Have you ever felt like God was punishing you because of the severity or length of trials and tribulations in your life? On the opposite end of believing “God is obligated to you,” the prosperity gospel can lead some of us to believe that if God doesn’t do what we ask, its because of lack of faith or because of sin in our lives. This often turns into us being motivated to give more time and money out of fear of being cursed or condemned, even though scripture tells us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 timothy 1:7).
It is vital that we understand the difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear. In 2 Timothy 1:7, “fear” in the original Greek is “deilia,” which means timidity, fearfulness, cowardice. These are not characteristics God calls us to and will not be the result of true conviction and correction that comes from the Holy Spirit. This type of fear produces doubt, not faith rooted in love. This can also lead to man-made rituals that don’t result in genuine relationship with the Father.
Healthy fear as seen in passages such as Proverbs 1:7, 9:10 is the word “yir’âh” in the original Hebrew text. This type of fear is an amazement and reverence for God’s holiness, recognizing that He alone is worthy of worship. This fear should be the foundation for how we view God.
We must have an understanding that once we are a new creation in Christ, we aren’t working or striving to be in good standing with God (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus already accomplished this for us by the shedding of His blood on the cross. And by grace through faith, we are justified and made innocent before God (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing that can separate the believer from the love of God. So, no -- God is not condemning you (Rom 8:38-39). When we strive to grow in the things of God and kill sin in our lives, this is the outward working of the inward reality of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:13).
If God was really punishing you, you wouldn’t be here to read this. Scripture tells us that it is appointed that every man die, then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). When we reject putting our faith in Christ, the Bible lets us know that we are condemned already (John 3:18-19). In other words, we’ve chosen God’s verdict on us when we die, which is apart from fellowship with Him, where we will spend eternity in hell.
Galatians 6:8 lets us know when we surrender to the Spirit of God, we will have everlasting life. But when we live for our fleshly desires, we will earn corruption. In the original Greek, the word for corruption in this passage is “phthora,” which also means “destruction” or “perishing.”
Though we are not condemned as believers in Christ, we can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). It is willful sin in our lives that grieves the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is grieved, He is offended and saddened because our deeds reflect our old man, which is sinful and not the new creation in Christ.
When we grieve the Holy Spirit, He will chasten us (Hebrews 12:6). The chastening of the Lord is correction that leads to reliance and obedience to His Word. Its fruit is holiness, which causes us to lay aside idols and sin that distracts us from submission to Christ (Hebrews 12:1).
Praise God when you are convicted! Don’t let anybody convince you to walk in condemnation, even if that person is you. If your heart condemns you, know that God is greater than your heart (1 John 3:20) and know that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). So trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross, and know that who the Lord has set free is free without a doubt (John 8:36).
Read part one to this blog post here.
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This post first appeared here on Gabriel T. Parker's blog site and was reprinted with permission.