No, I am not swearing. The things we see in this passage are literally ways of thinking that will lead to people’s damnation.
To be honest, I find it hard to believe that people in that time held these ways of thinking. Some people were saying, “God is happy when I sin because when I do, it shows how good he is in contrast. So why does God judge me when I’m simply doing what he wants?” (5)
But Paul quickly debunks that idea by saying, “What are you talking about? God doesn’t take pleasure in your sin, even if it does “show how good he is.” If God thought that way, there’s no way he could judge the world. (6)
On a similar vein, others were saying, “Well, if I do evil, good will result. When I sin, everyone will see just how good God is in contrast to me and they’ll glorify him. So I should just sin more.”
To that, Paul simply says flat out,
Their condemnation is deserved. (8)
I doubt that people still hold these ways of thinking, but there are still other similar arguments people make today. Today we’ll look at one, and tomorrow we’ll look at another.
God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us. (5)
People nowadays use this in a different context than in Paul’s day. They say things like, “How can God punish people who have never heard?” But as we’ve seen in previous chapters, God has given people enough evidence to believe that he exists, even in lands where the gospel has never reached. They have the evidence of creation and their own laws and consciences. And yet they reject what they’ve been given. These people will not be judged based on what they don’t know, but on what they do know. So the judgment they receive will be entirely just.
Other people say, “How can God send people to hell? That’s so unjust, making people suffer forever just for rejecting him.”
I’ll be honest. I don’t like the teaching about hell. I’d rather believe that all people will eventually go to heaven. The problem is, that’s not what the Bible teaches. That’s definitely not what Jesus taught either.
But I’ll make two points on this. First, God is simply giving people what they want. And what people who reject God want is to be as far away from God as possible. They want to live their own way. They want to do their own thing. But what they eventually find out is that God is the source of love, joy, life, and everything that is good. And so separation from God is separation from everything that is good. What is that kind of existence? Hell.
Second, God did everything he could, short of forcing people to believe in him, so that people didn’t have to go to hell. He sent his Son to suffer and die for our sins. Jesus did all the hard work. All we have to do is put our faith in him and his work on the cross. To say, “Father, I know I’ve messed up my life by going my own way. Forgive me. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. I’m putting my trust in you from now on. Now please work in me to change me and make me more like yourself each day.”
And when we make that choice, we find life. It’s not that hard. The only hard thing about it is not wanting to let go of our way.
I love how C.S. Lewis put it. In the end, people either turn to God and say, “Your will be done,” or they turn away from him and he tells them, “Your will be done.”
Whose will is being done in your life?