’s a really good point. We tend to think of our sin being problematic, but no, this body of flesh that we’ve inherited from Adam.
Jasmine Holmes: The thing that Adam brought into the world-
Melissa Kruger: … is now problematic.
Jasmine Holmes: Yes. Because it’s dying. It’s dying. It gets sick. And that is not holy. Yeah. That is not divine. That is very human. And so seeing that was so helpful. And then even realizing that just through the gospel, all of that shame is removed, because Christ took it all on for us on the cross. Understanding Leviticus means understanding a fraction of what Christ endured for us on the cross, because he took all of that shame and condemnation upon Himself so that we wouldn’t have to carry it anymore. And so it’s not like, “Oh, he took the law, and it was really bad. It was awful.”
Melissa Kruger: Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: No, he took all the reasons why we needed the law and answered them all.
Melissa Kruger: And now we can say the law is actually good-
Jasmine Holmes: Yes, it is.
Melissa Kruger: … because it’s a reflection of, “The word become flesh who dwelt among us.” And so now that I’m no longer forced to live up to the standard, I can see it as Him saying, “No, no, no. This is the path of blessing.” Meaning not that your life is going to go perfect and you’re going to get all the things of this world because you obey God. But your soul will prosper by following God’s law, because it’s the owner’s manual, so to speak. This is how we’re created to live is in light of His law, but it’s different than trying to obey it so that we will be holy. But because we’re being made holy, we see it as the beautiful, better way. It’s a totally different form of obedience.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. Because the law was given after Israel was rescued, which is, I think a great picture of, we’re saved by grace through faith. And out of that salvation, are working out our salvation with fear and trembling is, “Okay. How do I respond to what Jesus has done for me?” I love Him back. How do I love Him? By the power of the Spirit? It doesn’t matter how holy I try to be, which I should pursue it. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely.
Jackie Hill Perry: But I have to know that even in my efforts of trying to live a holy life, this does not, one, change God’s love for me, nor does it force God’s hand to save me. He saved me on His own accord. But one of the, I think, encouraging things about holiness, even in its connection to salvation, is how in Isaiah 55, we often quote, “His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.” But a few verses before that, it actually talks about how God is the one who pardons workers of iniquity. Then he moves to say, “My thoughts are not like yours. My ways are not like yours.” And so even His pardon of sinners is a response, or His transcendent nature in action. It’s just like, “Man, I’m so glad you don’t think like me, because the way I think is vengeful.”
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely. That’s good.
Jackie Hill Perry: The way I think is not gracious or good at all. But the way you think, only you could come up with a plan to say, “You know what? They broke my law. They broke my standard, but I’m going to love them, and I’m going to save them anyway.” Only God could think of something like that. That’s why grace is not a thing that you see in other religions, I think, because the only true Yahweh, God, I think it’s a product of Him, not man.
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely.
Melissa Kruger: It shows the difference of Christianity. Meaning all other religions look a lot like humans.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yes, work to receive.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah. And it’s almost that this does not make sense, shows His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Who has a dying savior?
Jackie Hill Perry: Oh, my goodness.
Melissa Kruger: Who does this? As C.S. Lewis said, “We only have one God who would become man. Everybody else is men who want to be gods.” And yet here we have God condescending, taking on human flesh, becoming like man, in order to save us.
Jackie Hill Perry: Strange.
Melissa Kruger: Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. And so in some ways it proves the point.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yep.
Melissa Kruger: I like that. Go, Jackie.
Jackie Hill Perry: I love it.
Melissa Kruger: I like you. I can’t wait to read this book.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s going to be so good.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s why holiness is good news, guys.
Jasmine Holmes: Yes. How can His holiness impact one’s proclivity towards legalism. Asking for a friend. The friend is me, Jasmine. I’m the friend.
Melissa Kruger: I think, because the reality, when we really try to be holy, we fall flat on our face over and over again. And I think if we do not stop believing in our own righteousness, God will be faithful to show us that our unrighteousness gets us nowhere. And he will squash it by our continual failure. And I actually don’t think it’s a bad thing to try really hard. Through trying really hard, I’ve seen a greater understanding of my weakness and my dependence upon the gospel.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s true.
Melissa Kruger: And so when I say that, it’s been by falling flat on my face and realizing I am going to need grace every single day of my life. And I don’t want to. I want to graduate. I want to graduate from the school. I want to be holy. And he’s like, “I will not let you be holy outside of me.” So I think the hope is that God is kind to the legalist, and he pursues us even in our legalism and our desire to be righteous in ourself and be better than others. He’s like, “Yep. I still love even you. And I’m going to pull you out of that.”
