Human versus Divine Vengeance

cain-and-abel

When Abel was murdered, his blood cried out to God for vengeance. Yet God did not kill Cain the murderer but protected him against those who would seek his life.

Clearly, God’s idea of vengeance was different from Abel’s.

The scriptures contrast human and divine vengeance. One seeks payback and retribution, the other pursues peace and restoration. One is vindictive, the other is vindicating. One punishes wrong, the other makes right. One is about revenge, the other is about righteousness.

Human vengeance is codified in the old law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Divine vengeance, in contrast, is revealed in the grace that forgives, restores, and makes new. The former is based on your badness; the latter is based on God’s goodness.

In Isaiah 29, the prophet paints a bleak picture of human vengeance, but in Isaiah 61, he describes divine vengeance. See if you can spot the difference:

Human vengeance involves… Divine vengeance involves…
Distress, being brought low, lamenting and mourning, destruction and death (Isaiah 29:2-4) Good news to the afflicted, healing to the brokenhearted, liberty to the captives, freedom to the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1-2)

The first prophecy points to human vengeance, such as the Romans killing Jews; the second points to Jesus dying for the Jews. Roman vengeance involved brutal and violent retribution, but divine vengeance is nothing like that.

What does divine vengeance look like?

We get an idea from studying Isaiah’s prophecy:

…the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:2-4)

Words associated with human vengeance include revenge, retribution, and punishment, but words associated with divine vengeance include rebuild, restore, and renew.

It’s true that some Old Testament writers portrayed God as smiting his enemies, but in the New Testament we see the Son of God loving his enemies.

The Pharisees thought God hated sinners, but Jesus revealed a God who cares for sinners. Josephus imagined God destroying Jerusalem, but Jesus revealed a God who wept over the city. It’s a radically different picture.

You have come… to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22,24)

Abel’s blood cried out “Vengeance! Vengeance!” and the result was a curse, but Jesus’ blood cries out “Forgiveness! Forgiveness!” and those who hear it are blessed.

Jesus was a walking-talking testimony of divine vengeance. His heart was to restore rather than punish and to rebuild rather than demolish. This divine desire to make things right rather than punish wrong things can be seen in the way Jesus related to the temple that condemned him and the city that killed him.

Jesus for Jerusalem

On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus instructed his disciples to preach a new message of unconditional forgiveness.

Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46-47, NKJV)

The message of grace and forgiveness was for all nations, but it was particularly for the Jews. “Beginning at Jerusalem,” said Jesus, as though he knew there would be some who would deny grace to his killers. “God’s grace is for all, but those in Jerusalem get to hear about it first.” Then, before he ascended to heaven, he said it again. “Be my witnesses in Jerusalem…” (Act 1:8b).

There is a reason why Jerusalem is considered the birthplace of Christianity and it is not just because Christ died there. By the Lord’s command, Jerusalem was the first place evangelized with the gospel. By the Holy Spirit’s direction, Jerusalem was the location of Pentecost. And by the apostles’ obedience, Jerusalem was the birthplace of the church.

Jerusalem rejected Jesus but Jesus did not reject Jerusalem. Nor did he tell his apostles to give the city a wide berth. Instead, he designated the city Mission Field Number One. The apostles did what he asked and soon their teaching spread all over Jerusalem. As a result, the number of Christians in the city increased greatly (Acts 5:28, 6:7).

As for the city, so for the temple

The cross and the temple stood in opposition to one another, yet Christ’s cross came down while the temple stayed up. That building, so hostile to Christ, did not tumble during the earthquake that accompanied his death. Nor was it consumed by heavenly fire when he rose from the grave.

When the Lord needed an apostle of grace, he recruited a hate-filled Pharisee. And when he needed a venue for the early church, he chose the courts of the most anti-Christ building in the world (Acts 2:46, 3:11, 5:12, 42).

Where did the apostles perform their first miracle? It was at the gates of the temple (Acts 3:2).

When an angel released the apostles from prison, where did he tell them to preach the gospel? At the temple (Acts 5:20).

And after the apostles were flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, where did they daily continue to preach the good news of Jesus Christ? (Acts 5:42). You guessed it.

This is grace, and this is what God does. He redeems and repurposes. He takes those things that are opposed to him and turns them around for good.

