The treasures which God lavishes upon mankind are the result of grace. However, there is something that mankind can earn…punishment. Because man has sinned, he has earned for himself the torment of God, not the treasures of God!
Becoming radically Christian means one must understand that God’s wrath is the only thing which is owed to us. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” If you are an adult human being, of sound-mind, you deserve eternal torment; not for the sin of Adam or the sins of your parents (Ezekiel 18:20), you deserve to go to hell for your own sins. By choosing sin over righteousness, even just one time, you have chosen to become a slave to sin (Romans 6:16). By choosing sin, you have chosen to separate yourself from God (Isaiah 59:2). By choosing sin, you have chosen to be an enemy of God (Romans 5:10). God has not chosen hell for anyone. Anyone who goes to hell will go there because they chose sin; and hell is the just repercussion of choosing sin. Some may think that hell is too harsh. Some may think that hell could not possibly be just or fair. They may think that a loving God could never allow His created beings, whom He loves, to go to hell. After all, “God is love” (1 John 4:8); how could He possibly create, and allow people to go to, a place like hell?
In order to understand grace, one must absolutely understand that God has been more than fair in the system that He has established. First, we must understand that God, in His very nature, is completely holy (Psalm 99:9). Holy means to be set apart from sin. It means to be totally, completely, and perfectly pure. So sin and God are very opposites in nature; they naturally separate from one another. Like oil and water, sin repels God. God did not create Himself to be holy and separate from sin; God did not create Himself at all. He has always been, and therefore has always been holy.
When God created mankind, His will for them was that they live in a perpetual state of happiness and joy with their loving Creator. God initially gave to them, not the world we see today, but essentially a heaven on earth. But for what purpose did God create man? Man’s entire purpose for being created and placed in the Garden can be summed up in three words, to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31). This loving and mighty God created two human beings, gave them a wonderful and beautiful place in which to live, and gave them a simple mandate, glorify Me! This is the same expectation He has for all of His creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). However, the first two humans soon disobeyed this simple directive. Instead of glorifying God, they disobeyed God in order to gratify their own sinful desires. By disobeying God, they failed to fulfill the very purpose for which they were created to serve.
When a creation fails to fulfill its purpose, the creator has every right to destroy the creation. After all, if Ford Motor Co. created a car that could not be driven (the purpose for which it was created), Ford would be within its rights to destroy the malfunctioning cars. God could have simply destroyed man in the same instance that he first chose sin over obedience. God would have been within His rights, as the Creator, to destroy Adam and Eve the moment that they ate of the forbidden fruit.
However, because God is by nature loving, God decided it would be more merciful and gracious to banish mankind than to destroy them; so God “drove out the man” from the Garden (Genesis 3:24). This is one of the first glimpses we have into the amazing mercy and grace of God! Adam and Eve deserved destruction, but by grace they received life.
All mankind deserves torment and destruction, and there is a place where many will receive exactly what all mankind deserves. Jesus warns, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Hell is described as the place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It is a place, we are told, that is an “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
Contrary to popular ideas, hell is not a place which Satan owns or controls; it the place in which Satan will suffer eternal torment. It was prepared for him and his angels because of his disobedience to God. Jesus says about Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). When we disobey God, we choose to be children of the devil. John writes, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 John 3:10). Children of the devil will, of course, “fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Meaning, those who choose not to follow God will spend eternity in torment.
It may be discouraging to come to the realization that we deserve punishment, torment, and destruction. But this fact must be realized before grace can be understood. If one does not understand what he deserves, he cannot be thankful for the blessings he has received in spite of that which he deserves. He may grow to feel as if he has earned these blessings and not give the glory to God.
The contrast between those who realize the gravity of their sins and those who do not is seen in Luke 7. There, a “sinful woman” washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. Simon (a Pharisee), in who’s home Jesus was dining, thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). In response to Simon’s unspoken rebuke, Jesus said to Him, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more” (Luke 7:41-42)? Simon, of course, answered that that the one who was forgiven the most would love the most. Jesus rebuked Simon for not showing Him the same love that the women showed Him. He conclude by telling Simon, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can be thankful for grace. Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can love God fully. Man must be reminded of his sin so that he can honor and glorify God.
I love you! A gracious God loves you! Have a wonderful day!