One of the main characteristics of the God of the Bible is his holiness (moral excellence, among other things). If the nation Israel was to rely on God for help she herself must be holy. Israel could not presume on God’s help if she was rife with sin. God would not fight on her behalf if she were in rebellion against him. No holiness, no blessing.
Holiness sets the standard for our approach to God. No one can presume that they can approach God with no regard for their spiritual or moral state. It is the not the sinner but the repentant sinner that the Holy Father hears. None of us can approach God in our own righteousness, which only appears to God as filthy rags. We who are repentant sinners come to the throne of God clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Appropriated by faith, his righteousness is the robe we wear in the Holy Father’s presence. In a sense, the sanctification process is simply becoming what we already are. We may not fully attain “arrival” status in this life, but it is the direction we are headed. If our life is now hidden with Christ in God, then the goal of our remaining days is like that expressed in Narnia, “further up and further in.”
My concern for the church is “no holiness, no blessing.” I think pastors need always to be defining, spelling out, clarifying an understanding of the basics of the Gospel. Sin in our society needs definition periodically. Repentance needs to be illustrated over and over. Faith, trust, reliance, need more and more definition in a lost, broken and dark world. Jesus Christ, the object of our faith, needs always to be at the forefront of our Gospel.
If we harbor racism in our hearts how can we expect God to bless our church? If we think one sex is superior to another how can we anticipate good things from God? If we see one class of people as more worthy than others how can we receive the help we need from a holy God? It’s not just about trying to do the right thing. If that were so then Congress could legislate us into being a righteous nation. Our hearts need to be changed if spiritual and moral growth is to take place. Most of our people look good on Sunday morning. They have learned appropriate Church behavior. But what is in their hearts may give the lie to their actions. It is the heart that God sees. No holiness, no blessing.