“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)
The most famous passage in the bible, John 3:15-18, tells us Christ was lifted up on the cross so all who believe in him would have eternal life, that God loved us so much, he gave us his only son so that no one who believes in Christ should perish. Today’s verse asserts at this point that God’s goal was not to condemn everyone else, but to save the world. Verse eighteen adds sadly, however, that those who freely choose not to believe in Christ, to not accept the offer of salvation he extends to everyone, is condemned already and choosing to remain condemned rather than accept an offer of pardon.
What would we say of a governor who offered a pardon to a prisoner with no expectation of reform? Would we call an earthly king loving for releasing into his kingdom a person who had make it clear such had no intentions of being a productive, law-abiding citizen? Mind, God’s done all the work for us even.
So, on the judgment day, those “sent” to hell are going where they chose to go. They have condemned themselves and why? Because they loved their sin more than they desired a pain-free, joyful eternity in the presence of God, who forbid them from taking their pet into his kingdom.
Tell me, what kind of offenders facing a death sentence are offered a pardon, but say no, they like their old life of crime too much to receive a pardon and live? A stiff-necked fool.
Let us not be so foolish, we who trust and believe in him.
We thank you, Lord, that you came not to condemn, but to save. Search our hearts, be there any wicked way in us? If we have pet sins in our lives we need to surrender and leave behind, show us. Strengthen us to love you more. Open our eyes to the truth and set us free from the chains that bind us. Season our tongues, Lord, so we might also be of a mind to seek not to condemn those who already are, but to gently show them the way to salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.