Jasmine Holmes: Amazing. And actually using that thing.
Melissa Kruger: And he’s using it.
Jasmine Holmes: To show my holiness again.
Melissa Kruger: And so he shows us, and he’s like, “Nope, only through me.” And so slowly, we can learn to love holiness and even become more holy. And yet because we know it’s so all Him, we’re actually humble in it. Whereas before, we could have only been prideful in it. But because of all my falling on my face, I’m like, “Oh, if there’s anything good in me, it’s clearly from Him.”
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely.
Melissa Kruger: And that’s so hopeful to me that His holiness is also kindness. And he bears patiently with my slowness. And I’m so thankful for that, for even the legalist or for the licentious. He’s going after us both. So with the licentious-
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s a good point.
Melissa Kruger: … I think he’s going to come after them. And they’re going to see that sin does not yield good fruit.
Jackie Hill Perry: What do you think might be misinterpreted or just not believed about the person and the holiness of God, that leads people to licentiousness.
Jasmine Holmes: Maybe the pendulum swings. One way that I can think of is, I grew up with a lot of people who grew up in Christian homes, believers their entire lives. And for whatever reason, maybe they got hurt by the church. Maybe they just got tired. They were like, “This whole following the law thing doesn’t produce the kind of things that I want. I’m way happier when I’m not trying to obey God’s strict standard. He loves me anyway. It’s fine.” And it’s one of those things, as I have, as an adult, realized how much I struggle with shame, and how much shame is not of the gospel and not of the Lord, I want to get rid of that shame. But I don’t want to get rid of awareness of sin or guilt over sin.
And sometimes I don’t think that people understand the difference between those two things. They want a life rid of all bad feeling. And so anything that makes them feel bad, or guilty, or unworthy they do away with. Because God’s answer for the legalist and the licentious one is the same. It’s to hold up the mirror. The mirror of His holiness works for both of them. For the legalist, it’s like, “This is me. You can’t get here by yourself. You can you keep trying, or you can realize that my burden is light.” And for the licentious, it’s like, “This is me. You’re way over there.”
Jasmine Holmes: For [inaudible] it’s like this is me. You’re way over there. Come on. Bring it back. I’m sure there’s lots of different reasons why people fall into that antinomian [inaudible] category, but I’ve definitely seen hurt people do it a lot.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. I’d agree. I think especially if you grew up in like a Christian context, where you were trying to be good, that that is exhausting, to try to be something that you’re inherently not.
Jasmine Holmes: And, it’s thankless.
Jackie Hill Perry: What you mean?
Jasmine Holmes: People told me, Jasmine, you’re a virgin when you’re getting married. You saved yourself for your husband. You’re gt have just the best marriage ever because look at you.
Jackie Hill Perry: Which is a prosperity gospel.
Jasmine Holmes: It is. I mean, when I was single, my goodness, everybody, all the time, I want to look back at [inaudible] my life and be like y’all set me up. But, I just was told because you’re such a good, you obey, you do everything right, and six months into my marriage, I had a miscarriage, my family was moving across the sea, I was moving to a different place, I didn’t’ really know the person that I got married to.
It was thankless, because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t doing it to bring glory to God and to honor him. I was doing it because it made me look and feel good and felt like the safest decision to make.
Jackie Hill Perry: If the expectation is by living a good life and being this morally acceptable person means that I’ll have a easy life, then when the ease is not there, and suffering is present, you feel like God failed you, that he’s not to be trusted, and that there’s no point in being holy, when the holiest being that has ever existed died on a cross and was murdered by his own, and so I don’t know how we could expect that living a holy and righteous life will turn out to mean having a prosperous life in terms of stuff.
But, I think we need to reframe our understanding of God and see if I’m doing this unto God, out of love for God, then in my pursuit of holiness, it don’t matter if I never get anything, I got him.
Jasmine Holmes: Yep.
Jackie Hill Perry: And so, getting more of him actually makes life worth living.
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely.
Jackie Hill Perry: Doesn’t mean it won’t be hard.
Jasmine Holmes: Absolutely.
Jackie Hill Perry: Everybody in the Bible that was faithful had hard lives, but I think they had joyful lives.
Melissa Kruger: Absolutely. What does it say? In his presence is fullness of joy.
Jackie Hill Perry: At his right hand. Pleasures forevermore.
Jasmine Holmes: That’s my favorite.
Melissa Kruger: Well, so let me ask you this question. You said a phrase in there about pursuing holiness. Okay, how can we actively pursue holiness? We obviously believe it’s imputed to us, and by imputed, I mean, it’s fully given to us in Christ, but there’s also, at the same time, this pursuit of holiness, so we’re declared holy by God in salvation, but then, in sanctification, we’re pursuing holiness, so how do we seek to become more holy?
