Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 13 - God of Love, Not God of Wrath - 30 Days of Grace

We have been talking about God being a good giver and giving things for free, by grace.  I think sometimes we have trouble seeing God as a loving giver who longs to bless us because we may have an image of God in our mind as an angry or wrathful God, angry at us because of our sin.  I have felt this myself many times, especially after I have failed in some way.  I have had this picture in my mind of God withdrawing from me with a dark look or disappointment or even irritation or anger on His face.  I have felt that there was something like a dark cloud between us, keeping me from seeing His face, and I felt that must be my sin.  It made it very hard to feel comfortable praying or feeling accepted by Him.  Instead I felt guilty, condemned, ashamed and like running from God!

But that isn't the true image of God!  That faulty image is a lie and delusion of Satan! The true image of God is of a smiling Daddy, opening His arms and coming toward us with a present for us, so happy to be with us, so enraptured by our smile, ready to pick us up, swing us around in His arms, and hold us close to His cheek in a big hug!  That is the true picture of God, and it shows God as a God of grace and love who freely gives us gifts and wants to bless us!

But how can that be, you may ask, when the Bible talks about God's wrath?

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.       Rom. 1:18

What is the wrath of God revealed against?  Against all godlessness and wickedness of people.  What kind of people are described here?  People who do wickedly and act ungodly.  Is the wrath against the people or the wickedness of the people?  It is against the wickedness, not the people!  This is such an important distinction!  God in His love, hates the sin and loves the sinner.  He has wrath against the sin and grace toward the sinner. God loves His created ones, and that is why He so hates the wickedness that people do, because it hurts the loved ones He made!  Think of a parent who loves their child dearly.  The child gets into some bad associations and ends up stealing something, gets caught, and ends up in jail with his so-called friends nowhere to be seen.  The parent loves his child, and that makes him angry at what the wrongdoing has done to his child.  His child was made for so much better than sitting in a jail cell!  The parent wants to do anything to get his child free and living the kind of good and happy life that the parent always envisioned for his child!  That is the same as how God feels about us!

God is a God of grace and love, not a God of wrath.  God is never called a 'God of wrath' in the Bible, but He IS called the "God of love" - in fact, the Bible says, "God IS love" but never says "God is wrath!"  God is seen as a consuming fire and full of holy passion, but that wrath or holy passion is not against the people He created, it is best seen as against the sin and evil that has infected them and is eating away at their lives, destroying them from within like a disease or poison!  God's wrath is against sin and all the works of the devil in our lives, because of how sin/the devil harms us and hold us captive, and Jesus came to deliver the wrath of God upon sin and destroy the works of the devil, thus setting us free from bondage to fear and death!  So we see God's anger as directed not toward people themselves, but toward the sin that so easily entangles them. God's wrath then is part of His love for us, that He doesn't want anything to destroy us or keep us from relationship with Him!  So Christ literally burns that sin up/does away with it by absorbing it into His body on the cross and taking it down to death with Him so it is GONE and cannot hurt or destroy us anymore!

Because Christ took away our sin, we never have to worry about anything coming between us and God again!  The 'wall' of sin that was like a barrier in our minds between us and God is GONE!  Christ took it away forever!  From God's side, there never was any distance or barrier between us.  He was always ready to welcome us, to accept us, to interact with us.  But our sins created a barrier between us and God in our minds, and we felt shame and guilt over our wrongs.  Jesus removed the sins, and thus our consciousness of sins is gone and the 'barrier' is seen to be false!  God is right here with us, as He has always been.  We were always running and hiding from God, afraid of His displeasure and anger, afraid He had harsh scowl of disapproval on His face; now we find out that His face has always been full of love and grace for us, that it was He who wanted to rescue us from the confusion and lies Satan had trapped us in, the sin that had entangled us and was destroying our lives.  He had always wanted us in His arms, had always wanted to hold us close so we wouldn't be hurt by sin, even when we wouldn't come to Him, even when we rebelled. 

Now Christ has set us free from sin's captivity, taking away the sin from us, so there is no barrier that we can 'see' in our minds anymore!  Our guilt is taken away, our shame that we felt is no longer there!  We have nothing to be ashamed of!  There is nothing between us and God that could come to mind now, for all the sin that made us ashamed and afraid to aprroach Him is gone!  God has always been our Friend, and He has brought us back face-to-face with Him in harmonious relationship.  Christ has given us the gift of righteousness, meaning 'a right relationship with God', perfect, unhindered, 24/7 fellowship and union with God, a state of being at peace and harmony with God, of real and transparent friendship with Him!  There will never be a wall separating us from Him, there will never be any barriers in our relationship. We have been given the very relationship that JESUS has with God the Father, for we have been put IN Christ and given His own righteousness (right relationship with God)!!

So whenever we may feel there is a wall between us and God, fear there is a shadow of disappointment over His face, or worry that He's withdrawn from us or that we're distant from Him, we can know that those feelings are all LIES and ILLUSION!  For Jesus took away our sin and brought us into perfect relationship with God where nothing can ever come between us or mar that fellowship!  No sin could make us go out of fellowship or lose our connection with God, because our relationship is based on Christ and His perfection, not our own works.  That relationship is set sure and firm because it is the righteousness/right relationship of Christ Himself with God that is given to us!  The only thing that ever marred our relationship with God in the past was sin, and Jesus has taken away our sin, God says He will remember our sins no more, so thus there is nothing that can ever separate us from God or His love!  God Himself took away our sins, God Himself gave us a right and perfect relationship, God Himself made us right with Himself with His own righteousness, God Himself gave us His favor, God Himself brought us to peaceful relationship with Himself, God Himself is satisfied with this perfect union fellowship He placed us into!  Thus, it's a perfect union that nothing can dissolve or disrupt!  Your relationship with God is perfect and unalterable!  THAT is what the passion of God's love has done!!  It has eradicated everything that could keep you from feeling able to be with God,  it has given you the right to stand in God's presence without any fear or shame, and it has placed you forever in the place of perfect and unhindered fellowship with God.  His passion against sin has made sure that NOTHING can separate you from His presence or love!

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14