God’s Holiness and Grace

Tyndale House Publishers

Lent Week 3: Readings from the Mosaic Bible

Exodus 17:1-7 • Psalm 95 •Romans 5:1-21• John 4:5-42

Sometimes it’s hard for us to get a solid grip on holiness. We’re far removed from the Temple, which gave concrete expression to God’s holiness. We don’t have archived video of the Transfiguration, where Jesus revealed himself to his closest disciples. We lack tangible representations of holiness.

Still, is it possible that, like the saints before us, we can experience holiness? Maybe, more than we realize or care to admit, God’s holiness is all around us. If that’s the case, the implications could be vast.

If holiness is no longer a place in the Temple or a sacred ark, what is holiness? Where is holiness? And who is holy?

Suggested Readings : Psalm 11 • Psalm 93

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!—Isaiah 6:3

“When we speak of grace, we think of the fact that [God’s] favourable inclination towards the creature does not allow itself to be soured and frustrated by the resistance of the latter. When we speak of holiness, we think, on the other hand, of the fact that His favourable inclination overcomes and destroys this resistance.

To say grace is to say the forgiveness of sins; to say holiness, judgment upon sins. But since both reflect the love of God, how can there be the one without the other, forgiveness without judgment or judgment without forgiveness?

Only where God’s love is not yet revealed, not yet or no longer believed, can there be here a separation instead of a distinction. In this case forgiveness would be inferred in abstracto from sin, and judgment from condemnation. It would not be God’s judgment in the one case or God’s forgiveness in the other.

If we speak in faith, and therefore in the light of God and His love, and therefore of God’s forgiveness and judgment, as our insight grows we shall distinguish, but we shall certainly not separate, between God’s grace and God’s holiness.

The link between the two is decisively summed up in the fact that both characterise and distinguish His love and therefore Himself in His action in the covenant, as the Lord of the covenant between Himself and His creature.” -Karl Barth (Switzerland/1886-1968)

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many.
But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of
righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin
and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.—Romans 5:17


Prayer To The Holy Spirit
Breathe in me,
O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me,
O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart,
O Holy Spirit,
that I love only what is holy.

Strengthen me,
O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then,
O Holy Spirit,
that I may always be holy.
—Augustine of Hippo (Algeria/354–430)

Holy God
by Keith Potter
In the season of Lent we remember the great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made, the forgiveness that was paid for with his life. We confess that our sins have gotten in the way of a relationship with God.

However, our confession will be thin and hollow unless we understand how great and holy God is. We are forever underestimating the seriousness of sin and its effects, making us unlike God and unfit for his good fellowship. Our efforts at forgiving ourselves and others will be thin and hollow as well unless we understand how God’s grace so completely covers us through Jesus Christ, making us righteous in God’s eyes and fit for his good fellowship.

So in this season, we meditate on God’s holiness and wonder what it would be like to be filled only with loving intentions and healthy motivations, like our God.

In Isaiah 6, we discover that the story of the great prophet starts with a grand vision of God on his throne, surrounded by angelic beings. Day and night, these attendants cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

Isaiah’s response?

“It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Isaiah 6:5).

Seeing God gave Isaiah eyes to see himself. Unclean. Badly acculturated in the filth of his surroundings. Anything but holy.

So God touched Isaiah. He enjoys forgiveness and cleansing and a new readiness. God calls out for a human agent.

Isaiah responds, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”

That can be our story. In light of God’s holiness, we come undone. “Woe is me! I’m an unclean person among unclean people. Now that I really see you, Lord, I see myself. Help!”

And God does help, with a grace greater than our sin. If his holiness is great, his grace is somehow overarching, for it covers every sin of ours that must offend the purity of his holiness. “Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3).

“He that sees the beauty of holiness, or true moral good, sees the greatest
and most important thing in the world . . . Unless this is seen, nothing
is seen that is worth the seeing; for there is no other true excellency
or beauty.” —Jonathan Edwards (USA/1703–1758)

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now— when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.—John 4:23

God Uses Unexpected People Reading Plan Day 1

“Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. ‘How could I become a father at the age of 100’ he thought. ‘And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?’ So Abraham said to God, ‘May Ishmael live under your special blessing!’

But God replied, ‘No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.'” Genesis 17:17-19, NLT

Sarah Personality Profile from the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

There probably isn’t anything harder to do than wait, whether we are expecting something good, something bad, or an unknown.

