Why does God condemn the sinner not just the sin? God doesn’t condemn an abstract. God only does with persons. When God wanted to deal with the issue of sin, listen to what Romans 8 says,
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death”.
Now laws are abstract things. They work, but they are abstract.
3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh
In the flesh of who? Jesus Christ. Do you understand? How did God deal with the issue of sin? He allowed the sin of the world as it were, the sin of all those that will believe, he allowed Satan and all of that to come towards the cross, and in the person of Jesus Christ, God condemned the sin. In other words what am I trying to say?
You can’t condemn sin on its own, sin actually works through people just like I can’t say in this nation, “why are armed robbers going around? Because they have armed robbery intentions inside them.
Then what do we say? Get the armed robbery intentions and send it to jail?
We don’t! Because no matter how much we describe all the abstract devious things; we only understand them as it is expressed and inhabited in a person. It is people that kill people, it’s not sin in the people that kill people.
One more thing about the destructive and constructive nature of God’s wrath. Yes, hell is destructive, but hell is serving a purpose. Hell exists to destroy all that will destroy the new creation. Hell is basically like, and I’m using an analogy, hell in relation to the new heavens and the new earth is almost like the dust bin in a house. To keep the house clean, we have dust bins where we put dirt so that the house remains clean.
When the Bible opens in Genesis 1, God created these people, put them in a garden where he fellowships with them, and all was wonderful, fantastic and God says, be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth. The purpose of God in terms of creating was not to destroy people, it was to have a multitude of people in this garden-like atmosphere spread throughout the world that he would dwell with forever. That was God’s purpose and plan as seen in Genesis 1.
By the time you get to Revelation 21, that plan and purpose is actually fulfilled, however because the Bible is such a big book or a big compilation of books, we know stuff didn’t go all smoothly. Evil was there and the whole story of the Bible is how evil manifested through Satan. Satan the embodiment of evil tries to scutter God’s plan of actually reaching what we see in Revelation 21 and its now God’s solution of countering the evil plans of Satan that bring us to Revelation 21.
In Revelation 21 John says, I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The new Jerusalem. It’s God dwelling place and he says look, God’s dwelling place is now among people. He will dwell with them. There will be no more tears, there will be no more crying, no more pain.
That is God’s ultimate plan fulfilled but then somehow the issue of hell come in in that place, and he tells you the purpose.
7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
In other words, he’s saying you see this picture, you see this wonderful thing I have given to those who believed in me because they couldn’t save themselves, in order to secure this, those who actually decide to live for themselves will not be a partaker of this and the way he deals with that is hell. The problem is that we often look at hell almost as having its own purpose, that’s when God is inherently destructive. No one builds a house to put dust bins inside. You build a house to be a dwelling place, a nice place, a welcoming place but that house will not be a dwelling and nice place if you have dirt all around, if you have refuse all around, so you put a dust bin there.
So, the dust bin isn’t serving its own purpose, it’s serving a larger purpose of having a welcoming place and those who worship themselves and worship other things and not this God will be, it’s not that they could be, they will be an existential threat to all of God’s things and that’s the way it works.
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.