Jasmine Holmes: One of my favorite passages is 1 Corinthians 7, where it talks about us being given the mind of Christ. I come back to it all the time. I probably talked about it last season, too. It’s my favorite, because-
Melissa Kruger: I though of it when I read it. Actually, i just heard it. I was like, this is Jasmine’s verse.
Jasmine Holmes: It’s my favorite. I love it, because it just, it’s so takes everything off of Jasmine and her mind and her works and her way of figuring things out and puts everything on to, like your entire mind and being is being renewed, and so it’s not as though God says, “Be holy. Jump across this chasm.” Like, “Get as close as you can. You may fall.” He provides the way, and transforms and changes and just brings us near, and so I think the first step is understanding that it’s a work of him and his spirit, but that God has intimately involved in, like he’s bringing us in, and that’s so beautiful, and takes so much pressure off of us thinking that our obedient is what makes him love us.
Like Jackie said, we were already rescued, and then God’s like, “All right. You’re rescued. You’re mine. This is how we’re going to walk, because I’m holy. To be mine, you’re holy. I’ve already said it, I’ve already established it. Now, walk in it.” And then, he gives us everything we need to walk in it, which is just great.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. I think it’s as simple as let me look at Jesus and God’s revelation of himself throughout the scriptures and see how I can follow him in that. God is love. Let me love my neighbor. Who is my neighbor? Anybody that breathes. Identifying the things in me that don’t want to love my neighbor, or why I don’t want to love my neighbor. They get on my nerves. I don’t like them. Well, let’s go to 1 Corinthians 13 and see how to apply love is kind, love is patient, love hopes the best, love does not keep a record of wrong. That’s one way for me to honor God in being holy is by being loving.
What is in my life that is keeping me from living like God? Some of those things aren’t necessarily sinful things, but they’re unhelpful. So, is it social media? Let me lay aside that way. Why? Maybe that frees me up to pray more. Maybe that frees me up from being discontent. Maybe that frees me up to not have anxieties, or if I do have anxieties, let me give my anxieties to God instead of putting them on myself.
That’s another way to be holy, because now I’m trusting God to be God for me, and not trusting in myself to handle all the things that God may have given me to steward.
I think just looking at the Bible and saying, “I want to be like Jesus,” but also recognizing, like Jasmine said, I cannot be like Jesus apart from the Trinity. I need the spirit of God to empower me to be like himself. As long as I try to do it in my own strength and power, I will always end up in the flesh.
Melissa Kruger: That’s good. I like how you brought in the Trinity. It’s like the spirit is in us, empowering us.
Jackie Hill Perry: The Holy Spirit. Hello.
Melissa Kruger: The Holy Spirit in us empowers us to live as God would intend. Jesus reveals what God, the father’s like, and the God, the father, made a way through Jesus for us to actually be holy. But, we need a three-fold Trinity just to save us.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. We do. Trinity’s really important. Yes.
Melissa Kruger: And, it proves, it’s like at every direction, it’s him making us holy.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: But, I think it really is so important to have time in his presence. I don’t know, I lived with the same roommate all four years in college, and by our senior year, people would get our names mixed up, our hair started looking the same, we wore the same clothes. About 10 years later, we came to a party dressed in like the same outfit.
It was like time together makes you look like each other, and I always think about that with Jesus. If I want to look more like Jesus, I have to spend time with him, or else I will continually make him in my own image. I’ll be like, “This is how Melissa would love that person,” so, I don’t want to hard love people. I don’t want to ever call out sin or do anything, whereas Jesus did all of that.
I mean, he did hard love, and I would just love, “Oh, that’s being nice to people,” because that feels good. So, he starts redefining when I’ll look at him and his word, what holiness even is. Otherwise, it would just be Melissa’s version of holiness.
Jackie Hill Perry: One thing in my life that’s happening now, because as I’ve been writing this book, one of my prayers is that God would make me more holy, because I know it’s easier for me to read and study it and communicate it than it is to actually live it out, and so as I’ve prayed that, it’s been funny. Of course, He’s answered it, but He hasn’t answered the prayer for me to be more holy in these super dramatic ways. It’s been really small stuff.
For example, I’ll be vague about it, but a situation happened where I needed to apologize first, and I didn’t want to. I was like, “I don’t want to. I don’t feel like… I know I should, but I just would rather them come to me.” And, it’s like, yeah, but you serve a God who did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself and became a servant, and so in following Him in holiness means that sometimes you need to lay down your rights and apologize first.
