Does it matter that God is holy and just?

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

When I reflect on this verse, I am reminded of the holiness and justice of God.

God is holy, set apart from all of creation in a way that we cannot fully understand.

God is also just: good and evil actually exist. Life isn’t fair, but God is. Eventually, the scales will be balanced and everyone will receive what they deserve.

We live in a world that says God is nothing more than the product of our imagination, that God is like us because we’ve created him in response to our insecurities and fears. Our world also says that evil is mostly a matter of perspective or opinion. Neither of these messages are true.

God doesn’t tolerate evil. This is so different than our experience. We are surrounded by evil every day. We commit evil thoughts and actions. But God is different in a way that we can’t fully understand.

There is also hope in this passage. God does not condone the evil that is happening in this world. We are also challenged: God doesn’t condone the evil in our own hearts.

This is good news: God doesn’t just recognize the problem, he does something about it. When we step back and look at the fuller picture of who God is, we are reminded of his presence and his love:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The God who is holy—the one who is set apart and utterly unique—came to be with us. He is different, but not distant.

The God who is just—the one who cannot tolerate evil—paid our price. Our evil incurred a debt we could never hope to repay.

God is not divided or conflicted. He is not sometimes just and at other times justifying. God is not sometimes holy and at other times close.

This teaching from Habakkuk is a call to praise the God who is not like us and has no tolerance for evil. Let us be holy like he is holy—uncommon in our world but not disconnected. Let us also take an inventory to see how much evil we tolerate in our own lives so that we can bring that to him in humility and repentance.