Holiness in Our Worship of God

Have you ever asked God to show you His glory? Has it ever occurred to you that the most worshipful act you can bring to God is to ask Him to reveal His nature to you? We would do well to imitate Moses in his worship of God, for Moses knew what would please God.

"Please, show me your glory," he asked. (Ex. 33:18) What a request! We often applaud King Solomon's request for wisdom, and marvel that God fulfilled his desire. Little do we realize, though, that the meek and mumbling Moses had asked a far nobler, far deeper, far dearer-to-the-heart-of-God request many decades before the handsome Solomon pondered the value of wisdom.

"Please, show me your glory."

Moses' request was answered. The Lord, whom no man is able to look upon with his eyes, descended in a cloud and stood beside him, and there proclaimed His name. The words Moses heard that declared "the name of the Lord" seem feeble and inadequate to describe the great brightness, power, purity, and rich virtue that passed before Moses in the glory of the Lord, yet these words are vivid, true, good, and beautiful: "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Ex. 34:6-7)

Moses' response was an action of true worship. He "made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped." (Ex. 34:8)

Worship God as the holy, righteous, consuming fire of the Bible.
Worship God as the holy, righteous, consuming fire of the Bible.

Do we worship God in this way? Do we care more about the repute and glory of God's name than our own? Are our worship services at church filled with true reverence and sandal-removing, head-bowing fear of the consuming fire who is our God? Perhaps the largest contrast between modern-day worship services and the worship of Moses before his God can be evaluated on one basis: Holiness.

When Moses' nephews, Nadab and Abihu, offered “profane fire” before the Lord, God killed them for it with His own fire. Moses, rather than comforting Aaron, their father, reminded him of God’s words: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy.” (Leviticus 10:3b). Obviously, the issue of holiness must be addressed if we are going to “come near” God. We must view God with appropriate fear and a regard for His holiness. Not only must we regard God with fear, (“even the demons believe --and tremble.” -James 2:19b), but we must be regarded by God as forgiven, justified, and with the Holy Spirit sanctifying to us toward our own holiness through the grace of Jesus.

Those who worship God must regard Him as holy, and before all people He must be glorified.
Those who worship God must regard Him as holy, and before all people He must be glorified.

How We View God

In order to worship God correctly, we must view God correctly. Without a correct view of God, we will be worshiping a manmade image, an idol, for it will not be the true God of the Bible.

“You shall not make for yourself any carved image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:4-5)

“You shall not make anything to be with Me-- gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.” (Exodus 20:23)

We must keep the God of the Bible in our minds and hearts, as He has revealed Himself to us in His word, and not try to worship Him as something which He isn’t. One way to make certain we are worshiping the God of the Bible is to use His names, as revealed in His word, when speaking to Him and of Him (Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Jehovah, God of Israel, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace). Equally important is to use His Word when praying and singing, avoiding a self-centered focus of worship, and directing our thoughts and emotions in a way that will be acceptable to God. 

Because God has chosen the Word to reveal Himself to us, it is crucial that we worship Him as we know Him to be in the Bible, and tread carefully, with full regard of the Biblical attributes of God, when we write our own music and pray our own prayers in worship to Him.

Key in this is our view of God’s holiness. Do we understand, as Moses did, what it means to be worshipping a holy God?

A Holy God

There are many Scripture verses that attest to the fact that worshipers must view God as holy, and in response, worshipers must revere and fear Him. Only a small selection of these verses follow.

“By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy.” (Leviticus 10:3b)

“In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.” (Psalm 5:7)

“Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness…” (2 Chronicles 20:21)

“…Bring an offering and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.” (1 Chronicles 16:29b-30a)

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

“Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:9)

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take our sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)

“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2)

“You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel…” (Leviticus 22:32)

“The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.” (Psalm 11:4)

“Let them praise Your great and awesome name-- He is holy…Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; For He is holy…Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.” (Psalm 99:3, 5, 9)

And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

If any defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)

And the four living creatures…do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8-9)

A great many more verses speak of the holiness of God. He frequently calls Himself the “Holy One of Israel”, and calls His Spirit the “Holy” Spirit. The very fact that it is the attribute of holiness that the cherubim and seraphim in Revelation praise the Lord for day and night, shows that the holiness of God is something we must seriously regard if we are to worship Him as He is worshipped in heaven. "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" (Rev. 4:8)

"For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness."
"For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness."

