Goodness and Severity of God

Many preachers, especially in years gone by, preached “hell, fire and brimstone” to put the fear of God in their listeners.  As a result, those who heard them were motivated by fear to obey God and lived their lives in great fear of His punishment if they sinned.  On the other hand, many other preachers, especially preachers of today, preach that God is love and goodness.  As a result, those who hear these preachers are motivated by love and perhaps are not very concerned if they sin, because they believe that regardless of what they do, God forgives them.  The truth is that there are two sides to God.  Romans 11:22 “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”

So let us consider the goodness and severity of God – first, the severity.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were cast out of the Garden of Eden and man and woman received curses.  In the book of Genesis, we read of the great wickedness of Sodom and how the Lord rained down burning sulfur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, totally destroying them.  God instructed the Israelites under Moses to completely destroy the cities of Canaan; many times they killed men, women and children, leaving no survivors.  God allowed the city of Jerusalem to be destroyed, first by the Babylonians, and later by the Romans because of the sins of His people Israel.

Hebrews 10:26-31 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’   It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Next, consider the goodness of God.  John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible is filled with examples of the severity of God as well as the goodness and kindness and mercy of God.  These are the two sides of God.  Do not live your life so as to receive His vengeance.  Continue in His goodness.

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