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Jackie Hill Perry: Holier Than Thou

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October 17, 2022 3:00 am

Jackie Hill Perry: Holier Than Thou

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 17, 2022 3:00 am

Does it feel hard to trust God? Jackie Hill Perry, explains how God being holier than thou is the best news in the world. And it's key to trusting Him.

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If God is holy, he cannot sin. If God cannot sin, that means he cannot sin against me.

And if God cannot sin against me, doesn't that make him the most trustworthy being that exists? Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So over three years ago, we walked in for our first day ever at Family Life Today. I remember.

The studio was dark. Nobody was there yet. We got on our knees and begged God to help us, meet us, produce great content that would change marriages and families and legacies all around the world. And we did that because we felt so ill-equipped. And we needed God to do a miracle. But I remember that day because our very first interview was with Jackie Hill Perry. And she's back. That's what made me think of this. It's like, three and a half years ago, you were with us in Little Rock. Now you're with us in Orlando, but you're back on Family Life Today. Welcome.

Thanks. You probably don't remember that day. I do. You do?

What do you remember about it? Anything? That it felt like I was looking at Austin, your son, in two different faces. I was like, this is the strangest thing in the world to see, like, you know, his eyes and his mouth and his ears kind of split apart. Really? You think I look like my son?

Yeah. And now they're both happy like him. Happy like Austin? I've never seen Austin mad in my life. He is the most precious man I think I've ever known. I mean, he's like without guile. You know, there is a joy about him. I've joked, there were times in high school I'd say, Austin, just go sin.

Just do it once. You're just so perfect. He was just such a great, and now it's, you know, husband and dad. He's an amazing man. Amazing.

A lot of integrity. And the reason, Jackie, tell our listeners why you know Austin. Austin is my book agent, and he has been, I think, since maybe six years, five, six years now.

Yeah. And that's a pretty incredible relationship, you know, because he's our agent as well. I think he's more proud of being your agent than his mom and dad.

But he's good at what he does. And, you know, when you were back three years ago, you had just written Gay Girl, Good God, and we had you on. And one of the reasons I just brought that up is we were sort of terrified.

Not of you, but of doing this. And then you were the first guest we had. It was like, oh my goodness. You were remarkable.

How special. And I do remember, I prayed over you because I thought, this woman carries incredible gifting, power. You're a theologian, but you're so articulate and artistic. I just thought, it brings tears to my eyes now.

I thought, she's a world changer. And I think you're changing people's thoughts and minds about God. And you've done this with your newest book too.

Yeah. And you talk about theologian, your depth is inspiring. So, here we are with a book which is full of theology, Holier Than Thou, How God's Holiness Helps Us Trust Him.

So, you go from Gay Girl, Good God to this. It seems like a leap. So, why this book?

Why now? It's not really. I think the way it's presented is different. And so, one, Gay Girl, Good God is a memoir. This is more like a, you know, a theological work about a theological concept.

But the aim is the same, which is to exalt God. I think in both books, I spent a lot of time in showing God to be as beautiful as He really is. And so, I think, for me, Gay Girl, Good God was like, okay, this is my story and this is the God who made it, but here is that God. And so, I just kind of just want to write books about God for the rest of my life. Well, I remember interviewing you about your story, your memoir, and there was so much of it about this fact that God is holy. And when you encounter a holy God, it will change you.

I think a lot of our listeners know your story. But will you kind of go back and just share that briefly and how that encounter with God shaped you of who He really is? Yeah, raised to a single mom, dealt with same-sex or had same-sex desires as early as I could remember, while at the same time kind of attending church here and there. So, I had some type of idea that God exists, that Jesus died, all those things. But I was unwilling to serve Jesus. One, it seemed uninteresting and boring because all I knew of Christianity was, you know, these kind of joyless, rigid, dogmatic people.

Same thing here. Until I was 19, God met me through the power of the Holy Spirit. I was able to see that my sin was worthless, that God was worthy, and I turned. And I think the interesting thing is that in my repentance, it really was an opening of my mind to the reality of God. You know how Corinthians says, like, the enemy is blind in the minds of unbelievers, where they cannot see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But God who said, let there be light has shown in our hearts to give this light.

So, it was like this, oh, not only are you real, but you're good. And so, in my turning towards you in faith, I'm turning towards a really good person. And so, I think that's really the emphasis of holiness is to remind us that holiness isn't simply that God hates sin, but that God is intrinsically good.

And I think if we presented that, I think, in our gospel presentations and even in the way we live and talk about God, people would be much more interested in Jesus. Yeah, and that's an interesting perspective because I grew up in church, but not really. Just sort of dragged there. As soon as I got to college, never went again.

