God’s Goodness and Severity

Romans 11:22   (KJV)   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God is good and severe; God is loving and just; God is Father and Lord; God is gracious and holy; God is to be loved and feared. All facets of God’s nature are true; one ought to not be sacrificed for the other; one ought to not be rejected in preference of another. All Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliffof them have to be embraced. I’ve observed so many people becoming very passionate about one of God’s natures and in doing so undermining the value of another, perhaps unawarely.

“Behold;” take a look; observe it; notice: God is both good and severe. He is loving, gentle, kind; He is also holy, stern, strict, serious. His Fatherhood is a good, balanced Fatherhood. He loves and disciplines. He doesn’t rear spoiled kingdom kids.  It’s clearly explicit: “on them which fell,” to those who live in disobedience, He is severe. That’s not birthed out of thoughtless and angry emotion or passion. That springs forth from His wisdom and patience.

On the other hand, “if thou continue in His goodness,” if we continue to live faithfully in the light of His goodness, He continues to pour out more goodness to us than we deserve. What God gives to us is always way more abundant than what our actions merit—He is gracious, that is. And it’s important that we heed these words soberly. He is more serious about it than how a lot of believers think and teach. If we fall and don’t stay down, if we don’t continue in His goodness, we “also”—which could mean it’s been true to others already—“shalt be cut off.”

Instead of being quick to interpret those words away to fit our emphasis on the doctrine of love and grace, my loving encouragement is that we please consider the severity of those words more than we probably have been willing to before. In the first place, our loving and gracious God included them in His recorded Words for loving and gracious reasons. He’s not hating on us in recording those words.

Unshakable Kingdom

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Heaven and earth will pass away; everything that can be shaken will be shaken, but the Kingdom of God will remain. We’ve received and will continue receiving from our precious Lord gifts and blessings that really matter. We are deeply grateful to Him and we continue to live a life of worship, a life that honors and pleases Him. This is our highest expression of praise and thanksgiving, our most appropriate response to an unconditionally loving and all-powerful God and Father, and our surest step  in preparing for and welcoming His unshakable Kingdom.

We’re surrounded by so many faithful forebearers who lived with their sights focused on our heavenly home. We do that. We prefer a home not made by human hands; we choose treasures that won’t get rusted, corrupted, or stolen. We don’t stagnate, give up, or turn back; instead, we press on towards God’s high calling–an eternal existence with our beloved God and Father.

We let go of anything and everything that may get us sidetracked, weighted down, sidelined, or disqualified. We set our eyes in the King of the Kingdom. He has shown us how. Despite pain, suffering, and shame, He completed His mission; we will too. If we need to be disciplined, constricted, corrected, we’re willing–anything for God. We’ve received the best; why trade for less?

Punishment for Believers?

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (KJV)   That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (NIV)   and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

The context of these verses has to do with sexual sins.  God still avenges or punishes sexual immorality or uncleanness even under the Covenant of grace. He has given straightforward warning regarding this.

Christians ought to be bold and brave in telling the truth as it is. We’re very vocal about grace and God’s forgiveness. And that’s good. But, there are those of us who put on our breaks in declaring that God still deals with disobedience. In dealing with consequences for our sins, we comfortably refer to God’s “discipline,” and that’s true too. But we’d like to avoid any possible consideration that God still has the right to deal with sin. Let’s remember: He has the divine prerogative to punish unbelievers for their sin, and (ready for this) believers for our sins.

Didn’t God punish Jesus for all our sins? Yes He has. But it seems like verses like the ones above tell us that we don’t get a free ride to sinful practices without any consequences. Jesus took all our sins that we may be saved. As saved, let’s watch our steps. Even if God forgives us for lying, or stealing, or sexual impurity, there may be consequences for our forgiven sins that are irreversible. That can be true as well in the spiritual dynamics. Let’s not buy into the lies that purity is evil and harmful and that we ought to just be free in living out all our sexual passions because it is through that that we can really enjoy the fullness of life. Powerful lies that has victimized even believers. Truth: unbridled ungodly sexual passions lead to tragic crashes.

Choose real freedom. Choose punishment-free living. Choose purity.

Dear God, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness and salvation. May our steps be that of the righteous and holy. Many of us have fallen into and excused our ungodly sexual behaviors and practices. Help us to be serious in ridding ourselves of them. Please help us to realize that You will still deal with us – punish us because of our ungodly sexual indulgences. Save us Lord from its power. Or save us Lord from our foolishness, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Discipline: Of Saints and Sinners

1 Corinthians 5:12  (KJV)   12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Should we judge non-Christians? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s a given: we’re not tasked or entitled to judge unbelievers. But we are definitely responsible for rebuking and correcting believers. This has to do with judgment and not about sharing the Gospel. That one calls for a totally opposite response. We share the Gospel to unbelievers, not necessarily to believers.

If we’re among those who have not surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus, we won’t subscribe to the same commands, precepts, statutes, teachings, and principles that the Lord holds His people accountable to. We will live according to what we see as right in our eyes. We will make our own rules and laws; define what’s right and wrong based on our personal opinions and/or feelings, governmental mandates and/or positions. Each one will have different standards because every person is different. We will do ungodly things and will not see anything wrong with them. In fact, we may promote our ungodliness with the most intense activism because we believe we’re right.

On the other hand, if we’re believers, we ought to expect to live under a totally different set of standards. We have the Scriptures as our authoritative source for belief and life. We willingly submitted ourselves to the Lordship of our dear Savior Jesus and to His Words – His commands. We can and ought to definitely call each other to it if we ever sway from them, either in our doctrine or in our ways. Why? Because we have a standard we expect each other to abide by. This is something we can’t expect from those who don’t subscribe to the same faith as we do. If I am a sinner, I will sin. That’s my nature. If I’m an unbeliever, I won’t believe Jesus or His Word. I won’t live according to it. That’s expected. But if I say I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus, I ought to follow Him. That’s expected of me and all His followers. And if we don’t follow, we really ought to have the courage to confront and rebuke each other. And if necessary, even to lovingly discipline those under our authority.

Dear God, our great and righteous Judge, You have given us Your Words that we may know what to believe and how to live. Your Words and ways are perfect; they’re wise; they’re the Truth. Please help us to live according to Your precepts, to be willing to be corrected when we’re wrong, and to be bold in lovingly correcting those who err, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.