The Bible tells us that anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8), which is confronting at two levels. First, this verse tests our understanding of God’s love nature. Second, this challenges how God’s love is, or is not, expressed in our behaviour as Christians.
John declares that God does not simply possess love, His very essence of being has always been love from eternity past. God’s love has never been added to, it has never changed or been modified, and can never vary or diminish. God’s intrinsic holiness perfectly permeates all facets of His nature, including His love. More than anything else, holiness sets God apart as God.
The six-winged Seraphim who hover the throne of God continuously call to one another declaring, “holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:2-3). His holiness is formed through all His other Godly attributes, defining, and amplifying His unchangeable pure awesomeness. Holiness elevates His love far above emotion only. Nowhere are the perfections of divine holiness radiated more brilliantly than through His love.
It is God’s uncompromising holiness that distinguishes His love from human emotions and affections in every way imaginable. Therefore, with Jesus being God in human flesh (John 1:1-14), we see out-of-this-world love manifested throughout His life. Jesus’ selfless love is not only humble, patient, kind and affectionate, but continuously maintains perfect holiness without any imperfections.
Jesus’ love was one of obedience, I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father (John 14:31). Jesus explained to a group of argumentative Pharisees, for this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again (John 10:17). We do not see the extremity of obedient and sacrificial love anywhere as profoundly as on the Cross of Calvary and Jesus’ resurrection. The Cross displays a degree of holy love which transcends our human rationale.
Love this pure is the initiator, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Christ and His Heavenly Father did not wait for us to come to them, because they knew that could never happen due to our sinfulness and spiritual deadness (Ephesians 2:1). So, they acted first. This is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). God initiated His love toward us long before we were even born. God the Father and Son took our guilt, our sin, to the Cross of divine judgement. There, justice was served for our sin upon the sinless Son of God and the judge was appeased, fully satisfied that the full penalty had been paid.
God’s holiness in love knows no limits. It is never constrained by selfishness or distorted by corrupt desires. We see His persevering and sanctifying love in that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Because God’s love is holy, it will never disappoint or fail us. Our end is as secure as our beginning was because Holy Sovereign God is in control of all the things we are not.
God’s holiness and love comforts, affirms, and encourages us, especially when we are broken hearted and in the darkest times of life. I encourage you to worship your God for His holiness seen so amazingly through His love.