Over the Christmas holidays I had time to read a couple of books while our family was away down the south coast. To fit with the relaxing tone of our time together I read a ‘light and easy’ book called Just Love: Why God must punish sin.
“A book about sin? That’s not particularly uplifting holiday reading!” I hear you say. I might have thought so too, but reading this book proved to be quite the contrary! Against the stark background of our rebellion against God with its subsequent dire consequences of guilt, wrath, death and judgement, the wonder of God’s justice, grace and mercy are shown to be all the more amazing.
The author of the book, Ben Cooper, puts it this way:
Amazingly, we discover that only by understanding God’s determination to punish sin can we truly appreciate His astounding love—unimaginably and uniquely, love that is truly just, yet freely available to every one of us.
Here are a few truths I was reminded of as I read this book:
1) We tend to downplay the depths of our sinfulness. So often we are outraged at injustice and long for justice to be done, but are very quick to overlook the injustice of our own sin—we just don’t believe that rejecting God is all that bad.
2) We declare our independence from God the creator, and reject the source of life. We claim for ourselves the right to decide what is right and wrong, good and evil. And so we incur God’s just wrath.
3) Our sin is serious: it is evil. Because God is good and just, he is opposed to sin, and in an expression of his goodness he determines to punish it.
4) And so our sin is serious: it is a certainty that God will punish sin. All will die and face hell, for every one of us has sinned.
5) “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Rom 5:8] Jesus has taken the punishment we deserve for our sin. When we trust in him we don’t need to fear death and judgement. Praise God!
As I reflect on what I’ve read I am greatly encouraged by the depths of God’s grace and love shown to us at such a great cost to himself. I have been spurred on to abhor and flee sin.
I have been encouraged to pursue the likeness of Christ and to show the same costly love to others, rejoicing in the privilege of sharing in his work despite the cost.
While the topic of sin might not be the ‘light and easy’ choice for holiday reading, Just Love: Why God must punish sin has certainly been a source of spiritual refreshment, reminding me once again of the wonder of God’s grace to us in his son, Jesus, and of what it looks like to follow him.