One way we often cope with a long wait (or even a short one) is to try to help God get his plan into action. Sarah tried this approach. She was too old to expect to have a child of her own, so she thought God must have something else in mind. From Sarah’s limited point of view, this could only be to give Abraham a son through another woman—a common practice in her day. The plan seemed harmless enough. Abraham would sleep with Sarah’s servant, who would then give birth to a child. Sarah would take the child as her own. The plan worked beautifully—at first. But as you read about the events that followed, you will be struck by how often Sarah must have regretted the day she decided to push God’s timetable ahead.

Another way we cope with a long wait is to gradually conclude that what we’re waiting for is never going to happen. Sarah waited until she was 90 for a baby! When God told her she would finally have one of her own, she laughed in disbelief, not so much from a lack of faith in what God could do, but from doubt about what he could do through her. And when she was confronted about her laughter, she lied—as she had seen her husband do from time to time. She probably didn’t want her true feelings to be known.

What parts of your life seem to be on hold right now? Do you understand that this may be part of God’s plan for you? God may give us something else to do while we wait. But sometimes what we need to do is trust God, pray for patience, and wait for his perfect timing.

Learn more about the Life Application Study Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan Day 8

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.” 1 John 3:1-10, NLT

Note from the Christian Basics Bible

We live in a world where people constantly imitate others—their favorite football player, movie star, or business guru. They wear the same clothes as them and imitate their behavior; but their attempts to be like them are doomed to failure, for they have neither the wealth, good looks, nor skills to achieve what they did.

And some Christians’ attempts to be like Jesus are equally doomed to failure. They try so hard, putting so much effort into becoming like Christ; but it doesn’t work. In fact, they are left disappointed and frustrated. And yet, God’s goal is for us to become like Christ (1 John 3:2).

What we must realize is this: We cannot become like Christ simply by our own human effort—praying harder, reading the Bible more, giving more, or fasting (valuable though these things are). We become more like Christ as “the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is the Spirit’s work, not ours! And yet, for that to happen, we have to yield to him. This means making right choices—choices to forgive, serve, sacrifice, love, give.

For it is as we make these choices that the Spirit enables us to live them out; and as we do, we discover that—little by little—we are becoming less like our old selves and more like our Savior.

Look inside the Christian Basics Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan Day 7

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 3:3-8, NLT

Notes from the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

Paul emphasizes that God chose us to make the point that salvation depends totally on God. We are saved not because we deserve it but because God graciously and freely gives us salvation. Our wisdom or good behavior does not influence God’s decision to save us; in his mercy, he has saved us according to his plan. Thus, we cannot take credit for our salvation or take pride in making the right decision. The mystery of salvation originated in the timeless mind of God long before we existed. It baffles us why God would accept us. But Christ, by his sacrifice, makes us holy and blameless in his sight. If we are in Christ, God looks at us as if we have never sinned. All we can do is express our thanks for his wonderful love.

That God “decided in advance to adopt us” is another way of saying that salvation is God’s work and not our own doing. In his infinite love, God has adopted us as his own children. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, he has brought us into his family and made us heirs along with Jesus (Romans 8:17). He did this on purpose for his own pleasure (Luke 12:32).

In Roman law, adopted children had the same rights and privileges as biological children, even if they had been slaves. (For more on the meaning of adoption, see Galatians 4:5-7.) Paul uses this language to show how strongly we are related to God through Christ and how strongly God desires a relationship with us. Have you entered into this loving bond with him

God has showered his kindness—his grace—on us. This is his voluntary and loving favor given to those he saves. We can’t earn salvation, nor do we deserve it. No religious, intellectual, or moral effort can gain it, because it comes only from God’s mercy and love. Without God’s grace, no person can be saved. To receive God’s salvation, we must acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves; only God can save us. We can receive this loving favor by believing in and uniting with Christ. Imagine that you are trying to go on an ocean voyage but have no passport, money, or credit cards—and then Jesus comes along to pay your way so you can travel in first class. This is a small illustration of how lavishly and freely he gives his grace to each of us.

Look inside the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition

God Loves You Reading Plan Day 6

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,* neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39, NLT

Note from the Every Man’s Bible

Our security is based on God’s unshakable love for us. The love God has for us is not just an emotion but an actual fact. God proved his love for us by willingly sending his Son to suffer and die. So why would he hold back any lesser gift?

In fact, there is nothing in the whole universe that can separate us from God’s love! What more could God say to us to make us more secure in his love?

