Holy, Holy, Holy (#3)

This is a summary of message #3 of a sermon series on worship. To listen to the entire message click here.

A CherubWhat do you think would happen if God in all His glory appeared right in front of you? Isaiah had an experience like that, and it left him changed forever (Isa. 6:1-7).

In the Bible whenever we are given a glimpse into God’s heavenly throne room we find it filled with worship. People in the Bible who had a close encounter with God were usually overpowered by a sense of His incredible might and all-consuming holiness (see Judges 6:21-23; Job 42:5-6; Lk. 5:8; Rev. 1:17-18). Isaiah’s response was the thought that he was probably going to be struck dead because He had seen God (v. 5).

The angelic creatures in Isaiah’s vision cried out “Holy, Holy, Holy.” To be holy is to be set apart. In God’s case, it means to be completely separated from anything sinful or morally corrupt. When He saw a glimpse of God, Isaiah realized how sinful he really was. When we come into God’s presence, all our moral blemishes become painfully obvious in the same way that dirt we have never noticed before becomes visible when we turn on a bright light.

But Isaiah did not die. When he cried out in confession (and probably in sheer terror) God responded by sending an angel with a coal from the altar to symbolize his cleansing. God is ready to cleanse and forgive us when we confess our sinfulness to Him. Jesus came into the world and died on the cross for us to make that possible.

What can we learn about worship from the experience of Isaiah?

  1. Worship is personal
  2. Christian worship takes place in the context of a personal relationship with God. It is not a religious ritual or a spiritual technique. In order to worship we need to get close to God. This means that we need to come into a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ before any real worship is possible.

  3. Worship requires confession
  4. Since God is holy, our sin is a barrier to worship. Before we can get really close to God we must confess our sin and ask for His cleansing. God promises that if we do this He will forgive us and cleanse us (1 Jn. 1:9).

  5. Worship changes us
  6. Everyone in the Bible who got really close to God was changed as a result. It is part of God’s work in our lives to transform us to be more like Jesus. But the change does not happen all at once. As we are cleansed and transformed we can get a little closer to God. When that happens we become aware of even more sin that needs to be confessed. The cycle of spiritual transformation is a key part of the Christian life.

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"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." -- C. S. Lewis