That the Lord would choose this building and this city to demonstrate his goodness and power speaks volumes to the graciousness of a good God who does not treat us as our sins deserve.

___________

Extracted from chapter 26 of Paul’s new book AD70 and the End of the World.

61 Comments on Human versus Divine Vengeance

  1. Wow! Looks like AD70 is going to be a best seller!

    You write so beautifully and simply to clarify the mysteries so many have stumbled over for so long!

    I was pleased to see this demonstrated so clearly in The Shack last night!

  2. Awesome! Thanks Paul

  3. Whew…I’ve got a letter to write to someone I used to be friends with. Thank you.

  4. Once again, well said.

    Thanks Paul, looking forward to the new book. When will it be available?

  5. Beautiful! Thank you and God bless you for teaching the goodness of God.

  6. Great article.

  7. Vitaly Topol // March 9, 2017 at 2:59 am // Reply

    Hello Paul ! I am a big reader of your blog and thank you for all ! Please explain me these verses from Gospel of Luke because they look like as vengence :Luke 11 : 50 ” Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”

    • I have a whole chapter on that passage in the AD70 book.

      • Hey Paul does that chapter illude to the fact that the generation in question was the one that saw Gods vengeance fulfilled in the death of His Son for our sake?

        I think I’m getting it! Blessed, overwhelmed and undone by his grace!

  8. beebumble50 // March 9, 2017 at 3:24 am // Reply

    Excellent! Thank you Paul.

  9. Just stumbled on this last week I am grateful for what God is saying through you.

  10. Speaking of divine vengeance, isn’t God bloodthirsty? I argue no; but what about blood sacrifices? They may foreshadow the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, but were they to appease God’s anger?

    It is said God killed animals to clothe Adam and Eve. But some scholars argue that since they were no longer clothed in divine light after they sinned, it was human skin with which they became clothed. Then, (vegetarian) Abel brought to God “the female firstlings of his flock, even from their fat ones,” but it doesn’t say they were killed. Angry Cain was promised prophetically, “if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching….” (YLT)

    The first definite blood sacrifice to God was by Noah, after the flood. But perhaps by then, blood sacrifice was already customary in that fallen world.

    The Bible shows progressive revelation of the goodness of God. By the time of Isaiah he sees that God does NOT require “burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals,” and He takes “no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” What the prophet sees anticipates the clearer revelation of God fleshed out in Jesus.

    In contrast to the traditional Penal Substitution Theory of the Atonement, The Christus Victor Theory holds that it was actually SATAN’S wrath being poured out on Christ at the cross, not God’s.  Because, after all, “God was IN Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Cor. 5:19.

    • Related to the argument that God did not necessarily sacrifice animals to cover Adam and Eve, some rabbinical scholars note that the Hebrew word for “light” is a homonym for the Hebrew word for “skin.”

      Psalm 104:2 says, “The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment.” The Hebrew word for “light” in this verse is pronounced ‘owr (like “this OR that”).

      In Genesis 3:21, we read that God made Adam and Eve garments of skin to replace the fig leaves with which they had wrapped themselves. The Hebrew word for “skin” in this verse is likewise pronounced ‘owr.

      אוֹר ‘owr Strong’s H216 – light
      עור ‘owr Strong’s H5785 – skin

      So possibly Adam and Eve, being made in the image of God, went from being clothed in ‘owr (light) to being clothed in ‘owr (skin/human skin). By sinning, they exchanged a nature of light for a nature of flesh. If so, then ‘owr would appear to be a play on words.

  11. Berris-Dale Joseph // March 9, 2017 at 4:30 am // Reply

    The cry of Abel’s blood should not be seen as an inappropriate cry… God would attend to that cry, not ignore it, to exclusively show pity for say, the murderer, who has inflicted such pain upon another human being. God did acknowledge Abel’s blood crying to Him. He called Cain’s attention to it, as Cain failed to give a truthful account of his brother, to God—Who asked, “Where is Abel, your brother?”… Before He placed a mark on Cain to protect him (Yes, that is GRACE), God settled the cry of Abel by speaking to the truth and justice of the matter. He indicated the consequences, ultimately, of sin–in this case, Cain’s unacknowledged sin. Curse will be the ground that Cain would continue to till for a living. Why would someone who refuses to acknowledge his sin, be blessed? That person must desire to be blessed, at least. But God”s goodness has been shown to a murderer in Godly dignity, inasmuch as He gave the murderer an opportunity to REPENT. And for this aspect of your presentation, I say, beautiful. Cain, however, did not heed the divine invitation to repent.

