In light of the Orlando shootings, many have declared that God has judged them because of their sin. Others have stated that God is love, and therefore it was not God's judgment. I have been contemplating this for some time trying to get the Father's heart on this matter.
First, let me say this to deal with the first question. God DID NOT send a terrorist into the Orlando bar to kill people because they were gay. God did not judge them. My scope of seeking has been on the overall condition of my nation, not on this act alone. It appears to me that every mountain (7 mountains) of the Earth has been attacked in America. From Governmental Mountain to Entertainment Mountain. From Business to Art and Entertainment Mountains. Horrific violence has also come to Education and Family Mountains. Then there were the Charleston shootings that completed the seven mountains with the Religious Mountain.
These events are troubling to me. Even though there is violence all over the world, America has for a long time lived in relative peace and safety. I have asked the question to others in Christian Leaders. There seems to be an array of answers. So honestly, I cannot say if it is God's judgment or not. Here is my thought. I can see in the New Testament both Mercy and Judgment. So when I hear that God does not judge but loves, I have scripture to turn me around. When I hear that it is God's judgment, I have scripture to argue the other side of that one as well.
The Cross did not change God; it was meant to change us. God has always loved and will always love, but does that mean God does not judge? If God does judge, does it mean that God does not love? First, we need to clarify the difference between judgment and wrath. God does not have to be angry to judge.
In Greek, it is a violent passion and implies punishment. Jesus Christ came and delivered us from wrath to grace and mercy. This is the foundation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Grace for us did not remove wrath from the New Testament as God's wrath still did come upon some as mentioned in Col 3:6. There were still those of whom the Scriptures spoke of as being subject to God's wrath. I cannot, therefore, have a doctrine that there is no wrath of God after the cross. And for that matter, if we look at the Book of Revelation, we see that the seven church's fall under judgment by Jesus Christ. However, this is different as the entire motivation of God's judgment to a believer is love and correction.
Heb. 12:5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
Heb. 12:6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Heb. 12:7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
Heb. 12:8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Heb. 12:9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
Heb. 12:10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
Heb. 12:11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Heb. 12:12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,
Heb. 12:13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Heb. 12:14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
Judgment is a decree. It is the verdict of someone's actions. It is not the sentencing of punishment for those actions. Sentencing can range from the wrath of God to the glorious gift of forgiveness. For the most part, God does not have to judge most things, as we already have his written judgments in Scripture.
Psa. 149:9 To execute on them the written judgment—
This honor have all His saints.
Praise the Lord!
We now have the privilege to extend that forgiveness to others. This is one of the great privileges of the believer.
John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Forgiveness is not saying that what we are doing is okay. On the contrary, it declares that what we are doing is a sin, therefore can fall under wrath. When we say to someone, your sins are forgiven it can be offensive to some. They might feel that we have judged them. What I have done is delivered them from the punishment of the sin. This is the act of mercy.
Mercy is the removal of punishment when punishment is due. Mercy can only come after judgment. A judge cannot have mercy upon a defendant if he has been found innocent. He can only have mercy if found guilty. For this reason, the Lord placed us all under the law so we would all be found guilty. By doing this, he opened the door for all to find mercy through Jesus Christ.
Gal. 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
These are very simple terms that I hope we can agree. So now about the shootings. Is it God's wrath being poured out. My answer to that question is NO! It is, however, they natural course of things when people or society do everything they can do to remove God from their culture. Sowing and reaping are the natural order of the earth. It is a law, which when people decide to live under the grace of God, is suspended. We then get to live under the blessings of Grace.
For a long time, America has done everything to remove God from its books, courts, governing bodies and culture. I believe this is not good for society. There can only be one outcome to these decisions. The scriptures don't make a guarantee for us that even if we leave him, we will be in the state of bliss. It gives a different picture, one of a dog returning to its vomit.
However, for the Church, it is one where we get to display God's love message to everyone who will listen. However, let's not do it with the Old Testament zeal of arrogance, but the humility of Jesus Christ. Knowing that our end would have been the same if we did not hear the message of Grace from someone else who went before us.
For those who are wondering, yes I believe that Homosexuality is a sin, along with every other sin mentioned in Scripture. I do not believe all sin is created equal, as some are committed in the Body and some outside of the Body. (1 Cor 6) Furthermore, God does not need a reason to judge. He had plenty of time to do that. The Father is longing to show the world his mercy and kindness. He brought this about through His beautiful son Jesus and now we have the privilege to carry on with the family business.
Still, we are not to condone sin but forgive it. We are not to allow sin to run crazy in our congregations but to deliver people from it. In receiving people in love, it does not mean I accept their sinful lifestyle.
Romans 2:1 No matter who you are, before you judge the wickedness of others, you had better remember this: you are also without excuse, for you too are guilty of the same things! When you judge others, and then do the same things they do, you condemn yourself. 2 We know that God’s judgment falls upon those who practice these things. God is always right, because he has all the facts. 3 And no matter who you think you are, when you judge others who do these things and then do the same things yourself, what makes you think that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Do the riches of his extraordinary kindness make you take him for granted and despise him? Haven’t you experienced how kind and understanding he has been to you? Don’t mistake his tolerance for acceptance. Do you realize that all the wealth of his extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you into repentance? 5 But because of your calloused heart and refusal to change direction, you are piling up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.
