Tree of Life Blog

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Tag Archives: Punishment

New study delivers blow to anti-smacking campaigners (from www.christian.org.uk)

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Most adults agree that smacking naughty children doesn’t pose a “high risk” to their welfare, according to a new survey by an anti-smacking children’s charity.

The results are likely to be seen as a blow to anti-smacking campaigners who have long tried to convince parents that smacking is detrimental to their children’s welfare.

The survey, conducted by The Children’s Society, revealed that two-thirds of the adults surveyed don’t believe that smacking poses a “high risk” to children.

Rules

Dr Patricia Morgan, a prominent social science author, welcomed the results, saying: “There is a major gap between what parents think and what the campaigners tell them.

“All the existing research shows that children brought up by permissive parents do worse than those who set boundaries and enforce the rules, and those who are smacked as a punishment for breaking rules in such families do better. Parents are right.”

The research revealed that 32 per cent of respondents believed smacking to be of low risk, while 36 per cent believed it to be of medium risk.

Punishment

By contrast 33 per cent of those surveyed described physical punishment as high risk.

But Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, expressed concern over the results.

Mr Reitemeier said: “Physical violence is something children definitely need to be protected from. The survey revealed a worrying lack of concern by one third of people surveyed about parents slapping their children.

Disputed

“Children are the only group of people in this country who can be legally hit on a regular basis by others, with little protection in law.”

But this claim was dismissed by Dr Morgan, who said: “Children are the only people who can be legally sent to bed by others. Does that make it wrong?”

The results were from a wider survey, carried out by market researchers GfK NOP, which asked 2,047 adults to identify the biggest risks faced by youngsters aged six to 15 in six different scenarios.

Prosecuted

Earlier this year bureaucrats from the Council of Europe said that parents who smack their children should be prosecuted for assault.

Family value campaigners expressed alarm that “a vocal minority” of activists were in danger of undermining the authority of parents to discipline their children.

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said: “Prohibiting all corporal punishment is a legal imperative and I hope the United Kingdom will take that essential step urgently.”

Correcting

She also claimed that gentle smacks which do not leave a mark could cause children psychological harm, and attacked the UK’s approach to parenting which is “one of authority.”

But Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, said: “It is parents, and not national governments, who bear the responsibility of caring for children, nurturing them, and correcting them where necessary.”

Romans 1.18

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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This is a very serious verse and one that needs considerable contemplation by all Christians. Let’s first of all define the phrase “wrath of God”. The Greek word is orge (pronounced or-gay) and it can mean violent emotions or it can mean punishment.

Most commentaries I read seem to lean towards defining orge in this verse as violent emotions. This goes back to the Calvinist idea that God is angry with the world. I even read one commentary that said that God hates sinners – that if you sin, God hates you until you repent.

I believe whole heartedly that this idea of “sinners in the hand of an angry God” is a false one. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God, and we were never sinners in the hands of an angry God! We were sinners, but God was not angry. Now, as Christians, we are not sinners any more: we are righteous saints in the hands of a loving Father.

The preacher of “sinners in the hands of an angry God” first transcribed sermon was about how God will not save anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith, as God can do what He likes and God will only save who He wants to save! People in his church were so depressed by his preaching that some of them committed suicide, including his own uncle. He then said that it was God that made them kill themselves! If I thought that unless I was specially chosen by God there was no way I could be redeemed from sin, no matter how much I wanted to be, I think I would be suicidal too! It is utterly Biblically incorrect to say that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, yet many Christians use this era of Christianity as their benchmark of living Christianity and ignore the book of Acts!

Let’s look at this topic of the wrath of God across the wider Biblical teaching of God and then let’s look at this within the context of Romans 1 and unpick what this verse means. I believe it means that the legal punishment of God is revealed, not God’s emotional anger.

Firstly, let me say that the Bible is clear that God is pure and righteous and holy. Godliness is about being pure and acting right and living holy. I am not for sin – sin is a killer: sin will keep you enslaved and take you places where death can attack and destroy you. However, the sin problem has been dealt with. Sin will never affect your relationship and intimacy with God.