  12. Hate to break it to you, but the Bible doesn’t preach forgiveness without repentance, either between God and sinners or between other people. I know this because abusers and the like will use that excuse to keep on abusing, thinking that no matter what they do, they’ll be forgiven. Some people just don’t have a conscience.

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 9, 2017 at 6:53 am // Reply

      Dear and Precious Rachel: The point you make here is not disputable at all. We accept that God, the great initiator, offers forgiveness and love unconditionally. This is the nature of God’s love. This is why it requires an appropriate response when it is finally understood by the heart that it reaches. Man must accept it to benefit from it.. This is a definite no-brainer…

      He is a God of reason. Jesus offers forgiveness at the cross, saying, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” And God grants that forgiveness. It is the same thing in my illustration, me, reaching out to you with that $20.00 bill to complete your grocery. He actually GAVE us Jesus Christ as a GIFT. There is no question about God’s kindness. The question is geared towards the humans that He loves and has granted pardon:

      Do we do the part that is so basically necessary to complete the loving intent of the transaction? The human is the one holding up the show. We must accept the pardon granted by Jesus Christ in order to benefit from it, because we are being helped by God, both to WILL and to DO this acceptance of His GRACE, MERCY, and PARDON..

      If you still insist that I am in the wrong, Rachel, what will you do with Hebrews 2:3?

      • I’m not saying what you said is wrong, I’m just saying one of the reasons abuse is so widely spread even among Christians is that we have a faulty understanding of what forgiveness is. The reason women don’t usually go to their pastors if someone assaulted them is because they know they’re going to be told to just “forgive and forget.” First of all, it takes a lot of courage to report something like that anyway. But it’s a slap in the face to just flippantly say, “Well, God tells you to forgive.” God also calls us to take such crimes seriously. There is never an excuse for such actions and it’s never, ever the victim’s fault, even if the victim was drunk or wearing skimpy clothing.

        Forgiveness never means there’s no accountability. You still have to suffer the consequences of your actions. And as much as we would like it to be otherwise, there are some people in this world who will always love doing evil.

        Real forgiveness involves the person who did something wrong making a conscious effort to make things right again in some way. God is not an enabler of sin nor does he condone sin even if the person claims to be a Christian. Sin hurts both us and others.

        And when Jesus said, “Forgive them, they know not what they do,” he was referring to those who didn’t know who he was, such as the soldier who came to believe he was the Son of God. The Pharisees knew who Jesus was.

    • Nizam Khan // March 9, 2017 at 8:37 am // Reply

      Rachel, hate to break it to you: everyone was forgiven at the cross. We were forgiven when? 2000 years ago, before we were born and certainly before we sinned. And that was before we confessed, repented, or said or did anything. This is called charizomai forgiveness. The “forgiveness” you are talking about is aphesis forgiveness. Aphesis “forgiveness” is not forgiveness of sins. It has more to do with our relationship with God. That’s why we confess – agree with God and repent – (Greek metanoi) change our minds.
      By the way Romans (chapter 1:19-20) says God has put a conscience in everyone – that is why we are without excuse when we walk contrary to His ways.

      • Are we called to be more gracious than God? And besides, it also says in Romans that when certain men who knew the truth turned away from it anyway, God gave them over to their sinful desires.

        During the Nuremberg Trials, one man who was on trial for Nazi war crimes claimed he wasn’t responsible for what he did, but that he was pressured into doing it. Even so, his choices to participate in the Holocaust were still his own, despite his claims. Only a selfish person would claim it wasn’t their fault for doing something they know was wrong.

      • Rachel, thanks for your response. I’ll graciously say I think you you misread what I said. It really would helpful if you did a study of the Greek words charizomnai and aphesis and let the Spirit take you from there.

  13. God’s vengeance is never against people. That would be contrary to the nature of a God who died for the worst of sinners. God’s vengeance is against that which is against the beneficiaries of His love… Like wiping out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Thanks for this great post!

