What are the attributes of God’s character?

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God is love

John the beloved declared, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). The attribute of love is a true essence of God’s nature; without it He would not be “God.” And when the Lord must judge His children for their unrighteousness, He does it in love not in hate and anger. For His loving-kindness is great and abundant (Isaiah 55:7; Romans 5:20).

Justice and mercy

After God gave the Israelites His eternal Law (Exodus 20: 3-17) in Sinai, something additional was needed to give them hope and security. The Lord revealed Himself to Moses saying, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,  keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6, 7).

In the above passage, the greatest importance is placed upon mercy because God’s relationship to us is based upon it (1 John 4:7–12). Of itself the law could not be “merciful and gracious.” For its main purpose was built upon morality.

In the revelation of the character of God to Moses, Sinai declared not only God’s law but also His divine grace. This fact opposes the popular view that Sinai stands for justice but not mercy. Sinai’s high announcement of grace by no means cancels the law and divine justice; rather it explained the relationship of each to the other (Romans 3:31).

The plan of salvation reflects God’s character

Justice and mercy are the two fundamental attributes of God’s character. David, declared, “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Psalms 25:10). These are the principles that determine all of His dealings with men.

Satan charged that justice and mercy are inharmonious, and that God is not merciful to His creatures in the administering of  justice, nor was He just in His administering of mercy. So, the plan of salvation was designed to prove Satan’s charge false. The Father offered His Son to pay the penalty of man’s sin by His death on the cross (John 3:16). Thus, “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psalms 85:10).

The purpose of justice

God is merciful to repentant sinners, and He gives condemned sinners hope of eternal life (Psalms 103:8–14; 145:8; Jeremiah 29:11; 31:3). But He cannot afford to weaken His kingdom by not upholding its justice (Psalms 85:10; 89:14). Justice is a needed consequence of His love, for a God all mercy is a God unjust. And without justice to the evil doers there could be no mercy to the righteous ones.

Although the Scriptures teach that the Lord rejoices in mercy (Micah 7:18), it doesn’t teach that He rejoices in judging His children. In fact, His judgments are said to be a “strange work” (Isaiah 28:21). It is His mercy that controls His judgments and makes Him “longsuffering” (Lamentations 3:22; Romans. 2:4).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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