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Honor God as Holy

October 10, 2017

“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” (Mt. 6:9, ESV).

As we read Paul teaching us about prayer in 1 Timothy 2, it is difficult to not think about what Christ taught about prayer. We find Christ’s eminent prayer in Matthew 6. Let us think for a moment about this prayer.

The first thing that Christ teaches us that we should be praying, is not that God would provide our needs, or save our family members, or protect us from Satan, although these are all valid things for which to pray. No, the first thing that Christ tells us we should be praying is, “Hallowed be your name.” The Christian Standard Bible translates this, “Your name be honored as holy.” Christ teaches us that the first petition we should be offering to God, is that He would be honored, respected, and worshiped, as the holy One. Saying that God is holy has at least two senses. First, it means that God is set apart and ontologically different (different as to His being) from anything else in the universe. It carries the idea that there is nothing else like Him in all creation. It is the idea conveyed in Isaiah 46:9, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” This idea of holiness is often portrayed in the teaching of the Creator/creature distinction. There are only two types of beings in the universe: there is that which is Creator, which is God alone, and there is that which is creation, which is everything else. The second idea conveyed by holiness, is that idea of moral purity. God is perfectly pure and good. He is light and in Him is no darkness (1 Jn. 1:5). Habakkuk spoke of this aspect of holiness when he said, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,” (Hab. 1:13a). God is the perfect moral being. He is the only perfect moral being.

Honoring God as holy, can also be thought of in the sense of ascribing the proper weight to the being of God. In Deuteronomy 32, God spoke of Israel abandoning Him in these terms: “he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation,” (Dt. 32:15, KJV). The ESV translates the phrase, “light esteemed,” with, “scoffed at.” There is a tight connection between these ideas. If we esteem God lightly, or do not think of Him as a weighty being, a being that deserves the utmost regard, respect, and reverence, then we will scoff at Him. We will not regard Him as holy. We must understand that God is the Creator of all. He is the one who holds all things together with the word of His power (Col. 1:17, Hb. 1:3). He is the being that can crush anyone of us at any time. He is the being, concerning whom, nothing is too hard or impossible (Jer. 32:27, Lk. 18:27). He is the God who rose Christ from the grave. God is not a being who can be esteemed lightly.

Holiness also carries with it the concept of the fear of the Lord. Because God is ontologically separate from all of His creation, because He is more powerful than anything else in the universe, since He made everything, because He is so pure that He cannot look on evil, He is to be feared. Remember, the Proverbs tell us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” As we grow in our comprehension of God’s holiness, we will grow in our fear of the LORD. But the fear of the LORD contains a beautiful paradox. In Exodus 20, after God has spoken the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel, the people were afraid and asked Moses to speak directly to God on their behalf, so that God would not speak directly to them. They were afraid. Yet, Moses tells the people, “Do not fear, for God as come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin, (Ex. 20:20). Do you notice this? God wants us to fear Him, so that we do not need to fear Him. You see, as we grow in our comprehension of His holiness, and the terrifying prospect of standing under His wrath, we will be driven to Christ, our refuge from the wrath of God. We will see our need to run to our Savior, and to abide under His propitiating work, where He soaked up the wrath of God against sin (Rom. 3:25-26, 5:8-10). We will come to fully appreciate the Gospel that saves us, and by finding ourselves hid in Christ, we will see that we have nothing to fear of the wrath of God. Is this not a beautiful truth? Fear the LORD, in order to be fully convinced of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, so that in Him we find forgiveness and security, and therefore do not need to fear.

Oh how wonderful is the prayer, “Hallowed be your name,”?

May God move us to make our first petition, “Your name be honored as holy.” May God move us to grow in our comprehension of God’s holiness. May He move us to esteem Him with the full weight that He deserves. May He create in us a healthy, saving, and securing fear of the LORD.

From → Theology

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