Today we’re starting a progressive series on love. This series is going to take us to some places that may surprise you, but it is going to logically follow the flow of a Christian worldview. A couple of weeks ago, we went over a few of the many reasons that believers should read their Bibles. One of those reasons was so that we can learn about the character of God.
For most people, the characteristic they prefer to dwell on is that God is love. While this is true, we tend to forget that God’s love is…holy.
Holy- perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character; hallowed; perfectly just and good
Since all of those traits are together part of the character of God, we must conclude that, regardless of how it seems, His traits are complimentary rather than contradictory.
With that in mind, let’s look at those last two traits: perfectly just and good. Probably two of the most humanly contradictory characteristics of God. But they are progressive. God is completely moral. In fact, He sets the standard of morality; the moral law, if you will. And because He, in His perfect morality, established the law, He, in His perfect morality, must uphold it. Which leads us to His justice. His very character requires that He punish the lawbreakers.
For the wages of sin is death
Some certainly think this is a harsh sentence, but think about it. God made you, planted His law in your heart, put His breath in your lungs, and gave you the choice to love Him or break His law. In other words, He has given each of us every possible way and reason to obey Him. That is His goodness. But we don’t obey Him, therefore He must punish us. Perfect justice.
So now we see that these are indeed complimentary traits; God’s justice and goodness. But how does His love tie in?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now, it seems we have another contradiction problem, because it seems that God is not punishing everyone for their crimes against Him. Even though His character requires it. On the contrary, God provided a Substitute. He sent Jesus, His perfect Son, 100% God, 100% man, to take out punishment of wrath and death. But the grave couldn’t hold Him. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, declaring victory over the grave and imputing His righteousness (perfection) to sinners who repent of (turn away from) their way of thinking and their way of life (sin) to put their hope and trust in Jesus.
This is the free, holy, perfect love of God. He satisfied His justice and wrath on Jesus instead of us. He fulfilled the requirements of His character, but He also provided a way for us to escape His wrath if we will repent.
To be clear, if Jesus hadn’t come and we were to repent and put our trust in God, we still have sin on our account. Unless we have Christ’s perfection covering our debt, we still have no hope, just knowledge and read of God’s holiness and what we deserve because of it.
God’s love is made of His holiness (perfect morality, justice, and goodness) and His merciful grace. If someone says, “God is love,” but neglects Hi holiness, that person doesn’t see Him as God, he sees Him as a very powerful pushover. And that at best.
Yes, God is love, but He is Holy most of all.
1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.