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Bible Study Six: The Character of God

“God is beautiful.” The psalmist wrote, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” Psalm 50:2. The beauty of God’s character shines through His marvelous creation. It glorious shines through His self-sacrificing love to save the human race.
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of God’s nature is that He is love. As John wrote, “God is love.” 1 John 4:8. He is love absolute. He could not be more loving. But there is a word used more often in defining the character of God than love. We find the four living creatures round about the throne of God, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8. The word most often used in reference to God’s nature is “holy.” Therefore, we could say, God is so beautiful because He is absolute love and holiness.
Why is it important for us to study the beautiful character of God? First, we were created in His image. We were created to become beautiful in Him. God never meant for us to be unkind and hateful. Every day we have the privilege of becoming more beautiful in Christ. Every test, every trial, every opportunity to do good, is for our character development. We should strive to be like our Maker each and every day. As Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as you Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. As God is perfect in His realm, we are to be perfect in our realm as created beings. Second, the study of God’s beautiful character is tied to eternity and the plan of salvation. As Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom that hast sent.” John 17:3. It is by knowing God that we are preparing to live with God forever. Third, by understanding God’s perfect character, we can better understand how self-centered, sinful, and wrong was the rebellion of Satan in heaven. How could the highest of angels, rebel against God who is absolute love and holiness? It is a mystery. But it is something that God had to deal with for the security of the universe.
But some might ask? “Is it really possible to love as God loves us?” Jesus said, “This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. If Jesus said that we can love as He loved us, then it must be true. The question then becomes, “How is it possible for us to love one another as Jesus loves us?” We are to receive His love for one another. He will share His love with us, that we may love as He loves. More on this in or next study. But for now, let us continue our study into the nature of God’s character.

1. What does the Bible say about God’s holiness? Psalm 145:17

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works.” Psalm 145:17

Have you done anything wrong? Of course, we all have. We were born with fallen natures in this fallen world. As the Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. We all fall short of the glory of God or the character of God because we have sinned.

Now consider for a moment these two wonderful truths. First, God has been from eternity. Second, God has never done anything wrong. He has never sinned. This is so beautiful. God who has been from eternity and has always done the right thing. This is why His universe is so stable and secure. It is all based upon His righteous and holy character.

Consider these words of John, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5. This is simply amazing. God is pure light. His character is one hundred percent pure. In Him, is not darkness at all. Someone might ask, “Is God just a little selfish?” Answer: “No, not at all.” “Is God just a little bit impatient?” Answer: “No, not at all.” Since we were created in the image of God, then it only stands to reason that God never intended for us to sin. God had created Adam and Eve innocent. He intended for the human race to always do the right thing. But sin entered our world, and we have sinful inclinations. All of us have given into those sinful inclinations. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can now make right decisions.

2. How faithful is God in keeping His covenant promises?

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

Have you ever broken a promise? Have you ever been unmerciful? God keeps all His promises and He is always merciful. In fact, God is the perfect blend of mercy and justice. In every situation, He is one hundred percent merciful and one hundred percent just.

Consider this wonderful promise, “There hath no temptation taken you gut such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. Man is not able to overcome temptations on his own, but God is able to make a way of escape that we need not fall into sin. When you are tempted to sin, reach out to God, and He will deliver you. If you insist on facing the temptation by yourself, He will let you, but you will not be successful.

Consider this beautiful promise, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Clearly our Creator-Redeemer will both forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all wrong doing. He is able. After all, He created the universe. He holds it together as well.

Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. God not only keeps His promises to the full, He fulfills them with perfect timing. Sometimes we become impatient with God, but God is always on time. We may not like the decision God has made, but His decisions are always perfect. He will faithfully do what is in our best eternal interests.

3. How compassionate is God? Psalm 86:15

“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15. God is not only all powerful, but He is “full of compassion.” Consider how compassionate God was with Saul of Taurus who persecuted the infant church. While Saul put fear in the followers of Christ, God was working upon the heart of Saul that he might become a fearless defender of the truth. God’s compassion won out, and Saul did become Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

In the ministry of Jesus, we see Him having compassion upon the sick. “And Jesus went about all the cites and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:35, 36

Jesus never passed by one human being as worthless. He was always found mingling with people as one who constantly desired their good. He had compassion upon them and ministered to their needs.

