The Character of God:  Intolerance of Sin

New Testament

Luke 3:7-17
Matthew 13:1-23
Matthew 23:1-33
Matthew 25:14-46
Hebrews 10:26-31

Other Aspects of God's Character

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Luke 3:7-17 (4/25/2011)

We saw last week that God hates sin.  This week we’ll see that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament had the same attitude.  Now, I probably should say that the Old and New Testaments give practical advice for avoiding sin to the extent possible and a path forward to deal with sins we’ve already committed.  But if God didn’t care one way or the other about sin, he wouldn’t send prophets and a savior to deal with it. 

Very little of the Bible is actually concerned with theology.  Mostly it’s about behavior.  When the crowds of people came out to see John, he threatens them with judgment for their sins, and they ask (reasonably enough), “AAAaahh!  What are we supposed to do??”  Does he use this teachable moment to talk about important theological concepts like the Trinity?  Not at all.  He talks about behavior.  Behavior can be sinful or righteous.  Your call.

By the way, when today’s passage is read, I usually stop listening at “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” and I always figured that he was talking about the fire we see at Pentecost.  Note well that John doesn’t quit speaking at that point.  When I read the next two sentences, it appears that the fire he’s talking about is a little hotter.

Matthew 13:1-23 (4/26/2011)

One of the problems about sin is that we live in a world where sin abounds.  It isn’t just our own sin that gets us into trouble:  other people’s sins damage us as well.  The Parable of the Sower is to some extent a warning against falling prey to the evils of the world – either caused by or aggravated by other people’s sins.

Matthew 23:1-33 (4/27/2011)

The Pharisees and scribes spent much of their time studying and trying to obey the Law of Moses.  So far, so good.  Unfortunately, they spent the rest of their time making up new rules and criticizing other people for not living up to their standards.

Jesus says that obeying the Law is fine – even necessary – but it’s not enough to compensate for the sins of arrogance, hypocrisy, leading other people astray, greed, putting God in a box, or neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  God is particularly intolerant of the sins of people who should know better.

Matthew 25:14-46 (4/28/2011)

Sin isn’t just about what you do.  Sin is also about what you don’t do, if you are supposed to be doing it.  Note in vs. 15, however, that God takes your capabilities into account (which is kind of scary for talented people, I suppose).

Note that salvation is related to whom you know; rewards are related to what you do.  Lots of people get confused about this, and these two parables don’t help, because it would be easy to interpret them as supporting the idea of works righteousness,  i.e., earning your salvation.  However, they are really about (1) God’s expectation that you will do what is required of you, and not doing it is a sin, and (2) there will be judgment for everybody – the doers and the not-doers.  My little children, be ye doers of the word, and not readers only.

Hebrews 10:26-31 (4/29/2011)

This concludes our study on the Character of God. We’ve read passages about God’s glory (brilliance and awesomeness), holiness (separateness), longsuffering (patience and slow temper), lovingkindness, graciousness (willingness to grant favors), jealously, and intolerance of sin.  With any luck, we’ve gained some new insights into what these words mean, in addition to reviewing what we already knew about God.  Even so, it's important to remember two things: Fortunately, even though God hates sin, he loves us.  Let’s keep on having faith until we are saved.

Other Aspects of God's Character
Glory, Old Testament, New Testament
Holiness, Old Testament, New Testament
Longsuffering, Old Testament, New Testament
Steadfast Love, Old Testament, which is Mercy in the New Testament
Graciousness, Old Testament, which is Grace in the New Testament
Jealousy, Old Testament
Intolerance of Sin, Old Testament, New Testament

Copyright 2011 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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