Thursday, December 8, 2016

ARE WE SELF-CONDEMNED?





An angry skeptic brought this charge against the God of the Bible:

·       A god who damns forever would have done us all a much greater service and shown real love if He had NOT started this eternal nightmare in the first place by forcing His abomination of a will on people who were not seeking it and would NOT have joined up if they knew such an sentence was the outcome--if the tradeoff for his decision is their damnation…No one twisted his arm to say "let there be light"… So every lost person is ultimately his responsibility and his fault…If the God of the bible really does damn people forever, I want nothing to do with Him. He is a monster--and I wouldn't want to spend two minutes around Him.

But what if, instead, we are self-condemned, perhaps condemned by our own standards, the very standards we use to condemn others? Jesus taught this:

·       For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2; ESV)

Therefore, we cannot blame God for judging if we too do the same. Besides, the very standards that we use to judge will judge us. It is noteworthy that our skeptic is also judging. Paul echoed the same teaching:

·       Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1)

Complaining about God’s judgment of us, while we judge in the same way, is hypocritical. However, it seems that God is still judging us, right? Well…perhaps not. Jesus enigmatically taught:

·       If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 12:47-48)

How does the word judge? For one thing, created in the likeness of God, He has written His word on our hearts (Romans 2:15-16). Therefore, we know right from wrong and we judge according to this imprinted law.

The skeptic claims that he never asked to be created or judged. Therefore, God has no right to judge him. This is like saying, “The credit card company sent me their credit card, and now they want to bring charges against me for using it.”

However, we have a choice to use the credit card or not. Likewise, we have a choice to judge or not. However, when we judge, we have consented to God’s program, and must make the required payments.

However, the skeptic will continue, “The payment that God requires is just too severe!” But is it? Perhaps it is we and the implanted word that condemn. It seems that this is what Jesus is teaching:

·       For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment [or “condemnation”]: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

Jesus repeatedly denies that He will condemn, but yet those who do not believe are “condemned already.” But how? They are self-condemned. How have they condemned themselves? They have chosen the darkness and rejected God’s light – our only source of hope. As Adam and Eve hid in the darkness from God after they had sinned, so too do we. We have chosen exclusion from His Kingdom.

Does this apply to eternity? Seemingly! If Jesus doesn’t condemn, then it seems that we – the implanted word causing us guilt, shame, and flight – will be doing the condemning. If we cannot tolerate His light here, we will not tolerate it in the next world, where it is even more intense. Notice how the skeptic condemned himself:

·       If the God of the bible really does damn people forever, I want nothing to do with Him. He is a monster--and I wouldn't want to spend two minutes around Him.

The skeptic had charged God with creating an “eternal nightmare.” However, if the skeptic is truly concerned about this, he need only confess his sins and turn to the One who can change his nightmare into a glorious reality.

4 comments:

  1. This understanding has been helpful for me, especially in terms of apologetics.

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    Replies
    1. Glad it helped.

      John 3:17 has to be taken in context with the rest of the Bible, the rest of the NT.

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  2. I believe Jesus as my Lord and Savior!

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