I had the privilege of giving the lesson this Sunday morning. I said something that I didn’t believe would be “controversial” but as I said it people in the audience “got the look.” I handled it in stride during the lesson but after there were still questions so here we go.
What I said was “God isn’t or can’t be mad at you.” Soon as I said it I could tell I had just crossed a line with some peoples’ understanding of the nature of God and the finished work of the cross. So I tried to explain what I meant by that statement. I said that the word “mad” to me implies vengeance, retribution, pay-back, or some other similar term. What would God be mad at us for? Have you thought about that? If you are born-again followers of Christ then these verses apply (and many many more):
Heb 8:11 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. (ESV)
Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (ESV)
Heb 9:12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption(ESV)
Heb 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (ESV)
Heb 10:17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.(ESV)
Rom 3:24 [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, 25 Whom God put forward [[c]before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment.(AMP)
So by my count there is no more issue with sin, right? God is a righteous God so there can’t be double jeopardy in His Kingdom. Jesus paid for it all on the cross.
Rom 4:25 Jesus was ·given to die [handed/delivered over; 8:32] ·for [because of] our ·sins [violations; transgressions], and he was raised from the dead ·to make us right with God [for our justification; or to confirm our justification].(EXB)
Col 2:13 And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared [a]completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.(AMP)
I know this should be very basic to the believer so why the reaction to the mad comment? I think it has something to do with confusion about justice verses fairness. When we say justice we are actually thinking fairness. Fairness includes opinion, circumstance and a whole bunch of other stuff. God’s justice is based on absolutes. When we apply our understanding to God’s nature, we miss the mark again and it opens the door to doubt about God’s intentions. He is just, perfectly and absolutely. When He says it is done, well it is done, period.
We humans in our human understanding and human wisdom and human experience think we understand fairness but have no clue what justice really is. I don’t know that we can comprehend the kind of justice that is the very nature of a holy, righteous God. We see situations and apply opinion and judgment based on our understanding. For example imagine a drug addict all strung out. We look at that person and say “they just need deliverance; they are trapped by deception.” Then we come across a child molester and what do we think? Life in prison? We see things conditionally.
When you were ten and your mom said you couldn’t go and see your friends and you said “I wish you were dead” to your mom…boom! That was it. Doomed! Of course I can hear you say “But wait, I was just a kid.” Point made. We think in terms of fairness, not justice.
The good news is God is love and is just at the same time. He loves us so much that Jesus paid the price, period, done, complete, over, no more, none to add, nothing left to do… We have to get that. If we don’t get it then we are applying a fairness concept to God. God isn’t fair, He is just. Your 5 finger discount candy bar at the Kroger got you a death penalty but God was completely just in giving Himself completely.
So tell me what can God exact from you that remains for vengeance, retribution, payment, punishment…? Think of one thing. Watch out, this is a trick question. Nothing. Why? The only payment that suffices is death and Jesus already did that part. Why then do we hang on to this idea that God can be mad at us? I don’t get it. I do believe He has sorrow and grieves when we make bad choices. I believe He is concerned about our missteps. Is He worried? No way. Is He angry? Not at you. Is there wrath for all those that never come to know Jesus? Absolutely. That point is very clear in His word. I’ll challenge you that even for those bound for wrath, God loves them the whole way. I believe He is very disappointed because they reject Him.
I actually believe that the only thing that angers God is our rejection of His Grace, not our behavior. He has every provision in place for behavior. He died on a cross to account for all our sins. Take another look at Mark 3. Two times Jesus got “angry.” Both times the people had rejected Grace. This time Jesus wanted to heal on the Sabbath. God’s Grace versus self-righteousness…the eternal battle.
I know it is so hard for us to understand but God works from absolutes. There isn’t a gray area for God. But still HE IS LOVE. When we can understand how absolutely just He is, how He absolutely redeemed us, how He absolutely justified us, how He absolutely paid the price, how He absolutely made us holy, how He absolutely made us righteous…all because HE ABSOLUTELY LOVES US; maybe we can finally understand that God isn’t mad at us. To say He is mad at us says He isn’t who He says He is, it goes against His nature. God is good and He is in a good mood. He has done a most excellent job and has thought of everything. There are no lose-ends. He is very pleased with His plan. Maybe He is just waiting for us to wake up, agree with Him and be transformed by the renewing of our stupid human-experienced self-taught selfish conditional introspective self-seeking thinking. I know it doesn’t sound fair but then again who said God was fair? Isn’t it awesome that God is just. If He wasn’t, how could we be certain of His intentions and heart towards us? I would rather have justice over fairness any day.