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Bible verses about God's Character
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 18:23-25  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Abraham knew his friend, God, pretty well: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" In a sense, he was throwing back to God the very understanding that he had of His holy, righteous character. He knew that in God's justice there could be no turning from what God is, and that His act toward Sodom and Gomorra would reflect what God is.

Well, there was probably never a more rhetorical question ever asked by a man on the earth. Even though Abraham knew a great deal about God, he may not have had a complete understanding of how far such an act like that is from God's character. There was never even a remote possibility that God would kill the innocent with the guilty in the city of Sodom.

God said, "Okay, I'll spare it for 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10. . . ." God could bargain like this because it is not in His mind to kill the innocent with the guilty. Why? Because for God to do that, He would have to cease being holy, and that is not possible. In essence, He would have to stop being God.

God is the supreme Judge of all the earth, and if He is unjust, there is no hope that justice will ever prevail. We know that human judges can be corrupted—they take bribes, they can be partial, they can be ignorant, and they can make mistakes. God, however, is never corrupt. No one can bribe Him. He refuses to show partiality. There is no respect of persons with Him. He never acts out of ignorance. He never makes mistakes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Genesis 18:23-25  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God's justice is according to His righteousness, His holy character. Psalm 119:172 defines righteousness, stating "All Your commandments are righteousness." Those commandments reflect in writing the character of God.

What God does is always consistent with who and what He is, and what He has written. His righteousness is absolute purity. He is utterly incapable of an unholy, unrighteous, unjust act. For God to act unfairly, He would simply have to cease being God. It is totally impossible for Him to commit an injustice.

When Abraham uses the word "righteous" in verse 23, he is not saying, "Would You destroy the sinless with the wicked?" He means people who, through their fear of God and being conscientious, have kept themselves free from the iniquity of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham's concern was that there were people in the city we might consider to be really good citizens. They were not sinless, but if there was a fear of God in them, maybe they were trying with all their might to obey God, but they were caught up simply in being in the environment which God had decided He was going to destroy.

God does not always act with justice; sometimes He acts with mercy. That is what He did with Lot and his family. God acted with justice against the city because it was so corrupt, so evil, so filled with sin that it even offended God's sense of what is right and wrong. It even offended God's patience, His longsuffering. And so in justice He wiped the city off the map, but in grace and mercy He spared Lot, his wife, and two children.

Mercy is not justice, but neither is it injustice, because injustice would violate righteousness, and God always acts according to His holy character, which is total righteousness. Therefore mercy, which manifests kindness and grace, does no violence to righteousness, and we may see non-justice in God—which is mercy—but we never see injustice in God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

Exodus 20:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The third commandment deals with God's name, His character, His office, His position as the great sovereign Ruler of the universe: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). In biblical terms, personal names have a meaning, for they usually describe some aspect of the person's character. So it is with God's name. The Bible reveals Him under different names, each given with a purpose: to set forth some distinct virtue or characteristic of His nature.

In this commandment, the Hebrew word rendered "guiltless" may also be translated "clean." A person is clean or unclean according to how he uses the name of God, whether in truth or in vanity. A person who continually talks about God but denies Him in his daily life is unclean; he is guilty of breaking the law of God, a sinner. If we use God's name in a way that denies the true meaning and character of God, we break the third commandment. As we can easily see, God is greatly concerned about how we use His name.

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Exodus 34:5-8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God expounds eleven attributes: YHWH, El, the Merciful One, the Gracious One, the Longsuffering One, the Mighty One, the Kind and Loving One, the True One, the One who Preserves Kindness, the Forgiving One, and the Chastising One.

God gives Moses, not so much a vision of His power and majesty, but of His love, of how He relates to His creation. The real glory of God is His character, His nature, especially toward His children. His names are signposts of His nature, reminders of what we can expect Him to do as we live by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 34:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God was preaching him a sermon on what He is. The names of God describe Him. They tell us what God is, what He does, and what He will do for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Exodus 34:5-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God obliged to Moses' request, but how did He do it? How did He show Moses His glory? He preached him a sermon on His name! Or we could say that He expounded before Moses on the third commandment. What we have here is probably just the barest summary of what God said—the notes, as it were, of what He talked about more fully. He likely preached him a sermon on eleven names of God: Yahweh, El, the Merciful One, the Gracious One, the Longsuffering One, the Almighty, the Bountiful One, the True One, the Preserver of Abundance, He Who Takes Away Iniquity, and He Who Visits Iniquity.

What He did before Moses was rehearse His nature. It was so encouraging to Moses, because he knew then that the children of Israel would not be abandoned—that God would be with him—because of what He is. He would not remain with them because Israel deserved His presence in any way, shape, or form, as every single one of them deserved to be dead! But because God is God, He would continue through with His purpose, and these names exemplified what He would be doing.

So God did not give Moses a vision of His majesty and power, but of His character. The glory of God is the manifestation of His nature, of His character, of His way of relating to His creation—especially to His children. His names are signposts of His nature. They are reminders to us of what we can expect Him to do. That is why Moses was so encouraged.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Holiness (Part 1)


 

Isaiah 40:18  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

From the second commandment, it is obvious that God expressly forbids the making of any representation of Him. Any such picture or statue is automatically a lie because, other than knowing that we are in His physical image as to form and shape, everything else that He is cannot be expressed in a mere physical depiction.

