He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Those who have not been saved through Jesus Christ are without God and without hope in this world. They are willfully alienated from God and wicked through and through. This is the shameful truth about humanity apart for God’s saving grace. But there is something still more terrible about mankind’s situation; they are condemned under the wrath of almighty God.
There will be a Day when God will begin to pour out His just and holy vengeance on lost and wicked souls; and once He begins, He will never stop, they will be eternally lost. Many make the mistake of assuming that God will only become angry with people when that awful Day arrives. But the Bible teaches that God is already angry with the wicked every day. God will not wait until that Day to pass judgment on people; He has already passed the death sentence on each and every soul that is without Jesus Christ. Those who are not saved are at this very moment under the condemnation of God. If they do not find salvation through Jesus Christ they will begin to serve their everlasting sentence the moment after they take their last breath.
At present we see people rebelling against God every day without any visible signs of His infinite wrath coming upon them. God remains silent and so the unsaved imagine that they are safe; they imagine that God is either unable to see their sin or isn’t deeply offended by it (Psalm 50:21-22). What’s worse is that many people who profess the name of Christ hold to the same error. They read the passages about the eternal torment of God’s enemies in the lake of fire and imagine these passages must be speaking in hyperbole because the punishment seems out of proportion with the crime. They simply do not recognize the sinfulness of sin in light of the perfect holiness of God, therefore they can’t imagine that His wrath is as terrible as the Bible declares. But when we take the biblical warnings of God’s wrath at face value the wickedness of sin starts to become clear. Since God is perfectly just and would never punish people more than they deserve we can conclude that sin is worthy of eternal wrath. And if this be so, then sin is truly an abomination beyond all our ability to comprehend. It is with this understanding that we begin to understand the true dilemma of sinners in the hands of a holy and just God.
Many misguided people who profess the name of Christ, because they are ignorant of sin’s depravity, commit the same error as the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day. Since they do not recognize the holiness of God, they cannot perceive the vileness of sin, and so they imagine that the stain of sin can be blotted out relatively easy (Jeremiah 6:14). They tell lost souls that all they need to do is change their bad habits and begin to live a moral and religious life. Their message consists only of telling people to repent, change their ways, do better and try harder. They imagine that sin is just skin deep, and that if people simply try harder God will accept their sincere effort and forgive their sins. These misguided evangelists cannot perceive the sinfulness of sin or how infinitely God abhors it, so they cannot imagine that anything more than a genuine change of lifestyle in needed to fix the problem. By proclaiming such a message they make little of the vileness of sin and the holiness of God, and they offer people a false hope that is founded on their own ability, effort and righteousness.
We must not make this mistake or the blood of many souls will be on our hands. We must recognize that rebellion against a holy, infinite and eternal God is unimaginably evil. We must note that God would not pour out eternal wrath on a sinning soul if something less than an eternity of torment would suffice as punishment. God’s severe condemnation of sin must make us aware that nothing so minor as changing our ways is enough to wash away the guilt of humanity’s treason against the thrice holy God. Sin deserves the eternal wrath of the almighty God, so nothing less than the blood of God’s holy and eternal Son can wash it away.
If we do not recognize that all unsaved people are already condemned by the perfectly just God, we will imagine that a mere moral transformation is enough to satisfy God’s divine indignation. But when we see the holiness of God as presented in the word of God and exemplified in the warnings of eternal wrath on sinners, we will begin to perceive the depth of sin’s stain on the human soul. And this understanding will lead us to know with a certainty that only the precious blood of Christ that was shed for God’s enemies on the cross of Calvary will suffice to wash a human soul clean in the sight of God. This understanding will keep us from pointing to moralism and personal reformation as the pathway to eternal life. Instead we will preach the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we will call on lost souls to repent of their sins, for how can they be reconciled to God if they choose to remain at war with Him?! But we will warn them not to place any hope for acceptance with God on their weak and imperfect repentance. We will tell them to place all their hope only in what Jesus Christ has done for wretched sinners on the bloody cross. We must tell people plainly that they are lost rebels who are right now under the condemnation of God. And we must call on them to be abandon their rebellion and be reconciled to God through the precious blood of His Son.