It has become extremely popular today for individuals to define who their god is. With the common abandon of the reality of absolute truth, people make themselves god by writing their own versions of reality. “To me, god is ______.” And that is only if we assent to the existence of a greater being! Many westerners will argue that there is no god, that we make our own destiny, and that when we die we cease to exist. There is no meaning in life. This fatalistic view, however, is terrifying and debilitating and when we turn to finally find the Truth and reality, we can find God.
Perhaps the easiest way to learn about God is to hear what He has to say about Himself:
Then the Lord passed by in front of [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
– Ex 34.6-7
God, when He proclaims His own character, portrays the perfect balance that we must remember when we approach Him. So many passages in Scripture look at a single attribute at a time. God is love, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (1 John 4.7). God is jealous (Deut 4.24). God is patient (2 Peter 3.9). God is wrathful (Rom 9). But here, when God presents Himself to Moses and proclaims Himself, He magnifies His grace and His wrath. His love and His glory. His patience and His judgment.
God is compassionate: He has a deep awareness of our suffering and a desire to relieve it. He is gracious: He offers us hope and salvation when we do not deserve it, and blesses us in life beyond our worth. He is slow to anger: we regularly forget about Him, ignore His law and standards and He puts up with us, shepherding us to obedience through discipline. He is abounding in loving kindness and truth: He is kind and faithful and does not waiver or falter in Truth. He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin when we repent and turn back to His truth and His ways.
But He warns us that the guilty will not be unpunished. God is holy, He is righteous and He will not tolerate sin. And He threatens, quite terrifyingly, that when a person, a people or a nation embrace sin, the consequences will pass on with weight and continued depravity for generations. What parents allow in moderation, children will excuse in excess and the burden will grow heavier as the sin multiplies.
Jesus Christ took upon Himself the weight of the punishment for the sins of all who would believe. Thus, when we repent, He can and does forgive our iniquity and transgression. But His blood does not cover those who do not repent. They will bear upon themselves His wrath both today and in eternity. Don’t take my word for it, God said it Himself.
We cannot know God’s grace unless we understand His holiness, our sinfulness and the dreadful expectation of judgment that we deserve. In seeing our sinful position, we know love:
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
– 1 John 4.10
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
– John 15.10
And our response to love is obedience:
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.
– John 15.10-11
Let’s stop trying to make up our own reality. Let’s seek God and ask Him what He has to say about Himself. Let us know Him and love Him and obey Him.