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm // Reply

      Dear LJP:

      Thanks for your kind attitude.

      Here is my point though: The Bible indicates that Jesus Christ became SIN for us on the Cross. Even if the Bible did not say this, your statement makes it true, when you state that God’s vengeance is never against people. This would agree with the fact that God’s wrath, demonstrated on the cross was not against His Son, but against sin. Jesus became sin for us. Sin was symbolically embodied in Him. And yet, He cried out, “My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”

      Even if God’s vengeance is not against the sinner but the sin, it might as well be, because the unrepentant sinner will sense that loneliness, which is hell, itself. God loves us, and we should tremble also at this love, not only grin from ear to ear about it; because this love means something on both sides of the coin. On one side we shall be saved if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and on the other side none will escape for neglecting such great salvation, according to Hebrew 2:3.

      God is to be feared and reverenced. This fear means we are being careful still, not with a cowardly, fainting, anxious fear, but with humility, sobriety, meekness, Godliness. For if God knows that we are His, then this knowledge should cue us to make greater haste to depart from iniquity.

      This is not the same haste as in anxious and feeble works for salvation. It is to be ranked in the category of the GOOD WORKS mentioned in Ephesians 2:8-10.

  14. This message has been much needed in the body of Christ for a very long time. I have always believed it in my heart, but found it hard to prove in the Scriptures. I find that the Bible has been mis- interpreted so many times and I have to study the original Hebrew and Greek to truly understand the truth of what is being presented. Thank God for Holy Spirit ! This message that you shared on the difference between God’s divine vengeance and human vengeance was in my opinion, very evident in the movie The Shack. Keep those revelations coming!h

  15. This was truly heart warming and enlightening. Thank you for this post. I

  16. Sandra Rijnbeek // March 9, 2017 at 6:37 am // Reply

    This excerpt has made me cry with wonder as it has helped me begin to understand the revelation that Father has been giving me of the enormity of what Jesus actually did for us through His Cross. He had been showing me the incredible (sorry about all the superlatives but it all feels so huge) power of forgiveness and its effect not only on us but on the people we forgive!! Thank you and I look forward to your book.

  17. John Huckle // March 9, 2017 at 9:41 am // Reply

    Great article!!

  18. Paul I am new to this site and not sure how to introduce a new questions. What is your interpretation of grace? I have heard that it means God’s ability in us. I think of Paul and the spirit from Satan sent to buffet him. I wonder if God was really trying to tell Paul that His ability in Paul was enough and that Paul should use his believer’s authority in the Name of Jesus to rebuke persecution etc. I have done this for myself and it works. No weapon formed against us shall prosper. The gates of hell cannot prevail against us. We are supposed to have dominion over this earth. Christians who know the power and authority invested in us should be able to put the likes of Isis on the run.

  19. If we refuse to be forgiven. Is that not the only unforgivable sin. You can’t make someone take a gift if the don’t want it. So when they refused the gifts of God, namely His Son, they got the consequences. God made the universe work with certain rules that even He cannot break. Like gravity. You jump..you fall. God must weep when He sees His children reject Him knowing that the devil is at the door. You dive off a bridge there are consequences. God as the Eternal knows all but He cannot interfere with free will. That is one of His laws. God cannot lie either. That is another one of His laws. So God is limited, but the way I see it is He is not at the same time. Because He follows His rules, but He masterfully has them designed so that all the evil is taken care of in the end of His plans. There is two perspectives. Ours from our ant like view and God’s

  20. Linda Martini // March 9, 2017 at 3:13 pm // Reply

    Wow! So true: God’s ways are not our ways. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Hi Paul,

    I agree with your article just need clarification on the Isaiah passages. How is 29:2-4 man’s vengeance? I can’t tell who is speaking to who, but on the surface it looks like God is speaking to Ariel?

    Thanks!

    • Isaiah 29 is a prophecy that points to Jerusalem being besieged (probably by Sennacherib and the Assyrians, although Jerusalem was besieged many times, including twice by the Romans). Isaiah frames it as a conversation between the Lord and Ariel (“I will camp against you encircling you”), but the fact is Jerusalem was besieged by foreign tyrants, not the Lord. If the Lord was besieging Ariel in 701BC, why would he send an angel to destroy the besiegers (2 Kings 19:35)? He would be attacking himself.

