In the 1950’s the movie Pollyanna was released, which on the surface seemed innocent enough, but in reality it carried a very deadly message. The main character was a sweet little girl (Haley Mills) that taught the people of a small town the meaning of love. She even managed to change the thinking of the town pastor, who upon introduction was revealed as a fiery preacher, but in the end was reduced to only speaking the promises of God and none of His judgments. In one scene the pastor even quoted lines from George Whitefield’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. The people left the church downtrodden; a horse snorted, and one of the members remarked, “Exactly”.
As a result of 19th century liberal teaching, which is known as Higher Criticism, men have been trained to accept the love of God and reject divine justice. The mainline Christian denominations were inundated with a skewed perspective of God that left Him mushy, sentimental, and unwilling to punish all the evil in the world. What matters most to a worldly minded thinker is his feelings, inclinations, and desire to have things the way he wants them rather than the way they are in reality. The spiritually minded man considers the Bible (the word of God) more important than his own thoughts. ‘Let God be found true and every man a liar’ is his motto.
The Bible has much to say about judgment. It is not necessary to look at the Old Testament, where God is accused of all kinds of brutality, because the New Testament is amply supplied with verses of judgment and wrath. The following verses are just a few.
“Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” (1 Peter 2:9)
‘I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36)
“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5)
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:10)
There is no love like the love of God when it is revealed with the backdrop of His righteous judgment. God does not overlook any wrong doing; He justifies and rationalizes nothing. Sinful men are not even aware of the primary cause of all sin, and the greatest sin of all, which is idolatry. Idolatry fails to acknowledge the One true God as God and places other false gods in His place. Men do not recognize idolatry as sin when they fail to recognize their own brand of religion as false. All false religions are idolatrous. Jesus said, “Broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go in that way.” False religions fill the earth with their false teachings, cunning deceptions, and even misleading gospel. There are false brands of “Christianity” just as there was a false “Judaism” in the time of Christ, and as there is now. When men fallow false gods they ignore the One true God, which is the great sin of replacing God with self. Pride goes unseen unless and until the sinner is awakened by the Holy Spirit of God.
No man likes to be ignored; how much less the One, true, and living God. All living things are dependent, from micro second to micro second, upon the living God, who is life and the source of all things living. To ignore the One, true, and living God is the first and great sin; it leads to all other sins. All men sin in this way. Paul made it clear in his letter to the Ephesians that all men ignore God before they come to know Christ because they are spiritually dead to Him.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world…” (Ephesians 2:1, 2)
Sinful man is dead to God, and as such is unaware of His pleasures, judgments, and will. A sinful and unredeemed man cares not for what the true God thinks and demands. For this reason judgment will come upon the earth and upon all those that have not acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9). Two thousand years ago God put on human flesh, took to Himself the nature of man, and for all the world to see revealed just how mankind treats Him. He was nailed to a wooden cross by those that carry out the laws of men, scoffed at by those that did not recognize Him as the Son of God, made a joke of by the religious leaders, and treated as a criminal by the general public. One day all men that have not been saved by Him will be judged on the basis of just how He has been treated.
Where will men go to hide in that day? Where can a man run to escape the impending judgment of God, who sees everything and is everywhere? The Scriptures make it clear where man can go, in Psalm 139.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” (Psalm 139:7-12)
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and not ignorance of it. Pollyanna got it wrong, no man is encouraged by the promises of God unless they first see their need of a savior. Good people do not need a savior, and righteous men do not need to be delivered from their sins. Encouragement is for the saint, who has entered into a war with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The saint is one who has acknowledged his sins, and received Jesus Christ as Lord, who also stood in his place as an offering for sin’s penalty. If the reader is not numbered among the saints, and is not placed in that number before he dies or the Lord returns, there will be no place to hide.