God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

One day, my friend asked me if it’s possible for someone who willfully rejects God to be forgiven of his sins and be welcomed into heaven when he repents and receives Christ as Lord and Savior on his deathbed. If a person keeps putting off surrendering his life to God because he thinks he has all the time to do that a few seconds before his death, will God forgive him when he asks?

I said, “Yes, as long as he is sincere, God will forgive him and will welcome him into heaven.” This is because of the very nature of God, His character that is constant. God is a loving, forgiving and merciful God and He will never change regardless of who or what we are. The only problem I see in this scenario is that, what if that person won’t get the chance to repent and dies instantly?

Attribute

An attribute refers to the quality, property or unique characteristic of something. When we speak of God’s attributes, we are talking about those characteristics that help us to understand who He truly is. God’s natural and moral attributes are the inherent characteristics that are closely associated with or belonging to Him.

A. God’s Natural Attributes – are those permanent qualities which belong to His nature; those qualities without which He would not be God.

1) Eternity God is eternal.

To be the true God He must have neither beginning nor ending. Even before this world came into existence, God has existed from time everlasting (Psalm 90:2); He is above the conditions of time and space. As an absolute self-existent being, He sustains no such relations to time and space as those sustained by every finite being.

To God there is no time, past, present or future while we all exist under relations of time and our existence passes through successive moments. What to us is eternity, past and present, is the same to God. The eternal attribute of God is explained in His self-existence; He never began to be, He never can cease to be.

2) Immutability God is unchangeable.

God is so constituted that He cannot change; He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Psalm 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). While all creatures change, God is perpetually the same. God has never been changed in His essence, not even in His incarnation. God remains everlastingly, eternally, the one unchanging God.

God’s immutability is so vitally important because it is this attribute that enables us to depend on God to be God. It is because of God’s unchanging nature that we can be certain of all His promises. We are assured as we lie down at night and wake up in the morning that God loves us and His mercy endures forever.

3) Omnipotence – God is all powerful.

Power is certainly an attribute of God; to lack this attribute, He could not be God. God is omnipotent in creation (Genesis 1:1-3; Isaiah 44:24), omnipotent in salvation (Jude 24-25) and omnipotent in the resurrection (John 10:17-18).

But it is important to note that although God has the power to do anything, He cannot do anything that is contrary to His nature. For instance, God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). God can do anything according to His infinite ability, but will do only those things that are consistent with Himself and that is why He cannot lie and tolerate sin.

4) Omnipresence God is present everywhere at once.

The Bible teaches that in every place in the universe God is present; He is not limited by space (Psalm 139:7-9). There is no place in the universe that is away from God’s presence.

How can God be in more than one place at a time? God is a spirit (John 4:24) and is not limited by time and space. While it is true that God is in all space, His existence does not occupy or fill space in the sense of excluding anything from it, nor in such a sense that its existence is a condition of His existence.

The fact that God is present everywhere is a source of comfort for all believers because wherever the believer goes, he finds himself in the protection of God’s presence. We may experience God’s presence at any time and at any place because He has promised to be with us always (Isaiah 43:2; Hebrews 13:5).

5) Omniscience – God is all knowing.

Omniscience means the actual and necessary knowledge of all objects, actual or possible. Omniscience is intended infinite knowledge. When we say that omniscience is a natural attribute of God, it means that God does not obtain knowledge by study, reflection or experience, or that He obtains knowledge at all; but that all knowledge is absolutely necessary of Him.

The Bible is pretty clear that God knows everything, He searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 94:11). What a comfort that God knows everything about us and had a plan for our lives even before we were born. God does not only know our past but He knows all about our future.

B. God’s Moral Attributes – are sometimes described as the communicable attributes of God. It means something corresponding to them is to be found in men and women.

1) Holiness God’s holiness primarily means that He is separated from sin.

God Himself is the Most Holy One (Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 99:3, 5, 9; 22:3). To be holy means to be free from all defilement and to be pure. The Bible teaches that God is holy, and a part of the manifestation of this holiness is His hatred of sin and His separation from sin, from the sinner and from all that is evil.

God’s holiness provides the pattern for His people to follow. He commands us to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). As new covenant believers, we are to strive for holiness because without it we cannot see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We are also exhorted to be separate from the dominating influence that comes from close association with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) and to grow in holiness.

2) Love God is not full of love but He Himself is love.

This attribute of God shows that it is part of His nature to give Himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others. The love of God is manifested toward the Son and all believers in particular. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

We imitate this communicable attribute of God by first loving Him in return and secondly by loving others the way God loves them (Matthew 22:37-38). We love God by obeying His commandments and doing what pleases Him (1 John 5:3), and we will do this because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

3) Faithfulness (Truthfulness) to be faithful means to be safely trusted, reliable and dependable. God is faithful for He is honest and never changes, He will always do what He has said and fulfill what He has promised (Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 7:28).

