I've had a strong belief and expectation for punishment...
I received this very though provoking comment on one of my recent posts, Curses of Disobedience.
The reader asked,
“What about Jesus' taking the curse for us, having died on a tree? At all connected?”
The reader went on to say (I have paraphrased for clarity):
"I believe that I have "had faith for" punishment, rather than having an Advocate if I do sin, or that Jesus Christ is my peace with God. I have been "trying to make peace with God" through amends or self-sacrificing punishments that I felt were deserved. I have had an expectation of punishment or retribution for my sin(s), and once accomplished, then God and I would be good again.
For me, the concept of forgiveness and sins forgotten, like east is from west, was only following this repayment/punishment/amends. Then, following repentance, I experienced supernaturally induced devastation and loss. Not cause and effect like robbing a bank then going to jail following repentance.
Maybe you can help me to clarify all of this?"
I am not sure that I will be able to clarify all of this, but let’s examine it.
The post, Curses of Disobedience, was not intended to be a complete treatment of the subject. I go into much more depth in the book Ideolatry, especially in Chapter 11 that discusses the book of Job. The message of Christianity is that Jesus paid the price for our disobedience and sin and took the curse upon Himself for those who would believe according to Galatians 3.
Galatians 3:13 (ERV)
… But Christ took away that curse. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse. The Scriptures say, "Anyone who is hung on a tree is under a curse."
A lot of what I discuss in Ideolatry is the observational and experiential perspective that clouds the way in which we deal with God and understand His plan for us. It is sometimes difficult to approach God in total faith because of the baggage that we have. Jesus used children to illustrate this point when he said,
Mark 10:14-15 (BBE)
“Let the little children come to me, and do not keep them away; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Truly I say to you, Whoever does not put himself under the kingdom of God like a little child, will not come into it at all.
The reason that He used the children as an example is that children do not have the observational and experiential baggage that adults do when they consider God. Barring abuse and brainwashing, their motives are pure and innocent. This innocence is one of the hardest places to get to for anyone that has already experienced the difficulties of life. But this attitude is the foundation of faith.
For most of us, life has taught that cause and effect cannot be altered. Traditional religious thought and doctrine tends to do the same. These lessons direct us to believe that by ourselves we must pay the price for our mistakes. That is what the man made concept of penance is for and it is based in the self-justification of-works, not upon faith. This is where Job found himself when he was thinking in the cycle of the righteousness of self. He thought that he had done things right and that he deserved something different. What he did not realize was that his works of righteousness were not the issue. He was pure in those works, but he wanted to be justified by those works, his own works. Then he challenged God when he said that he wanted to plead his case before God to justify himself.
The context of Galatians 3:10-14 reveals how Jesus took the curse upon Himself and speaks directly to this concept of self-justification through the works of the law.
Galatians 3:10-14 (ERV)
"But people who depend on following the law to make them right are under a curse. As the Scriptures say, "They must do everything that is written in the law. If they do not always obey, they are under a curse." So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by the law. The Scriptures say, "The one who is right with God by faith will live forever."
The law does not depend on faith. No, it says that the only way a person will find life by the law is to obey its commands. The law says we are under a curse for not always obeying it. But Christ took away that curse. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse. The Scriptures say, "Anyone who is hung on a tree is under a curse." Because of what Jesus Christ did, the blessing God promised to Abraham was given to all people. Christ died so that by believing in him we could have the Spirit that God promised."
Job was not under the law, because he lived many years before the law was given through Moses. Job’s issue was that he had accepted as a fact that the woes that had befallen him were at the hand of God. He did not have direct knowledge of the presence of Satan, who was the actual agent of his misery. And it wasn’t until Job abandoned his self-righteousness and surrendered to the grace and mercy of God in faith, that his circumstances were turned to his favor. It was his attitude that opened the door of destruction and his changed attitude that closed it.
The fact is that through Jesus, your sins have been put away as far as east is from west (Ps 103:12 and Ideolatry page 336-338). The problem is that our observational and experiential perspectives frequently do not allow us to truly experience that gift through the innocent eyes of a child. Consequently, we can maintain an attitude of expectation of punishment rather that the guarantee of deliverance that God describes in Isaiah.
Isaiah 54:17 (KJV)
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
It is up to us to use the tools that God has provided through His Word and secured for us through Jesus. The “supernaturally induced devastation” that you referred to is the attack of Satan, similar to what happened in Job. It is designed to choke and drive out the seed of the truth of God’s Word to you before it has a chance to take root and grow.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
We must all take captive all of our thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to the saving grace and mercy of God. But it helps to understand how our observational and experiential perspectives got us to wherever it is that we are right now (Ideolatry, Chapters 1-9). Once we do, we can unravel the maze of deception that tries to keep us in defeat and away from a full realization of God’s free gift of grace and mercy through Jesus. This is our part of the covenant bargain (Ideolatry, Chapters 13-15), God does all of the rest of the heavy lifting.
I hope that this brings some clarity.
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
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