Does our sin hurt God? I believe that if I make sinful decisions now, I actually add to the pain Jesus had to endure on the cross. I have believed this for a long time because I know that God does not live in "time." This seems very logical to me. What do you think? -- Ashley Meyer

Theologians have argued for centuries about whether God suffers, because if he does then in some sense he changes (contradicting Malachi 3:6 and other verses). You are certainly right about the timelessness of God. I am not sure, however, how much difference there is--if any--between suffering for 28 quadrillion sins committed by the 14 billion souls who have lived on earth, past and present, and suffering for 28 quadrillion and one sins. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, taking into account the totality of our lives, whose outcome God knows in advance. When we discuss God's foreknowledge, we are entering some deep and difficult waters!

No doubt our sin hurts God, because passion (the ability to suffer) is stated in the Bible as one of his attributes. If your current perspective helps you want to be close to God, and not sin, I would not give it up easily. But I would be hesitant to teach that each additional sin a person commits changes what happened at Calvary. Just as the sacrifice of Jesus was foreknown and planned before the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:20), in the same way I believe God knew the sum total of all our sins even before we committed a single one of them. So great is his foreknowledge and his sovereignty!

For those who want to explore further the notion of God's "possibility," please see Abraham Heschel's excellent The Prophets.

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