And, I’m like, “I thought when I asked you to make me holy, I’d just be able to walk out like Moses and have my face shining without any work. I didn’t think it would be the small acts of humility that you are placing in my life to actually make me holier.”
So, that’s the funny thing about praying, even, for God to make you holier, is that he’ll do it in very small and uncomfortable, yet equally challenging ways that are frustrating but good.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah. I also noticed that consistently being in the Word has helped me in my quest for holiness. I shared, on a previous episode, I tend to be a really like, whatever I’m feeling that day. Like, I want to be in the Psalms today. I want to be in Proverbs today. But, reading the Bible through in a year and seeing that God is… I’m a writer and an amateur historian.
God is the best historian, because He is unfolding history for his purposes, and He’s given us this entire story where no literary device is accidental, no character is disposable. Everybody and everything, every jot and tittle is working together to show a picture of His holiness and His goodness, and reading the bible straight through has been one of the best illustrations of that for me, illustrations of His holiness in illustrations of the fact that I need Him. I need His Word to convict and sharpen and draw me towards deeper and further holiness.
Melissa Kruger: Which also shows, I mean, I think there’s some really uncomfortable places in the Bible, when you get into the Old Testament, about God’s holiness. I remember the story of, is it Uzzah? Is that right, how you say it?
Jackie Hill Perry: I think so. When he dropped the ark?
Melissa Kruger: Uh-huh (affirmative) and, you know, he helps God out, so to speak.
Jasmine Holmes: Oh, I think about that one all the time.
Melissa Kruger: It’s really uncomfortable, because he’s immediately killed by the holiness of God.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah, because it kind of feels like dang, [inaudible]?
Jasmine Holmes: I know. It’s like he was trying to help.
Jackie Hill Perry: He was just trying to pick it up.
Melissa Kruger: And, God’s so holy, He’s going to be worshiped how He’ll be worshiped. I think of the sons of, was it the sons of Korah, who worshiped incorrectly-
Melissa Kruger: It’s the sons of… Was it the sons of Korah who worshiped incorrectly in the Old Testament-
Jackie Hill Perry: With strange fire.
Melissa Kruger: And the fire comes out and I think we have to deal with there is an uncomfortable nature about the holiness of God, especially for our friends who aren’t believers.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah.
Melissa Kruger: And for me, it’s the thing that really propels evangelism for me, is the reality that there’s a holy God. And if we don’t die in the Lord, we meet with his holiness and that’s an uncomfortable thing. So how does the holiness of God change how we look at the world?
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s a great question. Yeah, because I mean, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. And how even those evidences of God’s what seems like spontaneous justice are seen in the New Testament. Ananias and Sapphira, they lied to the Holy Spirit and they dropped dead. And we don’t know how many times God might be doing that in our day and age, but we have some type of medical prescription for why it happened, not knowing if there was a justice situation at hand. But I think it definitely gives me an urgency and a zeal to just talk about Jesus and his goodness and his beauty, because we don’t have to be on the receiving end of wrath. You know, God really has made a way of escape for us. But the reality is, is that there are so many people that are choosing it.
I remember Tim Keller said something like that. Like everyone in hell has chosen to be there because in their refusal to believe in Jesus, they have also said yes to the response that Jesus will have to their unbelief, which is scary. But I guess I see both sides, which is I’m grateful that I have a just God. I think I would be… I would find it troublesome if there was a God who had a law who demands that it be kept and says that there will be consequences to not keeping it, and then when people break it, he does nothing. I wouldn’t believe anything else he has to say. And so-
Jasmine Holmes: Maybe you’ll be the one that gets away with whatever.
Jackie Hill Perry: Yeah. It’s just like, you’re passive then. You’re a liar. You don’t keep your word, but you also overlook injustice in all of its forms.
And so I don’t want to look at somebody who has been, who has suffered oppression, who has been raped, who has been abused, whose people have been murdered. I think about people in the Rwanda genocide. I think about the Holocaust. I think about September 11th. And for me to say God is so loving that he will overlook and never do anything about all of the sin that has been done in this world, it’s like, no, I want a God who’s going to get the bullies off the playground. I want a God who going to handle the wrong that the justice system cannot.
Melissa Kruger: And he says, “I care so much about it. And yet at the same time, I care so much about you that I’m willing to send my son.”
Jasmine Holmes: To make a way.
Melissa Kruger: When I think about the cross of Jesus, it makes me realize God is not… God doesn’t look at sin and just say, “It’s okay. You’re cute.”
Jasmine Holmes: Right.
