John 9: 1-3
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus…
Romans 8: 1-4
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
"I'm terrified that because of what I have done, God will punish me by somehow taking my child from me," the young woman said to me through deep sobs after a church meeting. It was a fear that she had lived with for some time. She was convinced that God was angry with her for past choices in her life and was just waiting for the right moment when He could get His revenge by inflicting pain on those she loved the most.
I have to be honest, my first response was anger. Not at the lady. At a religious belief system that causes people to believe in a God who would ever want to exact revenge through harming their child. This wasn’t the first time I had heard such a sentiment expressed in various forms. Among many sincere Christians (and even non-believers) there is an image of an angry, capricious God who is up there in Heaven longing to smite and strike down anyone who transgresses His strict moral code.
That is not the God of the Bible, this is not the God who was revealed in the person of Jesus. However it is not a new belief. These words in essence express the popular theology of Jesus’ day when the disciples encounter a man born blind and ask him:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9: 2)
Let me clarify something here before I say anything else. I believe in a holy, righteous God who hates sin and will one day punish the unrepentant wicked. The Bible makes clear that there will be a day of judgement and on that day there will be a separation between those who received God’s lavish grace and those who refused it. Mercifully, this punishment has been delayed until the end of physical life for individuals, or the “end of days” for the world. God’s perfect justice will take care of that and we don’t need to speculate what that entails.
Right now, we are living in the era of relentless grace when each of us has an opportunity to step into the fullness of God’s goodness and enjoy His favour, freedom and forgiveness. We are living in the light of Christ’s death on the cross, where he took our sins on himself and endured the wrath of God on our behalf.
With that in mind, here’s what I told the lady who was terrified of God harming her child: “You are a Christian, God’s beloved child. Two thousand years ago God poured all of His wrath and anger for your sin on His son at Calvary. Therefore God will never, ever punish you for something Jesus has already received the full punishment for. In fact, for God to punish you would render Him unjust. Go therefore and enjoy life free from fear, guilt and condemnation.”
In the same way I want you to be absolutely assured, if you have accepted God’s gift of grace by believing in Jesus, you will never experience the wrath - the divine punishment - you deserve. In grace, Jesus took it all and left none for you. None.
This story of amazing grace is not just for you, it's one which we can invite our friends, neighbours, family and co-workers into. It's a story of freedom, forgiveness and life.
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