The Character of God

The Holiness of God

Holiness is Bible's most emphasised attribute of God :'the Holy One.' (Is4 1:4) This attribute is special.   In heaven they sing of His holiness above all else: 'they rest not day and night, saying, 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.' (Rev 4:8). God swears by the Highest thing-His holiness. (Psa 89:35)

Holiness is the sum and excellence, the exalted Beauty, Perfection and Purity of His moral character.

A good definition is: 'God is LIGHT, and in him is no darkness at all.' (1John 1:5) As white light is the sum of all of the colours of the rainbow
so God's holiness is the unified sum of all His moral perfections.
This means He is free from any impurity or defilement (Job 34:10, Lev 11:43-45). God hates sin, He doesn't tolerate it but must judge it.

The word 'holy' means to be 'set apart.' He is set apart from all that's unclean or unworthy. He is set apart from creation, being far above all else in majesty, purity,and perfection.(Is 57:15)
'Who is like thee, O LORD, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?' (Ex 15:11)
'There is none holy as the LORD' (1Sam 2:2)

The Eyes of the Lord are His Omniscience.
His Arm - His Omnipotence,
His Duration - His Eternality,
but the beauty of the Lord is His holiness.
God is beautiful, the sum of all desireable attributes in perfect unity, symmetry and harmony.

'He appointed singers to the LORD, to praise the beauty of holiness,
to go out before the army, saying, 'Praise the LORD; for his mercy endures forever.' (2Chr 20:21)

'One thing I desire of the LORD, that I'll seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.'  (Ps 27:44)

The revelation of the Majestic-Holiness-Perfection of God is what causes us to WORSHIP.

'Exalt the LORD our God, worship at His holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.' (Ps 99:9)

'I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, his glory filled the temple.. the seraphim cried, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.'  (Isa 6:1-3)
Seeing His perfection in worship reveals our sin so that we can be transformed. (v4-6)

'Holy, Holy, Holy':
(1) Holy Father (John17:11),
(2) Holy Son (Acts3:14)
(3) Holy Spirit. (Eph4:30)

Also-the Holiness of God has another 3-fold aspect (Ex 34:5-8).
1. INTEGRITY-FAITHFULNESS
2. GOODNESS-LOVE
3. SEVERITY-WRATH

1. GOD'S INTEGRITY-He is Faithful andTrue.  This means:

a) He is Genuine - 'the only true God' (John 17:3).
He is real. He is who He says He is.

 b) He is Truthful - He does what He says He says He will do. He tells the truth, He knows and represents things as they are. God cannot and will not lie. (Titus 1:2,Heb 6:18; John 17:17). His words and promises won't fail. (2Cor 1:20)

 c) He is Faithful (Trustworthy) a being upon whom we can absolutely rely.  He proves true. We can trust Him to keep all His promises. (Num 23:19).

 'God is faithful' (1Cor 1:9)
JESUS is Faithful and True (John1:14, 14:6, Rev19:11)
God's Faithfulness is Great (Lam 3:23; Ps36:5)

Believing God's  promises is based on us knowing God's faithfulness to do His word. (Heb 11:11,10:23). 'Faithful is He who calls you, who will also do it.' (1Thess 5:24;  Ps 89:33-34;  Deut 7:9)

2. GOODNESS-LOVE  God's disposition is to provide for and bless His creatures abundantly.

3. SEVERITY-WRATH  God's hatred of all sin which requires Him to judge and cut it off.

GOD reveals His HOLINESS through His words and actions (RIGHTEOUSNESS).

Holiness is describes the STATE or QUALITY OF GOD'S BEING (the perfection of character)
Righteousness-Justice is Holiness IN ACTION, His inner perfection revealed in His actions and judgements.

In a UNIVERSE WITHOUT SIN we would only have a limited revelation of God's holiness:
1.  Faithfulness (as He keeps His Word)
2.  Goodness (as He provides for His people)
but we wouldn't see His hatred of sin or the depths of His love.

Sin has brought forth a response from God that has  revealed God's holiness far more fully. Thus He has been more greatly glorified in a UNIVERSE WITH SIN where His Goodness is revealed in His LOVE for the sinner.

Also His WRATH (hatred) against sin is revealed by His just judgements.
Holiness is manifested as wrath against sin, but love for the sinner.

These two aspects (sides) of God's holiness seem to oppose each other
but there can be no contradiction or disharmony in God.

'Behold the goodness and severity of God' (Rom 11:22)

(1) His Goodness-Love (1Cor 13; Eph 3:14on). Benevolence, generosity of heart,disposition to bless abundantly(Jn 10:10). He desires and works for the good (welfare and blessedness) of His creatures.

'God is Love.' Love is God's self-giving nature.  He loves Himself and all mankind. God has an unending supply of love.  Everything He does must be motivated by love. True love is to do the best we can for a person. He loves the sinner: mercy, longsuffering, grace, kindness.

(2) The Severity (Wrath) of God -the permanent disposition of His will whereby He intensly hates all sin and must punish it. 'GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE.' (Heb 12:29)

Righteousness is holiness shown in right dealing with His creatures; His acting according to His holy nature and will. God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right. (Ps 145:17;Is 45:19). It is the perfection of His  His Ways and Works in showing both MERCY (compassion) and JUSTICE. 'Mercy' is a manifestation of Goodness and 'Justice' of Wrath.

