We love Santa Claus, don’t we? Sure we do, and what’s not to love? He’s a nice, jolly, older, fluffy gentleman whose primary purpose is to try and make us happy by giving us what we want, whether or not it’s what we need.
Unfortunately, this is also how some of us view God.
I remember the first time I heard this “Santa Claus” view of God from a well-intentioned pastor advocating these types of unqualified statements: “God is a God of grace and mercy and loves you without exception.” “God just wants to bless you regardless of who you are or how you live.” “God cares more about you than anything and wants you to be happy.”
The truth is we are not the center of God’s universe. God’s preeminent concern is the glory of His name, not the comfort of our lives. He desires that people worship Him rightly and experience the salvation He extends. He calls us to a higher purpose in life beyond ourselves and rejects our narcissistic tendencies to self-worship.
This point is pressed home in dramatic fashion in Joshua 7 with the stoning of Achan. In this story, Achan stole some items that were God’s. As a result, judgment came upon the people when they lost the battle against the city of Ai. Achan, his family, and his flocks were stoned to death.
We see from all this:
Our Sin will be Exposed
Even if we are able to hide our sin from others in this life, God knows our sin and will make us give an account (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Our Sin has Consequences
We are tempted to assume that if there are not immediate consequences, there will be no consequences. As a result we tend to deny that our actions are sinful. We may justify them, downplay them, or simply believe that we got away with that one.
Yet, a payment comes with sin. Sin has consequences. Sin is an attack against the glory of God. Our sin proclaims that what we want matters more than what God wants. Our sin proclaims that we know better than God.
Other consequences also may exist. Sin can bring emotional pain. Sin can bring physical pain. Sin can even bring death (Acts 5; 1 John 5:16-17).
Our Sin Affects Others
Our sins create shockwaves and impacts those around us whether they are guilty or innocent. No man is an island and the wake of sin is astounding.
In the narrative of Achan’s tragedy, we see a side of God that is not popular in our culture. We see rocks thrown with blunt force meeting flesh and crushing bone, pilling up as the blood trickling out between the cracks cries out, “God is deadly serious about sin.”
God is serious about seeing our hearts postured in reverential obedience to him.
As a result, we need to repent of sin and cling to the cross of Christ. We need to trust in the Lord and live in submission to his name by his power. 1 Peter 2:24 states, “He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” God bore the consequences for sin for all who will believe so that, through Jesus, we might walk in his righteousness.
God is not a divine Santa Claus. Yes, God is gracious, kind, and loving, but he is also just. And God is deadly serious about sin. Just ask Achan.