You see when God created Adam and Eve and when they first sinned, God did not punish them. Pain in childbirth, having to work and sweat to make the world produce, difficulty in relationships, being dead spiritually and eventually dying physically were not placed on Adam and Eve by God – they were just the natural consequences of kicking God out of your life and your planet. God gave Adam and Eve planet Earth and they booted God out of it – no wonder the planet is in a mess! No wonder marriages are in a mess – they booted God out of marriage! No wonder child-rearing and producing a living are such hard work – they booted God out of these things!

God wasn’t punishing them, they were just dealing with the natural consequences of their actions. If you live a promiscuous lifestyle and catch a sexually transmitted disease, God didn’t put that on you – it is simply the natural consequence of you actions. If you eat 5000+ calories a day, and you have a heart attack – God didn’t do it. If you drink and drive and crash your car, God didn’t do it. If you sin and end up in hell because you never accepted the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary, God didn’t send you to hell – it is simply the consequence of your actions.

God found Adam and Eve and clothed them with the skin of an animal. God brought death into an animal, so that Adam and Eve could live. That is not the actions of someone who is “violently emotional and angry”. You don’t make a sacrifice for someone you hate.

Now, God continually showed love and affection to the human race. Cain murdered his brother and God marked him. The mark of Cain wasn’t judgment it was mercy: it said that you couldn’t punish Cain. It was protection. You don’t protect a murderer if you are violently emotional and angry.

However, people took the love and mercy of God and the goodness of God for granted. The world became more and more wicked, and people such as Lamech said essentially if Cain could murder and God still loved him, I will go and murder who I like. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2.4) but not if we take it for granted.

So God had to develop a system of laws. He had to wipe out everyone in a flood. But God did it as a discipline and a punishment for sin – not out of a temper. He is our Father – if a father disciplines and punishes a son, that is fine. If my son was rude or stole something, I would punish them in some appropriate way. But, if I did it out of violent anger (which I have on occasion lost my temper at my children and had to repent of it) then you would say that this was bad parenting. How much more is God a good Father?

He flooded the world because He was the judge of the world, not because He violently hated mankind. Someone in a violent emotional state would not have led Noah to build an ark and waited 100 years to discipline humanity, spending that time calling them to repent with a powerfully anointed preacher. Violently angry people do not wait 100 years pleading with people to change!

He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because He had to stop their wickedness spreading. Violently angry people don’t wait until people escape before destroying a city – God did.

You see this idea of God being violently angry and needing to be placated is actually a pagan idea, not a Christian one. The truth is that sin does need a punishment, a death, but God is the one providing the lamb that takes away the sin of the world, not the one looking for it. We are the ones looking for it, and we found it at Calvary – the love of God in a human, giving up His life for us. That is the nature of God.

God must punish sin. The wages of sin is death, and if you die in sin you will go to hell. Sin cannot enter heaven. God’s justice demands that sin is punished. But the love of God triumphs over sin through Calvary. Mercy has triumphed over justice.

This is what this verse is talking about, not a God in heaven looking at people enjoying getting them and blasting them and being violently angry at them. It is a God who knows that sin must be punished and needs to deal with that so that He doesn’t have to punish sin. God doesn’t want anyone going to hell, God doesn’t want anyone sick, anyone suffering, God loves people! Your ungodliness must be punished, your unrighteousness has to be punished! But Jesus was punished so you don’t have to be!

The context of Romans 1.18 is the gospel. The whole reason we need the good news of Jesus is the wrath of God. Not the capricious anger of God, but the punishment of God. God must punish every sin you have ever committed, every impure thought you have ever had. But far from being violently angry with you, God loves you so much that He gave up His only Son to die your death, to bear your iniquity, to take the punishment for your sin – so you could have eternal life, so you could be righteous and pure and so you could have a relationship with God! Selah!

You deserved hell, Jesus went there so you don’t have to. You deserved death, but you are going to live forever if you accept by faith that Jesus took your place. This is the good news. The wrath of God is what makes the good news good news. If there is no wrath of God, then the gospel is meaningless. If sin did not warrant death, then the gospel is useless.

