Recently I have heard the phrase that God is a God of love and acceptance.
This statement was made a number of times in the gay marriage debate in the lead up to the plebiscite vote, and most recently was mentioned in discussions over the Israel Folau debacle. An article by a leader in one of the major Christian churches in Australia made this same point about acceptance.
But is God really a God of love and acceptance?
A God of love
There is no question that God is a God of love. We are told this clearly in the scriptures in many places.
“So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John chapter 4, verse 16)
God is love. He is the embodiment of love and our walk in Christ is meant to bring us fully into the love of God so that we are like Him.
In Jesus Christ, God made manifest His love and His nature to man.
Jesus taught us the way and showed us the path to become like God in His love. The gospel is a message of love to bring us to the place where we fulfil the requirements of what James called the “royal law.”
“If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself," you do well.” (James chapter 2, verse 8)
According to Jesus, to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbour as yourself were the two greatest laws.
But is acceptance part of the love of God?
God is NOT a God of acceptance
When we look at the actions of God, specifically in relation to sin and sinners, it is clear that God is not a God of acceptance.
Acceptance, in the way that was being suggested by the gay marriage movement in particular, is weakness. It suggests there should be no accountability for the decisions a person makes.
The argument that God should accept someone because they are “wired like this” falls flat because it promotes compromise. In Christ there is no compromise. God does not and did not compromise and He has not changed from the beginning of time until now.
Consider some of the actions of God.
When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin occurring in those evil cities, was that acceptance? When God flooded the earth in the days of Noah, destroying all mankind because of their sin, with the exception of Noah and his family, was that acceptance?
When Jesus drove the money-changers and animals out of the temple with a whip, overturning the tables of the money-changers in anger, was that a sign of acceptance?
Then there was the woman brought to Jesus having committed adultery, for which the law required her to be stoned to death. Jesus was merciful to the woman, but did He show acceptance?
No, He did not. He told her that He did not condemn here, but that she should, “Go, and sin no more.” In compassion and mercy He overlooked her sin, but instructed her to not do it again.
Jesus used these words “sin no more” several other times when healing and teaching the people.
These are not the words and actions of acceptance. These words are uncompromising and direct in their intent.
What Jesus and God seek is for people to repent and turn to God. They do not want people to continue in sin but hope all mankind will to come to salvation.
Yes, they show mercy to those who DO repent, but for the unrepentant there is the fearful prospect of judgement, as the examples above show.
God knows man is weak and filled with passions, lusts and evil desire. But in the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ He offers us a way to escape these things.
But we must repent.
God is uncompromising. He does not accept our evil passions but wants us to turn away from them and to change the way we think.
This is what repentance is: to change your thinking.
He does not accept sin but is merciful towards us while the transforming work of the Holy Spirit drives out sinfulness caused by our weaknesses, passions, lusts and desires.
And being “wired a certain way” is no argument with God. A person may be “wired” as a thief, adulterer, liar, gambler, paedophile, substance abuser, alcoholic or homosexual. It doesn’t matter who or what we are, when we come to Jesus we must repent of those ways to walk with Christ.
God does not accept sin, but through repentance under the gospel of salvation has given us the way to be free from sin.
Acceptance is compromise and God does not compromise. So repent and seek the truth of His salvation in mercy and love.
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375