If you were to ask a random person to describe God some would tell you about where they believe He is (“The Man Upstairs”) some would tell you that He doesn’t exist, but I believe a majority of people would tell you something about God being love. And they would be correct, since 1 John 4:8 states plainly- “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
A loving God is something with which many can relate. They have or know of loving parents. They have love for a spouse, children or a dog, and it is easy to picture a loving God because, in this mindset, a loving God (much like Grandpa) doesn’t demand anything from us– and may shower us with gifts from time to time. Hence the whole line of thought “How can a loving God do XYZ?” (For you mathematicians out there, substitute XYZ with any tragedy and you’ve solved the equation.)
The interesting thing is that when God decides to identify Himself– or angels praise an attribute– they choose to praise something else entirely. They praise God’s holiness. When the Lord appeared in the temple to Isaiah– high and lifted up– it wasn’t “Love, Love, Love” that the angels cried out but “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Same thing in the book of Revelation around the throne of God.
In fact, it was God’s holiness that demanded Christ die for our sins. True, Christ came in love, but He came because sin demanded a sacrifice. Yes, if you look throughout the Bible you will find that God exhibits and is called on for His holiness many times. You will see it in how He dealt with Adam and Eve– one sin and they were out of the garden. How He dealt with Noah and the Flood– the whole Earth except for eight people destroyed. (In those days, you could have a get together at a house and say that the you truly had the whole world over! And the grandkids– the cutest in the world… I’ll stop now.)
On down the line you see God demonstrating holiness and justice. He did demonstrate love, mercy and compassion (part of the name of God said before Moses) but when He chose an attribute to express Himself to His people, it was His holiness.
So what does that mean to us? Well, the Scripture is clear that we are to be holy as God is holy. It’s an important thing. It’s part of fearing God. I believe that Christians and the church have gotten so used to singing and talking about how much God is the God of love that we tend to be a little lax on the obedience side of things because we know He will forgive. We sing about the grace and mercy of God, and we emphasize it, but do we preach and live the righteousness of God.
It is true that our sins were paid for at Calvary. It is true that if we confess we will be forgiven. It is true that there is more grace to cover sin. But it is also true that we should not sin that Grace may abound: Romans 6. In fact, we are called to use our grace and mercy to reach the lost for Christ, and that means by living in a way that pleases and draws attention to Him, not us.
If anything, we should be more desiring to do the will of God and follow His commandments because of what He has done for us. Instead of having sin over us, we are liberated from it, and that should cause us to have a passion towards obedience. We should love to follow Him. We should want to “look our best for our bridegroom.”