by Julie Zine Coleman
Journalist Lewis Hind once wrote of an epiphany about his father. Mr. Hind was a stern parent who administered discipline with an iron hand. Lewis respected his father, but even more, he feared him. One Sunday morning that all changed.
He was sitting in a church pew next to his father when the urge to sleep overtook him. Try as he might, young Lewis could not keep his eyes open. As he began to nod off, movement next to him startled him awake. His father raised him arm. Lewis flinched, sure his father meant to shake or strike him. Instead, Mr. Hind stretched his arm over the back of the pew and drew his young son close to his side, encouraging him to snuggle up and relax. In that moment, Lewis now understood that his father loved him.
Sometimes what we think we know as truth turns out to be dead wrong.
From early on, Jewish theology carried the idea that sickness was a result of sin. In the time of the patriarchs, a friend of Job demonstrated this in his judgment of Job’s troubles: “Remember now, whoever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed? According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger, they come to an end” (Job 4:7-9 NASB).
In Jesus’ day, the assumption persisted. His disciples questioned Jesus about one man’s blindness. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2 NASB). Obviously, if you were blind, you were experiencing the wrath of God for some grievous sin. Or so they thought.
Jesus knew otherwise. He corrected their false belief by telling them it was neither. “It was so the works of God might be displayed in him,” he said. (John 9:3b).
Mark tells the story in his gospel of a paralytic whose friends lowered him through a hole in the roof to be healed by Jesus. Jesus’ first words to him are puzzling. He said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5 NASB).
Wait…he came to be healed! What would “your sins are forgiven” have meant to that man?
For however long the man had been paralyzed, he had lived under the condemning stares of others, silently accusing him (or his parents) of committing some terrible sin, evidenced by his ailment. Worse, he had experienced the rejection and wrath of God himself. Or so he thought.
Jesus told him otherwise. He cleared away the man’s guilt with one statement: Your sins are forgiven. Upon hearing those words and their implication, the burden of despair fell off the man’s shoulders. He was spiritually healed.
Then, for good measure, Jesus commanded the paralytic to walk. And so he did. He picked up the mat on which he had so recently been carried and left the premises. With that physical healing, Jesus made his point. He was the Son of God. He had the authority to forgive sin. And this miracle proved it.
Have you ever wondered if your difficult circumstances are God’s punishment for your sin? That if you could be a better person, God wouldn’t be angry with you any more? Don’t buy into the lie. It’s bad theology.
Jesus bore the wrath of God for our sin on the cross. He endured God’s rejection and anger. If we believe in Christ, trusting him for our salvation, we will never be condemned for a single sin. Ever.
Jesus already paid the debt. God is not angry with you. True, sin makes him angry. But he placed that wrath for our sin on Jesus. As believers, we will never experience the wrath of God.
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Julie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website JulieZineColeman.com and Facebook.
Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation.
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