“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.”
It was one of those parent-panic moments. We’d loaded the kids into the van and buckled the crew with a reward in hand—one of those round, red and white striped, peppermint candies. (Note to the dad file: small children and hard candies aren’t a great match.)
We hadn’t even left the parking lot when our eldest (single digits at the time) began choking. The mint had slipped down the back of her throat. With her airway blocked, I could see the panic in her eyes. Not really sure what else to do, I jumped from the driver’s seat into the back row and jammed my finger down the back of her throat to sweep the mint out of the way.
Thankfully, mission accomplished. (Though the sight of them still evokes a mild-PTSD.)
As we answer our question, “Is God mad at me?”, think of the mint as our sin. Even our Father’s aggressive activity when sin is choking us, isn’t to harm us, but to clear sin out of our lives.
It’s an act of love, not anger.
Sin chokes off the relationship God has designed us to enjoy and His heart is always to clear the airway. As Isaiah writes:
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
The Gospel then, is His amazing and triumphant gift of grace that restores our lives and relationship with our Father. It takes care of the “peppermint” lodged in our lives, which apart from His intervention, leads to death. (Romans 3:23)
But here’s where the mint gets sticky. Because sin is personal, and we talk about the Gospel in terms of relationship, we assume that when we sin, God must be mad at us. We’ve offended Him…ticked Him off. And because we too often think God must be like us, we wonder how much or what it will take to get back on His “good side.”
But it doesn’t stop there.
In addition to our own conscience, Satan, acting in his finest role as“accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:9-10), uses our sin to isolate us from God’s love, kindness, mercy, grace and abundant pardon. He piles on with his favorite go-to’s including: condemnation, guilt, shame, remorse and embarrassment. When he’s successful, it leads us toward bondage and deepening despair. And so let God, through Psalm 27:13, encourage our hearts with the same reminder the psalmist needed:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
Jesus has entered the land of the living to redeem us. He makes us right with God forever. That “goodness of the Lord” is found in the good news of the Gospel. He acts in love, not in anger and He isn’t mad at you.
And that’s what has been beautifully pictured for us in Luke 15. The father lovingly leaves the house seeking after both lost sons. Not in anger or haste. Not because he’s mad at them, but because he loves them!
Even in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve’s catastrophic choice was made, Genesis 3:8 captures God’s perhaps ironic response. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God, walking in the Garden in the cool of day.”
Question: “Was He running or thundering toward them?” Answer: “No.”
Question: “Was it night—when all things are scarier?” Answer: “No.”
He was walking to find them in the cool of the day.
Does God hate sin? Absolutely. In fact, the Psalmist notes that God feels indignation and righteous judgment every day (Psalm 7:11). But Romans 1:18 makes it clear that God’s wrath is directed toward sin itself, “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”
God hates sin, but He loves us. (Think John 3:16.)
Additionally, we might note that in Christ’s act of sacrificial love on the cross, God wasn’t choosing to hate Jesus instead of us. Again, God hates sin, but He loves us.
That’s not always easy for us to grasp, but it’s a critical distinction we must make.
Thankfully, God’s amazing grace comes to fallible humans through the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. When God emptied Himself of the anger and wrath we deserve in full, once and for all upon Jesus, what did Christ say? “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Meaning? There’s no hidden stash of anger waiting to be poured out upon us when we sin. As Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.” God can grieve over our sin choices and work toward loving correction and discipline—but if flows from love for His children, not hate, anger or hostility. That’s been “nailed to the tree” (Colossians 2:14). This does not negate our need for confession and repentance, but it reframes it in an unchanging, unalterable love relationship with our Father.
“Elder brother theology” believes that every flat tire is the result of God’s anger toward some sin—every front row parking place is a reward for right living. Are we on His good side or bad side today?
But on our best or worst day, God’s enduring love for His children has never changed in the slightest. He loves you. He likes you. And…He’s not mad at you.