God’s rules are like the boundaries a parent sets for his or her children, they are for our benefit and protection (though, like a child, we often seem to think we know better). And when a child breaks their parents’ rules, they can usually expect consequences, some naturally occurring and some in the form of disciplinary measures. Similarly, there are consequences of breaking God’s laws.
But I’m not going to discuss the obvious consequences such as emotional pain, financial loss, broken homes, lost jobs, drug addictions, STDs, or any of the overly numerous ways we manage to mess up our own lives. (Proverbs 19:3 comes to mind: People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.) No, for this entry I’m going to stick to the bigger picture – which is the eternal consequence of our sin.
Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death…” This is an understandably difficult verse for many people. “How can a loving God sentence someone to death?” one is tempted to ask. I have had the same question myself. And this could lead us into some very deep theological territory, but I am going to attempt to avoid this with a simple analogy that will show that a god who doesn’t punish sin is actually an unloving god. Yes, it is precisely because God is so loving that He punishes sin.
Glad you asked. (Well, I assume you asked.) Let’s posit that a criminal has been apprehended and tried for an especially heinous crime against an especially defenseless victim. Perhaps it was a small child or an elderly couple who were viciously attacked, beaten, or killed. The prosecution’s case was airtight and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that this perpetrator was culpable. The jury has come to a unanimous verdict of guilty on all counts.
The day has come when the judge will hand down the sentence. The family of the victim stands in the courtroom, tightly holding hands, anticipating the justice they will finally receive. They nervously look at each other, sure of the outcome but wary none-the-less. The tragedy of this atrocious crime has taken its toll and the lives of the family members will never be the same. Finally, the judge enters the courtroom and announces his sentence: “No punishment. You’re free to go.”
Can you imagine the horror that would pass through the family and all those in the courtroom? No punishment? Wouldn’t that be the most nefarious, unloving act the judge could possibly take? Of course it would! A horrible crime demands an appropriate punishment. And it is no different with God. When we break laws, the only fair, just, and loving thing God can do is hand out punishment. And, eternally speaking, that punishment is far worse than the temporal consequences we inflict upon ourselves.
And lest we should begin to think that we are not guilty, let’s be reminded that “all have sinned, all fall short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) And let’s also not try to minimize our crimes, either, by claiming that God’s standards are unreasonably high. A simple reading the Ten Commandments reveals rules that are reasonable in every regard, and are clearly for our own good and for the good of those around us.
Yet we steal. We commit adultery (Jesus said that if we look upon another with lust we have committed adultery in our heart – Matthew 5:28); we murder (Jesus said if we even are angry with our fellow man we are subject to judgment – Matthew 5:22); we lie; we covet; we fail to honor our parents; we fail to hold God in proper esteem. If you disagree with the concept that you are a sinner, then you are being disingenuous because we all inherently know we are guilty. No, as is explained to us in Romans 1, God has made the truth plain to us through His creation, we all intrinsically know that God exists and, therefore, we are without excuse.
But there is good news, Romans 3 says, in verses 24-26: “Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”
And that’s how loving God is. He sacrificed His own Son to pay the price for our sins so that we can be made righteous. The question is: have you availed yourself of God’s forgiveness? If you want to know how to be sure you are forgiven, please write us at email@example.com.
Until next time, God bless.
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