God so loved – Part six

john3_16God is not the one condemning us; we condemn ourselves. As I said in part one, our M.O. is that God loves, humankind hides. We hide because we’ve painted God’s face with the Serpent’s brush, both theologically and in our own darkened imaginations.

We’ve already seen that Jesus used Moses and the bronze serpent to illustrate why He came. It wasn’t to satisfy some divine need for retribution, but to heal us and bring us to Himself. We discovered that God loves us so much that He wanted to widen the Circle of Love in the Trinity to include us in His life.

We’re now ready to finish this passage (John 3:14-17) by taking a closer look at verses 17-21.

Not to judge, but to save

First, understand that John 3:16, by itself, is not a complete thought. We need verse 17 in order to complete the thought:

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17 NASB)

hooded_in_darknessNot only do we need to understand that God’s motive was love (not retribution) but also that it was to save us. And if we read further, we find it was specifically to save us from ourselves.

19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  (John 3:19-20*)

What’s fascinating here is that this condemnation, or judgment, is not coming from God. It’s coming from our own guilty conscience. We fear of exposure. And where have we heard this kind of “guilt trip” before. Of course, from our first parents, Adam and Eve!

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”(Gen.3:8-10*)

gavel_judgmentYou see, when we focus on the deeds, the sinful behavior, which most believers seem to be obsessed with, whether Catholic or Protestant, we actually miss the whole point. We miss that the “forbidden fruit” is the knowledge of good and evil. And this type of knowing good and evil is the very act of judging.

The Greek word for “judge” in this passage is κρίνω (krinō), which is where we also get the word, “critic.” Krinō means: to separate; to make a distinction between; to estimate…to assume censorial power over, to call to account.

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, something terrible was introduced into the world. A guilty conscience that causes us to hide from God. And because we felt guilt, we became the judge of ourselves and everyone else.

Forgive-PunishWe became our own standard of right and wrong, which always becomes a hypocritical standard because we will always judge others by our strengths, while ignoring our own weaknesses (Matt.7:1-5).

And when we judge others, we separate ourselves from them. But know that this separation started with our self-condemnation that caused us to separate ourselves from God in our minds first.

As I shared before, this is the sin of the world that Jesus took upon Himself in order to heal us and bring us to Himself.

We were never meant to be judges, either of ourselves or other people. We were meant to love God, love others as ourselves, and become like little children (Matt.18:3). This reciprocating love happens in the intimacy of the relationship. And we can’t bring the tree of good and evil with us there. The only tree in this Divine Dance is the Tree of Life (Rev.22:1-5).

I should point out here that this judging is not the same thing as honestly evaluating what’s going on in our hearts; especially in relationship with God working on our iceberg. Indeed, until we get the “plank” out of our own eye, all our “”fixing” of other people’s issues will only wound them further, driving a bigger wedge between themselves and God.

This is how God so loves

Cross_HeartLet’s wrap this up. John 3:14-21 tells us that God so loved every human being that He sent His Son to heal us from the Serpent’s bite, which is a knowledge of good and evil. This “snakebite,” or sin, brought judgment into the world, which separated us in our own minds from the life of God (self-condemnation) and from each other (judgmentalism).

All sinful behavior comes from this deadly poison. Jesus came to be our anti-venom, to save us from ourselves and bring us into the Divine Dance of love in the Trinity, so that we would be compelled by self-giving, other-centered love instead of self-interest and fear of judgment.

When we stop hiding from God and, instead, allow Him to deal with the deepest and darkest part of us, all the toxins of the forbidden fruit of the knowledge of good and evil will be drawn out of us. The more we allow this healing process, allowing ourselves to be fully exposed to Love, the less we will be critical of others. The more we will have grace for ourselves and each other, the more we will look like Jesus to the world around us (John 13:35). This is how Jesus frees us from the “sin of the world.” This is how all the law and the prophets are fulfilled in us (Matt.22:37-40).

* NKJV Bible. Emphasis added.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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10 Responses to God so loved – Part six

  1. Brilliant series, Mel. It’s always been interesting to me that most of us stop at John 3:16 and never continue the message. So glad you did, and explained it is we who judge, we who exalt darkness, never God.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Susan. Yes, when finally see who is the judge and who is hiding from whom, we begin to see God in a true light. The “Serpent” has lost his grip on our imaginations. Not only does it make God so much better in our minds, but it makes us better people, too.
      Your comments much appreciated, as always. Blessings.

  2. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world” (John 3:19)… sounds a lot like “until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” (Dan 7:22) Part of His judgment is the dispossession of our oppressors, not unlike a judge on the bench who slams his gavel down and declares the favorable ruling… and then He empowers the saints to repossess and advance… similar to Esther and her people empowered to overthrow their oppressors. Thank God for His favorable judgements.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen! That’s a really good point, Mark. We often think of the judgment of God as a negative thing, but God’s judgment toward us was in our favor, against the Serpent who put us in bondage. When Jesus ascended, He brought us with Him, far above all principalities and powers (Eph.1:19-2:6). That’s a pretty good judgment! He is a GOOD God!

  3. So many good points here. My favorite though is the fact that you look beyond 3:16. Those following verses never seem to get the proper attention they deserve.

    And then, we can’t “fix” other people’s issues, our fixing “only serves to wound them.” We can love them through their issues. Only God can “fix” someone. The very efforts we exert fixating on the faults of others is best used tending to our own “planks.” Great message!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Lilka. Much appreciated. 🙂 Yes, pointing the finger at ourselves first is what allows the heart of the Father to work through us and actually help others with His love.
      Blessings.

  4. AfroScot says:

    Thanks Mel for this great series.

    I once found myself caught up against Roman Catholicism which is so prevalent amongst Protestants. I invited a friend who is Catholic for bible study and we had a heated theological debate.

    I thank the Holy Spirit for prompting me to stop this. It almost drove a wedge between our friendship. She has become a very dear friend and occasionally attends our church activities. Truly, Jesus loves us so much that He came to save us.

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, and amen, AfroScot. Great testimony. There are no Catholics and Protestants in the body of Christ! Only the beloved of God, His sons and daughters. There is only one faith, one baptism, one Father, one body of Christ, and one Spirit in all of us (Eph. 4:3-6). We need to get over our need to be right, trying to make our “club” better than theirs! It’s just shows our spiritual immaturity and ego, not Christ. When we make doctrinal agreement the most important thing, we become divisive and argumentative, when we make Christ the main thing (and, in Him, God is love), we come together. Then, and only then, does the world recognize Jesus in us (John 13:35). Blessings.

  5. “We became our own standard of right and wrong, which always becomes a hypocritical standard because we will always judge others by our strengths, while ignoring our own weaknesses (Matt.7:1-5).”

    This is so very true. And usually what we judge others most harshly on is a diversionary tactic to hide the thing we are most deficient in.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes indeed! Those who’ve cheated on their spouse will accuse the other of cheating on them. People who feel rejection will often do the same to those who love them or are trying to help them. Human nature is pretty crazy! 🙂
      Thanks for your comments Patrick. Much appreciated.

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