God’s moral attributes are those qualities of Being that belong to Him perfectly in relation to His creatures. These attributes can be possessed by His children to varying degrees, and should be increasing in our experience as we walk together with our Father.
God’s moral attributes include perfect holiness, perfect righteousness, perfect love and perfect faithfulness.
Wilmington, in his Guide To The Bible, says:
“God is holy. Without a doubt the most prominent attribute of God as presented by both Old and New Testament Scriptures is his holiness. This one single perfection would perhaps come closer to describing the eternal Creator than any other characteristic he possesses. It has been suggested that his holiness is the union of all other attributes, as pure white light is the union of all the coloured rays of the spectrum.”God is absolutely pure, without spot or blemish. He cannot sin nor tolerate sin. He is perfectly holy in all He thinks, says and does, and holiness perfectly describes above all else the inward character of our God. His holiness demands that His great desire for the salvation be subordinated to His nature, which also demands justice. Some protest that if God is love, how can he send sinners to hell. God is love, and has provided in every way possible for our escape from eternal damnation, but He is also a consuming fire, and His holiness will one day be manifest in final judgement against sin.
In this regard we quote again from Tozer’s, “The Knowledge of God”:
“Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fullness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is. Because He is holy, all His attributes are holy; that is, whatever we think of as belonging to God must be thought of as holy.
God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this. Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death. The formation of the language itself suggests this, the English word holy deriving from the Anglo-Saxon halig, hal, meaning ‘well, whole.’
Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down iniquity and save the world from inseparable moral collapse, He is said to be angry. Every wrathful judgement in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation. The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united. God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates the polio that would take the life of her child.” (The Knowledge of the Holy)
We list here a number of scriptures regarding God’s holiness:
Lev 19:2; 1 Pet 1:16; Exodus 15:11; 19:12-25; 26:33; Isaiah 6:3; 57:15; 59:2; Habbakuk 1:13; Revelation 4:8; Psalm 29:2; 47:8; 99:9; Ex 3:1-15; 39:30; 1 Kings 6:16; Mark 1:24; Heb 2:11; 12:10
God is perfectly righteous, demonstrating His love for holiness, and just, demonstrating His abhorrence for sin. God’s righteousness and justice are synonymous. God’s holiness demands that the sinner be judged. Such judgement is God’s righteousness and justice in action (Rom 2:6-11; 2 Thess 1:7-10).
Kevin Conner in Foundations of Christian Doctrine defines Righteousness:
“Righteousness is a holy God acting in a just, honest and upright manner, toward His creatures.”
His righteousness will be manifest in both judgement and reward (2 Timothy 4:8).
A. W. Strong writes in this regard however:
“Neither justice or righteousness bestows reward. This follows from the fact that obedience is due to God, instead of being optional or a gratuity. No creature can claim anything for his obedience. If God rewards, He rewards in virtue of His goodness and faithfulness, but not in virtue of His justice or His righteousness.” (Systematic Theology)
It is interesting to note that Paul emphasises the gospel as a revelation of God’s righteousness, not just of His love. The gospel is only the gospel when it embraces the terror of God’s judgement against sin, contrasted with the glorious reality of Jesus’ redemption offered to all who believe. When we do come in faith to God through His Son, He bestows His righteousness upon us as a free gift. This is a humbling and awesome truth that should overwhelm our hearts with gratitude.“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.””
(Rom 1:16-17 NKJV)
We list here a number of scriptures regarding God’s righteousness:
Ezra 9:15; Dan 9:14; Psalm 67:4; 89:14; 96:10; 119:137; Rev 16:5-7; Deut 32:4; Genesis 18:25; Isa 11:4-5; Rom 1:17; 2 Chronicle 12:6; John 17:25; Ephesians 4:24
The heartbeat and motivation of the Father is His immense love for His creation. The greatest of demonstrations has been clearly displayed for us through the life and sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. Love is an act of God’s will whereby He chooses to give Himself continually on behalf of His creation.