'Justice' requires punishment of each sin according to it's magnitude ('an eye for an eye').  His judgements and dealings with man are  Righteous and Just (same word in Hebrew).  (Gen 18:25)

The Judgement and punishment of sin is God's wrath revealed.  He would not be righteous if He tolerated sin.

'Mercy' (Compassion) is the manifestation God's goodness shown to the sinful and suffering. (Is 49:13), the Divine goodness exercised with respect to the suffering of sinful, weak creatures, feeling for them and making provision for their need and relief even though they don't deserve it.
God is 'rich in mercy' (Eph 2:4; Deut 4:31; Ps 62:12).

From our viewpoint SIN poses a problem to the character of God and His satisfaction.
On one hand God is Merciful.  He loves us and doesn't want to punish us - He wants us to go to heaven.
On the other hand God is Just and must punish sin - resulting in hell for us.

Justice must punish all sin. God's wrath must be satisfied. Every sin must be judged and punished according to it's measure. Sin against God is infinite and all have sinned!   His love for us doesn't nullify His justice. How does God respond to a sinful creation and satisfy both His goodness and wrath?
In God both must be fully and harmoniously satisfied.

If wrath triumphed over mercy, we'd be destroyed as soon as we sin and mankind would have ended with Adam.
BUT: 'God delights in mercy (not in wrath)' (Micah7:18)
'Mercy triumphs over judgement.' (James2:13)

The mercy of God triumphs over justice by delaying the punishment of His sinning creatures, to provide a way of forgiveness (the Atonement) and to give us a chance (time) to repent.

This is His LONGSUFFERING, PATIENCE and FORBEARANCE.
He suffers and bears long with sinners even when they harden their hearts and persist in sin. He has perfect control over His emotions and holds His wrath back for His gracious purposes.

'The LORD is gracious, full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. He is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works.' (Ps 145: 8,9)
'The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy.' (Ps 103:8)
'You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, gracious, longsuffering,
plenteous in mercy and truth' (Ps 86:15).
Don't misinterpret God's longsuffering to mean that He won't judge.
The world is still under the wrath of God (John 3:36).
He delays judgement so that men might be saved before judgement falls.

'Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?' (Rom 2:4)

'The Lord isn't slack concerning his promise, ..but is longsuffering to us, not willing any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord (judgement) will come' (2Pet 3:9)

In mercy God did not judge sin (as Justice demanded) for 4000 years,
to provide time for the THE ATONEMENT whereby salvation would be provided to all men.

The Cross is the Ultimate display of HOLINESS
(1) HIS FAITHFULNESS - the cross fulfilled many promises and prophecies of God.

(2) HIS LOVE - that God would send His Son to die for our sins is the greatest display of His love for us (John 3:14-17; 1John 4:8-11; Rom 5:8).
Our sin brought forth from God a deeper revelation of His self-giving nature. Love sent Jesus to the cross - He did all He could do for us, He gave His best even though we deserved wrath.

(3) HIS HOLY WRATH against sin was revealed on the cross (Ps22:1-3)
Jesus bore the totality of our sin and God's wrath was fully poured out on him. He suffered the just punishment for all our sins. This was the ultimate display of God's hatred of sin - that His own Son had to suffer so. For in Gethsemene Jesus asked for another way for us to be saved if possible. But there was no other way. Such is God's hatred of sin that He must fully punish it even if it meant infinite punishment and hell would fall on His beloved Son!

God solved the problem (of how to satisfy both His mercy and justice) on the Cross where LOVE and JUSTICE met and were fully satisfied. What seemed a problem to us was for God an opportunity to reveal greater depths of His holiness. If a Judge finds he is over a trial of His son, how can He be just and show mercy? He gives him the maximum fine and then pays it himself!

Now by the Atonement Justice is satisfied and God is free to fully satisfy His loving desire to forgive and pour out every blessing on all who accept the Atonement (believers in the blood)

 This is PROPITIATION.
Thus God fully satisfied His love and justice.

'All have sinned and fall short of God's glory, being justified freely by His grace by the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness (justice), that He might be just and the justifier of he who has faith in Jesus' (Romans 3:23-26).

God's FINAL MANIFESTATION of holiness is in the resurrection and final judgement.
(1) His LOVE will be fulfilled and revealed in believers in glorifying them.
(2) His WRATH will be revealed in the wicked (those who reject the cross of Christ) in the judgement of fire.
Each man decides which side of God is ultimately and eternally manifested in his life.

Walking and growing in Holiness.
As saints (holy ones) God's nature was imparted to our spirits in the New Birth. We're to let that new holy nature control our lives. (1Pet 1:15,16; Heb 12:14; Matt 5:48) To be holy means to be set apart from sin and set apart to God, to belong to God. As we give ourselves to Him His holiness fills us.

Being 'holy as God is holy' means developing:
(1) FAITHFULNESS and integrity (keeping our word)

(2) LOVE and MERCY.  To be holy is to be filled with God's love. The religious legalist who hates and looks down on those he sees as morally inferior (who don't obey his rules) isn't holy. God loves us even in the face of our sin, failure and weakness.  He cuts us some slack. We should imitate Him (Eph 4:32-5:2)  Be merciful not judgmental (Luke 6:36). Don't be quick to judge and show anger: 'Be angry but sin not.' Don't move at once in anger toward them but move in mercy and love following God's example (Matt 5:43-45,48). Make allowance for their weakness and your limited knowledge.

(3) WRATH - hate and reject sin (but love the sinner).  
Be angry at the works of devil.

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