There is an old saying in Christianity – stated one of several ways – that God is too holy to tolerate sin; to abide sin; to dwell in the presence of sin, or the sinner. It is used to support the Spirit-in-the-written-word-only-today doctrine by saying that the Holy Spirit somehow becomes an accomplice to sin if the person in whom He dwells falls even for a moment.
To establish this proverb, Isaiah 59:1-2 is sometimes quoted:
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
But, generally the rest of the chapter is not cited … because a thinking person would realize that it ends with God’s covenant to inspire descendants forever with His words through His Holy Spirit:
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 59:21)
That – and the rest of the chapter which describes how God overcomes the sin He sees through a Redeemer – is inconvenient to the argument that men are too sinful for God to dwell with them or within them.
And sometimes Habakkuk 1:13a is cited:
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
But the rest of the verse, usually not … because a thinking person would realize that the prophet is having a conversation with God and actually accusing Him of tolerating evil:
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
Plus … how could He be aware of evil if He does not see it or look upon it? if He is indeed blind to it?
The Lord’s answer in chapter two make it obvious that He sees and judges the sin spread out before Him and pronounces His woes and will dispense His justice:
The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you,
and disgrace will cover your glory. ~ Habakkuk 2:16
The LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him. ~ Habakkuk 2:20
It is always a foolish and dangerous thing to base an argument upon what God cannot do. With God, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27) – and His eyes remain holy even if He sees sin. His Presence is not hobbled nor destroyed by the presence of it in His world.
You see, if God is too holy to even look upon sin, too holy to dwell among sinners, too holy to live within them …
- Then Job 1 is a lie.
- So is 1 Kings 22:19-23 and its twin, 2 Chronicles 18:18-22.
- Same with Psalm 51.
- Isaiah 59:21 is full of empty words.
- Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:16-18 are meaningless.
- The promise of His Spirit could not have even fallen on the apostles, who were far from perfect (Galatians 2:11; Romans 7:15-24).
- Worst of all, Philippians 2:5-11 and Mark 2:15-17and Luke 5:20 and Luke 7:48 and John 1 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 are cruel fabrications and the Christ who knew no sin could not have become sin in order to forgive it and we are all hopelessly, irrevocably, eternally damned.
Too holy to dwell in sinful men?
Yes, but not the ones He has forgiven.
Our sins may hide God’s face from us, but He still sees. He sees those sins repented. He sees them nailed down, lifted up, and crucified dead. He sees His Son, dying on that cross.
And for reasons unfathomable to us save in the term “love,” that is all that matters to Him.
Shame on any of us for ever trying to pretend God or His Son or His Holy Spirit are too weak to do what Christ’s blood has done.