Sometimes when we discover certain verses of scripture, we go “bingo, I have found the answer to everything.” We kind of hold on to that verse as if it were the last word on the subject. If we are not careful, we can easily be lead into error. How so, you may ask?
For example, when we read something like – “if you ask anything in my name I will do” we might think this is it, “he said and that settles it.” Well, there is a qualifier to that verse - and if we fail to take it into consideration, we could fall into error. The qualifier says, “if you ask anything according to my will.”
The two scriptures I’m about to use today can sometimes seem opposed one to the other – at least some would like to make them look so. But I think they compliment or qualify one another. A clear understanding of these two scriptures is key to gaining the victory and staying victorious over sin.
1. It is the kindness/goodness of the Lord that leads to repentance
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romance 2:4
There is nothing in this world you can do that will stop God from loving you. There is no place you can go in this world that will hinder the grace of God from pursuing and reaching you. There is nothing you do or fail to do, either by sins of commission or sins of omission, that will change the way God feels about you. None of the good things you do can make him love you more – in fact all your righteousness is as filthy rags.
None of the bad stuff you do can make him love you less. He is absolutely crazy about you. God wants you to see the richness of his love and mercies and kindness toward you. Romans 12:1 says in view of the richness of his mercies, goodness and kindness, we should present ourselves to him, conform no longer to the pattern of this world – in short, turn from sin.
What that means is that God wants for you to take into consideration his love and mercies toward you as motivation for you to turn from sin. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 He has a plan for your life. Good plans. Plans to give you hope and a future. Hope of eternity with him. To make that happen He was willing to let His Son die for you.
God is not waiting for you to step out of line so that he can smack you over the head with his hammer. He is not willing for any to perish but all to come to repentance. So he is not there counting all you sins against you in hopes of sending you to hell. Jesus died so that you don’t go to hell. He wants for us to see how much gracious he is in our motivation to repent and turn to him in holiness and purity. 1 John 3:1, 3 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us… everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
2. Don’t make Jesus start a fight with you, because He Will
Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. Revelation 2:16
In our day of grace and love, it is hard for some Christians to see Jesus fighting them with the sword of his mouth. They quote Romans 2:4 as if God’s grace, love or goodness are inconsistent with his discipline and warnings. But Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Verses 7 and 8 tells us that God is showing his goodness by treating us as sons. Because the only ones that don’t get disciplined are illegitimate children.
People who find Romans 2:4 oppose to these verses here in point number 2 also say that scriptures like these drive people to fear. They say it is just fear tactics and manipulation. But Hebrews 10:26-31 is no scare tactic or manipulation, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God?”
This is the goodness of a loving Father on display – warning a son/daughter he loves with an everlasting love. Some question – “how can a loving God send people to hell?” First of all, God is not sending anyone to hell. His Son died to stop people from going there. But what people fail to understand is that God’s love does not cancel out his justice – they are mutually consistent with each other.
Timothy George from Frist Things would argue that, “God’s love is not sentimental; it is Holy. It is tender, but not squishy,” It involves not only compassion, kindness, and mercy beyond measure … but also indignation against injustice and unremitting opposition to all that is evil.”
Paul said. in 2 Corinthians 5:11 “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” If I said that I really love you, but don’t run over to you to move you out of harm’s way or at least warn you to get out-of-the-way if I saw an 18 wheeler going 85 miles an hour coming your direction, will that be real love? Love, goodness and kindness will do everything to get you out of harm’s way.
I contend that the proper dose of the fear of the Lord is necessary in motivating oneself and sinners to repent and live a holy life. Jesus himself said, “but I will warn you whom to fear; who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell, Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke 12:5 This healthy dose of fear is consistent with the goodness and kindness of God.
Another argument is one of “volume.” Let’s talk about this “85 mile an hour out of control truck about to hit you” scenario. Tell me which reaction you’d prefer:
In a nice low-key conservative tone: Hey sweet heart, you look so pretty in that dress, and those shoes – Ou la la, they are impeccable. But where you are standing, is kind of not safe. Can you think about changing your mind on where you stand, because there is this very big problem coming? I can’t completely describe it to you, nut can you please move out-of-the-way?
Or, do prefer -
Get out-of-the-way there is a truck coming!
I would prefer that you came and knocked me out of harms way. I would prefer a little urgency in your voice. I would need to know if there was an imminent danger. I would appreciate it that someone will love me that much to warn me if I’m on the wrong track. In any event, the good news is, Jesus died so that we can spend eternity with him not eternity separated from Him. He made hell for the devil and his demons and doesn’t want you to go there. Heaven is where he wants you go be – “where He is there we will also be.” I think Romans 2:4 and Hebrews 10:26-31 should work perfectly for anyone, because both scriptures demonstrate God’s goodness toward the sinner and both references have your greatest and highest interest at heart - Safety – Heaven!