God Is Good, So Will He Punish?
"These things you have done and I have kept silence; You thought
I was just like you; I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your
eyes." (Psalm 50:21).
The Lord, through the Psalmist, wanted to make something clear. It bears repeating today. He is not just like us. Since the beginning of time, mankind has tried to refashion God into man's image. He has made golden calves, idols of Molech and Baal, and today theologians debate one another seeking to prove that God is what they want Him to be.
One thing about God, as revealed in the Bible, that really upsets many today is the idea that God would punish people for sin or rebellion. In the Movie "Oh God" God is portrayed in a comical way and is much more like what people would like Him to be. He is kindly, easy going and never angry "except on His bad days". Well, what about the flood.? The movie explains, "That was just a plumbing accident." Yes, people seem to want to believe in that kind of God, sometimes bungling things and not capable of Divine wrath. Our generation has done it again. We have refashioned the true and living God of the Bible into something more to our liking.
But we know it doesn't really work like that, don't we? Mankind's whims and preferences about what we want God to be do not change what He really is. The fact is that God is indeed capable and willing to dispense wrath justly and righteously even as He is willing and able to dispense grace lovingly and mercifully.
God Is Not Just Like Man
"May it never be! Rather, let God be found true though every man a liar." (Romans 3:4).
Think about it; if God says one thing and every man on earth says another, which is right? God is!
Those in the Psalmists day were in many ways like people today when it came to sin. It wasn't all that serious to them, and because of that, they assumed it was not all that serious to God. They were wrong.
They were wrong when they thought that since everybody sins and sin is so commonplace, that it must not be serious. "God must not punish it as the Bible says He will, because that would involve too many people being punished." While it is true that God takes no pleasure in punishing the wicked, whether few or many, the fact remains that He has said that such will be punished (Ezekiel 18:30-32; Matthew 7:22,23).
They were also wrong in supposing that because God is loving and merciful (and He is!) that He would never punish anyone. He has responded to our need for salvation graciously and powerfully, and at great cost to Himself. His Son has paid the price for our redemption on the cross (Romans 3:24-26; 5:1-6; John 3:16). But we must respond to God's grace with faith; without faith we cannot please Him (Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 5:8,9; 11:6).
They were wrong as well when they decided that God's patience meant sin did not concern Him as being serious. The Lord tells us not to treat lightly His forbearance. Do not take it as a license to go on sinning but rather as an opportunity to repent and make ourselves right with God (Romans 2:4-10; 2 Peter 3:3,4).
Many Fail to Understand That God Is Righteous, Absolutely
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace..." (Hebrews 13:8,9).
God's standard for what is righteous and moral has not changed. Human societies come and go, and with them human customs and standards of behavior. Today we live in a society that glorifies sin and rebellion against God while belittling righteousness. Things have changed... but not with God. We may well wish He would change right along with us, but He will not. Why? Because He is righteous and holy, and if we are to be acceptable to Him, we must walk in His light, He will not walk in our darkness (1 John 1:6-10).
When we stand before God in judgment, we will be judged according to our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10). This judgment will be righteous and perfect. If it does not meet with our approval, there will still be nothing we can do about it. There will be no appeal, no escape, no pardon from the governor. God is without injustice (Deuteronomy 32:1-6). The only answer is for the sinner (that would be all of us) to surrender himself or herself, completely unto God's will as he or she places personal faith in the grace of God through His Son Jesus.
God Has Both The Ability And The Will To Punish Sin
"It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27).
The flood was no plumbing mishap, and the final day will not involve an a accidental grease fire. This age will conclude in a purposeful removal of the things that exist... the earth and everything in it. If we have not dealt with our sins in God's own way, as revealed in the gospel, in this life then we shall answer for them in the next life. Sin builds a barrier between man and God, and there is only one power in the universe that can tear down that barrier. It is the blood of Jesus Christ. In His name, we enjoy forgiveness (Acts 2:37,38; 4:12). Apart from Him, we are lost, lost, lost.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 8.2; February 2001