      Isaiah filtered what he wrote through an old covenant mindset, one where it made perfect sense to envision God punishing Israel for her sins. But when Isaiah prophesied of the new covenant, he doesn’t write like this. Thus the vengeance of Is 61 is nothing like that of Is 29. It’s not that God has changed, but his way of relating to Israel has changed.

      If we would understand divine vengeance, Jesus gives us a clearer picture than any Old Testament prophet.

  22. Hi Paul

    Care to comment on Luke 12 :51 where Christ said he came to divide ? Doesn’t sound like he is here to build and restore ?

    • I cover this passage briefly in the book. Here’s a taste:

      As we saw in the story of Jerusalem’s fall, people divide themselves by their response to Jesus. Some listened and lived; others ignored him and died. How we respond to Jesus is the difference between life and death. A Christian is not necessarily more moral than their unbelieving neighbor; a Christian is someone who does what Jesus says. Conversely, an unbeliever is not necessarily immoral; an unbeliever is someone who rejects what Jesus says. Like the hard-hearted leaders of Jerusalem, they “refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). Jesus is the Life, and those who come to him shall live.

  23. I have ministered to people in jail who have committed murder and this type of teaching is really the only kind that can bring comfort and hope to them, so I thank you, Paul, for this post. I know a lot of people think they are superior to those evil murderers, but Jesus died for them, too, and Moses, David, and Paul were guilty of this offense and given a second chance. In the past, sadly, I have felt hatred toward certain individuals, and, if I’m not mistaken, in the book of James it states that whoever hates his brother is a murderer, so I am no better than those condemned felons in prison. Thank God for his gift of reconciliation! Sometimes there just isn’t anything anyone can possibly do to “make right” past wrongs. It is outside the scope of our human powers. When King David killed Uriah, no amount of tears or finances could ever bring him back to life. So if making restitution is a prerequisite to “real forgiveness” (as the above commenter Rachel declares), then that constitutes works salvation–instead of the blood of Jesus paying for your crime, you did so yourself. “Sure, I killed my brother, but look what I’VE done to make up for it since. I’VE made good on it.” That’s NOT grace.

    • I’m glad you’re involved in that kind of ministry, but you seem to have misunderstood what I wrote. It’s not a matter of grace vs. works, it’s about a person realizing he’s done wrong and genuinely admit he did wrong. And there’s a difference between genuinely admitting you’re wrong and doing it for the sake of show.

      Whether or not we live in the world of the Old Testament or New Testament, the fact is people need to be held accountable for their actions, for which there are consequences. I don’t think I can say it much better than this one person I read about does… Biblically speaking, NO ONE gets forgiven without changing his ways and turning to God and godliness. The New Testament includes an additional requirement for meriting forgiveness- accepting Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior (and no one who has genuinely done that can continue abusing others). Abusers would just love an excuse to obligate us to forgive them without the slightest effort to make amends, commitment to change, or anything expected of them at all. It’s the Abuser’s Dream Gig- to be able to commit one evil deed after another with impunity, and then pervert the Word of God by claiming that others have to repeatedly and unconditionally forgive her. This is utter nonsense.

      BE NOT DECEIVED; GOD IS NOT MOCKED: FOR WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH, THAT SHALL HE ALSO REAP….Galatians 6:7. The Bible is not an excuse for abusive people to have a field day without ever suffering any consequences. Distorting the Word of God to get away with evil is an indication of the demonic nature of such people, not of their innocence and good intentions. Ask any deliverance minister and you will learn that twisting God’s Word to facilitate evil is one of the most common tactics used by demons.”

      • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 11, 2017 at 8:39 pm //

        Dear Rachel, I hear what you say, and it is good to be intolerant of sin, and apprehend the sinner, especially if it can be determined that he or she commits crimes in cold blood, as in the cases of terrorists, for an example. This stage of sin is iniquity.

        Another, and most classic example of coldblooded sinning is the work of the devil and demons, in tempting humans. They don’t have blood as humans do, but their level of sin is iniquity or worse.

