God possesses characteristics that may appear to be mutually exclusive from a human perspective. For example, God is sovereign, yet He allows us to exercise free will. (See Ephesians 1:11, Deuteronomy 30:19.) God is just, yet He is also merciful. (See Psalm 89:14.) God is omnipotent, yet He is longsuffering. (See Exodus 34:6, 7.) However, these different characteristics have a common denominator. They derive from one source—God’s character of love. Therefore, this diversity is not a combination of good and evil, of righteousness and unrighteousness, of transgression and obedience. It is not a balancing act of diametrically opposing principles. No, God is one. (See Deuteronomy 6:4.) He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and there is no shadow of variance in Him. Scripture summarizes this, saying, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17.
Following this same line of thought, we realize that God saves us by grace, not by works of the law. (See Ephesians 2:8, 9.) However, the fact that we are saved by grace does not indicate that the law has been done away. The apostle Paul clearly understood this apparent tension, yet beautiful harmony, when he asked, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Romans 6:15. Nonetheless, many evangelical theologians conclude that if we are under grace we do not need to keep God’s law.
A similar unbalanced conclusion has been reached regarding the vindication of God’s character. The conclusion is, God’s character was vindicated through Christ, therefore He does not need to be vindicated by the believer. Are these two vindications mutually exclusive? I would suggest, based on the evidence of Scripture, that these two vindications are not antithetical; they are complementary and harmonious—they are one!
Consider the following inspired quote: “It becomes every child of God to vindicate His character. You can magnify the Lord; you can show the power of sustaining grace.”1 Therefore, if Christ dwells in us, we will vindicate the character of God. Christ will be the One doing the work in us; however, we have to choose to follow Him. Oh, may we allow God to vindicate His character through us!
1Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol 5, p. 317.