Yesterday I attempted to explain why God has to have a problem with sin, why Jesus dying on the cross is necessary, and why repentance and faith are part of the deal.
The discussion began with a question usually asked by someone hostile, or at least ignorant, of Christianity–why can’t God just forgive sins?
It comes from the assumption that God, if He truly loved people, would let them all in heaven and not be so angry about what they did here. It’s an attempt for an atheist type to belittle the angry God of the Bible.
What I find fascinating about this atheistic challenge is that it’s pretty much mainline Christian doctrine at this point!
Fewer Christians are continuing to uphold the doctrine of hell. Many Christians are off on weird things about grace and love that make God into a being who doesn’t care about what we do. (See this little bit of satire)
In other words, the unbeliever’s challenge about God overlooking sin is usually answered with, “Hey, you know what? You’re right! We’d like that better too if God didn’t care what we did!”
Modern notions of grace (I say “modern” because it’s really only been a teaching for the last 75 years or so of Christianity) say that repentance is not necessary for forgiveness. Often going a step further in saying that a Christian can sin all he wants and God lets it go. He can even deny the faith and become an atheist, but if he said the prayer he’s still “in.”
This God is the same God as the God of the atheist’s question above. Neither God minds sin. Neither God is offended or angry. Neither God thinks sin is a big deal.
This is where human philosophy has corrupted biblical doctrine.
Repentance is a change of mind about sin based on your increased knowledge of who God is and who you are in light of that. Repentance says, “Oh, wow, didn’t realize how bad that was. I should stop doing that.”
There is a sincerity about the depth of the grossness of sin that makes one ask for forgiveness.
God puts repentance as a necessary part of salvation. If there is no repentance over sin, then there is no understanding of what sin is, which means there is no understanding of who God is.
Sin is the opposite of God’s character. When we sin we are denying the character of God. If there is no repentance for sin, there can’t possibly be a true knowledge of who God is.
If there is no true knowledge of who God is, how can you possibly believe God will save you? Why even bother with salvation if you don’t understand the depth of sin?
Yet we sinners like to think we’re not that bad. The atheist thinks God is stupid for getting so mad about sin. The atheist wants a God who is more or less non-existent.
Those carried away in “grace” want the same thing. They want a God who lets them do whatever they want with no standard, no responsibility, nothing.
Both want a God who pretends sin isn’t a big deal.
In so doing, both completely undermine God. God has to take sin seriously. The reason why is because God takes Himself seriously.
The day God thinks sin is no big deal, is the day God thinks He Himself is no big deal.
This isn’t going to happen no matter how much sinners want it to.
God can’t just overlook sin, it violates His character. It must be dealt with. The sinner must understand the seriousness of what he just did in light of who God is.
In the end, there’s not much of a difference between the ideal atheist God and the God of many Christians. This is a bad thing, but not too surprising. We really do like our sin.