If you have children, you know that one of the main concerns in child rearing is discipline. Very early on, you have to decide what type of parent you want to be. Will you be, what they call in psychology, an authoritarian parent-one who emphasizes rules, order, and obedience over emotional connection? This type of parent tends to hold the view that children are “to be seen and not heard” and children brought up in this environment more than likely view their parents as nothing more than drill sergeants at basic training.
Or perhaps you will be what is referred to as a permissive parent-one who gives little guidance and much freedom. This type of parent does a lot of listening to the wishes of the child, but not a lot of saying “no”. Plainly put, permissive parents are big pushovers.
The last type of parent is the authoritative parent. Don’t mistake this with the authoritarian parent. An authoritative parent maintains a good balance between freedom and boundaries. This type of parent desires to know their child intimately and on a deep, emotional level, all the while setting appropriate limits to provide safety and security. Authoritative parents allow for some freedom, but clearly communicate expectations and spell out consequences for a child’s failure to meet them.
What type of parent do you think God is? Is he authoritarian, permissive, or authoritative? I believe that if we have read the Bible even a little, we would find the answer to be quite clear. God is authoritative in nature. He has two faces. He is love, yet He is justice.
Let’s go back to some basics of our faith. The very nature of God is Holy (“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:3). When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, He told him to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. Because of God’s holiness, He cannot or will not approve of evil, and therefore, our sin demands a penalty. There is not a single work that we could perform that would make us acceptable before God and that could satisfy His just wrath against our sin.
Although God demands justice, or in other words, death for our sin, His nature is also loving and merciful. He provided a Savior who took the punishment for our sins and who paid the penalty for us. The perfect life of Jesus Christ satisfied the holiness of God, while the death of Jesus satisfied the demands of His justice. So the glorious news is that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” Romans 8:1,2.
If we have truly confessed that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, our sins no longer condemn us to a life of eternal punishment. The question that remains, however, is if Christ saved us from a “second death” or eternity in hell separated from Him, why does our sin really matter?
As the authoritative parent that He is, God has established boundaries and truth for life in His commandments and through the teachings of Jesus. For “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Could we say that God really loved us if He didn’t care what we did or how we thought? If he was a permissive parent and didn’t discipline us, could we really claim to be His child? Would he be expressing His desire for our best if He was okay with us choosing to live a life in disobedience to Him? I don’t think so!
God desires us to always be mindful of our sin and to continually live in an attitude of repentance. So why does our sin matter?
- It can shorten our earthly life. (“The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened” Proverbs 10:27.)
- It can harm us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- It can hurt others.
- It can bring us out of fellowship with God and our Christian brothers and sisters. (“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ…If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth” 1 John 1:3,6).
- It can damage our witness (“For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities” Isaiah 59:12.)
Although as children of God, our sins can no longer condemn us (we have been justified through Christ), the consequences of our sin can last through generations. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit continually helps us to grieve our sin and let us be thankful that God is the type of parent He is. He loves us so much that He desires to root out anything that does not help us in our walk with Him!