God's Attributes According to the Orthodox Christian Church ( Part II)

St Cornelius the Abbot of Paleostrov

St Cornelius the Abbot of Paleostrov

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

by Athanasios S. Frangopoulos, Orthodox Theologian-Preach

7.     God is Holy

God is Holy, All-Holy, and rests among the Saints. What do we mean when we say God is Holy? We mean that He is pure, and free from all moral and ethical imperfection; that He is a stranger to sin; that He hates and despises evil, wickedness and depravity, and loves only that which is good and just. Thus it follows that God always desires to do good and that He always does good. In many places Holy Scripture exalts God's sanctity and says that God is Holy and these source of Holiness. The Prophet Isaiah saw Angels hovering round the Throne of God and exclaiming, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Sabbath all the earth is filled with Thy Glory" (Isaiah 6:3). God calls Himself Holy and calls men unto sanctity in accordance with His example: "Be ye holy for I, Your Lord God, Am Holy" (Lev. 19:2). And the holy Apostle Peter addresses to us Christians the same invitation: an invitation reading, "As He which hath called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation" (1 Peter 1:15).

It should be noted that Angels as well are called holy, and that there are even men who are holy. But their sanctity is achieved through the grace of the Most High God. Moreover, the sanctity of Angels and men is but a mere shadow before God's Holiness, which is complete, absolute and incomparable. For this reason God's Holiness is also the source of holiness for His creatures. Hence no one, absolutely no one, is as holy as God. This is explicitly stated in Holy Scripture: "For there is none holy as the Lord, and there is none righteous as our God: there is none holy beside Thee" (1 Kings 2:2). We have, from a very early age, become accustomed to calling God Holy. "Holy God", we say "Holy Mighty", "Holy Immortal, have mercy on us", and in Church we chant: "Holy is our Lord God; exalt the Lord our God and reverence the foot rest of His feet, for He is Holy".

8.     God is Righteous

From God's Holiness derives His righteousness. A necessary element of His Sanctity is His righteousness. God is righteous because He is holy. Injustice, unrighteousness is indeed a great evil. And since God hates and despises evil and in no way tolerates it, He is righteous and does not tolerate injustice. For this reason Holy Scripture says: "the Lord is righteous, and loves righteousness; His face beholds uprightness" (Psalm 10:7). It also states that "God is a righteous and powerful Judge" and "righteous in all His ways", righteous and just in all His judgments, in all His decisions, in all His works. And for this reason shall He "judge the world in righteousness, He will judge the nations in uprightness" (Psalm 7:11, 10:8). Furthermore, God's righteousness has two aspects. The first is that God is a righteous lawgiver. He does not place upon man's shoulders heavy and unbearable burdens. He gives laws unto man, and His laws are wise and just. He does not ask impossible things, but things that are possible, easy and beneficial. God is righteous and His laws are righteous. God is also a righteous judge. This is the second aspect of His righteousness. He observes, supervises and oversees men's deeds and actions. And all these He judges righteously, objectively and unbiasedly. He shows favors to no one. He judges man according to his works. He punishes evil and injustice. In this life, God's righteousness is often seen in action. And He judges, decides justly, and renders justice either by condemning evil or by rewarding goodness. However, in the next world, God's righteousness shall completely triumph and He shall render unto each man his just deserve, "according to his deeds as we have said, and "according to his acts." To the righteous and the virtuous He shall grant eternal life. To the evil and wicked, eternal damnation. Thus shall moral order and harmony be restored the world.

9.     God is Good, all-Good

God is good; indeed, all-good. And He is so because he is love (agape). The expression and practical manifestation of God's love towards His creation is His goodness. God is good because He loves. He is totally love, as we have stated in the section on Divine Love. And because God is good, He shows and bestows His Benevolence upon all the world, upon all His Creatures. This is precisely the meaning of goodness. God has all good things, riches and beneficences--both material--at His disposal and under His power. Furthermore, goodness is that attribute and virtue that God possesses by which He does not keep His bounties for Himself, but bestows them upon all His creatures. And God is happy and joyful in giving, in doing good, and in giving generously His rich bounties to all His creatures, and especially to man, to all men; to the faithful and to the righteous; to the evil and to sinners. He has no preference and makes no distinctions. As our Lord states in the Gospel, God is so compassionate that "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the unjust" (St. Matthew 5:45). And God's goodness bestows Hs rich bounties on the world in order to make His creatures--and especially man--happy and content, even in this present world, but especially in the next life where He calls them to become partakers of His very own blessedness and life. Towards this end, He richly bestows on them His spiritual bounties of faith, prayer, truth, the knowledge of His Holy Gospel and the grace of His Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). Holy Scripture frequently proclaims God's goodness and compassion. The Psalm says: "The Lord is compassionate and full of pity, long-suffering and full of mercy" (Psalm 102:8). This is why the Psalmist, addressing himself to God, says: "Thou openest thine hands, and fillest every living thing with pleasure" (Psalm 144:16). You bestow Your blessing abundantly, with an open hand. You open Your compassionate and shed upon all Your creatures Your rich bounties. Why? So that they may have abundant means of maintaining themselves. And thus "all wait upon Thee, to give them their food in due season" (Psalm 103:28). "The Lord is good to all; and His compassions are over all His works" (Palm 144:9) for God is He Who "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). He gives all his bounties to all of creation, to all, especially to the poor: His righteousness remaineth forever" (Psalm 111:9; 2 Cor. 9:8). And as God does, so do those people who belong to God, the good people. These words of the Psalmist also refer to those men who are good and compassionate. And this goodness of God which is so richly manifested in all His creatures is especially seen in man, so as to protect him in all his needs and in the sorrows of his life, and most especially so as to save him from sin, i.e., moral evil, and to lead him happily to Paradise. This is why, as our Lord Himself says, "God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (St. John 3:16). This atoning sacrifice of His Son is the most dynamic, and moving expression and proof of God's love, goodness and compassion for man.

10.  God is Faithful and True

This means that God always possesses the truth, or rather, He is the Truth, and He loves the truth and speaks the truth to all. "Your word is truth" said our Lord in His Hierarchical Prayer. He is faithful. Faithfulness again means that God always remains true to His word, and that everything He says and promises, He fulfills and carries out with great order and precision. For He is Truth and His word is Truth and all His promises come True, because He executes them. Men usually lie and do not keep their word, and they break their promises. God, however, always remains "faithful". And Holy Scripture states: "Let God be true and every man a liar". And He is called "God that cannot lie", "the God of truth", because His "word is truth" and because if "we (men) are unfaithful (and do not keep our word and violate our promises) He remains faithful". It is precisely for this reason that we men should have complete trust in God's words and promises. We should believe absolutely that He shall grant us all that He has promised ("our daily bread, the remission of our sins"--if we repent--and His heavenly Kingdom--if we desire it and willingly carry out His holy will). And while it may sometimes seem that He is tardy in fulfilling His promises, we should await their fulfillment with patience and hope, for He shall indeed fulfill them, but always at the most appropriate time, so that they may be beneficial and not harmful to us. And further, just as God our God is faithful to His word and in all that He does, in like manner we, His children, should be faithful, just and true.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in Christ's Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George