God’s Holiness (I) Part One
We have had some additional fellowship of God’s authority today, and we will not talk about God’s righteousness just now. Today we will talk about a whole new topic—God’s holiness. God’s holiness is yet another aspect of God’s unique essence, so there is great need to fellowship this topic here. This aspect of God’s essence that I will fellowship, along with the two aspects we fellowshiped before, God’s righteous disposition and God’s authority—are they all unique? (Yes.) God’s holiness is also unique, so the basis of this uniqueness, the root of this uniqueness, is the theme for our fellowship today. Understand? Repeat after Me: the unique essence of God—God’s holiness. (The unique essence of God—God’s holiness.) How do you feel in your hearts after repeating this phrase? Perhaps some of you have some misgivings, and are asking, “Why fellowship God’s holiness?” Don’t worry, I will talk you through it slowly. As soon as you hear it you will know why it is so necessary for Me to fellowship this topic.
First let us define the word “holy.” Using your perception and from all the knowledge you have learned, what do you understand the definition of “holy” to be? Define it for Me. (“Holy” means no stain, with none of mankind’s corruption or flaws. Everything it radiates—whether in thought, speech or action, everything it does—is completely positive.) Very good. (“Holy” is divine, undefiled, unoffendable by man. It is unique, it is the characteristic symbol of God.) (“Holy” is stainless and is an aspect of the divine, unoffendable disposition.) This is your definition, is it? In each person’s heart, this word “holy” has a scope, a definition and an interpretation. At the very least, when you see the word “holy” your minds are not empty. You have a certain defined scope for this word, and some people’s interpretation of this definition comes close to using this word to define the essence of God’s disposition. This is very good. Most people believe the word “holy” to be a positive one, and this can be affirmed. But the holiness of God that I wish to fellowship today will not be merely defined, nor merely explained. Instead, I will use some facts for verification to allow you to see why I say God is holy, and why I use the word “holy” to describe the essence of God. By the time our fellowship is over, you will feel that the use of the word “holy” to define God’s essence and the use of this word to refer to God is both well-deserved and most appropriate. At the very least, as far as mankind’s current languages go, using this word to refer to God is particularly apt—it is the only word in human language that is most fitting to refer to God. It is not an empty word when used to refer to God, neither is it praise without reason or an empty compliment. The purpose of our fellowship is to allow every person to recognize the truth of the existence of this aspect of God’s essence. God does not fear people’s understanding, only their misunderstanding. God wishes for every person to know His essence and what He has and is. So every time we mention an aspect of God’s essence, we can call on many facts to allow people to see that this aspect of God’s essence does indeed exist and it is both very true and very real.
Now that we have a definition of the word “holy,” let us take some examples. In the ideas people have, it is easy for them to imagine many “holy” things and people. For example, are virgin boys and girls defined as holy in mankind’s dictionaries? Are they actually holy? (No.) Is this so-called “holy” and the “holy” that we wish to fellowship today one and the same? (No.) Looking at those amongst people with high morals, with refined and cultured speech, who never hurt anyone, who, when they speak, make others comfortable and agreeable—are they holy? The Confucian scholars or gentlemen with high morals, refined in both word and deed—are they holy? Those who often do good, are charitable and provide great assistance to others, those who bring a great deal of enjoyment into people’s lives—are they holy? (No.) Those who harbor no self-serving thoughts toward others, who place no harsh demands on others, who tolerate anyone—are they holy? Those who have never had a dispute with anyone nor ever taken advantage of anyone—are they holy? So those who work for the good of others, who benefit others and bring edification to others in every way—are they holy? Those who give all their life savings away to others and live a simple life, who are strict with themselves but treat others liberally—are they holy? (No.) You remember that your mothers cared for you and looked after you in every conceivable way—are they holy? The idols you hold dear, whether they be famous people, stars or great people—are they holy? (No.) These are all for certain. Let us look now at those prophets in the Bible who were able to tell the future that was unknown to many others—was this kind of person holy? The people who were able to