        One simple exercise that can be done to show a difference between both Satan together with his demons and human beings, or between iniquity and what I may term, regular transgressions, is to place all of the sins on the head of the scapegoat, which is the Devil. He bears all of the repented and confessed sins.

        When we think of human sinners for whom Jesus Christ died , check to see if they are one with the devil or with demons. If they are not one with the devil and demons then you symbolically throw their sin(s) on Satan’s and on his demons’ heads. By this way you can find how to deal with a sinner of the human race from the perspective of GRACE.

        If the sinner is a human being working iniquity, then you will know how to “blow the trumpet with a certain sound.” A certain intensity and urgency will accompany the sound of your trumpet, for you blow it with a certain understanding of who, with reference to the sin committed, has done wrong.
        .
        By the same token you will know how to approach sinful or erroneous situations involving sinners of iniquities and sinners who, due to weaknesses in the flesh not yet conquered, have erred or have sinned. If we do not do this then in our reproof and correction we might treat humans like demons and devils should be treated; or we may treat a human sinner struggling to overcome a sin in the same way a person working iniquity should be treated or approached.; i.e, a terrorist.

        Your aim is to save sinners of the human race, as far as possible, whoever can be saved; and to condemn sinners in the form of devils and demons. Bless the Lord. Abhor the Devil. Help the falling brother or sister to stand. Reprove and/or apprehend the cold blooded murderer/criminal.

  24. Thats rightly dividing the Word of truth. I always love your explanation of the Gospel. Grace upon grace to you and yours!

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm // Reply

      Bless your dear heart and soul, Jon, for such sweet words of encouragement. Thank you for the grace you have spread upon me and mine. May God’s wonderful grace and peace to and yours be multiplied, as our apostle Paul would put it.

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 12, 2017 at 5:14 pm // Reply

      I was mistaken. You were referring to our author, Pastor Paul Ellis, it appears. Plesse pardon my error. And thanks, nevertheless, for you and your grateful heatt and contribution.
      Berris

  25. Thanks for your response, Berris-Dale Joesph. I hope you are doing well. If we take your line of thinking a little further, Jesus became sin, then that sin died on the cross. Even beyond that, the death system of law and self sufficiency also died on that day. So sin is no longer an issue for us unless we give it life by falling from grace back into that system of law. Our viewpoint should not be from sin, but from Jesus. In Jesus, death is dead and dealt with. I think your concern may be that I’m selling universalism, but that’s definitely not the case. I do believe we must choose to accept Jesus and what He has done for us. Once we make that choice and abide in Him, He produces His fruit of life in us. Blessings to you.

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 12, 2017 at 5:44 pm // Reply

      Thanks for inquiring, LJP. I am well. And you are welcome. What I take from your statement is that when Jesus, Who became sin for us died, we also died. And as He has risen as victor over death, we too are risen from the dead and from the death dealing issues of sin against us, whatever they may be. We may not exactly agree on some of the issues, but this main established principle here is already set in stone. Thank God for that. This risen state of victory over the great enemy death, continues to lift us up from glory into glory, hopefully that we are understanding and are expecting of our ongoing prosperous destiny.

  26. While I really do love what you do and what you write, the fact remains that there truly are people who don’t have a conscience, and it’s not just those who are violent. It’s the lying, cheating ex-husband, the sadistic high school gym teacher, the boss who loves to humiliate people in meetings, and the colleague who steals ideas and passes it off as her own.

    Not everyone has the ability to feel guilt, shame, and remorse. I’ve often heard it said, “Well, the apostle Paul was a terrorist and he became an evangelist.” That was Paul, not ISIS.

    I know I should direct my passion, or rather hate, at the devil. But the fact is, the devil needs agents in order to spread his evil, and I’m not talking only about demons. The fact is, there are evil people in this world who will never repent and who will love doing evil for the rest of their days.

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 14, 2017 at 9:08 am // Reply

      So then, Rachel, if that is the case how can we make a difference? How can we secure the world from the evil these people will inflict it with for the rest of their days? Are we speaking in terms of solution, human solution, divine solution? I understand that no human being can bring conviction of sin on the heart of a sinner better than the Holy Spirit. Jesus says that He, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin. And we as Christians have been given a chief assignment by our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ, to pray always, and not faint. We were admonished to pray without ceasing. Are we doing our assignment? I think instead of this sad prophecy that those people will keep doing evil for the rest of their days, I should do the better, pray for those people without ceasing. What sense does it make to talk about a problem in which it is believed that there is no solution, now nor in the future? I don’t see the sense. In comparison, it seems as if praying without ceasing, as tiring as that responsibility may seem, makes sense, including Isis. Get a prayer ministry going for this very criminal class of people.

