Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Good News vs. Fake News: God punishes you when you sin

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

 We've been in a series examining the Good News versus the fake news of religious tradition. We've been exposing the differences between truth and tradition. Whenever we shine the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ on the traditions of men revealing their error, we are not attacking people. We are simply highlighting wrong thinking in light of the revealed will of God, the truth of the Word.

  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. 

Is God Punishing Me When I Sin?

 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? 
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.  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. 
17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:17-18 NLT

In summation, God isn't punishing you when you sin. He isn't angry with you. He isn't seeking ways to get you or make your life harder. He isn't creating harsh and destructive circumstances to punish or teach you. Sin may have harsh consequences here on Earth, but that isn't God punishing you. Focus on God's love. God will love you before that sin, during that sin and afterward. His perfect love will lead you out of sinful ways and bondages and addictions. He is a good Father who loves and cherishes you and this love never fails. Sin loses it's appeal when we embrace His perfect love, for He alone is the satisfaction and fulfillment we long for in all areas of this life.
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No comments: