Contrary to popular opinion, people don’t go to hell because of their sins. They go to hell because they rejected the payment for their sins. They go to hell because they refused to receive the Savior. When Christians proclaim, “If you don’t quit dipping, cussing, chewing, and doing this and that, God won’t accept you,” you’re imputing people’s sins unto them. You are also demeaning and decreasing the value of Jesus’ sacrifice. In reality, you’re saying, “Your sin is bigger and more important than what Jesus did on the cross.”
But God was in Jesus not imputing man’s sins unto them. Sin isn’t the issue. It’s all a matter of what people are doing with Jesus. Have they made a commitment of their life to Him, or are they rejecting Him? If someone doesn’t receive Jesus as their Savior, they reject the only payment available for their sins. There’s no other way to the Father except through His Son.
Jesus saith unto [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
So if they don’t accept the payment for their sins—the Lord Jesus Christ—they’ll be rejected and cast into hell, not because of their sins, but because of rejecting Jesus. In hell, they’ll be held accountable and have to pay for those sins. But the truth is, all those sins have already been paid for by Jesus. Therefore, sin isn’t really the issue. The issue is what are you going to do with the Lord?
Receive God’s Love
If you have already received the Lord Jesus Christ, then you’ve been born again. (If you haven’t, there’s a prayer you can pray at the end of this book.) Sin isn’t an issue. God isn’t angry with you over your sin. The Lord wants you to stop focusing on sin and start receiving His love. God loves you even though you don’t deserve it. He’s pleased with you even though you’re not pleased with yourself. If you could ever get a picture of the price Jesus paid for your sins, you’d fall head over heels in love with Him. And since faith works by love (Gal. 5:6), your faith would shoot through the roof!
When you read the Word with this proper mindset, 1 John 5 makes much more sense.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1 John 5:2–3
This passage is not saying, “Keep the commandments to get God to love you.” It’s saying, “If you understood the love of God, you’d keep His commandments. If you truly comprehended just how much Jesus loves you and the price He paid to reconcile you to God the Father, you’d serve Him more accidentally than you ever have on purpose. You’d live holier accidentally motivated by love than you ever have on purpose due to fear and dread. You’d experience a whole new joy and peace in your relationship with God that you’ve never had before.”
God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:19
This is the word that the church should be preaching. God’s not angry. He’s not even in a bad mood. He loves you, and has paid the price for you. Receive Him. Receive His love. We shouldn’t be proclaiming, “If our country doesn’t repent, God’s going to judge us. The wrath of God is coming!” It’s simply not true. God didn’t send the terrorists to kill all those people on 9/11. He didn’t send all the hurricanes and tsunamis that have ruined cities and swept so many folks away. That wasn’t God.
However, a time is coming when this current age of grace—the church age—will come to an end. The book of Revelation makes it very clear that there will come a time when the Lord says, “Alright, that’s it.” At that time, those who have accepted Him will be received into joy and peace, but those who have rejected Him will suffer the wrath of God. And when God’s judgment is poured out as revealed in Revelation, nobody will wonder, “Is this the wrath of God?” They’ll all know beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly what’s happening. It’ll make the devastating hurricanes that hit in 2004 and 2005 look like nothing in comparison. Nobody will be debating or guessing, “Was this the wrath of God?” They’ll know it.
But right now, the grace of God is extended toward all people. We should be telling them, “God loves you!” We ought to be saying the same thing the angels sang at the announcement of Christ’s arrival on earth. “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth from God toward men. God’s not angry with you!” Isn’t that good news?
An Accurate Representation
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20
An ambassador doesn’t just go over to other nations and proclaim whatever they want. An ambassador must be in touch with their home country so that they can accurately represent them. For instance, every United States ambassador represents the president and the people of the United States of America. They aren’t free to make up their own message. Their job is to accurately represent those who have sent them. As believers, we are supposed to be doing the same thing. We’re supposed to be representing God.
