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Sat, Aug 15, 1998

15 - The Integrity of God

Galatians 2:15 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:55 mins 56 secs

The Integrity of God; Gal. 2:15

Galatians 2:15, 16 NASB "We {are} Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified."

Dikaiosune [dikaiosunh]: the verb is dikaioo [dikaiow], and another noun is dike [dikh]. All of these have as their root the idea of righteousness and justice. They have two different meanings, depending on the context. Righteousness refers to the absolute standard which underlies this concept of perfection, and justice looks at it in terms of the application of the standard. Righteousness is the absolute standard of the Law and justice is the application of the Law to specific situations. In the Scripture God's character is the standard of righteousness, the standard by which all things are evaluated. So righteousness is the standard of divine essence and justice is the application of divine essence—how it relates to man.

Romans 1:16, 17 NASB "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it {the} righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith [from saving faith to spiritual life faith]; as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS {man} SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.'" So we see the relationship in this verse between the person who is justified/declared righteous and the righteousness of God and the gospel itself. "Righteousness of God" is a genitive construction. The possessive genitive describes something which God possesses, so in the sense of the possessive genitive what we see here is the standard of God's character—perfect righteousness. But this can also be used as a subjective genitive. The point is the subjective genitive is in the sense that there is a sense of action in the phrase. This talks about what God produces, and what God produces is justice, the application of His righteousness. So both ideas are present in this phrase dikaiosune tou theou [dikaiosunh tou qeou]. Not only God's character but the application of His character is revealed from [saving] faith to [spiritual life] faith.

The righteousness of God is the standard by which God judges; it either approves or rejects. What the righteousness of God demands the justice of God executes or applies. In light of that we can say that what the righteousness of God approves the justice of God blesses, and what the righteousness of God rejects the justice of God condemns.

1.  Justice guards divine essence. Justice as an application of the divine standard of righteousness guards the essence of God from compromised. God cannot be compromised with sin.

2.  Righteousness guards divine justice. Righteousness provides the absolute standard that divine justice must adhere to.

3.  Righteousness is the key to God's character. Everything depends on the righteousness of God. God cannot tolerate anything less than His perfect standard.

4.  Perfect righteousness protects divine justice when God is dealing with sinful man. If God was just just without having an absolute standard for His justice then there would be no absolute criterion and God's justice would therefore not be stable, it would be unstable. Perfect righteousness provides that absolute standard for divine justice to utilize in dealing with sinful men.

5.  Perfect righteousness rejects all sin, therefore justice must condemn sin. God is required by His absolute righteousness to condemn all sin.

6.  Perfect righteousness must also reject all human good because it is relative. Isaiah 64:6 – "All our righteousness is as filthy rags."

Divine love: 1 John 4:16 NASB "…God is love…" This is the most profound statement in Scripture which summarises all of the divine character in one attribute. How does divine love fit within the complex of righteousness and justice? If righteousness is the standard and justice is the application, then love is the motivator. Love is the motivation of divine integrity. John 3:16 NASB "For God so loved the world, that He gave…" What is it that motivated God's action in giving His unique Son for salvation? It is love. It is clear in that passage that it is a certain kind of love, but it is God's character and His love that is the motivation. Romans 5:8 NASB "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." So if we go back and look at the integrity formula that we are building we will say: What the righteousness of God demands the justice of God executes through the love of God and is expressed by His grace. Therefore what the righteousness of God approves the justice of God provides through the grace of God, namely the full blessing of God as a love-grace gift to the believer. What the righteousness of God rejects the justice of God condemns, but always in the love of God so that the divine solution is then provided through the grace of God.

Grace is the policy of God in dealing with mankind. In stating our formula in its full form we see the four aspects are: the righteousness of God, the justice of God and the love of God comprising the integrity of God, and then its expression through grace which is the policy of God.

1.  Divine love is infinitely superior to human love. They are analogous but they must not be confused. Analogous describes the human conception of love. There is human love and there is divine love but there are certain overlapping points of identity but there is much that is dissimilar. An analogy is a comparison but there has to be some point of similarity for that comparison to be real. There is a point of analogy but there are vast differences between human love and divine love.