record God’s words and the facts of His work in the Bible—were they holy? (No.) Was Moses holy? Was Abraham holy? Was Job? (No.) Why do you say this? (The word “holy” can only be used to refer to God.) Job was called a righteous man by God, so why is even he said to be not holy? You feel some apprehension here, don’t you? Are people who fear God and shun evil really not holy? Are they or not? (No.) Your answer is negative, is it? So what is your negative answer based on? (God is unique.) This is a well-found basis; an excellent basis indeed! I’m discovering that you have a great ability to pick things up quickly and use what you have learned, and that you all have this special skill. You are a little apprehensive, not too sure, and you do not dare to say “No,” but neither do you dare to say “Yes,” so you are forced to say “No.” Let Me ask another question. God’s messengers—the messengers God sends down to earth—are they holy? (No.) Think it over carefully. Give your answer once you’ve thought it over. Are angels holy? (No.) Mankind that has not been corrupted by Satan—are they holy? (No.) You all say “No” to every question. On what basis? Is the very phrase I said just now the reason you say “No”? You are confused, aren’t you? So why are even angels said to be not holy? You feel apprehensive here, don’t you? Then can you discover on what basis the people, things or uncreated beings we mentioned previously are not holy? I am sure you are unable to, right? So is your saying “No” then a little irresponsible? Are you not answering offhandedly? Some people are pondering: “You ask in such a way, so it must certainly not be.” Don’t just answer offhandedly. Think carefully whether the answer is yes or no. You will know when we fellowship the following topic why it is “No.” I will give you the answer shortly. Let us first read some scripture.
1. Jehovah God’s Command to Man
(Gen 2:15-17) And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
2. The Serpent’s Seduction of the Woman
(Gen 3:1-5) Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
These two passages are excerpts from which book of the Bible? (Genesis.) Are you all familiar with these two passages? This is something that happened at the beginning when mankind was first created; it was a real event. First let us look at what kind of command Jehovah God gave to Adam and Eve, as the content of this command is very important for our topic today. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying….” Continue reading the following passage. (“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”) What does God’s command to man in this passage contain? Firstly, God tells man what he can eat, being the fruits of a variety of trees. There is no danger and no poison, all can be eaten and eaten as one wishes, with no misgivings. This is one part. The other part is a warning. This warning tells man that he cannot eat the fruit from what tree? (The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.) He must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What will happen if he does? (He shall surely die.) God told man: If you eat it you shall surely die. Are these words straightforward? (Yes.) If God told you this but you did not understand why, would you treat it as a rule or an order to be followed? It should be followed, shouldn’t it? But whether or not man is able to follow it, God’s words are unequivocal. God told man very clearly what he can eat and what he cannot, and what will happen if he eats what he should not eat. Have you seen any of God’s disposition in these brief words that He spoke? Are these words of God true? (Yes.) Is there any deception? (No.) Is there any falsity? (No.) Is there anything threatening? (No.) God honestly, truthfully and sincerely told man what he can eat and what he cannot eat, clear and plain. Is there any hidden meaning in these words? Are these words straightforward? Their meaning is obvious at a glance, you understand as soon as you see it. Is there any need for conjecture? (No.) Guessing is not necessary, right? It is already crystal clear. In God’s mind, what He wants to say, what He wants to express, comes from His heart. The things God expresses are clean, straightforward and clear. There are no covert motives nor any hidden meanings. He spoke to man directly, telling him what he can eat and what he cannot eat. That is to say, through these words of God man can see that God’s heart is transparent, that God’s heart is true. There is absolutely no falsity here, telling you that you cannot eat what is edible or telling you to “Do it and see what happens” with things that you cannot eat. Does He mean this? (No.) No. Whatever God thinks in His heart is what He says. If I say God is holy because He shows and reveals Himself within these words in this way, you may feel a little like I have made a big deal over nothing or that I have stretched My interpretation a little too far. If so, do not worry, we have not finished yet.