We are supposed to be having the same ministry Jesus had—and God, in Christ, did not impute man’s sins unto them. He went and ate with publicans, harlots, and other sinners the religious system had condemned so much that they wouldn’t have anything to do with God anymore. These are the ones Jesus built relationships with and extended love toward. We are His ambassadors. We are supposed to be ministering His message—saying what He’s told us to say in His Word.
Most Christians today aren’t proclaiming that message. They’ve adopted a religious system that has been entrenched for hundreds of years. They’re saying, “God is angry. If you don’t do this and that, He’s going to pour out His wrath on you. If you don’t do these things, God won’t answer your prayer. If you aren’t holy, God won’t move!” And they’re imputing men’s sins unto them. Satan is really using that to keep people beaten down and discouraged.
I recently received an email from one of our partners thanking me. This couple had been listening to me for five years, but recently the husband died of a blood clot in the middle of the night. The wife wrote to me saying, “Because I’ve been listening to you, I knew what to do.” She raised him from the dead. Then he got up, went to the bathroom, and came back to bed. Everything was fine, and she was praising God that she knew what to do according to the Word.
Faith Works by Love
Let’s say that you were attending one of my meetings when someone came forward and fell over dead. If I said, “We’re going to pray for this person, and I believe God is going to raise them from the dead,” you’d probably say, “Go for it, brother!” and eagerly join me up front because you’d want to see it. You’d think, This is awesome! I’ll have a great story to tell everybody else. You’d be excited until I said, “Alright, I want you to pray for the person.” Then, all of a sudden, instead of excitement and faith, fear would hit you. Do you know why? That fear wouldn’t hit from doubting God’s ability but from doubting God’s willingness to use His ability through you because you know you aren’t worthy.
Most of us believe that God only moves in our life when we’re worthy. We’ve tied His ability to our goodness. The moment you do that, Satan will defeat you because your own heart will condemn you and let you know that you don’t deserve it. But that’s not the message Jesus brought. He wasn’t imputing man’s sins unto them. He told us to preach a message that tells people, “The war is over. God isn’t mad anymore!”
Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s all up to God. If it were, then you would receive because God is a good God. He has nothing but good things in store for you. However, you must believe to receive. You don’t have to be holy and do everything just right, but you do have to believe. If you feel so unworthy and that you’ve messed up so badly that God doesn’t love you, that’s unbelief. That is not the message of the Gospel, and it’s the very thing that’s keeping your faith from working.
Again, faith works by love. (Gal. 5:6.) If you understood how much God loved you—that He carries your picture around in His wallet, that He isn’t angry, disappointed, or ashamed of you, and that He’s proud of you—your faith would go through the roof. You’d say, “Any God who could love me and overlook all the stupid things I’ve done is an awesome God. If He’ll do that, He’ll do anything!”
Gone and Forgotten
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
That’s my purpose in writing this book. I want to help you become reconciled to God. God has reconciled Himself to you. He has forgiven your sins and taken them away. He’s not angry with you. God is now friendly and harmonized with you. Will you reconcile yourself to God? Will you now accept what He has said? This is the message we’re supposed to be sharing.
We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Jesus].
2 Corinthians 5:20,21
The Lord didn’t just ignore your sins. He didn’t just somehow or another say, “Alright, I’m not going to hold their sins against them.” He paid for your sins. Your sins are paid for through the Lord Jesus. He not only took your sins away, but then He made you the righteousness of God. Jesus took your sin into Himself and suffered for your sins on the tree. He paid the penalty for your sins, and then gave you His righteousness.
You aren’t just forgiven. You aren’t just an “old sinner” who’s been saved by grace. You were an “old sinner,” but you were saved by grace and are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. God sees you righteous, holy, and pure. He’s not angry with you. It’s not a matter of Him just turning the other way and somehow “overlooking” your sins. They’ve been paid for. They’re gone. Your sins have been obliterated.
Your sins have been cast into the sea of forgetfulness. He has forgotten them.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
God isn’t looking at your sins. He’s not dealing with you based on the way you deal with yourself.