Simmons, Brian (2015-06-01). Romans: Grace and Glory (The Passion Translation) (Kindle Locations 312-323). BroadStreet Publishing Group LLC. Kindle Edition.
There is a difference that needs to be established in the heart of every person. That is whether or not you are looking for God to justify you or justify your sin. Jesus did not come to make all lifestyles permissible. Jesus came to show us the way of a holy life in the Spirit. When a leader confronts someone for their sin, a distinction must be made.
Jude 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction;
Jude 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
That is not easy; that is why it should not be from the pulpit. It should always come out of the relationship. It is hard enough to know people on any level but to make this distinction takes time. When we make declarations that God loves all people, this is true. However, God does not love all lifestyles. We need to be careful that we don't, out of political correctness and the desire to be loved by the people, change the message to something that requires nothing from the people. Jesus told us that to be His disciple; we would have to forsake all.
I also want to point out the other side of this story. Jesus would never sit on a street corner and call someone gay. He would not be in a picket line, except to write in the sand.
John 8:1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
John 8:2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
John 8:3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
John 8:4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
John 8:5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
John 8:6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
John 8:7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
John 8:8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
John 8:9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
John 8:10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
John 8:11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
I think that he would be more the one to help the sinner. We live in a society now that wants to have the argument on social media. I understand it. It is the board room of community. The problem is we can shout and scream and never have any consequence for our bad behavior. I've been called a racist. But in the words of Seinfeld, "if I like their race, how can I be a racist?" Of course, I have also be called the evil northerner for setting the slaves free. So with this, I typically exercise one of my favorite feature, the blocking function.
I believe God is love. I also believe he is holy. Through the Cross, these two characteristics are reconciled for the believer. We can both experience the love of Christ and the power of the Spirit of holiness. One brings about the total justification to the person while the other brings about the complete transformation of that same person. To stop at the cross is a tragedy in that the Promise of the New Covenant was the Spirit of God. The purpose of the Cross was not just forgiveness, but total union with the Father and the Son.
Union with the Father is restricted when we decide to live our lives in a manner inconsistent with holiness. We might think we can, but I am here to declare that it will always fall short. All my heroes of the faith have a passion for living their lives in a manner that represents the King. Sin is still a sin. It has not changed. We can get pretty far with God as he helps us walk this out. It does not mean that he is angry when we fail, but he is disappointed. I will confess, I have disappointed him at times. The goal of friendship with God is walking in a way that is pleasing. There will be endless forgiveness if and when we stumble, but if we declare that sin does not matter, that will be meant in the spirit differently.
The Nicolaitans had this theory of grace. They believed that the cross meant that we no longer had to worry about sin. Paul answers this lie in Romans.
You could read all of Romans, but let us zero in a Romans 6:1-23. The whole chapter Paul is explaining our freedom and our need to stay free.
Rom. 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
Rom. 6:2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Rom. 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Rom. 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
Rom. 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
Rom. 6:18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
In this small portion of scripture, God wants us to know his extravagant love so that we will also know that his correction is out of love, not anger. As we mentioned earlier in Hebrews, God corrects us as sons. If we receive that correction, then we are behaving like sons. If we don't, we then are acting like those who don't have a Father. Jesus is not okay with the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
Rev. 2:6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev. 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Rev. 2:15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Rev. 2:20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
Rev. 2:21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.
These are few of the rebukes of the Lord to those who practice wickedness. I don't know where we began this doctrine of acceptance of sin. We are to accept people, not their behavior. Standing for truth might be unpopular. For that reason, you might decide to adapt another doctrine. I would warn you that doing so could find you at the opposite side of grace. It is more than possible to both love the sinner and stand for purity. First, do everything in love. It is okay to love people in their sin, but when asked about it stand for the truth. Speak to the truth that God loves you and wants to set them free.
I must remember the Love of God, and be rooted in it. Love is the bedrock of my faith and hope in Christ. God loves me. It is this truth that I desire to be pleasing to Him in all my actions and thoughts. It is not to receive his love. It is because the only acceptable response to such love is obedience. Knowing he loves me brings me peace to approach him every time I need mercy. For my prayers to be heard, I do not want to hold sin in my heart.
Psa. 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
What happened in Orlando was a tragedy that is painful. It was not an act of God's mercy, but an evil act of darkness. When I was shot several years ago, I was asked a question by the detective. The question was this, "You are not acting like someone who has been shot." It was not in any doubt about my wounds. The EMT's were working on them. He was puzzled by my joy. My joy was simple, in the tragedy, I saw the hand of God. God saved my life. In this tragedy of Orlando, I still see the amazing hand of God. Those whose lives were spared was greater than the those killed. We often don't see that the Lord intervened. He stopped the events in progress. With faith, you can clearly see God's goodness. The Law of sowing and reaping was in effect, and he suspended it.
Every day people die, which is the wages of sin. Every day people are spared, and their lives are extended. God is good. For this reason, you must awake every day rejoicing for breath. We just don't realize the incredible mercy of God. Everything is a gift from God.
Let all people know that the know that God is love, and he is holy. Through the cross, there is a way for us to experience the full measure of righteous and the through the Spirit of holiness, the full power of His life. We are not being mean when we call people to holiness, but if the Church does not do it from love, then we are out of order. We will overcome evil with good. We will prevail. God bless.