Big Questions – Day 3
The short answer to this question is yes – BUT with a large footnote for clarification and explanation. God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in faithful covenant love, and forgiving of all kinds of sin (Exodus 34:6-7). However, God is also holy and must punish sin if he is indeed a righteous and just God (Exodus 34:7). For example, would a state or federal judge be just if he acquitted a guilty criminal and dropped all of his charges without any form of retribution or punishment for the offense? Absolutely not. It’s the same way with God – he is infinitely holy, so our sin is infinitely offensive to him; therefore if he is just he must punish sin in keeping with his holiness. This is why the Old Testament has the sacrificial system (in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), the prophets proclaiming judgment on disobedient nations (Jeremiah, Nahum, Obadiah, Malachi, etc.), and ultimately why God sent Jesus to suffer and die on our behalf, that we might become children of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God hates sin and exercises his wrath toward and upon it (Romans 1:18-32 – especially verses 18, 24, 26, and 28). He also tells us through Paul in his letter to the Romans (3:23, 5:12) and through the prophet Isaiah (53:6) that we are all sinners and deserve to go to hell. But God, being rich in his mercy has chosen some to be examples of his grace to live for his glory (Romans 3:24, 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-10) and through his infinite wisdom has chosen some to be vessels of his wrath (Romans 9:13-23). For those elect, God punished Jesus so that he would be just in rightfully punishing our sin, but also so that he would be the one who justifies us by presenting Jesus as the one who takes that punishment (Romans 3:25-26).
So yes, God does hate sin, and he punishes all sin because he is a just and holy God. However, those whom He has chosen have the precious blood of Christ protecting them from God’s wrath, whereas those who do not know Jesus as their savior are left to endure the consequences of their sin and will ultimately face eternal judgment in hell. This is not a pleasant discussion, and it is not easy to see God as the righteous judge of the universe, but I believe that this is the picture that God’s revelation of himself (the Bible) paints of who he is. This is also why it is immensely important to trust and follow Jesus, for he and he alone is the one who can truly take our sins away and guarantee our favor with God by his perfect sacrifice on the cross.