Some people who claim to believe in God, I am convinced, have in actuality constructed their own god. They construct a god for themselves, who does things as they thing things should be done. Steve Lloyd has written, “I would have to say that most of the counseling I have ever been a part of centered around helping a person change the way they think. It has involved correcting some wrong or false notion about God or it has involved correcting someone’s thinking about the very nature of man. Consequently, most counseling sessions become Bible studies” (Lloyd, Coping: A Biblical Approach, p. 53). He provides this extreme example, “Phil Donahue asked his TV guest, who by the way had five wives, ‘If God said polygamy was wrong would you stop practicing polygamy?’ The guest with five wives said, ‘Oh, I’d change gods'” (Lloyd, p. 93). Most theists would never say such. However, some do seem to shape their theology by how they wish things to be.
What does the Bible say about God? This writing will consider the attributes of God. I mean by this: His nature in relation to man. It behooves to have an accurate view of God (cf. Psalm 50:21).
1. God is Holy.
God is said to be holy. God has declared that He is holy (e.g. Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:26; 21:8). Joshua said that He is holy (Joshua 24:19). Isaiah saw Seraphim saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Peter has written that He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). John saw the four living creatures saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).
What does the word “holy” mean? Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary indicates that both the Hebrew word (qadesh) and the Greek word (Hag-) has to do with being separate (p. 357).
God is holy in the sense that He transcends creation. One writer suggests, “The emphasis seems to have been on the idea of transcendence, the separateness of God. It was that quality in God which separated or distinguished him from things finite and created” (Lanier, The Timeless Trinity, p. 94). May we always respect Him as the creator (Psalm 100:1-3). Another writer writes, “The holiness of God should cause us to respect Him in our every action and word. There are some today who treat God as a ‘buddy’ or as an ‘old man’… May we, as Isaiah, constantly see God high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1)” (Turner, Doctrine of the Godhead, p. 50).
God is holy in the sense that He is separate from sin. One writer writes, “We have defined holiness in God as that essential element in his nature which causes him to hate, with perfect hatred, everything that is morally evil…” (Lanier, p. 99 cf. 93). God abhors and hates sin (e.g. Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22; Psalms 5:5; 11:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; 15:26; Habakkuk 1:13; Malachi 2:16). Jesus is described as “holy… separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
God should be regarded as holy in the sense of being treated as separate from the common or profane. Thayer indicates that the Greek word can mean “reverent, worthy of veneration.” “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints. And to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psalm 89:7); “Holy and awesome is His name” (Psalm 111:9).
2. God is Jealous
This point is repetitively made in Scripture (e.g. Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Numbers 25:11; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; 29:20; 32:16; 32:21; Joshua 24:19; 1 Kings 14:22-23; Psalms 78:58; 79:5; Ezekiel 8:3; 8:5; 16:38; 16:42; 23:25; 36:5; 36:6; 38:19; 39:25; Joel 2:18; Nahum 1:2; Zechariah 1:14; 8:2; 1 Corinthians 10:22). The language is usually connected with idolatry.
The word seems to mean to be hot or boil (cf. Thayer). It is associated at times with anger (Deuteronomy 6:15; 29:20; 32:16; 32:21; Psalms 78:58;79:5; Ezekiel 16:42; Zephaniah 3:8).
He expects faithfulness. Unfaithfulness is compared to adultery and harlotry in the scriptures (e.g. Ezekiel 16:25, 32; James 4:4).
3. God is Truthful.
He is the “God of truth” (Psalm 31:5). What He says is reality. He does not lie to us (Titus 1:1-2; Hebrews 6:18). He means what He says. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). If God says something, it can be trusted. If He says that some thing is necessary for salvation, then it is. If He says that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God, then they will not.
We need to trust Him. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Remember that it was Eve’s believing a lie which lead her into sin, and ultimately cost her and her husband Eden (Genesis 3 cf. 1 Timothy 2:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3). Roy Lanier Sr. comments, “When John said God is light and in him is no darkness, he meant that in God is truth, nothing but truth; no evil, no error at all (1 John 1:5)” (Lanier, p. 61).
4. God is Just or Righteous.
Consider the following passages: “The LORD is a God of justice” (Isaiah 30:18). “He is a Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Jesus “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Paul wrote of “the righteous Judge” (2 Timothy 4:8).
His justice comes from His holiness. One writer suggests, “Justice and righteousness, in God’s dealings with men, are simply manifestations of the holiness of God” (Lanier, p. 105). Another writes, “Justice and righteousness are simply holiness exercised toward creatures” (Lanier, p. 105). Still another says that God’s justice is due to “the universal rectitude of the divine nature… in inflexible regard to what is right, and in opposition to wrong” (Lanier, p. 106).
This means that the wicked will be punished. He will not be like some earthly judges, wicked judges, who do not render just verdicts (cf. Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:18-19; 1 Samuel 8:1-3; Psalm 82:2-5; Proverbs 17:23; Isaiah 5:23; 10:1-2; Amos 5:12; Acts 24:26-27 cf. Matthew 7:12). Paul told the Thessalonians, “It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest…” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).
This also means that He is without partiality (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:6-11; 1 Peter 1:17). There will be no “good ol’ boy” cronyism. There will be no nepotism. There will be no unjust double-standards of judgment.
This sounds good to the ear until one realizes that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Fortunately, we have more attributes to mention in the next lesson.