“HE that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”—John 3:18.
Someone has said that “whatever has happened to other wages, there has been a reduction in the wages of sin.” Of course, he meant that judgment and hell and the wrath of God are not being preached as once they were. Millions regard hell as a superstition, the judgment as a myth. Thousands of church members do not believe in eternal punishment, or doubt it, to say the least. Such an attitude is not a sign of intelligence but of stupidity. When God has spoken on a subject as plainly as He has on this, then the man who shuts his eyes and stops his ears to it is a fool.
God has said that the unbeliever is condemned. He shows that he is condemned—as John 3:19 declares—because he loves darkness rather than light. If you dislike plain preaching, it is likely because you are living in darkness and you don’t like the gospel searchlight. When the straight, undiluted gospel is being preached, and some fellow winces and squirms and twists and goes out to criticize, nine times out of ten he is living in condemnation and dreads the light. On the other hand, a righteous man seeks the light and wants to know the truth, and desires that God should search him and know his heart and try him and know his thoughts.
What is this condemnation? It is God’s sentence upon sin: the second death, eternal separation from God in hell. God is love, but He is also a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Who is condemned? He who does not believe. I care not what street he lives on, what car he drives or the size of his salary. He may belong to “Who’s Who” and “What’s What,” but God has only one yardstick, and he who does not believe on Christ with a living, saving faith—whether rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief—is condemned already. He may be an upstanding and outstanding citizen, active in church-work and belonging to all the idealistic clubs in town and have a high moral character and a spotless reputation, but if he believes not of the saving of the soul he is in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity, and the wrath of God abides upon him.
When is he condemned?Already: not tomorrow, not at death or the judgment; not maybe, possibly, but he is condemned now and is merely waiting to begin serving his sentence.
Why is he condemned? It is stated twice in our text. He that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. Not because he robbed a bank or killed somebody but because he has not believed! When we think of condemned people we think of gangsters and kidnappers, but any man who does not believe is condemned. How shall we escape condemnation? By believing, of course, and receiving the Lord Jesus as Savior. He who hears and believes shall not come into condemnation (John 5:24); there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). Believe Him and rest upon His finished work, and as surely as once you were condemned, so surely will you be saved.