And many of the same reasons. There's no joy there. There's no purpose there. I just didn't, I never saw anything there I like, but I do remember the preacher saying, God is holy. And that scared me. It didn't draw me toward Him as beautiful.

It scared me as fearful. I don't want to be near Him because He's just going to smite me. So, your perspective is a totally different, I think, perspective on that. Even though God is good. Yeah, because judgment is a part of it.

You know, God is holy. Therefore, He has a moral standard. He's given us a law that He expects us and commands us to obey.

And if we don't obey it, there's consequences. But I think when you think about the fact that God has given us a moral law, that it is an extension of Himself. So, if you look at the commandments, you know, thou shall not kill, thou shall not lie, thou shall not commit adultery. God is saying don't lie because He's honest. God is saying don't commit adultery because He's always faithful. God is saying don't steal because He's generous. And so, I think even the moral law gives us a beautiful picture of the nature of God.

Now, did you always have that, or is that something that? I'm just saying, like, that thought right there is deep. I'm just saying, most of us have never thought of that. Well, that's what I mean. It's like, all I've heard is thou shall not.

I've never considered that's a beautiful revelation of His character. Did you always understand that, or did somehow just, boom? Studying the Bible.

Here's the thing. I've studied the Bible and studied the Bible. We're amazing Bible scholars.

I'm kidding. But I don't think I've ever had that sort of revelation come to me like, oh, there's the other side of this. This is something that I want to be drawn to. Well, I think that line of thought was, I know somewhere Paul says that the law is good because God is. And then I was reading this book by Stephen Charnock, which is called The Existence of God or something like that, written in the 1800s.

That's our problem. Those aren't the books we're reading. And he said the law is good because the lawmaker is good. And that got me thinking, oh, how does the 10 commandments show God as good? And so I started to think, what if God was the opposite of what He's commanding? If He was opposite of it, He would be the devil. He would be a liar. He would be an adulterer.

He would be a thief. All the things that we end up in our unbelief, believing God is incapable of, you know, it's like, oh, God is saying surrender and give me all your stuff. He wants my body. He wants my life.

He wants my marriage. And it's like, no, He wants it for good though, because He's a good God. And so I don't know.

I just think it will free us up to imagine God as He really is. Well, one of the things I've always said as a preacher for 30 years, in fact, I'm going to quiz Anne and see if she knows, you know, my wife sat through all these hundreds, had to be hundreds of maybe thousands of sermons. Thousands, probably. You know, 30 or 40 a year for 30 years.

So yeah, you're around a thousand. So I said this many times. I bet you nobody in my church can answer this question, but my wife.

She better be able to answer this. No pressure. And I'm not saying I'm right or wrong, but I said this many times. There are two beliefs that determine every decision you make every single day.

That was my sort of exaggeration. But there's two beliefs that we carry that I believe every decision we make every day is determined by those two. What are they? What you believe about God. Look at you. Theology. And what you believe about your self-identity. There you go.

All we need is confetti. Did you like look at some notes or something? No, I mean, you've said that so many times. Yeah. And Jackie, I don't know if I'm right, but as I thought about it, I thought, man, what we believe about God, which is theology, who He is. Is He present? Is He absent? What's His character?

What are His attributes? And then what do we believe about who we are? Part of me as a dad was like saying to my sons, like every decision you make today is going to be based on, do you believe He's here and He's with you? Or do you believe you're worthy or worthless? I don't know if that's true or not, but when you talk about the holiness of God, you are stating that if I believe He's holy, it's going to change the way I behave, right?

Absolutely. I think that's the truth, literally. One story that intrigues me is the story of the rich young ruler and how Jesus, he comes to Jesus and says, good teacher. That's already interesting because he's calling him a good teacher, which is cool, but is he just that? And so he says, hey, how could I, you know, inherit eternal life? Jesus is like, you know, it gives them the law.

He's like, oh, I kept all those since I was a kid. And Jesus was like, okay, so leave everything you have and follow me. And it says that the rich young ruler walked away sad because he had many possessions. And I looked at that text and I wondered if he only thought that Jesus was a good teacher and not also a good God, no wonder he didn't leave all his stuff. And so it's like, man, if you see that God is bigger and better than everything you have, then that will govern how you behave because now you realize I'm giving up all of this stuff, but I'm gaining everything, which is what Paul says. Like all of that stuff is trash compared to what I get in God, but he had to believe God was worthy and better than everything he gave up. So absolutely, everything you believe about God will determine how you live this life. Which is so interesting because, I mean, working with Detroit Lions wives for 35 years, and so often I would ask them, is there anything keeping you from giving God everything? And what are the things that are hard for you to let go of?

