Column: What Is God Like? The Communicable Attributes of God — Pt. 3

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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By Hank Walker | Pastor at Peach City Fellowship

In my last article, I noted that “holiness” is often confused with a similar but vitally different communicable attribute: “Righteousness.” Today, we will examine righteousness—drawing comparisons with holiness—in hopes of making proper distinctions in the future.

Whereas, holiness always describes God’s state of being as “set apart”—righteousness is usually related to God’s ACTIVITY. For instance, God IS holy; it requires Him to DO nothing for Him to be called Holy. Righteousness, however, is God’s holiness demonstrated through what He DOES!

Now, here’s where it gets a little confusing. Apart from any of His works—God is still righteous. God, purely from His existence, IS righteous—but, here is the distinction: BECAUSE God is inherently righteous, righteous deeds are the natural expression of His righteous character.

Illustrated in human terms, consider the following: Tom is the most perfect athlete ever born. He is built like Adonis and looks more impressive than any athlete you have ever seen. When he walks into the room, your immediate impression is just, “Wow!” What you cannot know from his appearance, however, is his true athleticism. When he goes into action, however—at the track, on the football field, on the wrestling mat—he is so far superior to his opponents that your mind is blown. He is faster than Bolt, better than Bo, and might even be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Tom inherently appeared to BE athletic. When called on to prove it, however, he DID the things that his constitution implied he could do. Tom looked like an athlete in his BEING, and proved he was through his DOING—that is what righteousness is like.

God IS righteous—and God’s righteous ACTS prove the point.

As humans, we no longer possess this perfection by birth. Our sinful nature corrupts our righteousness into “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). God, who IS righteous, will never countenance counterfeit righteousness in His creatures—which is a huge problem for humankind! If God is OUR uncompromising standard for righteousness, what are we to do?

We are to repent and believe—trusting that by faith, Christ’s perfect righteousness will be “imputed” (Rom. 4:2) to us—applied to our accounts as a substitute for our imperfect righteousness. That is grace. That is Gospel!

Grace and peace, y’all. Soli Deo Gloria