I’m quite sure we have all heard of “delayed gratification”. It isn’t very popular in western culture, but we still get the idea of it. There is something we would like to have, knowing it would feel good (gratification) to have it, but we choose to delay the experience until we can afford it, or share it with others, or simply do it right.
Did you know there is something called, “delayed condemnation”? It is the opposite of delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is being willing to put up with a hardship or disappointment or unfulfilled longing at the present time because there is greater value in experiencing the desired pleasure at a better time. For example, God’s children delay the gratification of a sexual relationship while single because they know their Father’s design for sex belongs to his institution of marriage.
Delayed condemnation is allowing ourselves to do things that are not right, not good, not beneficial, even though there will be some serious consequences down the road. In physical ways, we see this in people feeding their addictions to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and unhealthy eating, without concern that there is a deadly toll they are taking on their bodies.
However, delayed condemnation is a much more serious problem when it is a personal issue between us and our Creator. Some people do abuse their bodies with chemical and food addictions and get away with it their whole lives. The same is never true of abusing relationship with God.
As I have been continuing my journey through John’s gospel to share online, I keep seeing in my mind people I know who fit the scenes that are presented to us. Since Jesus’ focus is on the contrast between those who believe in him and those who reject him, this is serious and scary business.
At this point in John’s gospel record, Jesus is very close to his rescue mission that will look like a failed-messiah being executed by crucifixion. However, his death would be the most glorious expression of delayed gratification as he endured both the agony of the cross and the horror of our spiritual condemnation. This was all with the knowledge that he, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
There was a “joy that was set before him” that was the gratification, and there was the “endured the cross” part that was the most excruciating delay ever. He is now “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” in partial gratification of his plan, while waiting for the fullness of “the joy set before him” when all his people join him in paradise.
Because what Jesus was saying about delayed condemnation is such a scary and serious reality, let’s take a minute to consider how it is clearly revealed in God’s word. Much earlier, when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, he said that the ones who did not believe in him were “condemned already,” and that “the wrath of God” remained on those who rejected him even though it would not be evident until the judgment.
This connects with Peter saying, “that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” They will have this mocking challenge to us, the church, summarized as, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
However, God’s take on these people is, “they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” We certainly see this in all the creation ministries, that atheists and evolutionists are “deliberately” denying the evidences for both creation and the worldwide flood.
The truth is that “by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” In other words, no matter how much sinners get away with right now because God’s focus is still salvation instead of condemnation, he has spoken about the coming judgment and destruction. The evidences of creation are all around us, and the evidences of the worldwide flood cover our planet. People are without excuse.
This all ties in with Charles Price’s message on Romans 1, where God says that “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” He then makes it so clear by stating, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” There is no escaping this.
Three times God introduces the sins of the world with the expression, “God gave them up to…” Which means that, because people rejected Jesus and his words, God has handed them over to their own depravity so that they are “storing up wrath” for “the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
I hope that is enough to convince you that immediate gratification in sinful pleasures leads to delayed condemnation that is sure to come. Why? Because all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and the wages of our sin is death. The physical mortality rate of human beings is still at 100%. The spiritual mortality rate is also 100% among all those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
What does this scary reality do to me when the world still doesn’t care one little bit that its love of immediate gratification in sinful pleasures has secured the delayed condemnation of sin when Jesus returns? Here are a few responses.
First, this encourages me to persevere in keeping in step with God’s Holy Spirit no matter what the world appears to get away with right now. God is just; his judgment is coming. We can’t let the world on its wide road to destruction scare us into being quiet about the only good news that will save souls from their much-deserved condemnation.
Second, it terrifies me that people I know personally are presently under the wrath of God even though they can’t see it in the least. Allowing myself to picture these people in my mind makes me tremble with concern for them. It is a good thing to love with such concern. It is the whole reason we have God’s rescue mission in Christ Jesus.
Third, it moves me with longing, desire, and even determination, to make Jesus known to everyone in my life even if I suffer their wrath while warning them of God’s wrath. What the coming destruction will do to them in the future makes the bearing of their negative emotions in the present a small price to pay to seek their salvation.
It is Remembrance Day here in Canada as I write these things. The Merritt Cenotaph has a quote from Jesus where he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus endured the wrath of God while we were still sinners in order that we could become saints who were no longer under condemnation. It is now our place to accept the delayed-gratification aspect of our salvation in order to save people around us from their delayed condemnation. We can’t do for people what Jesus did, but we can certainly join him in his work.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 I am in John 12:44-50
 Hebrews 12:2
 John 3:18
 John 3:36
 II Peter 3:3-4
 II Peter 3:5-6
 Some of these creation-science ministries include: Creation Ministries International (https://creation.com/); Answers in Genesis (https://answersingenesis.org); Institute for Creation Research (https://www.icr.org).
 II Peter 3:7
 Romans 1:19 (in context of Romans 1:16-32)
 Romans 1:20
 Romans 2:5
 Romans 3:23; 6:23
 John 15:13