A 50th Anniversary Reprint: God’s Judgment of Sin

The excellent writings of our brother G.G. Johnston are well known to a previous generation. 

Scoffers of all times have dared to question whether God takes their sin into account and will judge it. The language of their hearts is: “Where is the promise of His coming” (2 Peter 3:4)? This is in reference to His coming in judgment. At other periods of the world’s history, God has more promptly executed judgment upon sin, but the present is a day of grace. There is a short period of exceptional clemency before He opens the floodgates of His fearful wrath upon sin and sinners.

In keeping with his righteous character as Governor of the Universe, God must punish sin. To Him alone is known the day He has appointed for the judgment of the world, but we know it is all settled in God’s purpose, and the Judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has been named (Acts 17:31), and all will be conducted in accordance with divine righteousness. Woe to that man or woman who has not sought and obtained the forgiveness of sins before then!

Some will enjoy the fruits of reconciling grace in Christ, for they have come as guilty sinners to the Savior and have found mercy and full pardon through the blood of Christ. To such it is written: “There is therefore now no condemnation (judgment) to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom8:1). The judgment for them, was passed upon their Substitute at Calvary. They have been converted to God, and through grace are perfectly, eternally and righteously saved through Him.

However, there is a judgment of sin which they may experience. At conversion they became children of God. By the new birth, they obtained the right to call God their Father, and, as a Father, He must in love deal with all His children. If we endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons (Hebrews 12:7).

All seeming chastisement is not correction because of sin. There is preventive and instructive discipline, as well. But it may indeed be because of some sin of omission or commission. We should be exercised about God’s dealings with us, asking Him earnestly to show us the reason for His hand being thus upon us. In this way, we shall be purified and fitted to worthily represent Him. He chastises us for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live? He is infinitely wise in His dealings with us; never is there a stroke more than is necessary.

How foolish it is though, for us to imagine that we can sin against Him with impunity. His rod is long enough to reach us anywhere. Jonah might take to the sea, but the Lord was there to deal with him, and bring him back to his appointed task. Achan might carefully cover his sin, but God uncovered it to his shame and punishment. David might long delay the confession of his crime with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, but at last he must own it in contrition, as in Psalm 51, and accept God’s discipline in the death of his child and in other ways: We cannot hope to deceive God. Our Father has no hell for His children, as He has for the unconverted, but He has a rod for the correction of all His own.

Some have congratulated themselves, upon being received into the fellowship of an assembly of God, that they have entered a sphere where each one may do as he pleases. All such thoughts are vain. The assembly is God’s house, God’s temple, where He should be recognized as supreme, and His will performed to the letter. There will always be failure where man bears responsibility and God is very gracious, but let us remember that our God is jealous of His honor. If we dare to defile God’s temple, the assembly, by introducing evil doctrine, or unholy practices, let us hear His Word: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy” (1 Cor 3:17). Some in Corinth taught specious error in regard to the resurrection, and others fell into immoral practices, for both of which the judgment of God came upon them. Some, because they did not humble themselves for their sin, or for the sin that was among them, were taken off the earth before their time. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 Cor 11:30). They slept the sleep of death before they had properly finished their course, because they did not judge and humble themselves. However, God’s dealings with them, and the reproof received in the Apostle’s first letter, wrought great sorrow and repentance in others. They judged the sin that was among them, and cleared themselves in these matters, with God’s consequent blessing. Is there unjudged sin in the assembly? Let us judge it in our own hearts, and confess it as our own, then seek that it be dealt with in the fear of God, in the assembly.

The World is spiritually blind and deaf. They do not see the darkening shadow of judgment, nor hear the thunder in the distance. As in the days of Noah, so until the end, they will continue to be deceived by the devil into a sense of security. “Perplexity of nations” may come, and is surely upon us, but men fail to acknowledge that this world deserves destruction and is nearing its end. They still hope to find a remedy. Great national and international schemes are set up, some with temporary success, but all failing in the end. God is seldom acknowledged, and reverence for His Word wanes, making the godly to feel that the end must be near.

At different times in this world’s history God has visited men in judgments, such as in the flood of Noah’s day, in fire upon Sodom, in wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, famines and pestilences. Many of these have been definite judgments of God upon the intolerable wickedness of certain parts of the world.

Let the Day of Grace end by the coming of Christ for His church, and the judgments of God, as described in the Revelation, begin, and all previous visitations will pale into insignificance. What horrors are described there! But they are only the beginnings of sorrows. The judgment of the Great White Throne (Revelation 20) will usher in an eternity of woe for all whose names are not found written in the Book of Life. Reader, is yours written there?