4. But does God love me? John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Jesus died for all. But you say, “I have sinned so many times.” Paul wrote, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. “Christ died for us,” meaning all of us. It doesn’t matter how many times you have sinned, Jesus died for you.

5. But how can I be sure that Jesus died for me? Matthew 5:45

“He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45. God bestows His blessings upon all men. Peter said that “God is no respecter of persons.” Acts 10:34. It matters not your race, gender, age, occupation, nationality, or the number of sins you have committed. If God sends His rain upon all, then His Son died for all. “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” Deuteronomy 10:17. “The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9. If God is “good to all,” then Jesus died for all.

Jesus said, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” Matthew 6:26. If God takes care of the birds, and every other creature, then God must be taking care of you as well. Included in the care of every human being, is the opportunity to receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.

6. What kind of relationship does God want to have with you? 1 John 3:1

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 3:1. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:14, 15

The Christian faith is not simply about having a church membership. It is about becoming a son and daughter of God. You are able to commune with your heavenly Father each day, through the merits of His Son Jesus Christ. All of heaven is preparing us to live with God forever.

7. Will God ever change? James 1:17

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17. This is amazing. God has always been. He has never sinned. He has always been the same perfect and holy God. Of course, God could never change, because He is already absolute perfection.

The Bible says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8. Jesus is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, . . . the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8. “For I am the Lord, I change not.” Malachi 3:6

It would be difficult for us to be a progressive revelation of God’s character if His character was always changing. Since God is absolute perfection, our goal in choosing to become like Him will never change, because He will never change.

8. How did God describe Himself to Moses? Exodus 34:6, 7

“And the Lord passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6, 7

God does not hold the children guilty for the sins of the parents, unless they participate in the sins of their parents. It is usually the case, that children commit many of the same sins as their parents. This is due to inherited tendencies and our environment. As strong as the law of heredity seems to be, we do not need to fall into the same sins as our parents. God is able to deliver us from every inherited and cultivated tendency to sin. God is merciful to us all, and desires to help us overcome these sinful traits of character.

9. Is God also a God of justice? Psalm 50:6

“And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is judge Himself. Selah.” Psalm 50:6. While God is full of compassion and merciful to us all, He is yet a God of justice. Because He is just, He will hold us accountable for our deeds. As Jesus said, “And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according to his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. No one will be saved by their works. All who are saved will be saved by the grace of God. But we are judged by are works. Our works will demonstrate whether we lived by faith in the creative power of God. Did we cooperate with Him to form a character fit for heaven? This is what our works will reveal. While God desires all to be saved and has been merciful to all, He cannot immortalize sin. He is a God of justice as well as mercy.

10. Does God know everything? Psalm 147:5

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5. To have infinite knowledge is to know all things, past, present, and future. He knew us before we were born. As the psalmist wrote, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 147:16.

Not only is God infinite in knowledge, His thoughts of us are as the sand of the sea. “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with Thee.” Psalm 147:17, 18. Our loving and holy God, who is infinite in knowledge, thinks of us all the time.

11. Will we be able to think as God thinks?

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and let him return un the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:7-9. While we are living in sin, are thoughts are certainly not God’s thoughts. When we walk down the path of disobedience, this is not God’s way.

But we are encouraged to have mind of Christ. As Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5. God last day church will “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. The 144,000 will “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” Revelation 14:4. Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15.

It is the privilege of every believer in Christ, to reflect the altogether beautiful character of Christ. As we behold Him with the eye of faith, we are changed into His image. As Paul wrote, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

The purpose of the gospel is that we might be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. See Romans 8:29. When we forsake the old way of living in sin, and “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him,” we are being recreated into the image of Jesus. Colossians 3:10. The image of our Creator-Redeemer is restored in the human soul. This is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation.