Not merely holy nor merely loving

By Dave Henning / March 9, 2023

“God is not merely sad nor merely angry — because he is not merely holy nor merely loving.  He is angry over the offense and violation of sin but mourning over its effects over what it is doing to the creation and the human race he loves.  It is important for our purposes to see that . . . the Bible shows us the grievousness of sin to God.”- Timothy Keller

“But the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”- Genesis 6:6 (ESV)

In Chapter 4 (“The Book of Forgiveness”) of Forgive, Timothy Keller describes forgiveness as the heart of the Christain message.  And it’s found all throughout the Bible.  However, Pastor Keller underscores, the idea may be present in a passage even though the word forgiveness isn’t present.

So, regardless of the number of times the word forgiveness is used, the concept remains central to the meaning of the Bible.  And the faith of Christians.

Furthermore, Pastor Keller points out, the Hebrew Scriptures contain three words that convey forgiveness:

  1. Kpr – used constantly in connection with the animal sacrifices, the word means to cover sin.
  2. Sth – this word means to pardon or to stop blaming someone.  Also connected to sacrifices, this word shows that forgiveness requires some kind of atonement or payment to be made.
  3. Ng – means to lift or bear away; a picture of sin being removed from us.  In addition, this word speaks of human as well as divine forgiveness.

In conclusion, Pastor Keller moves on to forgiveness in the books of Moses.  For example, in Genesis Adam and Eve continued to live after they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit.  Hence, Augustine explains:

“If it be asked what death God threatened man with [in Genesis 2:17], whether bodily or spiritual or the second death, we answer: It was all.”

Above all, God didn’t strike Adam and Eve with bodily as well as spiritual death.  It was God’s grace and mercy – the divine attributes that serve as the ground of all forgiveness.

Today’s question: How do you see God as not merely holy nor merely loving?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Really sorry for the sin itself?”

About the author

Dave Henning

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