But let that realization of a clear punishment for sin lead you to say that God is an angry God – He is a God who only has thoughts to prosper you not to harm you. Angry people cannot think like that. God is angry – but not at humans, He is angry at injustice, He is angry at ignorance, He is angry that the devil keeps tripping people up and lying to them and making them think that He hates them. He is angry at anything that stops you and Him enjoying fellowship and friendship. But He is not angry at you.

Look at Isaiah 54.7-8:

8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

God compares His never being wroth (angry) with us again like the promise that He will never flood the earth again. They are as important to Him. Every Christian knows that God will never flood the world again like He did. You need to know as well and as deeply in your spirit that God will NEVER be wroth with you. Ever.

Next time you see a rainbow, thank God that He is not and will never be angry with you. The wrath of God was entirely poured out on Jesus, the entire punishment for the sin of the world was laid entirely on Him.

That is good news!

Run Through Romans (5.6-11)

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6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

This emphasises the point of the law: to show you that you have no strength.  To show you that you could never achieve righteousness on your own.  Because you could never achieve it on your own, Christ died for you.  He died in your place, becoming your sin, taking your death, bearing the punishment that should be on you.  How wonderful!

7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Before you ever tried to do anything good, before you ever prayed, before you ever fasted, before you ever read your Bible, before you tried to walk in love, Christ died for you because God loves you.  Never, ever doubt the love of God for you: while you were still unrighteous and while you were cursing His name and disrespecting His people, He sent Christ to die for you.  He loves you.  He loved you when you were a rebel.  Now you have tried and failed, do you honestly think he doesn’t love you anymore?  He loves you.  He adores you.

You determine God’s love for you not by your feelings or experiences.  If you try that you will be a yo-yo Christian up and down with your moods and your feelings.  You determine God’s love for you on whether Jesus died or not. 

You commit a sin.  You don’t feel loved by God.  Did Jesus die for you? Yes – then God loves you.

You do something great.  You feel loved by God.  Did Jesus die for you? Yes – then God loves you.

You try to do something and make a mistake.  You feel unloved.  Did Jesus die for you?  Yes – then God loves you.

You have a row with someone.  You disobey the Holy Spirit.  You let everyone down.  You lose control.  Did Jesus die for you?  Yes – then God loves you!

9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Follow Paul’s argument here because it is so powerful and will bring you so much confidence and peace.  Paul is saying that when you were a sinner and a rebel and there was nothing good in you, God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to take your sin and swap it for His righteousness. 

Now you have believed in the love of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus you are righteous.  If God loved you when you were a sinner, how much MORE – now you are justified (made righteous) by Jesus’ blood – are you saved from His wrath.  God will never punish you for sin.

Do you understand that: God will NEVER punish you for your sin.  You could go out and sin right now and God will not punish you for it.  You are righteous because of what Jesus did and are completely free from the wrath of God.

The wrath of God is the element of God’s justice and goodness that demands God punish sin.  Now when you were unrighteous, you were what Ephesians 2 calls “a child of wrath”.  Your whole nature was unrighteous and you deserved the judgment of God.  You lied, you stole, you blasphemed.  You were selfish.  When you died and were judged by God you would have gone to hell.

Now, because of your faith in Jesus you have been given a new nature.  You are not unrighteous anymore, but righteous: this change in your spirit is so monumental that Jesus Himself calls it being “born again”.  God punished Jesus for all your sins and He died on a cross taking your death.  He descended to hell, suffering your punishment.  Now you are now made righteous when you believe in Jesus.

Because you are righteous, you are not under the wrath of God.  In fact, it would be wrong of God to punish you for your sin.  God has already punished Jesus fully for every sin you have committed or ever will commit.  If God punished you for your sin, He would be unjust.   If Jesus has legally taken all the punishment for every sin you have ever committed you are not under the wrath of God.

Put in simple English: God is never going to punish you.  He is not mad with you.  He is not angry with you.  You are righteous.  The Lord God loves you.

Isaiah 54.9 says: For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Ask any Christian: do you believe that one day there will be another worldwide flood?  They will tell you not a chance – God has promised He will not judge the world with water again.   Ask any Christian: do you believe that God will ever be angry with you or rebuke you again?  They will most likely say: probably lots of times. 