Look inside the Every Man’s Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan Day 5

“Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace
with God.” Romans 5:1, NLT

Article from the Beyond Suffering Bible

Paul begins Romans 5 with the presupposition that we have peace with God. This is not a simplistic assertion by Paul. He has taken four chapters to explain both the need for being right with God (1:18–3:20) and the way to get right with God (3:21–4:25). Having carefully built his argument, Paul has arrived at the settled conclusion that peace with God is a reality.

Getting right with God, according to Paul, is based on faith—the kind of faith that Abraham, the father of faith, demonstrated (4:3). It is not based on the law or perfect behavior or perfect bodies. There are no qualifications, exceptions, or exemptions here—no matter how much we might feel that somehow we are the exceptions to the rule. We think, Surely God wouldn’t accept me. We reprimand ourselves for our failures and our imperfectly functioning bodies. We think that if only we did not fail God in our heads, our hearts, and our whole physical being, we could find peace with God.

But that is not what Paul writes. Since we have been made right with God no exceptions—we already have peace with God. Moreover, we have this peace because of our faith and what Jesus did for us. It had nothing to do with our heads or our hearts or our bodies in the first place. If this is true and it is—what are we to do with our agonizing, unrelenting pain? Does the peace we have with God make the circumstances of our lives simply vanish? Certainly not. We can simultaneously have pain and peace.

Christ experienced pain and suffering in order to reconcile us to God. Not because we were perfect, but because we were broken. Christ died for us imperfect though we are. God saw our intense suffering and entered into it with us. Because of this, we have the assurance that even in the midst of trials we have peace with God.

Look inside the Beyond Suffering Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan: Day 4

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. ” John 3:16-17, NLT

Note from the Swindoll Study Bible

I think I love people deeply— until I read about the way God loves people. Chances are good I wouldn’t sacrifice my son or daughter for anyone. But God did— and He did it for all of us. He so loved you and me that He gave His Son to die for us.

Why did He do it? “So that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” You don’t have to clean up your life. You couldn’t if you tried. You just have to believe in Jesus Christ. That’s the Good News. He died for you on a cross. And if you believe in Him, you will have eternal life with God and a whole new beginning that starts from the inside out. Goodness knows we need help from the inside out.

Look inside the Swindoll Study Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan: Day 3

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

“And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” Luke 12:6-12, NLT

Note from the New Believer’s Bible

As this parable illustrates, it is easy to allow other pursuits to cloud our spiritual vision. We have to make enough money to get that new car, buy that house, or take that dream vacation.

But we get so caught up in chasing after money and success that we leave God out of the equation altogether. Jesus has strong words for people who store up earthly wealth but fail to cultivate a rich relationship with God—he says they are fools.

God’s answer to this dilemma is for us to focus on his will for our lives. Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). The more you channel your energy, ambition, and life into this one holy pursuit, the less obsessed you will be with the cares and concerns of this world.

Everything else will come into balance. Seek God’s Kingdom in all that you do. Failure to do so will only guarantee confusion, failure, and emptiness.

Look inside the New Believer’s Bible

God Loves You Reading Plan: Day 2

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17, NLT

Devotional from the THRIVE Devotional Bible for Women

Love Letter from God

Beloved Daughter

I am very near to you, and I delight in you. I am here for calm your fears and care for your every need. No one knows you better than I do because I created you to be close to Me. Many times you feel far from Me because you’re looking for comfort and love in places they can’t be found. I am the lover of your soul, and I want you to walk out each day in the confidence that you are loved and cherished by Me. As you look up to the heavens, know that I am with you everywhere you go.

Your Heavenly Father


We can miss God’s presence when we’re blinded by our own fears and try to handle life’s problems on our own. When we are afraid, we should run right to our God. He feels more present when we feel out of control.

Treasure of Truth

God delights in you.

Look inside the Thrive Devotional Bible for Women

God Loves You Reading Plan: Day 1

Activity from the Hands-On Bible

“O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.”

Psalm 139:1-3, NLT

Read those verses from Psalm 3 times to remind yourself who knows you best. Then ask a parent for guardian to help you print our a map of where you live.

Mark your map using the key below.

Use a highlighter to trace the roads your family uses, then read PSALM 139:1–3 out loud. God always knows where you are, what you’re doing , and what you’re thinking and feeling. Wherever you go, whatever you think or feel, God understands and loves you!

Use a red marker to draw a large heart that surrounds all the places you’ve highlighted on your map. Then hang your map in your room to help you remember the verse you just learned!

Bonus Idea: You also can print a map of the world or your country and mark different places you’ve been or lived.

Look inside the Hands-On Bible