What is God like? Many people’s ideas about God are rather hazy.
When God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, He made him in His own “likeness,” or form (Genesis 1:26). God gave this unique shape to man alone. God also created in man the gift of intellect—the ability to think, to reason, to make choices and decisions. This God-like attribute of mind and character was not given to any animal—only man.
Why did God create man with His likeness and with unique intellect? The answer to that question is profound—and is plainly revealed in Scripture.
Our purpose in human life is to become like God! God intends that we grow in His righteous character—that we, as Jesus Christ expressed it, “Be [or rather, become ] ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
What, then, is the character of God?
God embodies perfect, holy and righteous character! He lives the way of perfection—of outflowing love. That way of life is a code of conduct, a law.
Let’s look into the Scriptures to learn more about God and the kind of character He wants to develop within us.
The Love of God
1. How does the Bible define the nature and character of God? 1 John 4:8, 16. What is the love of God? 1 John 5:3.
The spiritual law of God enables us to know what God is like because it describes His character and way of life—summed up by the word love!
2. How did Jesus summarize the law of God? Matthew 22:36-40.
God’s law of love is defined in the two great commandments: love toward God and love toward neighbor. It is further divided into 10 points by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The first four tell us how to love God, and the last six tell us how to love our fellow human beings.
3. What was Jesus prophesied to do regarding God’s law? Isaiah 42:21. What are two examples of how Jesus “magnified” the Ten Commandments? Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28.
When you apply a spiritual “magnifying glass,” so to speak, to the Ten Commandments, they are enlarged in spiritual principle into many more points. And in a larger sense, the entire Bible is a magnification of God’s law. The law is the basis of all Scripture. It defines God’s way of life—the way to peace, success, happiness, joy and eternal life. God’s law is just like God!
4. Is the law of God good? Romans 7:12. God is good!
5. Is the law of God just? Same verse. God is just!
6. Is the law of God holy? Same verse. God is holy!
7. Is the law of God spiritual? Verse 14. God is spiritual!
8. Is the law of God perfect? Psalm 19:7. God is perfect!
The character of both God the Father and Christ the Son is spiritual holiness, righteousness and absolute perfection. It is the opposite of the “get” way of Satan the devil that we see so dominant in this world. It is the way devoid of coveting, lust, greed, vanity, selfishness, competition, strife, violence, destruction, envy, jealousy, resentment and bitterness.
God’s inherent nature is the way of peace, justice, mercy, happiness and joy radiating outward toward those He has created.
9. Will the character of God ever alter? Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8. Therefore, is the law of God—including all His commandments—subject to change? Psalm 111:7-8.
God’s law is unchanging and eternal, standing fast forever and ever. God is eternal, and so is His law, because the law expresses the character and nature of God.
God’s law, by definition, matches His character. It is the way of love. It is the way of giving, serving, helping. God has that character! He has an outgoing concern for all of humanity. He gave His only begotten Son to reconcile us to Him, thereby making the joys of His character and everlasting life possible for us. He showers on us every good and precious gift, including the Holy Spirit.
The Power of God
The Holy Spirit is the key ingredient that enables human beings to begin to manifest some of the very character of God. It is the power by which God imparts His nature. We can receive this Spirit of power from the Father after we repent and turn from the wrong way of Satan’s world, begin to resist it, and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
1. What are some of the divine characteristics or “fruits” of God’s nature that begin to be exhibited by God’s children after they are begotten by His Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Timothy 1:6-7.
Righteous, holy, godly character is the possession and practice of love, joy, peace, patience, mercy, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, humility, temperance, self-restraint and right self-direction. Character also involves knowledge, wisdom, purpose and ability—all properly controlled and developed through independent choice.
2. What is the greatest single attribute of God’s nature? 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13. Why? 1 John 4:16. How can we have it? Romans 5:5.
The word “charity” in the King James is agape in the Greek, which is the love of God. Love is the single greatest attribute of God’s nature. We can have the Father’s love if we have His Spirit and strive to live the way He, Himself, lives by keeping His commandments in both the “letter” and the spirit—the principle or intent.
Jesus magnified the Ten Commandments by showing how their principles expand to cover virtually every possible human infraction. 2 Corinthians 3 shows that God’s law is to be applied in principle. It is summed up in one single word—love.
There are just two possible ways of life: God’s way, expressed by His law of love and summed up in the Ten Commandments, the “give” way; and Satan’s way of competition, greed and vanity, which we call the “get” way. This is the way of disobedience to God. All suffering—all unhappiness, fear, misery and death—has come from living by Satan’s way of “get,” instead of living by God’s way of “give,” which is the only way to peace, happiness and joy.
One third of the angels failed to develop the godly character that would have guaranteed them everlasting peace and happiness. They believed Satan’s way of get was better than God’s way of give and therefore developed evil character. Rebellious Lucifer had disqualified himself from ruling the Earth. Someone had to qualify to replace him. So God created Adam and gave him the opportunity to develop the godly character required of a righteous ruler. But Adam failed.
So Adam’s descendants—all mankind—have been born in Satan’s world of competition, strife and violence, and have transgressed God’s law. God has actually allowed this for a great purpose. He wants man to learn, through experience—which requires time—that Satan’s way of “get” and disobedience to God’s spiritual law causes only misery, suffering, heartache and death.
Those who are called of God and voluntarily choose to reject and resist Satan’s way and live a life of obedience to God develop the holy, righteous, perfect character of God. They qualify to rule and reign with Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who will replace Satan as world ruler at His return to restore the government of God to the entire Earth!
God Now Creating His Supreme Masterpiece!
What is the supreme feat of accomplishment possible for Almighty God the Creator? The angels? The heavens and the Earth? The entire universe beyond? Was it the first man?
It was none of these!
The supreme pinnacle of God’s works is the creation of His very own perfect, holy, righteous character within His begotten children!
But this is something that even God with His supreme power cannot do of Himself instantaneously!
King David mused on God’s purpose for man: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
Hebrews 2 quotes this psalm. It then reveals that God has determined to complete His most spectacular creation—in man! God’s supreme goal is to create perfect and righteous spiritual character in man. His ultimate purpose is to bring man into the God Family! Yet God cannot do this by Himself. Man has his own part in this supreme masterpiece.
For God to complete mankind’s spiritual creation, humans must learn not only to look like God but also to think like God, developing His attitude and character while flesh and blood. Perfect character must be developed –over time—by free choice. But even then, only the Holy God can instill it.
Perfect, holy, righteous character is the ability of an individual to discern the true way of God from the way of Satan; to choose to unconditionally surrender to God; and to determine, even against temptation, to do the right.
God is now in the process of creating His same godly character in Spirit-begotten Christians as they choose to live His righteous way of life with the help of His Holy Spirit.
At the resurrection to eternal life, when God’s Spirit-begotten children are born, God will have finished this supreme masterpiece of creation! Then, when we are resurrected—changed into immortal spirit members of God’s Family—we will possess the supreme character and awesome powers of God!
Those whom God has called and who have voluntarily chosen to work with their Creator in completing His supreme creation within them while flesh and blood will at last be a “finished” creation—created in God’s own spiritual “image” with His perfect, righteous, sinless, holy character—eternal members of His divine ruling Family! (1 John 3:9).