This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.
1. They describe how God is not like us.
His incommunicable attributes belong to him alone. They are true of him and no other. His immeasurability, incomprehensibility, self-existence, self-sufficiency, eternality, immutability, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, and sovereignty should elicit from us, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11)
2. They know no limits.
Everything that is true about God’s nature and character is infinitely true. He is infinitely creative, infinitely sustaining, unlimited by time. God knows no limits on his presence, knowledge, power, and authority.
3. They show us our limits.
When we contemplate God’s limitlessness, we see our own limits more clearly. We are better able to recognize where we are attempting to play God in a relationship or circumstance. Humbled by comparison, we reorient our hearts toward submission.
4. They are not ours to imitate.
We can and should imitate God’s communicable attributes. By the power of the Spirit we can learn to be merciful, loving, long-suffering and gracious. But we must not covet or mimic his incommunicable attributes. We are not designed for omniscience. We are not entitled to omnipotence. We must not aspire to self-sufficiency. To do so is to take what is his and to invite disaster.
5. They challenge our understanding.
Because God is infinite and we are finite, our ability to know him is limited. We don’t know anything or anyone that is unlimited, so it is difficult to find comparison points that can help us understand his attributes. They are, however, able to be understood sufficiently through the Bible. All knowledge of him that is necessary for life and godliness can be found there, and is worth laboring to understand.
Because God is infinite and we are finite, our ability to know him is limited.
6. They change how we read the Bible.
When we make a study of what is true about God, we begin to see his character revealed from different vantage points each time we read his Word. We are able to interpret texts in the context of who God is. The law declares his sovereignty. The story of the Exodus declares his omnipotence. The story of creation declares his self-existence and eternality.
7. They teach us reliance on God.
When we come to recognize how imminently qualified God is to sustain his creation and rule over it, we relinquish control to him. We cease striving with our maker and learn to trust him in matters that are beyond our ability or understanding.
8. They inspire right worship.
When we behold God for who he is, we offer acceptable worship in reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28-29). We understand afresh that we should worship no other gods because there are no other gods. He alone transcends. He is worthy of sacrifice and adoration.
9. They teach us to hate sin.
When we understand God’s character in all its glory, we see our sin in a new light. We gain perspective on what it means that our sin causes us to “fall short of the glory of God.” Like Isaiah, we respond to a vision of God high and lifted up with confession and repentance.
10. They teach us to love our neighbor.
When we see God as the highest object of our affection, we can stop asking other people to be God for us. We not only learn to embrace our own limits, we learn to accept the limits of others. When we recognize we don’t need our neighbor to save us, we can freely extend to them the unconditional love that has been given to us through the miraculous atoning work of Christ.