The human heart longs for justice, to see evil punished: we say, “Don’t get mad; get even!” We demand that wrongs against us and our loved ones be righted, that sin be paid for, that the crooked be made straight. Our sense of injustice, that evil goes unpunished in this life, can be maddening, driving us to bitterness.
Our instinctive longing for justice is beautiful; it’s God’s image at work in us, even proving His existence, but there’s a problem: we’re unjust. We seldom see our own sins rightly, and our response to evil is usually warped; we exact more than we should.
So God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” (Ro 12:19) He wants perfect justice more than all the rest of us combined, but only He knows what it looks like.
God is perfectly just, and only God is perfectly just; He will make all the crooked places straight (Is 40:4); He will right all wrongs … even our own. It’s an awesome mystery how God’s justice and mercy work together (Ps 89:14), how He can offer eternal salvation to sinners, His own Son taking our place and satisfying His own indignation against us. We do well to receive His mercy rather than the second death, and to rejoice when others do … especially our enemies. (Mi 6:8)
How and when God makes everything right is up to Him; when He does it will be supremely satisfying, beautiful beyond thought! (Re 15:3-4) Enjoying it now in hope, before He does, glorifies Him and gives us peace.
Yeshua uses unmistakably graphic language to describe Hell. (Mk 9:43-44, 45-46, 47-48) He’s warning us to do all we can to avoid it. Who among us will go there? (Is 33:14) What would it be like do die the second death?
The Lake of Fire is the dreadful fate of all who fail to find their eternal home in Christ. (Re 21:8) Fear of spending eternity in Hell drives the wise to ensure their election, until they’re as sure of Heaven as Christ Himself. Take no chances: perfect assurance of eternal salvation is available; nothing less is acceptable.
Only a few diligently secure their place in Heaven; whatever it takes, strive to enter: be one of them. (Mt 7:13)
God is faithful (1Co 1:9): true to His word, keeping His promises, trustworthy, dependable; we can safely trust Him to do what He says He’s going to do.
We can see this both in Scripture (2Th 3:3) and in Nature: for every need He’s designed fulfillment. YHWH is good; we need Him to be faithful, and He is, more than we can know. (Je 17:7-8)
But the enemy lies to us about God’s nature, twisting God’s promises and promoting wrong expectations so when God doesn’t meet them we’re tempted to mistrust Him. Falling for his lies steals our joy and traps us in bitterness; it’s too painful.
So God set His bow in the clouds to remind us of His faithfulness (Ge 9:13); scientists still don’t fully understand how He does it. Jehovah’s gone out of His way to assure us that He’ll never break His Word; He makes no promise lightly; He puts His reputation on the line in every single one. God’s promises are exceedingly precious gifts, open doorways inviting us into His nature. (2Pe 1:4)
When I lose sleep over injustice, and recently it seems to be often, I know I’m not handling it well — it’s too painful for me(Ps 73:16); I’m letting the enemy steal my joy. (Php 4:6) It’s time for a little reminder: God is just. (Pr 2:8)
What if God always rewarded good and evil with immediate pleasure or pain, training us like Pavlov’s dogs? We’d never know the depravity of the human heart … or the goodness of God.
In order to fully reveal Himself God must allow evil to go unchecked for a season; this exposes the human heart, and provides Jehovah a venue to glorify Himself. (Ro 9:22-23) The season may be longer than we’d like, but it’s a necessity.
I remind myself that God is faithful; He will bring every secret thing out into light; all will be revealed (Mk 4:22), dealt with and straightened out. (Lk 3:5-6) He may not be as prompt we’d like, but He’s perfectly just (Ro 2:2) and His timing’s always best. (Ps 104:31) My focus is to walk worthy of Christ, in intimate fellowship with God, and leave the rest to Him. (Ro 14:4)
When things aren’t going our way, and we’re praying for God to come through for us … and He doesn’t, it’s tempting to doubt His goodness, to question His justice, to become resentful and angry. It’s called a root of bitterness. (He 12:15)
Giving in to bitterness is accusing God of being unfaithful, unjust, missing a precious opportunity to glorify Him in faith when all seems lost. It’s presuming that we’re being treated unfairly, but how do we know what’s fair? Isn’t this raw presumption and pride? Why is this so tempting for us? What good ever comes of it?
No suffering is easy, but sinning in our pain always makes it worse. Bitterness steals our joy and hope; it can spread quickly into others suffering with us.
We’re saved by hope, so when we’re seeing rock bottom let’s do as David did: “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (1Sa 30:6) Let’s humble ourselves, remember what we deserve, and be thankful in everything.
Nothing’s too hard for Jehovah; every promise He’s ever made He’ll keep. He is perfectly just; He only allows evil in order to glorify Himself, and He will right all wrongs. (Is 4:4-5) Let’s count on His faithfulness and rejoice in Him, especially when it looks hopeless … that’s His specialty.
