Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Good News vs. Fake News: God punishes you when you sin
One major area tradition abounds in is the subject of sin. In the next few posts, we will expose the truth over tradition in this area. When we speak of sin it seems to some, sin is much more powerful than Grace. Sin is the proverbial "kryptonite" of God. Meaning God sees sin and He is weakened, unable to help or heal you, to move on your behalf, or to answer prayer. Others see God responding to your sin the same way the movies show vampires reacting to sunlight. God sees it and He flees. He must disconnect from you. He must break fellowship from you.
This is a very real concern for many Christians. This is where so many of us live. Often it isn't sin in general that concerns us. Moreso than not its the frequency of our failures and misdeeds. It is that one sin we seem to be struggling with and keep repeating.
We can get into fear, worry, and concern about our relationship with God. At times we create a scale from bad to worst sins. If we commit a real bad sin just once we fear instant judgment. Then we go to the other extreme looking at the same sin we keep struggling with. We wonder if we keep repeating this behavior will God really forgive us? We wonder if we can cross some proverbial line and then God will say "that's it, you've sinned once to often you're gonna get it!"
What is the truth? Does God punish us? Is He angry with us and disappointed in us when we sin? Is He standing by just waiting to strike if we blow it?
To answer this, let's look at Christ's redemptive work at the Cross. What did He actually do on that Cross? What did He accomplish?
Isaiah 53:4-5 MSG
Jesus bore our sins. He took the pain, punishment, and judgment for our sins. If God is punishing you for your sins then God would be saying Jesus' sacrifice and Finished Work wasn't enough. It didn't complete the payment for sin and redemption. That would mean our salvation is not complete, the work is unfinished, and we, therefore, have no eternal hope.
Thanks be to God, Jesus did Finish the Work. Thank God the price was fully paid and completely accepted by Father God. There is no more punishment for sin. Jesus paid the price. God isn't going to charge your sins to you and expect you to pay for them when Jesus already paid for them. How just is it for a merchant to expect additional payment for an item that has already been purchased and paid in full?
Tradition has some nonsensical ideas about God. They can't grasp the goodness of God. They can't understand His mercy. They fail to comprehend the very nature of Grace.
Does this mean God is ok with Christians living in sin? That He merely winks at those who abide in sinful living? That He is celebrating our moral failures, misdeeds, mistakes, and sins? That our Father isn't grieved when He sees the pain and hurt and misery sin causes?
God is absolutely perfect and holy. He is purity. Certainly, He doesn't celebrate sinful choices and habits. Sin grieves His heart because He doesn't want us hurting ourselves and others. He doesn't desire us to live and act contrary to our true identity in Him.
We need to see this issue from God's perspective. Nothing you could ever do will cause God to love you less or make Him want to distance Himself from you. Look at the newborn infant. The parents love that child unconditionally. All that child does is sleep, eat, spit up and urinate and defecate. It cannot perform in any way. Yet the parents continually show love and affection. Even when the baby messes up the furniture, the floor, the vehicle or their crib, good parents are right there cleaning up the mess and still showing love, acceptance, affirmation, and adoration.
Do parents withhold food or shelter or warmth when the infant spits up staining the furniture or carpet? We know parents that have done such things because they make front page news. We call them loveless, abusive people. Even lost sinners condemn this behavior. Sadly, religious tradition views God as being this way. Withholding blessings, affection, and love because of people's sins.
They say God will get you for sinning too much. They say God is punishing you. They will cite Hebrews 12 to substantiate this claim. In the complete context, this Epistle to the Hebrews who were on the fence about fully receiving new life in Christ and embracing Grace or staying with the Old Covenant Law. The writer is correcting their thinking about Grace and Law, the Old and New Covenant, and the supremacy of Jesus and the Finished Work. In doing so the writer reveals that those whom God loves He corrects.
Correction and instruction are not punishment. When we look at New Covenant correction we see it is God by His Spirit reminding people of who they are and whose they are. God corrects and instructs with His Word, not with punishment or harsh circumstances. He lovingly reminds us of who we are and He never stops loving us or distances Himself from us. It's His goodness that brings us to change not punishment.
When we miss it or keep sinning that same sin, often we look at our life and can see bad days or trying situations and conclude we deserve it. That God is punishing us and we are displeasing to God. Often the result is we back away from God. God doesn't want our behavior to determine our identity, but who He made us in the Finished Work. He wants us to awaken to Him and our new identity in Christ and not distance ourselves when we sin.
The truth is there is only one punishment for sin and that is death. It is not unanswered prayers or God breaking fellowship with us. Jesus already paid the price. He died so we wouldn't have to. We need not fear or shrink back from God. If we think God is punishing us for our sins, we are not fully receiving and abiding in His perfect love for us.
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