Bible Study Opportunities
God's Attributes and Man's Sin
By Jon W. Quinn
In today's “almost anything goes” culture those who cling to at least some kind of belief in God (or at least belief in a god of some sort) have often redefined the way they think God looks at sin. They have rejected what God has actually said about it in His word in favor of how they want God to view it. “My God does not condemn homosexual behavior” they might say, for example, “because He is a God of love.”
The modern world, if it is to have God at all, insists that it have God on its own terms. They insist that God's love is seen only in His tolerance for whatever sins we choose to commit and by His acceptance of us unconditionally, and if He will not accept us without condition then He doesn't love us. They ignore the very vivid proclamation of God's love as seen in the sacrifice of His Son for our sins.
There was a time when David was not feeling very good about himself because of his sin (Psalm 51:1-13). He felt as if his sins had rendered him completely unworthy of any fellowship with God - and he was right! He recognized what most fail to recognize today; that God owed him nothing. David was expressing with the words of this Psalm (be sure and read it!) the hope that something within God's character would bridge the gap caused by David's transgressions. David, and we, are blessed because God's character allows Him to bridge that gap.
One cannot be more lost than to be without God, and one cannot be more blessed than to have the correct awareness that He is accepted by, nurtured by, loved by and guided by God through life. Consider some of God's attributes as they relate to man's sin.
Our God Is Righteous
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways...” (Psalm 145:17). Our God is not just relatively righteous when compared to others, He is absolutely holy, perfect in every sense without exception. With human beings, some are more righteous than others, but none are perfect. Abraham was righteous relative to other people, but not in relation to God. All people have sinned, but God has not (Romans 3:23).
Sin is absolutely offensive to God always, and in all of its forms. It is defiance of God's sovereignty and a challenge to His rule. Sin separates one from God as a rebel against Him in His universe. He might continue to breathe God's air, but he is in open rebellion. One must not ask God to bend the rules because God will not do that even for Himself. He is absolutely righteous.
Our God Is Just
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne... “ (Psalm 89:14). God is always fair and views every person and situation with absolute honesty and integrity (Acts 10:34). Just because I can get by with my good looks in this world does not mean this will hold sway with God! The things which may cause men to show favoritism do not effect God and His dealings with us; not beauty, not brains, not brawn.
We are all sinners, and God does not overlook sin because He is absolutely righteous. Sin deserves punishment, and that punishment is death (Romans 6:23). If I am to be saved, it cannot be based on justice alone. If justice is the only basis, then we are all lost because we have all sinned and justice demands punishment. We're in a heap of trouble!
Our God Is Love
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8). God is love, and He loves us (John 3:16). This is the key to our hope of salvation. Is God able to find a way to maintain His perfect righteousness, to find a way for our sins to be paid for so that the demands of justice are met, and so save us because He loves us?
God does not want to lose you or me! He desires our salvation (Hebrews 8:12, 8,6; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-6). How much does God love you? The blood of Christ tells us how much (Ephesians 1:7).
Our God Is Merciful
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (Psalm 136:1). We have two attributes working together; God's justice and its demands with God's love and its desires. And God found a way.
This response to our need is called “mercy” or “lovingkindness.” If a sinless substitute could be found to accept our punishment and suffer death in our behalf, then we could live. If someone without any spiritual debt of His own would pay for our debts, we could be free. The demands of justice and the desire of love could be fulfilled and God's perfect righteousness would be maintained. God's willingness to provide such a Redeemer is a fact (Romans 5:8,9; 3:23-26; Hebrews 10:10; 9:14).
Our God Is True
“Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'” (John 14:6). God sent His Son to pay the price. God's word is truth, absolute truth from the throne of the universe (John 17:17). His word produces faith in us (Romans 10:17). When the faith of the hearer combines with the grace of God, then by grace through faith salvation occurs (Ephesians 2:8-10). The price that was paid was not by us, but by One who paid in our behalf. The spikes and the crown of thorns, the abuse and mocking, the suffering and death of the innocent One as the Father Himself remained silent in heaven, cutting Himself off from the One who bore the sins of the world. “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” the Innocent cried out as He suffered for the sins of others.
It is in our faith that we, by God's grace, receive the benefits of mercy. When we, by obedient faith, put our souls into the hands of the Redeemer, He saves us (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3,4).
How does one know he is right with God? He looks to God's revelation, the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:11-13). He responds to God's grace in God's own appointed way (1 Peter 1:20,21). He continues to abide in Jesus by faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). He then knows he is right with God.
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois August 15, 1999