Attributes of God: Moral Attributes
The attributes of God are the inherent characteristics closely associated with or belonging to Him. In this study we will be dealing with God’s moral attributes. His holiness, righteousness, goodness, love, mercy, grace, and faithfulness.
The Holiness of God
There is a great need for a recognition of God’s holiness in the church today. We are told to “Hallow His name” (Matthew 6:9). We need a revelation of the holiness of God, without which we will never be used of Him the way he desires. Anyone who desires to make an impact for God must understand His holiness (Exodus 3:3-5, Joshua 5:13-18 and Isaiah 6:1-6).
1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Light philosophically represents truth, physically God’s glory, and morally His holiness. God is holy and there is nothing unholy or sinful in Him. There are five things we learn from this.
- Our own personal sinfulness. At Isaiah’s revelation of God he said, “I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). Peter, at his first revelation of the master, fell down at Jesus’ feet saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). Where there is a revelation of God’s holiness, there will also be a revelation of our own personal sinfulness and depravity.
- There is a chasm between God and man. Sin separates us from God. Isaiah cried out, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Immediately after sinning Adam and Eve hid from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 3:10). As a result of sin, “God drove the man out” (Genesis 3:24). They were driven out of the garden and God’s presence. Because God is holy and we are sinful there is a great chasm between God and man.
- We must approach God in the merits of another. We cannot approach God in our own merit. The only way we can approach God is through Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Romans 5:2 says, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh.”
- We must approach God with reverence. In these days of casualness, we’ve lost a sense of reverence in the church. People should be free to attend church however they feel comfortable, but have we taken things too far? Have we lost our reverence for God? Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
- Aim for holiness. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “As He who has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be holy; for I am holy.” Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” We’ve heard over and over without holiness no man shall see the Lord, but that’s not what it really says. The key word is “follow.” It’s without the pursuit of holiness that no man shall see the Lord. None of us will ever be completely holy, but we must pursue being holy as He is holy. We are to “be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1). We are “to walk even as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
The Righteousness of God
Righteousness is God’s holiness in action. In Abraham’s intercessory prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah he said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right” (Genesis 18:25)? God always does what is right in every situation and at all times. It’s not in His character to do otherwise. He is always just. No one can point an accusing finger at God asking, “What have you done” (Daniel 4:35)? He always does what is right.
How can God be just and still withhold punishment from us as sinners? He judged all our sin by pouring out His wrath on His Son in our place. That is why Paul could write, “To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). He is both just and the justifier of all who trust Christ. Whenever we sin, we can be assured that when “We confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Whatever we do in His name He does not overlook. Pastors, the service you do for God to the body of Christ does not go unnoticed. He will reward your faithfulness! Don’t let the devil ever make you think your service for Him is in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
The Goodness of God
God is a good God. No matter what happens or what you may be facing remember, He is good. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). There is not even a shadow in God’s goodness. He is pure, unadulterated goodness. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalms 34:8). Even the bad things in life He promises He’ll turn out for our good (Romans 8:28).
Your future is bright. “Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11). You say, things have been good. Well, there’s more good to come. Maybe you’ve been going through a rough patch, things are going to get better. There are “good things to come.” “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalms 84:11).
It’s important we continue in His goodness. “Consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness” (Romans 11:22). If you have strayed from His path let the goodness of God turn you back to Him today. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3). When we stray God uses three things to turn us back to Him.
- Conviction. John 16:8 says, “When He has come, He will convict the world of sin” (John 16:8).
- His goodness. Romans 2:4 says, “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.”
- Discipline. Hebrews 12:5 says, “Do not despise the chastening (discipline) of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.”
The Love of God
This is one of the most well known of all God’s attributes. The Bible emphatically states, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16). It’s not that God loves, He is love. It’s not something He does, but who He is. Love isn’t God, this concept only perverts His love. God’s very nature is love. Manifestations of His love flow from His being. Below are a few manifestations of God’s love.
- The sacrifice of His Son (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:9, Romans 5:6-8).
- Calling us His children (1 John 3:1).
- Giving us life and position in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6).
- His discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11).
- His inability to forget about us (Isaiah 49:15-16).
- Rejoicing over our return (Luke 15:3-24).
What should our response be to God’s love?
- Continue in His love (Jude 21).
- Love Him back (1 John 4:19).
- Love one another (1 John 4:11-12).
The Mercy of God
Mercy is not giving us what we deserve. Praise God! We deserve judgment, but God had mercy on us for Christ’s sake. Ephesians 2:4 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” God is abundant in mercy toward us. Psalm 86:15 says, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Even when we fall short and sin, we are encompassed about with mercy when we turn to Him. David had sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, but when he turned to the Lord he said, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but he that trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about” (Psalms 32:10). There’s a wall of mercy surrounding us. When everyone is condemning and expecting us to get what we deserve, mercy shouts back “leave them alone!” Lamentations 3:22 says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.”
There was a story of a painter who was painting a portrait of a women. She was anxiously waiting to see the end product. When it was finally complete, she looked at it and angrily said, sir, this portrait doesn’t do me justice. He replied, It’s not justice you need, it’s mercy. Thank God He doesn’t give us what we deserve.
The Grace of God
Where mercy is not giving us what we deserve, grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. It’s unmerited favor. A. W. Tozer said, “Ages upon ages will hardly be long enough to allow us to experience all the riches of His grace” (Root of Righteousness, page 86). Paul said, “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). John wrote, “Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). There is enough grace in God’s storehouse to meet every need we will ever have. Grace is there to:
- Save us (Ephesians 2:8-9).
- Make us His work of art (Ephesians 2:10).
- Make us workers (Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 15:8-10).
- Help us when we don’t measure up (Romans 5:20).
- Pick us up when we fall (Romans 5:20-21).
- Sustain us in times of trouble (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
- Fufill our financial needs (2 Corinthians 9:8).
The Faithfulness of God
He is a faithful God. We may try to be faithful, but it is part of His very being. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness.” 2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” God is faithful to:
- Fulfill His calling through us (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
- Protect us from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3, John 17:15, 1 Peter 1:5, Psalms 91-1-16).
- Keep His Word and promises (Numbers 23:19-20, 2 Corinthians 1:20).
- Complete the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6).
- Forgive (1 John 1:9).
- Not deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
- Show us fresh mercies daily (Lamentations 3:22-23).
1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.”