John 1:18 confirms this truth: "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." God is unique; nothing compares with Him. There is no point of contact, no physical reference, to which a human being can compare Him, revealing the absolute folly of image-making. Even Jesus' declarations regarding God are never about what He looks like, but are all about His authority, position, purpose, character, and attributes.

However, knowing the importance of His purpose to our lives, should we not strive to learn what He is like? God does not want us concerned about what He looks like, for that puts the emphasis in the wrong area. He gives us enough information for us to know that He looks like a man—and that is enough.

However, He greatly desires that we know what He is. The entire Bible reveals His mind, character, attributes, offices, power, will, promises, plan, and relationship to us. The third commandment deals with these areas of study and application because they deeply affect the quality of our response to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment


 

Matthew 7:15-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus does not spell out what "fruits" to look for, although in the Olivet Prophecy, He does link the deceptions of false prophets with the lawlessness and lack of love that abounds at the end time (Matthew 24:11-13). However, the rest of the Bible elucidates God's character and nature, so we already have the tools to evaluate whether a message allegedly coming from God fits with what His Word reveals about Him. God is not double-minded; He will not contradict Himself.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

Acts 6:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is not without validity that most of our impressions or beliefs about our family, close friends, and acquaintances automatically involve knowledge about their character as a part of their reputation. Obviously, our interactions give us insight to these people's characters and reputations, whether our perceptions are true or false. Those who know us best will see any growth of character or lack of it. Even so, some can have blind spots in relation to a particular person (for instance, a mother may ignore her son's flaws), or the person may have a talent for concealing their shortcomings, even from those closest to them.

We see a positive side of this in Acts 6:1-3, where the apostles tell the church to choose seven men to become deacons. One of the criteria was that these men were to be "of good reputation," which translates from the Greek word martureo, meaning "to be a witness, that is, to testify (literally or figuratively)." The KJV also renders martureo as "give [evidence]," "bear record," "obtain a good honest report," "be well reported of."

These men were to show evidence of God's Spirit and wisdom in their lives, a combination of a good name as well as growth in character. It is interesting that, because they knew them best, the people were to select these men according to their character.

Staff
Our Reputation, Our Character


 

Romans 11:22  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He minces no words in informing us that patient kindness and sternness are both aspects of God's character. Despite how we might feel at any given time during a trial, He has showered us with abundant kindness. This understanding, however, must be balanced with the knowledge that His demeanor toward us can be reversed if we waste so great an opportunity as the grace He so abundantly pours out on us. We, too—though His elect—can be objects of His sternness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Three)


 

2 Timothy 2:13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse tells us that we can trust Him all the way to death because "He cannot deny Himself." God's very nature and character constitute a solemn obligation that He is His own law, that He is bound by what He is and that He can never be even in the smallest degree contradictory to or less than the level of His own consistent and uniform self. No wonder James 1:17 exclaims:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

As God, He must be true to the character of goodness and wisdom that His very name implies.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness


 

Hebrews 11:27  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Why was Moses able to do what he did? He knew God. Because of this, he was strong and did great exploits. The prophesied events of the end time can only be seen, understood, and endured through the eyes of faith, and so we will continue to grow. Faith is always occupied with God. Faith will enable us to be strong, do exploits, and endure the disappointments in the mysteries of life because we know that because we are God's chosen people and God is who He is, He is involved and the Master of every situation.

Because we know His character—that He is too wise to make mistakes and too loving and concerned about the outcome of our lives—we know he will not allow us to be totally overwhelmed. And we know and believe that Romans 8:28 is still in the Book. Because He rules His creation—He is there—therefore we can live through these times and continue growing, with a peace that passes all understanding.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God (Part 1)


 

1 Peter 2:24-25  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The most brutal example of divine justice is found in the New Testament, not the Old. We see the most violent expression of God's wrath and justice in the crucifixion of His own Son. If anybody had room to complain that He was not being treated fairly, it was Jesus Christ, who was not guilty of even one sin! He was the only innocent person who ever lived, yet He suffered a horrible, cruel death. If we were to become upset or offended at something that seems to be unjust, this would be it.

The crucifixion, similar to the Flood, the casting out of the Amorites, and so forth, is simultaneously the most just and the most gracious act in history. It would have been absolutely diabolical of God to punish Jesus if His Son had not first voluntarily taken on Himself the sins of all the world. Even though He was innocent to that point, once He took upon Himself that concentrated load of sin, He became the most repugnant thing that ever existed on earth before God. He became an obscene and accursed thing, and God executed His wrath. He acted in total impartiality. God could not overlook sin, even when it touched His Son.

Jesus Christ did this for us. Christ took the justice that was to fall on us, and He paid for it with His priceless life. It is the "for us" aspect that displays the majesty of the grace of God.

We cringe at God's justice because it is so unusual, since most of the time He is so gracious. Human nature deceives us into taking it for granted, but we need to keep it in mind because it just as integral to His character.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

 




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