By LOU TISCIONE
Late in the 1st Century the Apostle John wrote, “God is love.” He wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He was declaring God’s self-revelation. 1 John 4:19 served to confirm the basis for Christian love to be God’s character.
In declaring this truth, John revealed one of God’s attributes. The Bible reveals additional attributes of God such as His faithfulness, sovereignty, goodness, mercy and holiness. Each of God’s attributes fall under the one listed last, God’s holiness. Isaiah wrote, “God is holy.” (Isaiah 6:3)
John the Apostle declared the same attribute in Revelation 4:8. The holiness of God informs every other attribute.
Each attribute describes 100 percent of God’s character. In other words, God is always faithful, sovereign, truthful, and loving. God’s holiness further reveals that He is uniquely and perfectly faithful, sovereign, truthful, loving and merciful.
The only attribute of God that is repeated three times in succession is His holiness. The Hebrews used repetition to emphasize a point. Strong emphasis was expressed by repeating a word twice. When holy was repeated three times, God was declaring with extreme emphasis that He is unique, perfect, self-sufficient and transcendent.
This brief discussion of God’s attributes as impacted by His holiness is necessary when seeking to understand His love. God is love has become one of the central determining factors used by Christians and used against Christians. On one extreme, some suggest that everything is acceptable because God is love. These proponents say, “My God is a God of love. Therefore, He wouldn’t be angry or punish anyone.” On the other hand, non-Christians expect Christians to accept everything because God is love.
Yet because God is holy, we know that God indeed punishes evil-doers and He expresses His anger, even wrath against sin. A holy God would not “wink” at evil. Our holy God judges perfectly.
John gave us the definition of divine love. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)