Are you afraid of hellfire and God’s fury against sin? It almost sounds comical to hear this question posited so overtly these days–as if it’s an excerpt from an old sermon from a former century–yet remember too, that when, “…Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, ‘Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!’…to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.” (Genesis 19:14 NKJV)
Our response to a warning of judgment on sin is a fair indicator of our spiritual condition. Just as Lot’s sons’-in-law inability to conceptualize the impending destruction of their city revealed how far from God their hearts and minds had strayed, our own inability to reconcile our daily life with what is coming if we continue to reject God’s gracious offer of reconciliation and forgiveness through Christ Jesus may also seem mythological, unreal, and far beyond highly unlikely. Yet–we are told it is coming on all who continue to defy Him.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV)
The Orthodox Jewish Bible calls this deliberate sin “willful sin with a high hand of defiance”–an intentional rebellion against God, which is tantamount to self-identification as His enemy. It is important to recognize the element of willful defiance–because all of us sin through ignorance or weakness, and we do not want to come to the erroneous conclusion we are unforgiven, when in reality we are accepted in Jesus!
No. This verse speaks of the kind of attitude that obstinately and deliberately refuses to submit to God’s authority–that refuses the fellowship we can experience with Him when we renounce our sins, trust in the forgiveness we have through Jesus, and agree to live life His way. And why does God’s Word bother to tell us this–to call that kind of sin out? To lead us to repentance, of course! “Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise [of judgment] as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” (2 Peter 3:8-9 MSG)
Our God–the only real One there is–is merciful!
“…The Lord GOD says: As surely as I live, I do not want any who are wicked to die. I want them to stop doing evil and live. Stop! Stop your wicked ways! You don’t want to die, do you…?” (Ezekiel 33:11 NCV)
God does not want anyone to be destroyed with the eternal unending punishment that is coming on this kind of sin, but many will, because they essentially are–by continuing to refuse Him–choosing that fate for themselves. It is a question of turning from a life lost in sin and far from Him, to intimacy with Christ in the light of His holiness!
Jesus explained this to Nicodemus:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” (John 3:16-21 NIV)
God loves us–with an unfathomable love! Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
It was that love that brought Jesus down to earth to a horrific death and vindicating resurrection–for us; so we could be reconciled to the Father, so heaven’s door would be opened! Won’t you step into His amazing light?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Let me know You, see You, experience You! I renounce everything that stands between me and You–forgive me; accept me. Thank You! Amen.