Like the rich young ruler, it was his possessions. And so when I asked that, most of the moms said, I'm so fearful because I'm afraid if I give God my children, because that's the thing that they hold the dearest and closest, God will do something bad. Now, what would you say? They're sitting in your Bible study. This is a little bit of your book of what you're saying. It's the kind of that misconception of who God is.

Yeah. I would empathize what I would warn. And this would be the warning is that I think sometimes we really don't realize how much spiritual warfare is active in our conception of God. Because why would the devil and his demons want you to hope the best in God? What is it that we're believing about the nature of God that we suppose that to surrender his creation back to him is a bad thing?

Doesn't that sound like what the devil would have you think? And so I think that's what I would say is like, resist that, resist that spirit that would accuse God in your mind. But I would also say, let's look at the scriptures and let's look at what he does and how he is and how he moves. Even the fact that he sent even his own son for our good.

Everything he does is good. Doesn't mean that everything that he does isn't hard and difficult, but it does mean that he does not have sinful aims and sinful motives in his dealings with us. That's only to Satan. One of the things you say at the beginning of the book, and I don't need to read it because I'm sure you can say it from memory, but it was a profound understanding for me.

I'll just start it. You tell me. Well, I don't know if it's your premise, but you said if God is holy, then he can't sin. Go ahead and flesh that out because that changed the way you think about God's holiness. Yeah, if God is holy, he cannot sin. If God cannot sin, that means he cannot sin against me.

And if God cannot sin against me, doesn't that make him the most trustworthy being that exists? That is like paradigm shifting. I think. Me too. I was thinking about my relationships with people. I don't, I don't trust people easily.

Right. And that's because we're inconsistent. We're unfaithful. We lie sometimes.

We were greedy. We don't trust people because people are sinful. But when you get to God, the question has to be, okay, if God can't sin, what is the reason I don't trust him? If he doesn't even have it in his nature to do wrong, if all he can do is be right, be righteous, be kind, be wise, be perfect in all of his dealings with his creation, then I have no excuse but to trust him.

And I don't know, that just kind of changed my life. Doesn't mean I'm perfect, but it does mean I'm much more willing to trust God more than I did before. So what is it in us that in us that doesn't believe that statement? Because I think a lot of times we say that.

Yeah, I mean, it is our sin nature, but it's like, I remember our youngest son, Austin's younger brother, was preaching one time and he said something to this effect. Jesus is enough, but I don't know him well enough for him to be enough. It was a statement like, I know he's enough, but I don't think I really know him enough to be able to go, I can fully trust. Is that the problem? It's like, we don't really know him? Or do you have a better answer?

You probably got a better one. No, I think that's true. I mean, because there's always going to be more of him to know, but it's like, we're fighting against our nature. We inherited Adam's sin, but also Adam's logic and reasoning, and we exist in this world. Our culture forms us to be skeptical of God, but we're also busy. We're consumed with our families and all the things and how to pay bills and how to stop getting mad at my spouse for leaving milk out on the counter.

And there's just always so much that distracts us from even the ability to meditate on God's truth, which I think informs how we trust. Even that right there, I'm thinking of as I'm listening to you. You're thinking of me leaving milk on the counter. No, I'm not thinking of that at all. I'm thinking of you, Jackie, with four kids.

You have three girls and a little boy that's two months. And I'm thinking our listeners could be wondering like, how do you have time to study? How are you having time to go deep and to read these books by some dude in the 1800s? It's a great book, by the way.

Like, what would you say to them? And I feel like for you, it's a necessity out of your, not only do you need it, but you love him. And when you love someone, you spend time with them. And I'm scared of myself. I think that's a part of it is that I know who I can be apart from God.

And that scares me because I don't want to be that person. And so being in my word and praying looks different than it did when I was 20 and single. And that's okay, you know, because there's all kinds of opportunities to meet with God. Like, you know, all of us ain't gonna be able to be on top of Mount Sinai for 45 minutes watching God write his law on the tablets. But we do have time in the car to listen to the word.

We are washing dishes to listen to a podcast about the word. We do, you know, brush our teeth where we don't have to be on our phone so we can send up a prayer or two. And so there's a lot of little moments where we can meet with God. And I think God even appreciates that.

That's what I would say too. I feel like, especially for me as a mom, that was my time that I learned how to do God every day, every minute. That I learned to walk with him in the smaller and the bigger parts of my life. I didn't have that 45 minutes. Half the time I was like dreading like, I wish I had 45 minutes.

