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.

Second-Mile Obedience

Matthew 1:24   (KJV)   24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife

Joseph obeyed the angel’s command although it wasn’t a simple one.  He had to be very sensitive to spiritual matters; he had to be discerning enough to recognize that his dream was something beyond the ordinary. His decision wasn’t something small; it was life Matthew 1.24 - Second-Mile Obediencealtering, in fact, it was big-time history changing. He may not have known the importance or the extents of the consequences of His obedience, but that’s a nature of obedience: we can’t predict it’s real value.

God values our obedience more than we know it. He values it more than sacrifice. By the way, grace doesn’t discard, undermine, diminish, dismiss, or nullify the need for obedience. They’re not opposed to each other. In fact, one of grace’s most important function is empowering us to obey God in saying “no” to undgodliness. Obedience demonstrates who we are as believers; obedience is living wisely as His child.

Obedience still brings rewards and disobedience brings discipline or punishment. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to argue against those who teach that God no longer punishes us when we disobey; I’m just sharing what I believe. Every blessing we have is grace from God, but God’s Word teaches that not everyone receives God’s grace.  Only those who appropriate grace by faith benefit from it. Faith isn’t just mental; living faith is belief-obedience. Remember, during the “awarding ceremony” of believers, there will be gradations of rewards.

My encouragement is not only to obey, but to go a second mile. Joseph did. He wasn’t commanded to have sexual relations with Mary, but He didn’t until after Jesus was born. He decided on that and did that on his own.

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.

Death of the Innocent

Luke 23:41  (KJV)   41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

Unlike the traditional religious beliefs, there was really no bad thief and good thief; both of them were thieves and they both started off insulting Jesus. Unlike many who are caught in a crime, they didn’t claim innocence. One of the two thieves crucified with Jesus eventually humbly admitted that they were guilty and thus justly deserving of the crucifixion they were suffering. He also pointed out that unlike them, Jesus was completely innocent. Jesus died for no crime He personally committed. But die for crime, He did. His condemnation, suffering, and death were substitutionary. He died for the sins of the world. 

Thief or not, we’re all guilty of sin. And if we will be humble enough, we ought to admit our guilt and how deserving we are of our sins’ consequences or punishment. Obviously, there is a natural desire to get away with our wrongdoings. There are many of us who would desire to, plan to, and commit sin and not think about the consequences. Worse still, when dealt with the natural result of our foolishness, we ask, “Why me?” But there are those of us who awake to this humbling reality. Thank God because we’re not left without an answer to the dilemma. There is Jesus. He didn’t deserve to die but He willingly did for the very help we need. We need forgiveness from sin. We need salvation. That’s why He came; that’s why He died. He is the Savior.

Dear God our Savior, thank You for Your loving Provision and sacrifice. May we all be honest about our true condition and need. May we all find the wisdom of fully depending on the only One Who gave His perfect life for our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, amen.