irrelevant religion, devoid of any recognizable passion or accountability...
A dazed and confused mindset of relationship with God that is certainly lacking in conviction...
Does that sound familiar?
The hope of many who live in this form of 'casual relationship' with Almighty God is that God is as attentive to them as they are to His Word. To put it more bluntly, they hope that God exists in a state of distraction in regards to their ineffectual walk with Him. They are hoping God doesn't notice how they negotiate with the world a value for the priority of the blood of Jesus in their life...while claiming an allegiance to God. Hypocrisy as a lifestyle, lived out before the ever-attentive gaze of our judge, Jesus Christ.
Certainly a loving God would never really punish anyone who disobeyed that which He commanded...right? Millions of people are lulled into this false sense of security, based solely on the illusion that God's Word doesn't really mean what it says it means.
A.W. Tozer had it right, and he had Biblical precedence to support his claim...
"Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free." — Proverbs 11:21 (NIV)
We are surrounded by a wickedness in our world today that is beyond comprehension and belief. Culture has taken a definitive step away from the truth of Scripture. Our world is embracing a mentality of Godlessness that is promised to occur directly preceding the return of Christ. The truly heartbreaking part of this narrative is that so many are convinced that a loving God would never punish wicked actions.
Many Christians who fall prey to the 'Grace Doctrine' feel that since everything is covered under grace, then why would we need to live by any set of rules? To them, salvation in itself is a conduit of passage directly to the splendor of Heaven, yet without all of the fuss over sin-nature, disobedience, accountability and the righteous judgment of Christ. It's a mindset that sin is forgiven, so why worry about it? It's also a mindset that leads to their tolerance of evil and wickedness in the world, and in their own life.
Those without the Lordship of Christ in their life will often claim God's love for them as a convenient-reasoning to justify their thoughts of a future residence in Heaven...an entrance into to the eternal Kingdom of God, based solely on God's love, while disregarding the requirement of surrender and Lordship in their life to a crucified and resurrected Savior. Ignoring sin, they focus on God's love and compassion. They need to realize that God's love and compassion is displayed in Christ and His sacrifice.
God does love all that He has created. We must understand that no greater example of His love could be given than that of offering up His only Son on the altar of our sin, shame and unrighteousness. For the follower of Christ, that sacrifice stands in the gap, bridging the divide between two very different eternities. For the unbeliever, the gap is exposed, the chasm is deep, and the only salvation is found in the completed work of Jesus Christ.
We don't need to live our entire life making unfounded Biblical assumptions that Almighty God will lovingly overlook our wickedness and sinful disobedience. His love for us is certainly profound. His love was demonstrated in the slaughter of innocence on a rugged cross, and that blameless recipient of the abuse which was required to purchase righteousness for all will, one day soon, take His seat on the throne of judgment.
For the saved, at the Bema Seat of Christ, our life will be weighed and measured. Although covered under the Lordship of Christ, we will still give an account for the unGodliness of our life. There will be judgment passed. So, follower of Christ, repent of the wickedness and do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Christ.
For the lost, at the Great White Throne Judgment, the same Christ who died for their opportunity to be called a Child of God will render a final verdict regarding their wickedness.
The love of God for the unsaved will then be negated by an eternal separation apart from God...which is the real punishment of eternal hell.
God is love, but His eternal love demanded a sacrifice. Under the shadow of such a sacrifice, we should be compelled to understand and live in obedience to the commands of Christ. Wickedness does not escape the ever-watchful eyes of Jesus. The wickedness of the Jew and the Gentile, and the believer and the lost, will one day be punished. It will be punished because God is love...perfect love. He is the author and embodiment of perfect love...a love without blemish or stain, and a love that will not tolerate eternal wickedness.
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called..." — Ephesians 4:1 (ESV)
We have all been called...called to the Lordship of Christ in our life. Live in obedience, without purposed, sinful-adversity and wickedness, devoid of simple religion, and answering the call of intimate relationship. The world awaits the impact that our very life was designed and created to deliver. Greater things are intentioned for us. Live in the shadow of God's grace with a continually repentant heart. Flee the things of wickedness and pursue the righteousness of Christ...a righteousness that allows us to escape the punishment reserved for those who seek and partake in evil.
God is love. He is good. He is just. Live worthy of the call of Christ...begin today.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!