How God Views Us

Only those who are holy may approach God. This fact is repeated many times in Scripture. A few of the primary instances are below:

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6)

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart. (Psalm 15:1-2)

A highway shall be [in the new Zion], and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. (Isaiah 35:8)

“…And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar must be holy.” (Exodus 29:37)

You, Yourself, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? (Psalm 76:7)

“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2)

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Because no one who is unrighteous may approach God, and all are born into unrighteousness, no one, without being cleansed of this unrighteousness, may approach God to worship Him.

Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous. (Psalm 143:2)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Therefore, God has provided a way for us to approach Him: through the shedding of blood:

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:9)

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight. (Colossians 1:21-22)

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Once we have been cleansed and forgiven, we may come to God and worship Him acceptably.

“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.” (Psalm 5:7)

The oath which He swore to our father Abraham; to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. (Luke1:73-75)

Therefore let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28b)

When you draw near to worship God, reverence His holiness.
When you draw near to worship God, reverence His holiness.

Summary

We must keep holiness in mind if we are to worship God. Do we understand that God is holy, and that no wickedness may come into His sight? Do we understand that we may not worship God unless we have repented of our sins and are covered by the blood of Christ?

David understood this principle when he said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (Psalm 66:18). Not only must we be forgiven and cleansed at the cross once, but we must continually make certain that there is no sin being “regarded” in our hearts that would make our worship unacceptable.

© 2009 Jane Grey

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Comments 19 comments

eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Sweet hub,

Keep on hubbing!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks, eovery! I appreciate that you took the time to read and comment.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

Good hub enjoyed reading it


Callie 6 years ago

Great article Jane! :-) I agree that the church as a whole needs to refocus on God's holiness - it's so important that even the seraphim in Heaven proclaim that attribute of God's over all the others. "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty" . . .


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks for reading, Callie! You're right, and I know I need to focus more on God's holiness than I do. I know it would glorify and please Him more, and it would keep me from treating sin so lightly. Thanks for your insightful comment!


Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

That seems like an awful lot of rules about praying. No disrespect Jane.

Solomon asked for wisdom - Moses asked to see God's Glory. My simple take on prayer:

We are God's children, we have his Son to thank for that, His Spirit to Guide and Him as our Father. When we choose to believe Him, we honor Him.

When we choose to be thankful for everything, we are doing exactly what He wants. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus concerning you".


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Hello Duchess OBlunt,

Thank you for your thought-provoking comment! You are absolutely right that we are God's children, dear and beloved by Him, and that we are now guided in our prayers by the Holy Spirit, who intercedes with us "with groanings which cannot be uttered." You are right that He is pleased when we give thanks, for this is His will.

At the same time, we must take all of the revealed word of God, the Bible, into account when we worship Him. Remember that Moses had to take off his sandals to approach a Holy God and tread on holy ground. Remember that Proverbs presents the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom; without it we know nothing about how to act, how to pray, how to worship.

These are an awful lot of painful rules, I know, but without them we would not know how to please God, for we are dust and we are sinful. This truth is all through the Bible, so we cannot abandon it because we are uncomfortable with it. God's holiness and His rules should trigger in our hearts a desire to be like Him, a desire to see Him as He is, to know His heart and His will thoroughly, in every area of our lives. We can only do this through His grace, given to us in the blood of Jesus.

Again, I thank you for leaving your comment, and I appreciate your insightful thoughts!

Jane


Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

Don't get me wrong Jane Grey, I agree that structure is good, and always learning is also good. It's just that looking at this hub from the point of view of someone who is not familiar with your approach, it appears daunting. I just want to get across that God does not require we do anything special, other than believe in His Son, to be able to come to Him in prayer.

I think that we need to keep in mind that many will read our Hubs who don't know God the way we do. And that's the only point I wanted to make.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks for your point! I understand now. :)

I guess my only point is that I don't want to make God seem different from what He is. That's why I mostly quoted Scripture in this hub, showing the overwhelming amount of evidence for God desiring holiness in the people who come before Him. Then I quoted Scripture that was along the lines of your point: that to be holy we must have the saving blood of Christ and believe on His name, and that's the only way we can come to Him. We honestly can't "do" anything good enough, nor does He require it! Just like you said. :)

For anyone, either inside or outside the Christian faith, God's word is the best way to know Him, so that's why I had more of God's words than my own in this hub. Thanks for your challenging and thought-provoking comments! I appreciate your advice and I'll seek to apply it.


