Summary: The misinformation about God unnecessarily makes many people far too afraid of Him when they should be seeking Him as their dearest friend.
Do you remember how, one of the most unpleasant emotions you suffered as a kid was waiting to be punished? Do you remember that?
If you had a particularly tender conscience it was especially hard for you. When you did something wrong you just knew you were going to be found out, and you just knew you were going to pay - big time.
That was the kind of kid I was. I just knew my parents and teachers had spies everywhere. The moment I stepped out of line I just knew I was going to be reported. And then I knew I was going to be punished.
And the fear of punishment was sometimes worse than the punishment itself.
I don’t understand all of the psychology of why I was that way. I’d kind of like to just blame it on my two older brothers if you don’t mind. When you’re the youngest your older siblings play with your mind. They say things to you like, “Oh, dad and mom are gonna kill you! You are gonna be in so much trouble!” Or they would say, “I remember when I was your age and I did that…boy did I ever get it!”
Older siblings can be real encouraging.
Maybe it didn’t happen to you that way, and of course I’m joking about older siblings, but we all dread punishment because punishment isn’t pleasant.
The only reason I bring this up right now is because, as we grow older, we often transfer our misconceptions about punishment from our parents and teachers to God. Consequently a lot of people are missing out on the great privilege of having a close personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ because they have a skewed idea of God and punishment.
They dreaded punishment so badly as a child, AND they’ve heard an incomplete or distorted report from others ABOUT God and how He deals with us when we sin, that they have this unhealthy fear and dread of God. Or they dislike God because they operate on the presumption that He’s mean and angry all the time and just lives and breathes to punish us for our misdeeds.
And that’s a crying shame. It’s a shame that a lot of people aren’t enjoying God and the kind of life they could be experiencing because of their biases against Him. All such biases are unfounded. God is a loving, caring, longsuffering, merciful and gracious heavenly Father.
I do not mean to imply that He takes a light view of sin. You’ll see that He doesn’t as we investigate this issue in the Bible. What I do mean to suggest is that we need to acquire a proper perspective, not a perspective based on faulty human reasoning, but a correct view that provides a balance of God’s holiness and love.
So what I want to attempt to do today is erase any biases and misconceptions against God in the area of punishment we might have. In order to do that we’re going to look into what God Himself says about punishment. We’re going to see that in His word God presents a fair-handed and balanced explanation of how He punishes sin.
PROPER PERSPECTIVES ON GOD AND PUNISHMENT
The first thing you need to know about God in this regard is this.
1.GOD DOES NOT HAVE A DARK SIDE.
This is a fundamental fact about God that you’ve just got to understand in order to get a balanced answer to the question, “Does God punish us when we sin?”
God is NOT sitting up in heaven waiting to thump you when you fail to do what is right. He’s not vindictive or mean-spirited. He’s not hostile or hateful. He’s gentle and loving and kind.
One of Christ’s closest followers, a man who walked and talked with Jesus on a daily basis for some time, the Apostle John, wrote this.
"Jesus told us that God is light and doesn’t have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you." 1 John 1:5 (CEV)
Jesus is God and He became human in order to give us a clearer picture of what God is like, and among the many things He revealed to us about God is that God does NOT have a dark side. So there’s no reason at all that I should be reluctant to know God. There’s no reason I shouldn’t trust Him. There’s no reason why I should hesitate to live by the things He reveals to me in His word.
There’s no deceitfulness in God, no trickery, no meanness, no desire to exploit me. He doesn’t have a dark side to His nature. Nothing about Him is ugly or unpleasant. There’s nothing about God that wouldn’t make me want Him as my best friend! In fact, once I get past the bad press about God – I’m going to want to run to Him and walk and talk with Him on a daily basis!