Discipleship Lesson #9
God is holy and God is love.
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah 6:3
God is love. 1 John 4:8
If someone would ask me what the fundamental characteristic or attribute of God is, I would say that God is holy and love. From these two characteristics flow the rest of God’s personal characteristics. Personal characteristics are the qualities that God has in His person such as God is good, God is faithful, etc. It describes His Person. But above all the rest, the fact of Him being holy and love, is paramount.
The first and the greatest attribute of God is that He is holy. The verse quoted above is from Isaiah’s vision of heaven. He looks around and sees the throne of God and the angels flying, saying this phrase: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. Also in the vision of John is Revelation 4:8 they say, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty which was, and is, and is to come.” You could be wondering what the reason is that they repent the same thing three times. The reason: it is the Hebrew way of showing a completion or totality of quality to the subject. So what this means is God is totally, completely, emphatically holy. There are a couple meanings for the word holy. The first is that He is separate from all filthiness of sin or wickedness. He does not go near sin nor is tempted with sin. The second understanding of holiness: He is perfect from all uncleanness or sin. He is perfect, morally perfect, sinless. The third meaning of holiness is that He is above everything that defiles. So He can’t be near sin because He is separated from sin; He is totally perfect from sin; He is above sin. From the concept of God being completely holy, we understand some of His other characteristics. The first characteristic that flows from this attribute is righteousness. God is righteous meaning that He can do nothing but what is right. He cannot do any wrong nor tempt anyone to do wrong. If someone says that God made him do something that is sinful, then that person says that God is not righteous or holy. God will only do right. God will only want to do what is right. He will never do wrong. Another characteristic that flows from God’s holiness is that God is just. If God cannot be near sin nor tolerate sin, He is the one who will punish sin. His justice needs to be done; otherwise, He will not be holy to let sin remain. This is why God casts people into hell. He merely is the one who punishes sin. Every human being is under God’s condemnation for their sin. This sin needs to be paid for, and the wages of sin is death. So either you have to pay for your sin by dying eternally in the lake of fire or you can trust in Jesus who paid your punishment by dying on the cross in your place, putting on him the sin of us all. All you need to do for eternal life is to accept Jesus as your Saviour. God is just because God is holy. The last characteristic from the holiness of God is His immutability (the ability of being incapable to change who He is). In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I am the LORD; I change not!” Think about this, if God changes one way or the other in His holiness, then He either is not holy right now or else He would become unholy. He cannot be holier because He is totally holy. He can’t be less holy because it would mean that He would not be holy at all.
God is holy but He is also love. The description of what love looks like is 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8,
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.
Charity is the word that the King James uses in this section of Scripture. The word shows love in action. If you want to see something amazing about God, in the place of charity put God: God is suffereth long and is kind, etc. Everything that love is God is. But from the idea that God is love, we can see three characteristics that flow from Him being love. First, God is merciful. Mercy is described as the act of withholding punishment from one that deserves it. God is just and so He will punish those that do wrong. Yet God is merciful, withholding the punishment of the individual for a space of time. If God was not merciful, we would not be here. He would have punished Adam and Eve in the garden, dooming the rest of the human race to non-existence. So God is merciful. Secondly, God is gracious. Grace is defined as the act of giving something to someone who does not deserve it. God did this for us in making a way for salvation. We did not nor could we earn our own salvation, but God loved us to send His Son to die in our place so we can be reconciled (be made right) with Him. By our sin, we deserve hell and all the punishment that entails. But by His grace, we have heaven to look forward to because of Christ’s gift of eternal life. Lastly, God is patient. Have you ever realized how patient God is with you. When we turn our backs to Him, even though we are saved, He patiently waiting for us to repent and come back to Him. People sin and by Him being just, will punish sin. But He is patient with people also wanting them to get saved, but knowing that some of them will not. But He gives them the chance any way. So God is holy but He is also love.
With realizing the different attributes of God, we understand who God is according to the Bible, but if you do not take it as a reality in your lives, then you are no better for it. God is holy. So do your actions reflect a holy fear to a holy God, knowing He does not tolerate sin? Or knowing that God is love, do you love others as Christ loved you? In either case, pray God for help to fear Him and realize your own faults before Him. Also pray that God gives the love to love others. Do this and you will progress in your discipleship greatly.