Why? They are basing God’s love for them on their performance and not on the work of the cross and the grace of God.  Read Isa. 54.9 again carefully: as surely as God has promised that there will be no more worldwide floods, He will NOT be angry with you or rebuke you.  Ever.  That is what the Bible says.

You are righteous.  You are right with God.  You are at peace with God.  God is not angry at you.  Stop running away from God, He loves you.  He is not judging you for your sin, He is not holding your sin against you – He already held it against Jesus.  You are free and delivered and safe from the punishment of God.

This is the good news of the gospel!10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

If you realize this, you would joy in God too.  When you were God’s enemy and you hated God, He didn’t wipe you out: He sent His Son to die for you.  Now you are God’s friend, you shall be saved by the life of Jesus.  Jesus lives in you, and God loves you as much as He loves Jesus.  You should be shouting about now if this is sinking in.

We have now received the atonement.  Atonement is a terrible translation of the Greek word katallagē. It should be translated: exchange or reconciliation. 

You have received the exchange: Jesus took your sin and gave you His righteousness.  Say it out loud.  Get used to thinking that you are righteous with the righteousness of God.  That is the truth.  God is not angry with you, God is not going to punish you because you have received the exchange – the greatest exchange in history.  His righteousness for your sin.  God will never, ever deal with you according to your sin.  Most Christians don’t believe that, many ministers don’t preach that but it is the message of the gospel.

You have received the reconciliation: you and God are no longer at war.  The sin issue has been dealt with by Jesus.  You and God are at peace.  God is not about to punish you or rebuke you and that is sealed in the blood of Jesus.

So start to joy in God.  The word for joy here in verse 11 means to boast gladly about.  Boast gladly that you are saved, not because of yourself, but because of Jesus.  Boast gladly that God will never punish you, not because of yourself, but because of Jesus’ blood.

Praise His name forever,

Ben

Run Through Romans (1.18-1.32)

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I have included the text of Romans 1.18-32 below.  The Bible text is in red, and my comments are interspersed with the text.  At the end of the Bible text, I will talk about the problem with unrighteousness.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This verse tells us the problem of humanity: the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.  The phrase “wrath of God” is only used 4 times in the Bible (Romans 1.18,  John 3.36, Ephesians 5.6, Col. 3.6) and it does not mean that God is having a temper tantrum.  It means that God is going to punish all unrighteousness.  This has happened once before in the world-wide flood of Noah (Genesis 6) and will happen again when the world is destroyed by fire.
As we shall shortly see in the remainder of this chapter, everyone in the world is unrighteous on the basis of their actions.  Therefore everyone must be punished by God.  God is a good, just God and must punish all unrighteousness.

19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

This verse explains why God is going to punish everyone that is unrighteous.  They should know the laws of God – God has shown everyone what is known of God.  Or put more simply: God has created everyone with the ability to know right from wrong.  We call this the conscience.  No one  who acts in an unrighteous way can ever say that they did not know how to act right.  Every time they act unrighteous, they know they have done wrong.  The voice that tells them right or wrong might be silenced by continual wrong-doing, but no-one can ever claim it was not there or that they did not know they have done wrong.

20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

The second reason that no-one can be excused for acting unrighteously is the creation of the world.  The creation of the world proves that God is all powerful and that He is Lord.  People might claim they think this world began in an explosion of nothing and that life came from non-living material, but itis scientifically impossible and is simply a denial of what the Bible says can be clearly seen.  If you see a building, you have proof there is a builder.  If you see a creation, you have proof there is a creator.

21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

So although every single human born has both a conscience and creation to prove to them there is a God and that they should live a righteous life, every human has done 4 things wrong:

1. They failed to glorify God

2. They were not thankful to God

3. They became vain in their imaginations

4. Their foolish hearts were darkened

Every person should know there is a God and that they should live right.  Every person has violated their own conscience and done things they know to be wrong.

Firstly, everyone has failed to glorify God.  To glorify God means to acknowledge that God is great, to think highly of God.  We have not done that – we have blamed God for our problems, we have thought that He is like us that He does not mind our sin, that He is not holy.  Every depiction of God in the media reduces Him from His true greatness.  We all have doubted that God would come through for us, we all have doubted His Word, doubted His love, doubted His holiness and His greatness.