And I was jealous that Dave might have 45 minutes. But there is a sweetness of learning how to communicate with God all day long, through everything, even praying out loud with our kids, wherever we are in the house, in the car, in the school pickup line, whatever that looked like. And I do think we want to be on Mount Sinai.

We do. And I just read it. You know, I'm going through the one-year Bible.

So a few weeks ago, I'm reading that. And the contrast of what's happening on the mountain with God and Moses and what's happening down in the valley, building the idol. I thought, we live down here so often. We're building idols. We're going after stuff.

We know he's holy. We just don't embrace it. And then our life is sort of like the valley.

We're in chaos. Is that true? I think so. I think that's the thing about sanctification is that all of this takes time. As you get older, you do have time to be on Mount Sinai for 45 minutes again.

He can be up there two hours. And it's pretty amazing. But I think what often happens is the beauty of the world captures us, and the beauty of God eludes us. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it feels like things that are shiny around me grab my attention, and God seems sometimes distant and so holy.

He's unknowable. And I just run after something that's more immediate than transcendent. I think even in Exodus 32, when they were making the golden calf, I think a part of the reason they did it is because it was quick and convenient. And so it's like, hey, Moses is up there with God.

Been about 40 days, 40 nights now. I don't know where Moses is. Therefore, I don't know where God is. And so I think even our impatience leads us to make idols because we don't want to wait for God to reveal himself through the text. It's just like, oh, Psalms, it's boring. You don't want to wrestle with it because it's not quick enough or you're being tempted with lust. And so instead of waiting for God to give you the power to endure, you go to porn.

It's all of these quick satisfactions, which don't satisfy at all. I mean, I could sit on what you said there when you said, it scares me who I would be without God. That would be a great dinner conversation. Maybe with your spouse. Your kids may not tell you if they're teenagers, but who would I be or what are the things I run after when I feel like God's been up there too long and he hasn't been down here with me or really I'm down here and I haven't been with him. What are the things that my appetite starts to yearn for?

I think that would be a great question to have with your spouse. Where do you go when you haven't been with God for a while? As a mom, I can remember realizing, because I had that same fear, Jackie. Like, I got so impatient with my kids. I started yelling all the time. Well, even when I was with Jesus, I would yell sometimes.

I'd yell with my Bible. Yeah, me too. That's real prayer.

But there is something that I am afraid too. Like, I go back to things that I used to crave for before that don't bring me life, but I'll chase after him. Do you think that's true for you? Oh, of course. I mean, yeah. Everything Jackie just said about the immediate adrenaline rush of whatever you put in the blank for your idol is the rush that often you don't get or feel with the holiness of God.

That's why I think it's so elusive. And my last question to you, Jackie, would be, okay, so if there's a listener sitting there going, I don't think I understand the holiness of God. I want to.

How do I? Okay, wow. That's probably, well, maybe the most important question we could ever ask.

That's David Ann Wilson with Jackie Hill Perry on Family Life Today. And we'll hear her answer in just a second. But first, as we ask questions like these, it really reveals the true longings of our hearts. Because as the famous Saint Augustine saying goes, our hearts are ever restless until they find rest in him. We really believe that here at Family Life, a relationship with God is the ultimate desire that sits at the center of every human being. And when you partner with us to make every home a godly home, you're literally advancing the work of taking the gospel to homes across the world. Would you consider partnering with us at Family Life to see that gospel work come to fruition? When you do, we'd love to send you a copy of Jackie's book, Holier Than Thou. It's our thanks to you when you partner financially today with us.

You can give online at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, here's Jackie on how we can begin to better understand the holiness of God. Pray and ask God to help you understand. I think that's one way to ask for wisdom, which God said he'll answer that prayer. And then get in your word.

And one of the practices that I started to do early on in my walk because of discipleship was when I would read a narrative or an epistle or a psalm, I would be strategic about paying attention to the way God is described in it. So if it's a psalm where David is crying out to God, how does he describe God? He says he's a strong tower. He's a refuge. He's a rock. So I need to now say, oh, so God is a rock. God is a refuge. God is steadfast. God is this.

And I think as you kind of develop a practice of that while reading your word and believing it, that's how you start to understand who God is and therefore understand his holiness. That's David Ann Wilson with Jackie Hill Perry on Family Life Today. Are you the same person at church as you are at home? That's an interesting question. Well, on Family Life Today with David Ann Wilson, Jackie Hill Perry will be talking to us and giving us insight on how to make sure we are living biblically in both our private and public lives. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 13:09:31 / 2022-12-03 13:19:57 / 10

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