“If God is not mad at us when we sin, how do we reconcile this with when we sin?”
To start with, God is totally satisfied with us in Christ, He loves us perfectly in Christ and it is in that regard that there is absolutely nothing we can do to add to God’s love for us, if we are in Christ. Why? because it’s all about what Jesus did and not what we did. Nonetheless, when we look at it from another standpoint. oh there are times that God is mad with us, it has to do the perspective from which we are looking at it.
My favourite Theologian, Don Carson once talked about the one love of God, and the multifaceted way of thinking about it; there is God’s love that saves you, God’s love that prevents you from sin, so that when he is saying “return to me”, “repent” and that “the Lord does not Delight in the death of the wicked”, this is a warning out of God’s love for us. This is different from the aspect of God’s love that saves definitely and totally in Christ.
The Bible also says keep yourselves in the love of God. This is referring to when we are in a relationship with God through the love that is in Christ, and then we keep ourselves in the sweetness of that love. Here is an analogy, I have two children, one is Tofunmi whom I love unconditionally simply on the basis that he is my son, but what if Tofunmi becomes a White-Collar Thief, working and stealing from the bank through the education that my wife and I gave him. And if we warn Tofunmi about this evil act but he continues in it, our relationship with him will become sour and distanced, even though I don’t disown him and he remains my son.
If on the other hand, my other son, Timilehin is working diligently, raising leaders and socially responsible with the blessing that God has given him, my relationship with him will be the opposite of Tofunmi’s even though they are both my sons and I love them. This is why the Bible says you should not grieve the Holy Spirit that you have been given unto the day of redemption because we can actually grieve and quench the spirit. It’s also why the Bible says “continue being filled with the spirit” because sometimes we grieve the Spirit and are unable to hear the voice of God.
And this is what renewal is all about; even after you have been born again, you can get to a point where things are low and you are in need of being renewed because sin poisons the waters. When we are living in sin, you don’t get to hear God again which makes you start to drift away and in Christian language, it’s called backsliding. Hence, it is possible to belong to God but be backslidden, that is, you are still his child but you are far from him. At this point, God’s love for you in Christ remains intact but the relational love has been poisoned and we have to return back.
This is why we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “forgive us our trespasses”. I have heard some people say that because Christ has forgiven us once, we don’t have to pray the Lord’s Prayer and I often say that it is forgiven people that can ask for forgiveness, those who are forgiven need the Lord’s new mercies given to us every morning.
*Donald Arthur Carson is a biblical scholar, President and co-founder at Gospel Coalition.
Answered by Femi Osunnuyi is lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.