Doctrinal Musing on God: Part 3 of 3

God’s basic moral attributes are purity, integrity and love. Purity includes the dimensions of holiness, righteousness and justice. God’s holiness means his separateness from all else, his absolute purity and his being unstained by evil and sin (Exod 15:11, Lev 11:44-45, 1 Sam 2:2, Isa 6:1-4, Isa 57:15, Hab 1:13, Jas 1:13). The righteousness of God means that God does that which is right according to his law that he established based on his own nature and will (Gen 18:25, Jer 9:24). “God’s justice means that he administers his law fairly, not showing favoritism or partiality”[1] (Deut 32:9).      

Integrity includes the dimensions of genuineness, veracity and faithfulness. God’s genuineness means that he is real and true, and so truthfulness and truth-telling flow from his genuineness. Veracity means that God speaks accurately about the way things are. God cannot lie because it is contrary to his nature (Tit 1:2, Heb 6:18). The Apostle Paul sums of God’s faithfulness by writing, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thess 5:24). In other words, God is faithful to his promises—he always fulfills what he says.  

 Love includes the dimensions of benevolence, grace, mercy and persistence. Benevolence refers to God’s compassionate concern for humanity and his desire for the ultimate welfare of those he loves (Deut 7:7-8, John 3:16, 1 John 4:10, Rom 5:8, 10, Luke 15). Millard Erickson writes, “God loves us for what he can give to us or make of us, both in the original creative act and in his continued relationship with us. His love is a disposition of affection toward us, a feeling of unselfish concern, and a resolve to act toward us in such a way as to promote our welfare.”[2] Grace means that on the basis of God’s goodness and generosity, he deals with humans in undeserved and unmerited ways. God’s grace is described in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Exodus 34:6, God describes himself by saying, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (NIV). Ephesians 2:6-9 states,

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (NIV).

God’s mercy means that he sees people as miserable and needy, and so he has tenderness of heart towards them. This is seen when God showed merciful concern to the Israelites who were enslaved by the Egyptians. He knew their sufferings and was attentive to their cry (Exod 3:7). Also, God-the Son in his incarnation showed merciful compassion on people “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36 NIV).

Persistence means that God withholds his wrath and judgment while continuing to pursue his creatures with grace and salvation. He does not abandon or give up on humanity but rather persistently shows patience and longsuffering towards them (Ps 86:15, Rom 9:22, 2 Pet 3:9).

[1] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013) , 259. [2] Erickson, Christian, 264.

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