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Bible passages that describe the love of God or the grace of God are the most comforting statements one could hope to find in the Word of God. Consider as an example: “We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4:6).

An Amazing Contrast

Here the Bible plainly says that God is love. Unfortunately, people of our day will take this passage and use it to support ideas that are not true. They say that because God is love He would never condemn anyone or send anyone to hell.

We have to realize that God has another “side.” God is also holy. We cannot think of the Lord Almighty as a big “softy” in heaven who looks the other way when people sin. The holy God has a real sense of justice. When people sin against Him, the sin has to be punished.

That’s exactly what God declares in certain parts of His Word. He not only tells us how to think, speak, and act. He passes judgment when we fall short of His perfect standards. And that judgment means punishment.

The holy God is talking when the Bible says: “The soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10). In these passages of Law, the holy side of God makes it clear that He cannot arbitrarily choose to “write off” the debt of our sin. He must condemn it and carry out the full punishment that His justice requires.

Scripture gives us opportunity to examine the amazing contrast between the holy nature and the loving nature of our God. The God of love shows His face in the Gospel. We hear in the psalms that God “forgives all our iniquities” and “heals all our diseases” (Ps. 103:3). It seems as if we have a contradiction. On the one hand the holy God cannot forgive sin. On the other hand the loving God does exactly that: He forgives the sins of all people.

Look To The Cross!

Here’s where the cross of Christ comes into play, providing the common ground where the expectations of God’s holiness and God’s grace are met with harmonious satisfaction. On the cross of Jesus the holy God had opportunity to punish all the sins of all the sinners who will ever live in this world. Yet in that same event of the Savior’s crucifixion, the loving God was able to make the atonement necessary to forgive all our sins and expunge them from the record.

Don’t miss the big point. It was the God of undeserved love who put Jesus on the cross instead of you. At the same time it was the God of holy justice who punished Christ for what you did.

When you look at the cross of Calvary, two facts become evident. The cross shows you had bad your sin is. Your sin offends God. Your sin was so bad that Christ had to die because of it! But the cross also shows you the reason why God forgives you. He did not choose to overlook your guilt. He judged and punished your sin to the fullest degree.

On the basis of that punishment, He now renders a new judgment. His “Supreme Court” ruling is the verdict that you are not guilty of any transgression. Like the man acquitted in the courtroom, you are free from the guilt and penalty of sin.

Forgiveness of sin means that the punishment is out of the way, no longer an issue. Forgiveness of sin means eternal life instead of eternal death. We can thank the God of love who found a way to punish our sin without punishing us.

We can also thank Jesus Christ as the One who was so willing to pay the awesome price.

–Pastor Steven Sippert