As we continue our examination of Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections, he sets forth evidences or proofs of genuine conversion. The first mark is that God sovereignly regenerates the sinner; and secondly, the believer, in turn, sees Jesus as absolutely worth treasuring. He or she desires Jesus simply for who He is above what Jesus gives.
Now let’s explore the third mark: The first and primary attribute or characteristic of God that the regenerated person savors and relishes is His absolute holiness. What truly melts the heart of a believer is a glimpse at the holiness of God in the person and work of Christ. Edwards calls this a taste or appetite for the moral excellency of divine things.
He writes this about Christians: “Their love to God for his holiness is what is most fundamental and essential in their love…A love to God for the beauty of His moral attributes, leads to and necessarily causes a delight in God in all His attributes.”
In other words, the overarching attribute of God is His holiness. Every other attribute flows from this. God’s love is a holy love. God’s mercy is a holy mercy. God’s justice is a holy justice. God’s power is a holy power. God’s immensity is a holy immensity.
What does the Scripture say about God’s holiness?
Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 77:13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Psalm 96:9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Psalm 99:1–9 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 2 The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. 3 Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! 4 The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5 Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he! 6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them. 7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. 8 O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. 9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy!
Isaiah 6:3 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isaiah 47:4 4 Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.
Revelation 4:8 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
Revelation 15:4 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
One of the best books on this subject is R.C. Sproul’s “The Holiness of God” which every Christian must read!
He writes, “When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us…God is too great for us; He is too awesome. He makes difficult demands on us. He is the Mysterious Stranger who threatens our security. In His presence, we quake and tremble. Meeting Him personally may be our greatest trauma!”
Is this the God you worship? Is this the God you love? Does this view of God enflame your heart?
Edwards says this: “What will melt and humble hearts of men, and wean them from the world, and draw them to God, and effectually change them” is relishing the sweetness of God in Christ in all His holy perfections.
Oh, how we need to be weaned off this world! Oh, how we need our eyes opened to the glory of Christ. If you are a truly regenerated Christian, you long to see the beauty and holiness of Christ and it actually excites you!
May we desperately pray that the Holy Spirit melts our hearts with a love for the holiness of God and the sweetness of the beauty of Christ! May we truly be weaned off this world, so that we can find our greatest satisfaction in Jesus!