Jan 11, 2008

Holiness and Judgment of God

We love talking and singing about a God of love and a God of grace. And God is love and full of grace. But that is only half the equation. God is absolutely holy and because He is holy He is also a God of judgment. God will judge all people - including Christ-followers on how we live our lives.

While God is certainly full of love and grace, we cannot separate love and grace apart from holiness and judgment. You see love and grace apart from holiness and judgment is pointless. Without holiness and judgment, you would end up with a god who has no expectations, no boundaries, no purpose. Without holiness and judgment anything goes.

Look at the following passage from Jeremiah 5:1-4:
1Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth.
2And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:
“Such as are for death, to death;
And such as are for the sword, to the sword;
And such as are for the famine, to the famine;
And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”’
3“And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction,” says the Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.
4I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

I am the first to confess that such a picture of God makes me uncomfortable. Talking about a God of grace and love is so much easier, so much more pleasant. But if we are to be faithful to the God of scripture, we cannot separate holiness and judgment from love and grace.

Yes, God does forgive us all sins (with the exception of blasphemy - we can talk about that another time). God is the One of second chances. But that's exactly it - because God has expectations of His followers, and because there is a call to repentance, we must change. And unless we repent and change, what we ought to expect is judgment - and that includes Christ-followers.

You cannot have a Christian who is also committed to the things that God is committed to. A changed life is assumed in a repentant changed life. And this is the life God has called us to.

I am a sinner. And because I am a sinner, I am in need of forgiveness and grace. And when anyone repents, God's grace and love is there to cover us. But that's just it. We must confess and repent. We must acknowledge our sin and repent and commit to a changed life. That is the life of discipleship. That is what being a Christ-follower means.

Listen to the words of the Lord in Jeremiah 5:19.
19Therefore thus says the Lord:
“If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
Let them return to you,
But you must not return to them.

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