In the previous post, we looked at the oft-used phrase “Judge not lest you be judged.” Most people utilize this verse as an escape from being judged themselves, without ever understanding its true biblical context and application. All throughout Scripture, we see both the need to discern correctly (judge) and the need to avoid hypocrisy when examining and criticizing others. What God forbids is not judging itself, but, rather, doing so superficially, arrogantly and with a double-standard.
The next frequently used cliché involves God’s attitude towards sin and sinners – “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.” This statement is used without reservation in most Christian circles as if it was a biblical truth, but is it? The testimony of Scripture will show us differently.
A common error is to over-emphasize a particular attribute of God and in our current culture no one attribute is more talked about than God’s love. Love, however, is spoken of in variant degrees and types in Scripture and in the English language the word ‘love’ is extremely weak and multi-definitional. We say that we love our car, we love ice cream, love the Saints, love God and love our children all with the same word; however, the meaning in each case is radically different. Surely no one wants to argue that they love God in the same manner, meaning and measure that they love their automobile. Hence, ‘love’ is too broad and too blanketed to be used precisely in describing God’s relationship to sinners for most certainly the love of God extended to the man who is condemned to eternal punishment in hell is most certainly not the recipient of unending grace and mercy.
The book of Psalms declares that, “The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.” (Psalm 11:5-6) God’s wrath and hatred towards those who practice evil is often underemphasized making passages such as these seem quite foreign and harsh; yet without the bad news of impending judgment and condemnation the good news of the Gospel is made unnecessary. Proverbs says that the LORD hates those who are arrogant and spread discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19) and Psalm 5 clearly states that God takes no pleasure in wickedness, therefore the boastful shall not stand in His sight for He hates all workers of iniquity abhorring the bloodthirsty and deceitful.
So if we are to stay consistent in our understanding and true to the text of Scripture we must maintain that God is angry at sin and sinner alike. Hell will not be full of miscellaneous sins it will be the eternal dwelling place of sinners who refuse to turn from sin and put their trust in the complete forgiveness of God found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God loved humanity by offering up His only begotten Son at Calvary so that convicted sinners may escape their just reward but the degree of that affection is tempered by the free will of Him who alone extends mercy.
Death comes swiftly and death comes expectedly for none of us escape its call. Suffering, death and decay are all effects of the fall of man where sin entered the world and so, too, did death. Through Adam’s transgression, his single disobedient act of the will against the Law of God, all of us will see death; yet those who believe in the gospel of Christ will escape its finality. No one avoids their funeral, but we can be rescued from our final judgment. Like Adam, we eat what we shouldn’t eat and think what we shouldn’t think and as a result we will be held accountable for each and every action and heart attitude.
However, those who trust Christ as their Savior and righteousness will not taste the tomb forever. Those who know Him know that just as the Lord’s tomb was found empty, one day in the final Day of the Lord, their tomb, too, will be vacant. And not only that, but when it comes to the time where the Lord of all Creation examines their life in accordance with His prescribed Law, they will be found guiltless. This verdict will not be because of their righteousness or ability to ever have lived up to God’s requirements, but rather their freedom from punishment will be because they, by faith, believed in the perfect work of Jesus Christ. He was sent here by the Father to invade time as a man so that he could accomplish fully the redemptive work of our Triune God. Christ paid what we owe in full and He alone was qualified to do so.
It was His flawless life in thought, word and deed that is accepted by God. It was His sacrificial death at the hands of the world where He paid the penalty owed by His adoptive faithful; where the wrath of the Father was poured out into His every being – where the satisfaction was satisfied. His atoning death covers the sins – past, present and future – of all who believe that this gloriously good news is true. God proved the truth of Christ’s mission on earth with a resurrective seal of authenticity. Christ being raised from the dead on the third day proves that this grand narrative of God’s ultimate work in human history is not merely a fable.
Helpless men radically corrupted by sin, incapable of rescuing themselves or even fully understanding just how deep they are drowning are saved by the grace of the Living God so that God may receive the glory of his mighty work in salvation. God changes hearts so that they will believe and worship in spirit and in truth. This, friends, is the good news. The good news is not what God will do for you; the good news is what has already been done on behalf of His people. The gospel is not man-centered self-help, it is a Christ-centered miracle that points our eyes to the Cross where the Lord of Glory died so that men who deserve nothing from Him might live forever in perfect fellowship with their Creator.