Neil Pattison | 26 July 2020 | Sunday Celebration
There is something inbuilt within us that gives us awareness of light and dark, good and evil.
We are made in God’s image. As humans, we all possess: a need for worship; a need to love and be loved; a sense of conscience and morality; a need for identity and purpose; a desire for marriage and family; a need for work-life balance; a love of creativity, beauty and art; a need for healthy rhythms in our mental, social, physical, spiritual and emotional lives.
When we do something wrong, we feel guilty or bad. Our conscience can be a pain, but it is actually a blessing – it reminds us there will be a consequence to our actions, a Day of Judgement.
Romans 1:18-23 (TLB): “But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of His existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.
Yes, they knew about Him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship Him or even thank Him for all His daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. And then, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men.”
Two questions came up:
1. How can a loving God judge people and send them to everlasting hell?
2. What about people who have not heard about the Gospel and Jesus?
Let me turn this on its head. Let’s picture ourselves on judgement day, standing before God, and we are asked to account for every action and motive.
Romans 1:18 says that one factor leading to judgement is “pushing the truth away”. Can any of us honestly say at times we do not push the truth away and instead do what we know we should not? How many times have we chosen actions that are not the best for us, or the best for others?
Understand the nature of God
The Bible tells us that God is pure love. He is perfect and pure and cannot look on anything that is impure or wrong. If we are going to have a judge, we need one that is perfect and pure and loving and who doesn’t make mistakes.
We were created to love and be loved, not be selfish and hurt others. Selfishness and wrong are the opposite of God’s plan for us and it saddens and angers Father God.
God is also just. How do you spoil a child? Withdraw nurture and boundaries. As parents we show loving care and compassion, we also teach a loving justice – there is a consequence to our actions. A disobedient child makes a parent angry. Our wrong behaviour rightly causes God’s anger.
In a court of law, the defendant needs a defence. Back to our picture – we are stood in front of God and we have in front of us all the times we pushed truth away. What is our defence? A system of justice must deliver judgement and sentence. Wrong cannot be swept under the carpet. Sin has to be paid for.
It is also easy to think ‘it’s not my problem – there are people worse than me. We can easily judge others and think we should be excused. But all our lives are polluted and we have a big problem.
Romans 2:1-4: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
A ray of light in our darkness
Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT): “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.”
God in His love has provided a way out.
How do we benefit from this amazing offer?
- Hold our hands up and admit our guilt. Point your finger at others – 3 fingers back at you? No, thousands of daggers pointing back at our guilt!
- Agree with God, the perfect Judge, that our sentence should be hell. That is how much our “pushing away the truth” has offended and angered God.
- Ask for forgiveness and believe Jesus has paid for our sin. He is our defence. When you stand before God on judgement day, you don’t need any excuses or justification; you point to Jesus!
- Realise that without Jesus fighting our corner, every person on this planet is in peril. There has to be justice, there has to be payment – this problem will not just go away. What are someone’s chances of judgement and innocence? Motivation needs to be love for others, not guilt.
This Summer, pray for family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Two things we are planning:
- Alpha Course in September. Who does God want you to invite?
- We are looking at prayer over August leading up to launch of prayer triplets in September. Start thinking/praying now.
Let’s finish off with communion. It is the celebration of Jesus paying our penalty – bread as His body, juice/wine as His blood shed as payment for us.
He is our defence. Our guilt is gone!
For the video and/or audio recording of the morning, click here.