Melissa Kruger: “I love you. I’m just going to not care.”
He actually looks at us and says, “I love you enough, but it has to be paid for. Sin has to be atoned for, and so I’m going to put it all on my son. And now through his blood, I can basically kill all of your sin. Your sin died with him so you can live with me.”
But I think it allows us to say to the watching world, you know, people we know, we all know who have suffered abuse, who suffered great horrific things. And you know, even as we read about things like the Holocaust, or I read this book, Jackie told me to read, which is excellent, called Machete Season about the Rwandan genocide. And you read it and your soul cries out for justice. And I can say, my God is just. He cares about this way more than I do. And so it helps me hold those tensions that this world is so far from how it should be, but that he cares way more than I care. And he’s actually made away that anyone, no matter what we’ve done, can come to him.
Jackie Hill Perry: That’s the gospel. Okay. Nothing about holiness. I’m kidding. Everything about holiness, but we want to go from there to talk about some of our favorite things. Melissa and Jasmine, I want to know where in the world have you most clearly seen God’s glory displayed in nature? In other words, what is the most beautiful place that you have ever been? And I know it’s probably been awhile, cause ain’t nobody getting on planes, but God gave you a memory for a reason.
Melissa Kruger: One place I love that’s really nearby that I can drive to, I don’t have to fly to so I can still go see it, is outside of Asheville, North Carolina. You have the Blue Ridge Parkway and you get on it and you drive. And it’s just miles and miles of looking at mountains. And the clouds come down into the mountains and it’s just gorgeous. And so it’s not far away. It’s not exotic, but it’s just beautiful. And I sit there and I’ll look at it and I’m like, God created all of this. But it’s, you know, I’m sure there are so many more exotic places all over, but that’s the place I just love.
Jasmine Holmes: And there’s beauty all over.
Jackie Hill Perry: It’s beautiful. Yeah.
Jasmine Holmes: Yeah, there’s beauty everywhere. The Mediterranean. We were in Israel and it was like our first night. We woke up the next morning and I was like, “Oh.” The water was just so blue. I just was just sitting there. Like all of this amazing stuff happened in this country. I’m walking in places that Jesus walked and I’m seeing things that his disciples saw and this is amazing. But that water though. It was really, really gorgeous.
Melissa Kruger: Have you been to Israel?
Jackie Hill Perry: Not yet.
Melissa Kruger: Oh.
Jackie Hill Perry: I want to go.
Melissa Kruger: I haven’t been either.
Jackie Hill Perry: I want to go.
Jasmine Holmes: I want to go back.
Melissa Kruger: Deal. Let’s talk trip.
Jasmine Holmes: There you go.
Melissa Kruger: Podcast trip to Israel.
Jackie Hill Perry: That would be fire, especially if TGC sponsors. Wink, wink.
Melissa Kruger: I know. Who wants to go with us?
Jackie Hill Perry: Wink, wink. I think one of the most beautiful places that I’ve been would be between Durban or Cape Town, South Africa. I think Cape Town is a lot more, I don’t know if industrialized is, or urban is probably the word, but it’s just a pretty place. The sky, the mountains, the people. It’s just pretty. It’s just not American in any way. You know? And I think some people who may not have visited Africa or research it, they just have preconceived notions about the continent. And they think that the whole thing looks the same when it’s like way bigger than America. Even America doesn’t look the same when you move from state to state. So how could the continent? But anyhoo. It’s a gorgeous place. I just can’t recommend it enough.
Melissa Kruger: We’re going this June.
Jackie Hill Perry: Are you?
Melissa Kruger: Yeah.
Jackie Hill Perry: Where are you going?
Melissa Kruger: Cape Town. We’re going there. Mike’s doing something. I’m doing something.
Jasmine Holmes: That’ll be amazing.
Melissa Kruger: We get to go together.
Jackie Hill Perry: Fancy.
Jasmine Holmes: Wow.
Melissa Kruger: I’ll have to ask you where to go.
Jackie Hill Perry: Oh, you know I got all the spots.
Melissa Kruger: I can’t wait.
Jackie Hill Perry: Okay, saints, thanks for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk. Next week, we’ll be talking about fighting fear and anxiety. Don’t get anxiety about us talking about fear and anxiety either. You can subscribe to Let’s Talk through Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you like to get your podcast. Check out season one of Let’s Talk along with other shows from the Gospel Coalition Podcast Network at tgc.org/podcasts. The Gospel Coalition supports the church and making disciples of all nations by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This season of Let’s Talk is sponsored by RTS Global, the online program at Reformed Theological Seminary. Learn more at rts.edu/online.