Punishment and Promise

By Mark D. Roberts

May 23, 2017

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

Isaiah 13:11


Looking upward toward a metal escape ladder. We don’t talk much about God’s punishment today. For those of us who are so rightly focused on the grace of God, it’s easy to forget God’s justice. The Lord does not dismiss evil as no big deal, however common a dismissal is in our time of history. Rather, God hates evil. He judges it and punishes it.

This would be terrible news for us, given that we do evil and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Yet, by God’s grace, we know how God ultimately judged and punished human sin. Jesus took the judgment and punishment by dying on the cross. God the Son thus absorbed God’s own judgment. God the judge became God the condemned, for our sake.

Because of this extraordinary act of grace, we don’t have to live in fear of divine punishment. We can have confidence that nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:39). Yet, this does not mean we tolerate evil in our world or ourselves. When, for example, we see how our selfishness leads us to hurt others, we acknowledge our wrong in confession and seek God’s grace to live selflessly. When we witness racial bias in our world, we share in God’s condemnation of this evil and seek justice for all people. The more we experience God’s grace, the more we will be committed to living so that his grace might touch and transform all of life.


Do you find it easy to forget that God hates evil?

How do you respond to the fact that Jesus took the punishment for your sin upon himself?

Are you every inclined to ignore or minimize evil? Why?

In what ways are you participating in God’s work of filling this world with his justice, righteousness, and peace?


Gracious God, in your holiness and righteousness, you hate evil. You judge it and punish it. I must admit that sometimes I forget this. I can almost wink at my sin as if it is no big deal, when it is such a big deal to you that you took it upon yourself on the cross. Forgive me, Lord.

Even as I live in the freedom of your grace and forgiveness, help me never to minimize the vileness of evil. Even as I love what you love, may I hate what you hate . . . not the people who sin, but the sin itself.

Even as I take my own sin seriously, may I live truly and daily in your grace, knowing that “Jesus paid it all.” May I live my whole life for you in gratitude for this amazing grace. And may this gratitude transform my life, so that I might be an agent of your salvation and justice in this world.

To you be all the glory. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryGod’s Justice, the Solution to Our False Judgments (Romans 3:21–26)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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