Secondly, everyone has failed to be grateful.  In particular this is a Western problem.  We are panicking that we cannot buy the same amount of food we used to be able to in the credit crunch, but we forget how blessed we are to live where we live.  All of us have spent time moaning about the negative and ignoring the positive.

Thirdly, we have all become vain in our imaginations.  We have imagined ourselves committing sins of violence and sins of sexual immorality in our minds, we have imagined and worried about things that God promised to protect us from.  Our imaginations run wild, and we fill them up with junk from the TV just to make it worse.

Fourthly, we have all had darkened hearts.  God has tried to speak to us but we could not hear Him.  We failed to notice Him ministering to us again and agani.

Every human being has done these things in every single nation.  Every human is unrighteous in God’s eyes and therefore must be punished.  This is the problem of humanity – God’s goodness means He must punish unrighteousnes (the wrath of God) and every human is unrighteous.

22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

As an aside on v. 22, I noticed recently that Richard Dawkin’s new atheist club is called the Brights.  Immediately I thought of Romans 1.22.  However, we are all guilty of this.  We all think we know best, and that God’s ways are archaic, out-of-touch, unrealistic, or whatever.  Whenever we reject God’s ways, we are foolish.

23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Verses 23-32 show how unrighteousness caused by thanklessness and not glorifying God degenerates.  We have all been guilty of vv. 18-22, but not all nations have spiralled into what happens next.  However, all nations without a strong Christian witness – or if they ignore that Christian witness – will spiral into this downward fall into unrighteousness.
After ungratefulness, comes an honouring of the creation.  This takes many forms from the totem poles of tribal animism to the mother Earth  philosophy infecting many facets of our society.   Creation is given respect and God is ignored.

24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Following ignoring God over the creation comes sexual immorality.  People have sex before and outside of marriage.

25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Next the idolatry becomes more pronounced and people openly worship things that have been created.

26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Next the sexual immorality becomes more pronounced leading to a society which openly accepts homosexuality.  If this happens to a society it is deeply in this spiral of unrighteousness.

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

At this stage, what happens is that the people in that society will develop reprobate minds.  The Greek word used for reprobate is adokimos which is used for counterfeit coins.  It means to have no value at all – to not be fit for purpose.  This is what is happening in large sections of Western society – people cannot use their minds at all.  They cannot think, they cannot show initiative, they cannot create.   All of society dumbs down.  People then fail to notice any sin, any wickedness and simply let everything pass.  Crime rates sht up, poverty and injustice increases and the society becomes a hard place to live in.

29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

I could go through each of these words and show you what they mean exactly and you would realize that we are here people.  However, most of them are self explanatory.  When a society or a nation exhibits all these qualities it is simply showing the fruit of the fact that everyone fails to glorify God and fails to thank Him.  It has just spiraled out of control.

Ultimately without the gospel, this will happen to every nation on the planet.  Even with the gospel being present in a nation it still happens if people make unrighteous choices.

32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Then, not only will people do all these unrighteous acts they will take pleasure in those that do them. The word take pleasure could also be translated applaud. Think about this: the Bible describes an unrighteous society at its apex as one where people worship the creation, treat homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, disobey parents, invent evil things, hate God, hate people, and then finally clap and applaud people who do wicked things.

Our society has TV chat shows where you can clap and applaud people who divorce, comedy shows where you can clap and applaud people who hate and slander the government of our countries, romantic shows where you can clap and applaud people committing fornication and reality shows where you can clap and applaud people in all manner of wickedness.

Our society is unrighteous.  Our planet is unrighteous.  But before we judge the world and the nations and are smugly condeming of them, remember: I have failed to thank God and so have you.  I have failed to glorify God and so have you.  I have had vain imaginations and so have you.  I have had a dark heart and so have you.  On our next post we will show that we cannot judge anyone in a smug self-righteous way as we look at Romans 2.

We have to find out how a person like you and like me can be righteous.  Otherwise we are condemned to hell on earth and hell after earth.   Stay with us as we run through Romans, the journey will be worth it.

Blessings,
Ben

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