      • Marjorie // March 15, 2017 at 4:07 pm //

        Good comments Berris. Our church prayer group did just that for the first time this morning and the Holy Spirit filled the room. We prayed against the powers of darkness behind their actions and prayed for their salvation. I have done this on my own but it was so exciting to do it as a group. One can put a thousand, two ten thousand—

      • Beatrice // March 15, 2017 at 4:37 pm //

        Right on, Berris-Dale Joseph! Jesus didn’t give up hope for me, so I won’t give up hope for the people Rachel asserts “will never repent” and who “love doing evil.” The Bible says only God can truly discern the thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts. Plus, a lot of people are bound by Satan and do not necessarily “love doing evil.” They are blinded and don’t know how to come out of the bondage. Also, “a colleague who steals ideas and passes [them] off as her own,” a “boss who loves to humiliate people in meetings,” and a husband who tells lies and commits adultery are hardly in the same category as ISIS (although the blood of Jesus atoned for the sins of terrorists’, as well). Maybe the colleague is insecure and has suffered rejection, thereby falling easily into Satan’s temptation to take credit for other people’s work. Maybe the harsh boss was ridiculed and bullied himself in the past and lives in paralyzing fear of his own superiors lashing out at him, so he is quick to place the blame elsewhere. Joyce Meyer has recounted that having endured horrific sexual and verbal abuse at the hands of her father made her obnoxious and mean for MANY years, but her saintly spouse Dave didn’t leave her. Miraculously, when he was in his 80s, Joyce’s father repented, too, and they all were reconciled. Amen!

      • Regardless, there’s no excuse for any of those actions. There are people who struggle with sin, but I highly doubt people like ISIS are one of them. They have openly called Coptic Christians their “favorite prey.” What am I supposed to say to something like that?

        Trust me on this – if you have to look that hard to “find the good” in someone, IT ISN’T THERE! Anyone who would tell you that is very naïve, in deep denial, or has some personal interest in not rocking the boat and is vested in allowing the evil person to continue his destruction unchallenged.

  27. So I went to see The Shack last evening. In certain ways, it may be the easiest to digest presentation of Christianity the current generation has been exposed to. The critics will talk, but It plainly depicts a misunderstood, loving and gracious God. I thought over and over, “How have these wonderful truths made it onto the movie theatre screens that are normally displaying every anti-Christ theme under the sun?” If somehow you haven’t noticed, Hollywood has laced its flow of entertainment with powerful deceptive and manipulative anti-Christ messages that are steering the direction of our society. Gen. 3:1 – Now the serpent was more crafty/subtle/cunning/clever than any animal…. Then I came home and read this E2R post. (E2R also plainly depicts a misunderstood, loving and gracious God.) And I realized that even as Hollywood has rejected Jesus, He has not rejected Hollywood. To use the wording from the last line of your post Paul … That the Lord would choose this movie theatre and Hollywood to demonstrate his goodness and power speaks volumes to the graciousness of a good God who does not treat us as our sins deserve.

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 20, 2017 at 1:36 am // Reply

      Again, Dear Rachel:
      There is no excuse for those actions, but they still occurred. It is not whether there were excuses for those evil actions, it is that we were born in sin and shaped in iniquity. And only the gracious blood of Jesus can cure the sinner with His good blood transfusion. Your job is to get any sinner you know to that blood of Jesus Christ, by way of praying for them and/or leading them to Christ. You stated that there was no excuse for those bad actions. True. But that is what sin is. Sin does not make sense. Sin is not reasonable. If there was a reason for sin, it would no longer be sin. Sin is foolishness, selfishness. It is a disease. But there is only one great physician, Who can heal the sin-sick soul; and that person is Jesus Christ. When a criminal gets locked up in jail for murder or whatever crime committed, let us hope that a Christian or a group of Christians are able to go and minister to that criminal about the love, mercy, and grace of God; because without such a ministry, no other ministry, including the ministry of criticism, could help that criminal. He needs the divine blood transfusion not a load of criticism and condemnation. He needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, he should be in prison, not out of prison doing evil to others continually. But do understand the role of the Christian in this world. Are you are salt of the earth or not?

