Where Jesus is the epitome of love and grace, He is also the absolute Judge and condemner of sin and He alone represents perfect justice.
God does not tolerate sin, and the cross is the reality of that truth. He, upon the cross, condemned sin and paid the cost for it all. If you cannot see God’s view of sin in the brutality of the cross, you have missed the real expression of His love for you.
This does not, however, give reason to believe that all our sins are overlooked by God and He now has a view toward us that is rich with tolerance. His view toward us is rich with GRACE. Not a grace that is lacking power and authority, but the grace of the King of kings, the rightful Ruler and Judge, that sees sin in its absolute abhorrence and reaches down to us anyway.
God’s love calls out to us in His grace, not wanting us to remain in our sins but to repent and turn away from sin and toward Jesus. Grace does not call out to us and say, “You’re ok just the way you are.” Grace calls out to us and says, “You’re broken and in desperate need, come to the only One who can pardon your sins and cleanse you from your wicked ways.”
To put it bluntly: grace does not tolerate, grace redeems.
And redemption, not tolerance, is what we need from God. Thus, for all who receive His grace, redemption is abundantly given. Tolerance believes God will allow us to stay in our sins. But in Christ, sin is condemned (Romans 8:3).
This brings us back to the cross—the ultimate statement against sin.
The cross of Christ is both the condemnation of the world as well as the hope of all mankind. God’s wrath and mercy were found there—the punishment for sin and the promise of salvation.
But some will argue their desire for tolerance with such statements as this: “Didn’t Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And, yes, He did. He ate with them, spent time with them, touched their wounds and called them to Himself. For He said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). What Jesus never did was leave a sinner in a place where they felt comfortable remaining in their sin.
Consider these texts:
Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” ~ John 5:14
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ~ John 8:11
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. ~ John 8:34
This does not mean that Jesus rejects sinners—just the opposite! If Jesus rejected sinners then heaven would be vacant. He redeems all sinners who will repent, and delivers them from the wrath of God and the penalty of sin.
So, if you or I are to love someone in Christ, let us do so with the same purpose as Christ: To call sinners to repentance and love those who are in this world with a love that offers grace and not tolerance toward sin.
©2019 Rev. Michael Duncan