2.  Human love is sentimental, emotional, superficial and constantly changing. Human emotion is by definition unstable and shifting.

3.  Divine love is eternal and immutable based on God's perfect righteousness and totally devoid of emotion. God cannot, will not, and never does, fall in love; His love never changes.

4.  God is independent, therefore none of God's attributes depend upon any creature for their fulfilment. In His Trinitarian existence God has eternal and perfectly righteous objects for His love and is eternally satisfied in those relationships. So God does not create man in order to have an object for His love.

5.  God is eternal, therefore His love demands an eternal object.

6.  Divine love has as its eternal o0bject each member of the Trinity.

God's love and creatures: If God's love is superior to human love and God's love is based on His absolute righteousness how can God love sinful creatures? 

1.  When God first created man Adam and Eve were both +R (perfect righteousness). God created man in His image, which means that man was created in perfection. He was perfect righteousness and therefore was compatible with God's perfect righteousness; they could have a perfect relationship. Therefore God can love him. Divine love in this case is personal because there is something of value in the object of love. In personal love the object has some attraction to the subject. "I love you" because there is something that is attractive to me and that meet my standards. So that the standard of God, which is His righteousness, approved the righteousness in Adam and Eve so that the justice of God could bless them through the love of God. In fact, in the garden of Eden justice is not an issue at all because of the perfect compatibility of man with God (+R with +R). The only place we see justice functioning in the garden has to do with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God hangs His justice out there on a tree and says they can eat from any tree in the garden except for one: "On the day you eat of that you will certainly die," a very emphatic expression in the Hebrew. When they ate of the tree they were immediately separated from God; they were R; God was +R; there could no longer be a relationship between God and man.

2.  +R can only love +R. This is personal love from God for a creature who possessed +R.

3.  Personal love is that category of love that is selective, conditional and dependent upon the appeal or merit of the person loved. In God personal love is always virtuous because God has perfect integrity. In man personal love is not virtuous because man does not possess perfect integrity. If God can't love man with personal love now because man possesses R, how can God love man? By means of unconditional or impersonal love. If the object has no value or compatibility then instead of basing the love on the character or merit of the object the love must be based exclusively on the character, merit and integrity of the person doing the loving. "I love you" in this sense means "I love you regardless of what you do because my love is not conditioned on anything you do, my love is based on the stability of my own character. So when God says "I love you" to the unbeliever who possesses negative righteousness it is not based on any appeal, any merit, ant value in the person being loved. Nothing about any of us is attractive to God. We are all sinners; we all fall short of the glory of God. Therefore by nature we are all obnoxious and repugnant to the character of God. We will never understand grace if we think that there is something in us that causes God to love us personally. Impersonal love keeps the highest and best for the person loved regardless of likes, dislikes, attraction, repulsion, knowledge, lack of knowledge, or any other factor other than the virtue and integrity of the person loving. One characteristic of impersonal love is that it is stable, unchanging. Therefore for impersonal love to truly function it must be based on something that is unchanging and immutable. Frankly, that is not our character. So how in the world can we exercise impersonal love? We have to go back to our model. Divine impersonal love is based on the perfect virtue and absolute integrity of God. So human impersonal love must be based on who God is and what Christ has done on the cross. That is what we see in Ephesians 4:32. In Scripture forgiveness is always based on the fact that a payment has been made, that the sin has been recognised and dealt with.

4.  Prior to the fall God could love man personally because there was complete compatibility and rapport between perfect God and perfect man.

5.  But after Adam sinned and lost +R there was no longer any rapport or compatibility between God and man. This God's personal love was replaced by impersonal or unconditional love. God's impersonal love becomes the basis for God's actions toward man which are expressed through His grace. So all of God grace policies toward man after the fall is based on who He is and what Christ has done for us on the cross.

6.  With the loss of rapport with God the divine love was no longer the point of contact with man. The point of contact between man and God now becomes divine justice. Divine justice has to be satisfied before God can personally love man again. He can only relate to man on the basis of impersonal love, He cannot have personal love with man.