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By Andrew Wommack
Those are radical statements! Just think about the typical Christian teaching concerning God today. Usually, God is represented as stern, angry, and ready to get us for the slightest misstep. Or at least He certainly won’t answer our prayers if we sin. That’s wrong, and it leads to wrong conclusions and attitudes toward God that hinder an intimate relationship with Him.
So why is the Lord represented so harshly? The answer can be found in the lack of understanding of the harmony between the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Lord vented His anger and judgment often, and in devastating ways.
There was Noah’s flood; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; a death angel killed all the firstborn of Egypt in one night; another angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night; and on and on the list goes. There is no doubt our God is a holy God who hates sin and demands justice.
However, there is also the portrait of God that Jesus painted through His teachings and actions. He showed mercy to the worst of sinners, associated with publicans and harlots, loved the unlovely, and His ultimate action of dying for our sins proved beyond any doubt that He came to save the world, not condemn it.
How does this fit with the Old Testament view of the harshness and severity of God? Is God schizophrenic? Does He sometimes love us and other times hate us? How can we have a healthy relationship with someone who changes His moods frequently?
These questions present a dilemma that has kept many people at arm’s length from the Lord. The vast majority of people KNOW there is a God; they just don’t know how to relate to Him. They are confused because mixed signals have been sent to them, often by the church.
A minister will say that it was the Lord, in His sovereignty, who killed a baby; and in the next breath, the minister will ask if anyone wants to serve this GOOD GOD. We are told that God won’t answer the prayer of anyone in sin, and yet we are told that we all sin. Where does that leave us? Without a prayer!
There is a simple answer to these questions, and a harmony between the wrath and mercy of God. God is not schizophrenic. There is one, true nature of God clearly represented in the Word, and that is LOVE!
First John 4:8 says,
“God is love.”
He doesn’t just love at times. Love is the nature of God! Jesus gave us the greatest representation of the true nature of God ever presented.
God placed our sins on Jesus and punished Him in our place. God satisfied His own demands for justice, not by punishing us, but by punishing His Son in our place. This wasn’t a partial payment which required adding our holiness; it was a total payment that leaves us with nothing to do except believe and receive, or doubt and do without.
Jesus’ payment for our sins forever changed our relationship with the Father. If Jesus had made His sacrifice for sins in the Old Testament, then we wouldn’t have seen the wrath of God vented as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures.
Here’s an example. In 2 Kings 1, Elijah called fire down from heaven and killed 102 soldiers who had come to arrest him. Jesus’ disciples asked to do the same thing and cited Elijah as their example. Jesus rebuked them for even thinking about such an act and said,
“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56).
Jesus rebuked His disciples for trying to follow Elijah’s example. This shows that if Jesus had been present on the earth in His role as Messiah, this act of judgment wouldn’t have happened. There is a difference between the way God dealt with mankind under the Old Covenant and the way He deals with mankind under the New Covenant.
Before the sacrifice of Jesus, there was judgment. But it wasn’t because the Lord desired to punish us. His nature has always been love. However, a price had to be paid for sin, and until that sacrifice was made, there had to be consequences.
It’s similar to training children. If you wait to begin disciplining your children until they are old enough to fully comprehend exactly what you say, you and the child will be in big trouble. A child has to be restrained from doing wrong from a very young age.
At one or two years old, they may not understand that it’s the devil tempting them to take their sibling’s toys. However, they can understand, “If you do that again, you are going to get a spanking.” They may not comprehend heaven and hell issues, but when the devil tempts them with covetousness, they will say NO, because they fear a spanking.
Likewise, before the new birth, people were sinning and that sin was destroying their lives. God didn’t want to punish them. He was willing to show them mercy on credit, in a sense, looking forward to the sacrifice of His own Son for their sins. People began to take the lack of God’s judgment as approval.
This can be clearly seen with Cain and his descendants. Cain killed his brother Abel because of jealousy (Gen. 4). Instead of punishment, God extended mercy toward Cain, even putting a mark on his forehead to warn others that God was protecting him.
Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, Lamech, interpreted this as approval of murder. He killed a man in self-defense and, therefore, felt more justified in his killing than Cain. He said that if God would avenge Cain sevenfold, then He would avenge Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
God didn’t say that, Lamech did. Lamech was presuming on God because of His grace toward Cain. Therefore, mankind began to move so far away from a proper standard of holiness that if God hadn’t intervened, there wouldn’t have been a virgin left to give birth to Jesus.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12,
“But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
This has always been the case. If one person gets by with sin, others will take that as an approval of sin. So before the Lord could produce the new birth, where He lives within us and guides us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, He placed external restraints on sin that even lost people could understand. “You sin and you die.” That’s the way it was.
That wasn’t the way God really wanted it to be, but sin had to be restrained until Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was made. God’s withholding of punishment for sin had led to a total loss of a true standard of right and wrong. Mankind had compared themselves with others so often and for so long that no one knew what God originally intended. Something had to be done.
Sin was destroying the human race and needed to be restrained. Therefore, God gave the Law. But why didn’t He give the Law to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden 2,000 years earlier and prevent these problems? Because of love. The Law had serious side effects of condemnation and guilt. God didn’t want us running from Him out of fear but to Him because of love and grace.
The Law was never God’s plan for salvation. It was God showing us that we could never measure up to His holy standard. It was given to drive us from self-righteousness and toward receiving the sacrifice of Jesus by faith.
Amazingly, the church has interpreted it in the opposite way. Most Christians think the Law is wonderful, that God expects us to keep it, and that His response to us is based on our compliance. That’s just not true!
The Law was given for two main purposes. First, the fear of God’s punishment constrained sin in people’s lives, thereby diminishing Satan’s inroads. Second, it totally took away all hope of being saved by any virtue of themselves. The Law made everyone guilty before God with no hope of justice. We needed mercy.
Those were the main purposes of the Law. It was not God’s list of steps one through ten thousand of what you must do to be right with Him. It was God’s list of all you have done wrong, proving that you can never be right with God unless He provides another form of payment. It was not to set you free. The Law was to bind and destroy you. It was a severe spanking for the whole human race to turn us from sin and self-salvation.
This is one of the most radical teachings I’ve ever done with an abundance of Scripture references for every point. I’ve not included all the references in this teaching, because they are too numerous and need some explanation. But it’s imperative that you understand these truths.
I have made this teaching, The True Nature of God, available in book form or a three-part tape or CD album. In it I harmonize the judgment of the Old Testament with the grace and mercy of the New Testament to reveal one, true nature of God. This is a life-changing teaching.