Without question, no attribute of God in our modern culture is more reviled than the concept of God’s judgement against sin. In fact, the idea of a judging God has even become increasingly unpopular within Christian circles these days too. It seems many pastors today seldom address this subject, if at all. Instead, the focus appears aimed at driving up (Church) attendance numbers. Therefore, preaching on sin and God’s judgement could prove a major turnoff, thus hurting the “bottom line” of many Churches. So what do they do? Most simply ignore the issue and focus on God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. I personally take no issue with preaching on any of these other wonderful attributes of God, but still I have to ask: Why is God’s judgement viewed as a negative? To my mind, we are doing a disservice to both the Church, and the secular world, by avoiding and/or denying this very important aspect of God’s character. God will one day stand in judgement of us all – weather we like it or not. Thus, there is no sense in avoiding or denying the issue. Now let me be crystal clear, I do NOT believe people of faith should in anyway be harsh, or abusive, in conveying this teaching from scripture. But we should all at least be honest about it: the Bible clearly teaches that God will one day judge us all for our sins. Therefore, in this post I will discuss this very important topic: God and Judgement.
First, it is fair to say that for several believers the idea of a judging God is one many would rather not think about. After all, in our modern culture the concept of “judgement” is viewed as a negative and synonymous with “vengeance” or “intolerance”. Who would want to worship a God like that? However, such people should consider the alternative: let us imagine a world if God did NOT judge. If God did not hold the human race accountable for our evil deeds and the suffering we cause, then who by default would be responsible? The answer should be obvious: God would then be responsible for evil and suffering. Now I ask: Why would anyone want to love, much less worship, a God like that?
Once more, if God did not judge evil, what would this tell us about His nature and character? To illustrate this point, try and imagine the following scenario. Think of any loved one in your life, now imagine this person was murdered, and their murderer was arrested and brought before the court. This individual then addresses the court, and apologizes for the murder of your loved one. After apologizing, they tell the court how sorry they are, and that they really feel bad about their crime and promise never to do it again. After hearing this, the Judge then rules that since the murderer felt really bad about their crime, they can go free. That’s it — case closed! Could anyone seriously imagine such a scenario? Once more, would you want to hug and thank this Judge after rendering such a verdict? I highly doubt it. Nobody would respect that kind of Judge, moreover, love that kind of Judge. Yet that is the great irony of this whole discussion. This is essentially the God many people want to believe in. A God that loves everyone, judges no one, and would never create an eternal hell – much less allow anyone to suffer such a consequence. But people that want to make God appear more loving by denying both the existence of hell, and the attribute of divine judgement, are in actuality creating a less loving God.
Now some may object to this assertion, arguing the aforementioned example involved murder, then counter by asking: why would a loving God send someone to hell for “lesser” sins – like lying? When contemplating such questions concerning sin, we would do better to consider the individual who is violated, rather than focusing on the actual sin (or violation) itself. Specifically, the greater the individual or institution one violates, the greater their punishment will be. For instance, in our own legal system, if one was to steal five dollars from a local gift shop register verses stealing the same amount of money from a federal bank teller’s register — which do you suppose would carry the more severe punishment? In actuality, it is the same violation, but as the latter is a crime against the state verse a local retail store, the punishment increases. For another example, suppose a child was to stump on an ant bed to torment ants, or pour salt on a snail to watch it melt. Is this wrong? Most people I suspect would say no, that is simply children being children. However, if instead of tormenting ants or snails, let’s say the child was tormenting cats or dogs. Is this wrong? I would think in this case everyone would say yes, and there would be punishment as a consequence. Now, let’s suppose someone was not tormenting animals, but other human beings. Get the point? In each scenario, the violation, i.e. tormenting a living creature, was the same. However, the object of that violation (torment) was different, i.e. the greater the being, the greater the punishment. Now, what does one really expect the punishment to be if we sin against the greatest conceivable BEING of all (God)?
The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin is death, both temporal and eternal. Specifically, a temporary death is the death of the physical body, meanwhile an eternal death is the death of the soul (separation from God). In other words, the punishment for sin is an eternal punishment, hell. Not surprisingly, many people do not agree with God’s verdict, just like those who break the law rarely agree with the verdict imposed on them by a Judge (or Jury). This is why no legal system would allow the accused to impose their own punishments, otherwise, I suspect the world would have a lot of empty prisons. Therefore, given the existence of sin, there must also be judgement. God would not be Just otherwise. But alas, now we finally come to the solution: forgiveness.
It is important for us all to remember that God does NOT want any of us to suffer eternal punishment (hell), but that it is OUR actions that dictate this fate. Nevertheless, God’s love for us is so great, that he desires to forgive us all our sins anyway. But such desire alone was NOT enough to save us from the punishment that must follow, as illustrated in our earlier scenario. In other words, simply saying we are sorry is not sufficient grounds to avoid punishment from a Loving and Just God. Therefore, this left God with only one option to grant forgiveness: substitution. Specifically, through the sacrifice of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, all the sins of humanity were atoned for through the Cross. Thus, Jesus Christ, who was without sin, suffered the punishment on our behalf. This is why we believers profess that Jesus is our Lord and Savior — it is He alone that saved us from our sins. Once more, it is also important to remember that God did not need to save us. After all, HE did nothing wrong — it is OUR sin, and our shortcomings, that place a barrier between us and God. Moreover, the fact that God provided us this path to salvation is an illustration of his immense LOVE for mankind. For instance, when certain angels rebelled and sinned against God, they were all cast out of Heaven with no path for redemption. Yet, for the human race, God gave us a Savior, providing us a path to forgiveness and eternal salvation. It is this divine sacrifice, the atonement of our sins bore by Christ, that humanity is reconciled to God. As the Gospel of John proclaims:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have (everlasting) eternal life.” (John 3:16)
That concludes this post. Thank you for reading. I hope some may have found this insightful.