I once had a very negative (and untrue) concept of God. I thought that every time I sinned God was standing in heaven with His arms folded, tapping one foot on the cloud below Him and giving me the dirtiest look you could imagine. Or sometimes I pictured Him staring from His throne of glory in disbelief as if to say, "How could you! I can't believe you did that."
Both of those images are silly and unbiblical. They are also dangerous, for if we think God is like that we won't love and trust Him. When we fall, instead of running to Him for forgiveness we will cower away and immerse ourselves more and more in guilt. This will rob us of the peace and joy of divine forgiveness and rob God of the joy of forgiving us.
Yes, our Loving Father-God finds infinte joy in forgiving us. Listen to this Scripture passage:
Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger for ever because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our iniquities under foot. Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.Our God delights in merciful, forgiving, unchanging love. Can we believe the Lord is like that? Well, it's Scriptural, so you can believe it!
Micah 7:18-19 RSVCE (emphasis mine)
Here's a parable which Jesus told to make the same point:
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.Did you catch that? Jesus is saying that He is the Good Shepherd, and when one of His sheep - one of us, that is - strays and then returns, He rejoices! Jesus rejoices to forgive us.
Luke 15:4-5 (emphasis mine)
And so does our loving Father-God. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus describes the Father's attitude toward a repentant sinner:
But while he (the prodigal son) was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.-Luke 15:20The father in the parable then completely forgives his wayward child for squandering his money, and calls for the whole household to celebrate his son's return (vvs 22-24). Jesus is telling us that our Heavenly Father delights in forgiveness and rejoices to restore us to full communion in His Love.
Sometimes people speak about God as though He enjoys damning people. This is also grossly unscriptural and untrue. Granted, God will judge evildoers one day, but He doesn't enjoy it: "As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 33:11). God takes pleasure in love and forgiveness. Divine justice is only a last resort after total rejection of His gracious love.
"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever" (Psalm 103:8-9). Though God does not remain angry forever, "the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him" (vs 17).
Sacred Scripture also says, "from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Psalm 90:2). God's love is from everlasting to everlasting because God is from everlasting to everlasting. After all, God is love by very nature (I John 4:8).
God loves us infinitely from all eternity: "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). The Omniscient Lord knew from all eternity that He'd create each one of us. We were not a "bright idea" God dreamed up one day; we are known and loved from all eternity, long before we ever existed.
God knew every detail of our lives, including all our sins (God did not plan them, but foresaw their occurance). But you know what? Even though He saw our worst sins, He still loved us enough to bring us into existence. He loved us enough to become human and die on the cross to free us from sin. He took our sins on Himself and suffered for them so that we would not have to!
This is why my old concept of God being shocked at my sin was so wrong. God is never shocked or "disappointed" when we sin, since He knew we would do it all along. All our Father-God wants is to show us love and mercy, to cleanse our sins in the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. He's forseen them eternally, now He wants to forgive them completely: "I, even I, an He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins" (Isaiah 43:25).
The Father wants to trample your sins underfoot, cast them into the sea, get them out of the way of your fellowship with Him. He hates those barriers to fellowship with you because He loves you. He wants to embrace you and restore you to a loving relationship with Himself. Believe in your Father's Eternal Love for you, and draw near to Him with confidence in Jesus Christ. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8).
(By the way, did you notice that most of the passages about God's love cited above come from the Old Testament, not the New Testament? So much for the old canard about the "God of the Old Testament" being a "God of wrath"!).
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