In our spiritual journey do we feel more like a target than a soldier? Struggling to keep our joyonly to find we’re constantly being taken down in worry, frustration, disappointment and fear? Perhaps we’re missing our shield.
Many helpful pieces comprise our armor, but none’s more essential in spiritual warfarethan the shield of faith. (Ep 6:16)
Above all. Above our sword, above the girding belt, above the shodden feet, salvation’s helmet and the breastplate of righteousness … we must have our shield of faith.
Faith: knowing God is for us, because He says so. (Ro 8:31)
Faith: knowing, no matter what happens, that all things work together for good to us who love God, because He says so. (Ro 8:28)
There are many dangers, toils and snares in our homeward journey, yet God is faithful. Faith is knowing God sees the end from the beginning, that He’s able to keep us from falling, and that He’ll present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24-25)
Faith is basic to spiritual life (He 11:6), but what exactly is it?
Faith is supernatural confidence (Mk 11:22), absolute assurance (He 10:22), the absence of doubt about something. (Ja 1:6) It is so inexplicably complete and strong that it becomes in itself evidence of the veracity of its object. (He 11:1) It is distinct from desire and wishful thinking; it can only be stronger or weaker in terms of the scope of what is believed, not in the strength of the belief.
Faith is God’s gift enabling us to trust Christ for eternal salvation(Ep 2:8), to abound in hope(Ro 15:13) and to access the transforming power of God. (He 10:38) It is the flip side of repentance(Ac 20:21): God’s gift of full persuasion convincing us of truth.
When we lack faith, let’s follow the disciples’ example and ask God to increase our faith. (Lk 17:5) He is able to glorify Himself in and through us. (Ep 3:20)
Repentance is central to spiritual life (Ac_20:21), but exactly what is repentance?
Repentance is God’s gift causing us to change our minds, to become convinced of truth (2Ti 2:25), or to be persuaded(Lk 16:30-31) such that our behavior changes from within. It’s different from confessing sin, admitting guilt, being sorry and trying to obey. (2Co 7:10) It’s a renewing in our heart, a new way of thinking, and only God can do it. (Ps 51:10,19:13)
Repentance is what sets us free from the stranglehold of sin in our lives, delivering us from Satan’s power to hold us captive (2Ti 2:26), so we should immediately seek this gift whenever we find ourselves not acting, feeling, thinking or believing as we should (Is 55:6); any other response is loving our darkness instead of His light. (Jn 3:19) God never tells us to set aside time to repent … that’s like setting aside time to take antidotes; the longer we hold on to the poison of sin within us the more damage it does. Thinking any other way about repentance reveals we’re missing God in a big way.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (He 5:9) He does not offer a temporary salvation, but an eternalone.
By definition, salvation from Hell must be eternal, for if one ever ends up in Hell there can be no real sense in which one has ever been savedfrom it. In other words, a salvation that can be lost is no salvation at all.
Yet many complain that eternalsalvation – the once saved always saved kind – means we can “get saved” and then live like the devil. But this is not salvation; God saves from the dominion of sin as well as from its penalty (Ro 6:14), such that the saved obey Christ as new creatures, with a new nature. This renewing of our hearts is not by the will of Man (Jn 1:12-13); it is the work and gift of God. (Ep 2:8-10)
If salvation can be lost, the question to ask is, “How good do I have to be to keep it?” The question has only one safe answer: “Be perfect.” (Mt 19:20-21) We dare not presume a lower standard, and there is no higher one … yet it implies we can never know we have salvation.
But those who trust in Christ know they have eternal life(1Jn 5:13), and that it is not dependent on their works in any way. (Ro 4:5) They know God is able to keep them from falling and to present them faultless before Him. (Jud 1:24)
Those who don’t have an eternal salvation have not yet grasped the significance of the cross; Christ’s work is an efficacious, limited atonement for all — He did not merely make salvation a possibility for all, He has infallibly saved all who believe(He 7:25); their eternal end is already certain. (Ro 8:30)
“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” (2Pe 1:10) Once Jesus Christ pays your sin debt, you will never be condemned … ever. (Ro 4:6-8) Once we see the power of His cross we cannot doubt its efficacy, and we come to understand the only salvation there is … an eternal one. (He 7:25)
Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” (Mt 5:44) Perhaps it’s the cornerstone of all godliness, actively seeking the good of others, even those who’d harm us.
This is unnatural, certainly; it denies our self-protective instinct. Returning good for evil enables and strengthens our enemies to harm us even more. Yet it is our God’s example. (Mt 5:45)
Living this way as a manner of life requires an energy from another world, a Life beyond our own. It is perhaps the greatest witness of the reality of God, that we commit our physical care into His hands, just as we have our souls and spirits. (1Pe 4:19) It is only then that we live as children of our heavenly Father.
There is a time to resist abuse, and a time to suffer according to the will of God. It is the wisdom of God to tell these apart, but there is never a time to wish ill to another. (Ro 13:10) Let us not fear to follow God in suffering for His name, for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Co 4:16-18)