The love at work in the Godhead is expressed to man not only in creation, but most fully in redemption. The holiness of God judged sin, the love of God made available salvation for the sinner.
His Person, His nature, and the overflow of His heart of love for us, manifests in:
His providential goodness and care.
Psalm 145:9, 15-16; Matt 6:26; Acts 14:17; Rom 2:4
A. W. Tozer writes of God’s goodness:
“The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people.” (The Knowledge of the Holy)
The Grace of God
His undeserved, unmerited, unearned patience and favour bestowed upon sinful men.
Eph 1:6-7; 2:4-5; 2 Tim 1:2; 2 Peter 3:9
“The very simplest definition of this beautiful attribute is unmerited favour. It is helpful at this point to contrast mercy with grace. God’s mercy allows him to withhold merited punishment. God’s grace allows him to freely bestow unmerited favour. Mercy is not getting what we deserve, namely, hell. Grace is getting what we do not deserve, namely, heaven.” Willmingtons Guide to the Bible
Mercy of God
Showing pity toward the miserable condition of the sinner because of sin.
Eph 2:4; James 5:11; Psalm 102:13; 36:5; 130:7; Rom 11:30-31; Isa 55:7; 2 Tim 1:2
“Mercy is that eternal principle of God’s nature which leads Him to seek the temporal good and eternal salvation of those who have opposed themselves to His will, even at the cost of infinite self-sacrifice.” (A. W. Strong, Systematic Theology)
The compassion and the kindness of God
His sorrow for the sufferings of others with the urge to help, a pity and sympathy which moves Him to act on behalf of the sufferer, and His gentle benevolence toward His creatures.
Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; Psalm 31:21; 78:38; 86:15; 103:8-18; Eph 2:7; Col 3:12; Titus 3:4; Isa 54:8,10; Joel 2:13
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”Titus 3:4-7 NKJV
We list here a number of scriptures regarding God’s love:
2 Cor 13:11; Deut 7:6-8,13; John 14:23; John 3:16; Gal 2:20; 1 John 4:16-19; John 17:24-26; 13:34-35
God is absolutely trustworthy, loyal and reliable, and true to His Word. God’s Word is His will and bond. It is as sure as Himself. God is the ultimate and only Source and standard of Truth in the universe.
His faithfulness to His creatures is shown, among other things, in keeping His promises both to friends and enemies, in temptations (1 Cor 10:13), in correction (Psalm 119:75; Heb 12:6); in forgiving our sins (1 John 1:9); in answering our prayers (Psalm 143:1); in keeping us saved (1 Cor 1:8-9; 1 Thess 5:23-24; 2 Thess 3:3); and in defending His people (Psalm 89:24)
We list here a number of scriptures regarding God’s faithfulness:
Psalm 119:86, 138; 1 Cor 1:9; 10:13; 2 Tim 2:13; Heb 2:17; Heb 10:23; 11:11; 1 Peter 4:19
As with all other moral attributes, God desires that this attribute also be built into the lives of His children:
Matt 25:21; 1 Cor 4:2; Rev 17:14; Gal 3:9
We conclude this section with a further quote from Tozer:
“If an attribute is something true of God, it is also something that we can conceive as being true of him. God, being infinite, must possess attributes about which we can know nothing.” (The Knowledge of the Holy)
Just as angels can know nothing of God’s mercy, having never had need to experience it (1 Peter 1:12) so we, as created beings, surely cannot comprehend the mysteries of God’s eternal being. The limits of our comprehension fall as far short of conceiving the true majesty of God as one end of the universe to the other. We will surely spend our eternity awed by His greatness, exclaiming with the Cherubim, “Holy, Holy, Holy”. In our finite understanding, and in human words, there can be no possibility of describing the Lord in His fullest sense. We must be content to take His self-revelation as the small window we peek through until that great day when we will know and see Him as He really is.
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”1John 3:2 NKJV