      • Beatrice // March 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm //

        I love your explanation, Berris-Dale Joseph. It just seems so inviting to come to you for prayer because the mercy, love, and grace of Jesus is evident in your speech. I agree with your conclusions. Sin is a disease, and the blood of Jesus is the cure. Plus, we are not to criticize or condemn. Those are fruitless, destructive actions. On the contrary, we are to minister deliverance and be the salt of the earth, even to murderers who sit on death row. Jesus loves them, too.

      • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 20, 2017 at 9:49 pm //

        I sincerely appreciate your appreciation of the gospel truth, Beatrice. It is a beautiful gospel of a beautiful God, and Savior Jesus Christ. True happiness can come only from this Gospel. It, only, has the efficacy to draw ALL humanity to Jesus Christ for this happiness that the world cannot afford. God’s multiplied peace and joy to you.

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // March 20, 2017 at 10:15 pm // Reply

      Marjorie,
      God be praised and blessed forever for the prayers of you and your church, for the unrepentant. That is what we are talking about. May this movement of prayer attended by the Holy Spirit continue, a matchless force for good. Praise the Name of the Lord.

      • Marjorie // March 21, 2017 at 6:18 am //

        Thank you Berris-Dale for your words of encouragement ! I hope we as Christians never forget “For He so loved the world . He loved all of us while we were yet sinners! Love so amazing ! God bless !

  28. Rachel I know how you feel. If you really want to get an eye opener on this topic go to the movie The Shack. Man it sure made me think!

  29. Amen! I have taken three different people to that movie and I would go again. The Trinity is depicted in a way that no church I have attended has ever depicted. As a result my relationship with God has become stronger than ever and my love for people increasingly so. God is LOVE and you can’t separate the two. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance !

  30. I recon the best movies are those revenge ones where Clint Eastwood smashes the cruel wrong doer and returns him to the dust to rot, and given the amount of these “justice restored” movies a lot of other people share my sense of satisfaction.

    To be honest, the demands of the blood of Able are still the loudest voice in my life. I tend towards demanding justice from the people around me . . .they should apologize. . . they should pay me back. . . they don’t deserve it. . .God will punish them . . .they deserve what’s coming. . .they made their nest they should lie in it. . . that’s mine, it’s not yours.
    My world view looks much the same, I “own the high ground” so instead of fearing justice I demand it.
    It’s only when I get quiet and a bit reflective that I remember where I have been released from and to what I’ve entered into that I love mercy and fear justice. When I rest on his Love and forgiveness I forgive myself and that love overflows to others.
    The fear of “God the Judge” truly is the BEGINNING of wisdom. I cannot survive Justice, I need Mercy and Grace.
    On this earth Jesus power doesn’t look or sound like Arnold Schwarzarnegger and neither do his representatives, (well they sometimes they do). Jesus also said “I’ll be back” and when he comes back it will be because his blood cries something far better than the blood of Able.

  31. Thanks for the great observations, Jason. And I look forward to seeing that movie when it finally gets to my neck of the woods.

  32. Even if there was some tiny good point you could come up with, IT ISN’T RELEVANT. Someone who is malicious, heartless and abusive most of the time doesn’t deserve Brownie Points for occasionally doing something not horrible. Doing harm to others is not made any better by letting someone go ahead of you in line at the market. So what if we do find a “good” characteristic in an abuser? Maybe he likes animals or has a great sense of humor. Does that mean we should now be more tolerant of his malevolence? So what if he gives money to charity? Does that mean we should “give him a break” and let his cruelty toward his family slide? No. A “good side” that you have to dig around, wrack your brain for, or stretch reality to find does not excuse or justify the obvious and blatant: that 99% of the time, this person is cruel, vicious, destructive, wicked, and dangerous. Just because the dog sometimes eats out of the cat’s bowl doesn’t make him a cat.

  33. Awesome this is truly the real gospel (good news) and it almost sounds to good to be true, but it is true because “grace and “truth” came by Jesus Christ.

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