Monday, February 4, 2008


In 2005, the association for religious data archives (ARDA) posted a study that showed that 65.8% of people believed in God. However, when the same people were asked if God was angered by sin only 29.1% strongly agreed. This study indicates that the most important task for evangelicals is not proving the existence of God, but correcting ideas about Him.

While watching a popular television show the other night, I was caught off guard by a statement made about God. A mother was helping her daughter cope with a mistake that the daughter had made and told her, "Sometimes God allows us to sin so we can know how great His mercy is." Many in our society believe a similar truth.

When I was in college I conducted opinion polls on university campuses. When asked about sin, many students admitted that they were sinners, but did not believe that it was offensive to God.

When studying Scripture, believers should learn two important truths about God's dealings with sin. One truth is that God is not obligated to forgive anyone. If God never showed mercy, He would still be a holy and just God. Mercy is something God grants by His own free will. God reveals this truth about Himself in His dealings with Moses. He says, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." (Exodus 33:19)

The second truth is that God does not allow sin to go unpunished. I discussed this yesterday with our K-6th graders. In the story of the Passover in Exodus 11-12, God clearly indicates that deliverance from slavery does not come without sacrifice. The Jewish people had to sacrifice a lamb and smear blood around their doorposts to be spared from God's judgment and be delivered from the Egyptians.

What is true for the people of God in the Old Testament is true for believers today. Our sins have not gone unpunished. John the Baptist makes a direct redemptive connection between the lamb of sacrifice and Jesus. John records in the Gospel of John 1:29, "The next day (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" The Bible teaches that Christ died in our place as our substitute. Paul states, "For our sake (God) made (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Although God is not obligated to forgive, He chooses to show mercy toward those who are trusting in Christ for their salvation. However, redemption does not occur without payment of a ransom. The greatest reminder that our God does not go soft on sin is the fact that He bankrupted heaven and sent Christ to die in our place.