God can be relied upon and He will never prove unfaithful to those who trust what He has said. Every word of God proves true (Proverbs 30:5; John 17:17). God’s word are truth in the sense that they are the final standard by which truthfulness is to be judged. Whatever conforms to God’s word is true and what fails to conform to His word is not true.

We can imitate God’s faithfulness by striving to have true knowledge about God and by allowing the Scriptures to guide us in our observation and interpretation of the natural world. As God’s children we are to imitate God’s truthfulness in our reaction to truth and falsehood. Like God, we should love truth and hate falsehood.

4) Goodness this can be understood to mean “worthy of approval.”

Luke 18:19 says,No one is good but God alone” which makes God the final standard of good. God is the source of all good in the world (James 1:17). The Bible says that God only does good things for His children (Psalm 84:11) and His goodness is closely related to several other characteristics of His nature such as love, mercy, patience and grace.

By doing only good things, that is, those that God approves, we are imitating God’s moral attribute of goodness. As we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:10). Moreover, when we realize that God is the definition and source of all good, we will come to realize that God Himself is the ultimate good that we seek (Psalm 73:25-26).

5) Peace God’s peace are His actions characterized by order and not confusion.

Since God Himself is the God of peace, those who walk with the Lord have peace (Romans 15:33; 1 Thessalonians 5:23), but those who walk in wickedness do not have peace (Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21). Paul also lists peace as the third element of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

“God’s peace means that in God’s being and in His actions He is separate from all confusion and disorder and yet He is continually active in innumerable, well-ordered, fully controlled, simultaneous actions.” – Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

When we truly understand God’s peace, we can imitate this attribute of God not only as part of the fruit of the Spirit but also as it relates to self-control. The more we draw closer to God the more of His peace we can enjoy.

6) Righteousness and Justice are the qualities of God in which He always does what is right because He is incapable of doing anything which is wrong. Righteousness and justice are the carrying out of God’s holiness and the expression of it in the government of the world.

Christ’s death to pay the penalty for our sins showed that God was truly righteous. God’s righteousness and justice are manifested not only in His wrath when He punishes the wicked and demands justice for sin but also when He keeps His words and fulfills all His promises.

Again, whatever that conforms to God’s moral character is right because God is the final standard of righteousness. There can be no standard outside of God by which justice and righteousness are measured. We imitate the righteousness of God by not seeking to find revenge against those who sin against us (Romans 12:17-21). Instead, let us suffer the injustice of men that God might bring our enemies to repentance and salvation.

Conclusion

God is a balanced being. God is loving, holy, merciful, yet just and righteous. God’s love allows Him to forgive sin and show mercy to a repentant sinner. But the holiness and justice of God demand that sin must be punished to the full extent of the law.

So how can God be loving and just at the same time? How can He at the same time both be merciful and just to a guilty sinner? The answer can only be found in Calvary. Calvary was the expression of both the wrath of God against sin and the mercy of God toward the guilty sinner.


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4 Replies to “God’s Natural and Moral Attributes”

  1. God is such an amazing God, He is the God of heaven and earth that is full of so much love. When we think about what God did for us through His Son Jesus is truly amazing and because of this as humanity we have hope.
    We as humans can not begin to understand the depth of God only to accept what He has done for us and to receive the free gift of salvation. God is good and his mercy endureth forever.

    1. God is amazing indeed! And we can never fathom the depths of His love. Though often times we are unfaithful, He remains faithful.

      Sometimes I wonder what I must have done to deserve God’s only Son and the answer always goes back to the unconditional love of God and His amazing grace.

      It’s the unchanging character of God that makes us confident that He will remain true and faithful til the end. May we then strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him and try our best to imitate Him.

      Thanks for your comment Norman,God bless!

  2. I think a lot of people really beat themselves up from past mistakes that they have made in their life. I know that I have done it to myself, which I regret.

    One piece that really spoke to me was that God never changes. But, I have often heard from people at work that people can’t change. I firmly disagree with that because I have seen it happen to others. I really believe that if people are going to change something drastic has to happen in their life before they make a change.

    1. Hello Garren,

      It’s sad but true that there are some who think they do not deserve forgiveness for their past mistakes and so they beat themselves up. However, it’s comforting to know that despite our sinfulness God is always ready to forgive and accept us.

      God loves us unconditionally and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. His love never fails and He never changes. The one thing that will remain constant for all eternity is God.

      Yes, people can change Garren. If we know somebody who we think can’t and will never change, with til’ he personally encounters Christ. The love and grace of God are able to transform a person from the inside out. When we allow God to work in us and through us, change is inevitable. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old things have become new.

      God bless!

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