I've been studying on the nature of God and His character. While reading the New Testament I noticed that God operated in a different way in terms of His behavior. In the Old Testament, God had commanded that people be killed; men woman, children and even animals. I want to believe that in definition of terms, God would definitely seem immoral.

But Jesus who is God showed us a different character and nature of God. Jesus confirmed His unity and oneness with God in John 10:30. This on the other hand shows a "moral" God.

We are to believe that God remained the same in both Testament, unchanging; "He's the same yesterday, today and forever" and if this is so it would seem that both nature expressed in both Testament draws a huge parallel line.

  1. If God is moral, in the light of the OT, what is the basis of his morality?
  2. If God is immoral, is He then worth serving?
  3. If God is neither moral or immoral, does that make Him amoral?
  • 2
    You certainly are not the first to ask this question or notice this stark difference in behavior and priorities between the OT and NT depictions of God (and indeed, this question quickly spirals into the general philosophical question of theodicy, which is to ask "how can an omnipotent God demonstrate morality considering the suffering in human life").
    – user3961
    Dec 31, 2018 at 23:53
  • And certainly, since this is a millennia-old question, there have been a variety of answers. If you'd like this site's users to try and give you something reasonable for this venue, I suggest editing the question to ask for an "overview" on how this is answered. That means answers will attempt to give you a few quick points on how this has been resolved by various schools of thought.
    – user3961
    Dec 31, 2018 at 23:53
  • 1
    Alternatively, if you have a preferred prominent theologian, or a preferred Christian school of thought/denomination, you can request their answer instead. Without one of those changes, this question is far too broad and opinion based for the site guidelines.
    – user3961
    Dec 31, 2018 at 23:53
  • 1
    I have stated my denomination in the question, I hope this will help provide a more direct answer that is void of debates and arguments. I would have preferred an overview though on all school of thoughts, but that would be too broad and vague. Jan 1, 2019 at 7:31
  • If morality exists then it, along with everything else, was created by God. It is not fitting for finite, temporal, created beings (us) to judge the infinite, eternal Creator according to our limited understanding of what He has made. This is a reflection of Adam's fall in us...You will be like God, knowing good and evil. Apr 9, 2020 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


Leading Pentecostal theologian J. Rodman Williams deals with the character of God in his systematic theology, Renewal Theology, volume 1, chapter 3. Here are a few quotes that teach God's holiness and righteousness, which Wiliams considers to be aspects of God's "moral nature":

Holiness is the foundation of God’s nature; it is the background for everything else we may say about God. (59)

It is sometimes assumed that the Old Testament depicts a God of holiness, whereas the New Testament depicts a God of love. This is an unfortunate misapprehension, for the God of the New Testament is the same holy God. (60)

There is in God utterly no taint of anything unclean or impure. (61)

God is a God of total integrity and uprightness. [...] The divine nature is that of absolute rectitude. Wrongdoing is foreign to His life and action. (62)

Out of this holiness and righteousness, says Williams, flow God's justice and punishment:

God expects His people to demonstrate uprightness [...]. When they depart from His way, punishment must follow, for God’s righteousness cannot tolerate any unrighteousness in man. (61–62)

God in His justice renders to each person according to his works. God is “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18:25), and accordingly metes out both penalties and rewards. (62)

This is a huge topic, but these quotes should make the point – God's punishes people (in both the Old Testament and New Testament – read Acts 5 sometime) because they fall short of his standard of righteousness. That said, he offers grace as well, as Williams writes:

The word grace speaks of the way in which God in Christ has condescended to us. It highlights that aspect of God’s love that refers to His self-giving regardless of merit. (66)

In the Old Testament God is frequently spoken of as one who “abounds in lovingkindness.” The words of God to Moses that begin, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious” continue with “slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and faithfulness, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgivinginiquity and transgression and sin.” (66–67)


The essential difference between the Old and New Testaments can be summarized in the question, "Who dies for my sins?"