Let us talk about “The Serpent’s Seduction of the Woman.” Who is the serpent? (Satan.) Satan plays the role of the foil in God’s six-thousand-year management plan, and is a role that we cannot fail to mention when we fellowship the holiness of God. Why do I say this? (Because Satan is the representative and architect of all that is sordid and corrupt.) If you do not know the evil and corruption of Satan or Satan’s nature, you then have no way to recognize it, nor can you know what holiness really is. In confusion, people believe that what Satan does is right, because they live within this kind of corrupt disposition. With no foil, with nothing to compare with, you then cannot know what holiness is, so this topic must be mentioned here. We have not plucked this topic out of thin air, but instead through its words and deeds we will see how Satan acts, how it corrupts mankind, what kind of nature it has and what its countenance is like. So what did this woman say to the serpent? The woman recounted to the serpent what Jehovah God had said to her. Judging by what she said, had she confirmed the validity of all that God had said to her? She could not confirm this, could she? As someone who was newly created, she had no ability to discern good from evil, nor did she have the ability to cognize anything around her. The words she spoke to the serpent tell us that she had not confirmed God’s words as being right in her heart; she had a skeptical attitude. So when the serpent saw that the woman had no definite attitude toward God’s words, it said: “You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Is there anything wrong with these words? (Yes.) What is wrong? Read this sentence. (“And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”) Having read this, do you feel anything? When you finished reading this sentence, did you get a sense of the serpent’s intentions? (Yes.) What intentions does the serpent have? (To tempt man into committing sin.) It wants to tempt this woman to stop her from heeding God’s words, but did it speak directly? (No.) It did not speak directly, so we can say it is very cunning. It expresses its meaning in a sly and evasive way in order to reach its intended objective that it keeps hidden from man inside itself—this is the serpent’s cunning. Satan has ever spoken and acted this way. It says “not surely,” without confirming one way or the other. But upon hearing this, was this ignorant woman’s heart moved? (Yes.) The serpent was pleased as its words had had the desired effect—this was the serpent’s cunning intention. Furthermore, by promising an outcome that man believed to be a good one, it seduced her, saying, “in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened.” So she ponders: “To have my eyes opened is a good thing!” The serpent then speaks better words, words unknown to man, words that wield a great power of temptation over those who hear them: “and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Are these words strongly seductive to her? (Yes.) It is like someone saying to you: “Your face is shaped wonderfully. Just a little short along the bridge of the nose, but if you have that fixed, you will be a world-class beauty!” For someone who has never wanted to have cosmetic surgery, would their heart be moved hearing these words? (Yes.) So are these words seductive? Is this seduction tempting to you? Is it testing? (Yes.) Does God say things like this? (No.) Was there any hint of this in God’s words that we looked at just now? (No.) Why? Does God say what He thinks in His heart? Can man see God’s heart through His words? (Yes.) But when the serpent had spoken those words to the woman, were you able to see its heart? (No.) And because of man’s ignorance, they were easily seduced by the serpent’s words, they were easily hooked, easily led. So were you able to see Satan’s intentions? Were you able to see the purpose behind what it said? Were you able to see its plot and its cunning scheme? (No.) What kind of disposition is represented by Satan’s way of speaking? What kind of essence have you seen in Satan through these words? (Evil.) Evil. Is it insidious? Perhaps on the surface it smiles at you or reveals no expression whatsoever. But in its heart it is calculating how to reach its objective, and it is this objective that you are unable to see. You are then seduced by all the promises it gives you, all the advantages it talks about. You see them as good, and you feel that what it says is more useful, more substantial than what God says. When this happens, does man not then become a submissive prisoner? (Yes.) So is this means used by Satan not diabolical? You are made to sink low. Without moving a finger, with these two sentences you are made to follow it, made to comply with it. Its objective has been reached. Is this not so? (Yes.) Is this intention not sinister? Is this not Satan’s most primal countenance? (Yes.) From Satan’s words, man has seen its sinister motives, seen its hideous countenance and seen its essence. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) In comparing these sentences, without analysis you may perhaps feel as though Jehovah’s words are dull, ordinary and common, that they are not worth making a fuss about to praise God’s honesty. When we take Satan’s words and its hideous countenance and use them as a foil, however, do these words of God carry much weight for the people of today? (Yes.) Through this foil, man can sense God’s pure flawlessness. Am I right in saying this? (Yes.) Every word Satan says as well as its motives, its intentions and the way it speaks—they are all adulterated. What is the main feature of its way of speaking? It uses equivocation to seduce you without letting you see it, nor does it allow you to discern what its objective is; it lets you take the bait, making you praise it and sing its merits. Is that the case? (Yes.) Is this not Satan’s constant ploy? (Yes.)