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 6 years ago from Canada

Jane Grey..this was an exceptionally good hub...not only are we, His Church, lacking in holiness, oft times we don't even know we are lacking...it's like a part of the body has gone numb and we don't realize it's broken. But praise God, the numbness wears off and the pain of seperation begins and God draws us back to Himself and His holiness. A much needed hub...and a topic God has been burning into my heart and soul as of late...Bless you for the effort and obedience in presenting it. Thank you

UlrikeGrace


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, UlrikeGrace, for your kind complement!

I am thrilled that we are on the same page, though it is a difficult "page" to be on sometimes. You're right, we have gotten numb to the stunning and frightening holiness of God. Along with that, we've also gotten numb to His love because we don't value what we don't perceive as "hard to get." Teaching and preaching holiness in modern Christendom is hard because it is not a comfortable doctrine, though the Bible is saturated with it's beauty (the beauty of holiness!).

May God bless you for your softness to the heart of God!

Jane


christ4ever profile image

christ4ever 5 years ago from a life in sin saved by the Lord's grace - we are blessed with the ministry in Florida & Georgia

Voted it up - More good reading on the topic of worship and praise as well. Keep up the great work!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks for your comment, christ4ever. This is an important issue that has long been disregarded in modern evangelical churches. Thanks for your encouragement, and your vote!


Anonymous 5 years ago

I agree with you that we need to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness through the blood of Jesus. The reason we need to do this is because without holiness no one can see God(Hebrew12:14); just like it says in Psalm 24 that'who can ascend to the hill of the Lord those who have clean hands and a pure heart'.Worshipping God is not in our singing only but in everything that we do, therefore holiness and worshipping Him should be a lifesyle and if we christian don't begin to bear this in mind then we will be compromising our faith. This is the reason the world doesn't take us seriously anymore because holiness should be a lifestyle not just in song only. The bible says His commandments are not burdensome, because we have the grace of God to help us to be perfect like Him. May His grace be multiplied to us to walk right before Him. Amen!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

You have quoted many of the verses that show most effectively that holiness is key in our worship being accepted by the Lord. Our greatest desire should be to walk rightly before HIM, as you say. So good to hear from someone like-minded! May God bless your worship.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

The Lord's prayer starts out with Our Father, HALLOWED by thy name. When Jesus taught the disciples this way to pray, He was showing them to enter into worship and prayer realizing that God is Holy, Hallowed.

I have been a little disconcerted about the lack of reverence in church services everywhere. Coffee during worship, the church's desire to draw people with novelty's such as coffee. People leave church's because they aren't being fed. I'm sorry, but we go to church to give to God our worship and praise. The primary purpose of worshiping together Sunday mornings is not to be fed. Of course we want to hear good solid bible teaching and preaching, not watered down, enemic, happy bunny land, warm and fuzzy messages. But our primary reason for church worship is just that, to worship God.

I'm really enjoying your writing Jane. Just became a fan. God bless.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

LambServant,

I am enjoying having you as a reader! You certainly are a like-minded Christian with a heart after God's own. Thank you for following!

You have a great point about the lack of reverence, how it all comes back to not seeing that all things are to be done for God, and not for us. It truly is amazing how frequently the word "holy" (or a variation of the word, as you pointed out) is used in the Bible. It must be important!


reasonableguy2 4 years ago

Because the Egyptians gained control of Canaan around 1550 BCE and kept it until 1141 BCE when Rameses VI withdrew Egyptian troops from Canaan and Midian, any invasion of Canaan would have been impossible. And none occurred. Because the Joshua story was just that, a story, without an invasion there would have been no exodus. And without an exodus there would have been no Moses. The Moses story is an allegory based upon the real life King Saul. For more information, see "The Original Torah: The Political Intent of the Bible's Writers" by S. David Sperling, Professor of Bible and Chair of the Faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Rellgion, New York City.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 4 years ago from Oregon Author

ReasonableGuy2,

The foundation difference between you and I is that you take the words of the BIble as fallible, errant, and subject to the varying decrees of scientific discovery. I take the words of the BIble as the inspired word of God, perfect, inerrant, and the standard by which we measure all other declarations of truth. See 2 Peter 1:21. Because the Bible doesn't present the story of the invasion of Canaan, or the Moses story (different from each other, b/c Moses did not invade Canaan) as allegories, but as truth, I will continue to believe and present them as actual historical fact.

Many archeological discoveries are matching the BIble's account of history. See The Archeological Study Bible: http://www.archaeologicalstudybible.com/

Thanks,

Jane

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