“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.” John 3:18
God doesn’t look at sinners the way we sometimes do: How disgusting! What a sinner! They ought to put that guy in jail! God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), and He wants us to have His heart for the lost.
God’s Heart For the Lost
As Jesus continued His conversation with Nicodemus, He sought to impress on this man God’s heart for people. God does everything in His power short of violating our free will to keep us from perishing. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin. He sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and to persuade us to turn to God. And He blesses our lives and orchestrates events in order to get our attention. God’s whole program is salvation.
But here’s the tragedy: more people will end up in hell than in heaven.
The Seriousness of Hell
It’s a mistake for the church to downplay the seriousness of hell or to inhibit talking about it. Some advocate the idea that we stop talking about personal salvation from hell and realize that the gospel is much grander than that. They believe that we should save society and the planet so that people can live better lives. How dangerously sad. Hell is a reality. And it’s where a person is headed if he refuses the grace of God. People need to know that.
But why such a stark punishment?
God never intended it that way. He didn’t make hell for people but for the Devil and his angels (see Matthew 25:41). John tells us that people are condemned because they reject Jesus Christ: “He who does not believe is condemned” (John 3:18). This is heavy. The ultimate condemnation comes not from sin but from rejecting the ultimate light—the light of the gospel.
Light of the World
God has given us light through His creation and through our consciences. He also gives us light through the Scriptures. But when John talks about the light that came into the world, he is referring to the light of the gospel. Jesus, the Light of the World.
John tells us that when Jesus came, “men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). It seems inconceivable to us that people could love darkness. But the Scriptures tell us that people love the darkness of their pride, evil thoughts, stubborn wills, hatred, and lust.
Not only do people love darkness, they are hostile to the light. Our society makes the mistake of thinking that people are innocent, that they are ignorant and need to be enlightened. When a person commits a heinous crime or is involved in some deplorable act, we see them as sick—as victims rather than active collaborators with sin and Satan. But this perspective comes from having our minds diluted by the world rather than influenced by the Word of God. God says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Man’s natural bent and inclination is to rebel against God.
Light Exposes Evil
Why do people reject the light? Can you imagine being lost in a pitch-black mine and telling someone who brings you a light, “No, put that out”? Of course not. But people do it. Why? When a person has been in the dark and suddenly steps into brilliant light, it can be uncomfortable. When we come to people with the light of the gospel, oftentimes the light shocks them. The light exposes their evil.
“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:21). To be free of darkness, all we have to do is come to the light. The moment we do, God is full of grace to receive us and to give us eternal life.
Love For All People
How do you view people—criminals, panhandlers, government officials, your insensitive neighbors? Do you see them as people whom God wants to save? God is so unimaginably patient with people, even those who love the darkness and hate the light. Ask the Lord today to give you His love for all people and to help you minister to them the light of the gospel.