The 2 Sides of God
God reveals Himself in His Word as a personal God who has a clearly defined character. He does not change and He always acts according to who He is. Like the 2 sides of a coin, His character is made up of 2 main aspects as is alluded to in Romans 11:22.
"Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God..."
God's goodness flows from His love and God's severity flows from His holiness. So let us say that heads is "love" and tails is "holiness".
The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:8 that "God is love". This is who He is, not something that He has. He does not possess love, He is pure love. Love is His nature. The reason He loves us so much is because He IS love. Moreover, according to Romans 8:39 Jesus Christ is the manifestation of this love, so He is love in action. And the Bible calls God's Spirit the "Spirit of... love" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Because He is love, He is also full of grace and mercy. Because of His love, He is humble, patient, and He knows the number of hairs on our heads!...
The Bible also tells us in Psalm 99:5 that "the Lord our God... is holy". In Isaiah 43:3 God is called the "Holy One of Israel" and Isaiah 57:15 tells us that His "name is holy". We also know that God's Spirit is holy; He is called the "Holy Spirit" (see Psalm 51:11). Then we understand, as the Bible talks of the "Holy Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:15), that God's Word is holy. Countless times in the Old Testament, God reveals Himself as a holy God. He is holy and He cannot change. This means that He is separate, in a class of His own, He stands alone. He is different. Everything about Him is holy and everything He does flows from His holiness.
Because He is holy, He is also righteous and sinless. He cannot sin and hates sin. Because of His holiness, He always speaks truth. He is truth...
So God is love and God is holy. These 2 aspects of His personality are intertwined, sometimes indistinguishable from each other, and both have this in common: they are too great for us to fully comprehend! No matter how much we find out about God, we can only get a hint of the greatness of His love; we can only begin to imagine how loving He is. In the same way, from our human perspective we can only begin to understand the holiness of God; we can never fully grasp how holy He is. But these are 2 sides of the same coin. God is both holy and love and we cannot overemphasize one at the expense of the other. Unfortunately, nowadays we hear much about God's love but so little about His holiness. We need both to get a right balance and get a correct picture of what God is like.
God wants us to know Him as both a holy and loving God. In fact in the Bible He reveals Himself first as a holy God. In the Old Testament, God is portrayed - almost exclusively - as holy. His love is then revealed in the New Testament in Jesus Christ. This order must teach us something: we cannot understand God's love unless we understand His holiness. God wants to know Him first as a holy God, who is a righteous Judge, has a zero tolerance for sin and is angry at sinners. Then and only then, can we know Him as a loving God who showed us His amazing love and grace by sending Jesus to die for our sins, so that God's standard of righteousness could be satisfied and so that we would not have to receive the punishment we deserve for our sins, which is hell (see 1 John 4:9-10).
God is holy therefore we, as sinful human beings, can never be in His presence. We are condemned to eternity without God. But because God is also love, He made a way. He has paid the unimaginably high price of offering His own life as a sacrifice for sin so that we could be forgiven, cleaned and reconciled to Him. Amazing!
And as wonderful as it is, it does not end there... So to be continued here...
Tags: Spiritual issues, God, Gospel Basics, Love, Holiness