How Can a Loving God Punish People?

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1 John 4:8

Have you ever heard something like this: God is love; therefore he accepts you just the way you are.

Such statements are usually made to kind of justify the way people are living their sinful lives and saying that’s OK. God still loves you. God still forgives you and accepts you as his child. Well is this true?

First John Chapter 4 Verse 8 it tells us God is love. So yes it is true God is love. But is it true that God doesn’t care whether we sin or not. Many places in the Bible including Isaiah Chapter 30 Verse 18, it tells us that the Lord is a God of justice and that doesn’t seem to compute to us. What that other passage says that God is love. So which is it? Is God a God of justice or a God of love.

I want you to imagine a courtroom scene. Imagine that a case had been brought forward concerning a murder and all the evidence had been put out there and the accused was sitting right before the judge. There was eyewitness accounts. There was fingerprint evidence DNA evidence even video footage all pointing to the accused that he had committed the murder. Imagine though that the judge that day said “Yeah I know that all of the evidence point to him as he’s the one who did it. But, you know, he normally doesn’t kill people. He’s normally a pretty good guy. Most of the time so I’m just going to let him go.”

What do you think the audience would say that day. Probably many that would say that was injust. This is an unjust judge. Imagine what even the family members of the victim would say they would probably go even a step further. They would not only say that he is an unjust judge, they would even say that he is an evil judge for not carrying out justice carrying out his punishment.

So also our God. God would be an evil judge if he did not punish sin. If God just like an elderly grandfather that overlook the misdeeds of his grandson said “boys will be boys” as he lets them get away with murder. No, God must punish sin to be a good and just judge. But he is also a God of love. But, how?

God punishes our sin, yes he does, but he punishes it in his Son as he is placed the weight and burden of our sin and the punishment and deserves on Christ. And in that way God is both love and just. You see he is loving in that he provides the very sacrifice for us in the very one to be punished in our place, Christ. As he carries out also his justice upon him.

Yes treasure this truth as God is a God of justice but also love that he has punished our sins and our Savior Jesus Christ. May that motivate us to live differently, to repent of our sins, and turn to God always the God of our salvation. Amen.

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