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Advent Devotion

Two opposing concepts in Scripture, oddly enough, have something in common. One concept is “sinfulness.” The other is “holiness.” That they are opposites is obvious. What they have in common is that both denote “separateness” or “differentiation.” Stay with me.

For example, in Isaiah 59:2 God says: “Your iniquities have separated you from your God.” This means we are different from what God originally created and intended us to be. Made originally in the “likeness” of God, man is now distinctly unlike God. Throughout Scripture “sin” marks this discrepancy. Sin is separation. Sinful man is “set apart” from his God. Quite a distinctive category.

In A Class By Itself

The Bible clearly teaches this. The word “bible” means book. We call it “holy” because it is “different.” Here God has provided us a written revelation that is separate from all other writings. You might want to paste a new label on the front of your Bible which says “Different Book” or “This Book is different from all other books in the whole world!”

That is exactly what the title “Holy Bible” means. This book is in a class by itself, set apart from all other so-called sacred writings. It is just plain different. And why? Because, for one thing, it depicts our sinfulness as no other book can. But more — it describes and bestows such a different solution. It removes sinfulness and confers its opposite.

In A Category By Himself

God is holy. This means that God is in a category all by Himself: pure, untainted, immaculate. He is so different that we cannot even begin to imagine it. He commands us to be different, too. He says: “You shall be holy (different), for I the Lord your God am holy (different)” (Lev. 11).

We cannot even begin to imagine, let alone fulfill this command, try as we might. So God does it for us. He really is different from all those other “gods” and their “sacred” volumes. They leave it up to you to sort things out for yourself. Not so the God of the cross, the different God who authored that most blessed and different book.

Distinct From Sinners

He sends a Savior. And this One is really different — “holy, harmless, undefiled, set apart from sinners” (Heb. 7). He is absolutely distinct from sinners, since He is God. and yet He comes to deal with sinners — “receives them and eats with them”! (Lk. 5)

He will even remove their sinfulness, taking it into His own holiness — “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1). “God made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5). This different One becomes the very opposite of holiness, that we might become the opposite of sinfulness.

That is really different. And God arranges it that through faith (not works — and there’s a blessed distinction) we also are different. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!

But there it is. And there is still more to come.

— Pastor Warren Fanning

(On his next turn the author intends to continue his good thoughts in the same vein. — Ed.)