In the Old Testament, people were responsible for paying the penalties for their sins; in the New Testament, Jesus paid that penalty for everyone else.

Though it initially appears God was unjust in the deaths of men, women, children in the Old Testament, it must be remembered that these people were [mercifully] given many opportunities to change their behavior and turn to the true God.

  1. Sodom was known to be a wicked city long before it was destroyed [Genesis 13:13].

    • Even in its wickedness, God agreed to spare the city, had there been ten righteous people [Genesis 18:32].
  2. The cultures Israel was commanded to utterly destroy were granted hundreds of years to amend their ways before judgment came to them.

  3. In one of the oft-used examples of God's "barbarity," a man was stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath Day [Numbers 15:32-36].
    • What is not widely known is that this man was found picking up sticks about one year after God gave the initial order to keep the Sabbath holy.
    • Literally, more than fifty Sabbaths had passed, wherein all of Israel--including this man--learned how to keep God's commandment.
    • Why this man chose that Sabbath to presumptuously disobey God, we may not know; what is known is that he paid the penalty for his sin.

Similar points could be raised for the other examples of God's presumed "unfairness" in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, God waited as long as His wisdom--and love--could tolerate; then, He acted.

God hates sin: He has always dealt forcefully and finally with it; He always will.

In the New Testament, we see God's final and most potent answer to humanity's sin.

  1. God was manifest in the flesh, born of a woman, born under the law, and lived among us [Matthew 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 3:16; Galatians 4:4; John 1:1, 14]
  2. His sinless life qualified Him to be the only acceptable sacrifice for sin, as the untold quantities of blood shed in the Old Testament could never take away sins [Hebrews 10:1-5].
  3. As those in the Old Testament could not hope to be rid of their sin, unless there was a sacrifice; neither can we in the New Testament.
    • In the Old, faith in God's Word, and in the shed blood of an animal "pushed" sins forward; like using a credit card that someone else would eventually pay for.
    • In the New, faith in God's Word, and in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, removes that sin forever.

God did not change; His plan did not change [Revelation 13:8]. In both testaments, we see God's utter hatred for sin; the difference between the two covenants is who pays for that sin.

As God designed the plan, and implemented the plan, and fulfilled the plan, He is the Ultimate Morality.

  1. What does it mean to be moral?

From dictionary.com, moral is defined as:

of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical.

  1. Who or what defines what is moral?

According to the Bible, God defines what is right and good (moral), and what is evil and bad (immoral). The principle sources of this idea:

a) The Decalogue (10 commandments).

b) The Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the new covenant.

c) Jesus' statement that "only God is good" in Mark 10:

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[d]”

  1. However, it is not sufficient that God defines what is good and commands what is good if He does not also himself practice goodness. There are several scriptures that address this. First, consider Philippians 2:

    And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Jesus, as God the Son, was obedient to the moral code. He did not just proclaim it, he lived it.

Second, consider Numbers 23:

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

This indicates that concerning speech, God is not immoral.

To go through every action of God and line it up with his definition of good to see if he ever violated it would be a lengthy exercise, and one at which I would likely fail.

To address God's commands to kill, there are several solutions. The solution offered by Calvinists is that all people but Jesus suffer from original sin inherited from Adam and Eve, hence are guilty of that which is justly punishable by death. Thus God has the right to kill anyone at anytime for any reason or no reason at all beyond the sin nature already in them. The fact that he permits most people to live for many years before arranging for circumstances that end their life is proof of his grace, patience, and mercy, not an immoral bloodlust.

Other denominations that do not subscribe to the concept of original sin or add prevenient grace or some other device to counteract original sin solve this difficulty in another way.

  • 4
    The question has now been edited to be on-topic, and it specifies that the Pentecostal perspective be given. You may need to edit or delete your answer. (This is why we don't answer off-topic questions)
    – user32540
    Jan 1, 2019 at 14:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .