Contrary to popular belief God does not wish to destroy disbelievers (Jn. 3:16-17; 1Tim. 2:4). The judgment of God (and, for that matter, the mercy of God) is not subject to whether or not a person is “in church” or without (Jam. 1:22, 25). God does not frown on a “bad person” and smile on a “good person” (Matt. 5:45). The fact that most teaching on this subject is anthropos-centric (human-centered) is precisely the point of the issue. Two major reasons for so much confusion in understanding the human/God relationship can be squarely blamed on bad theology and a poor thought process. It is not humanity which finds itself at the brunt of God’s holiness, it is sin. While God’s mercy is anthropos-centric (human centered) God’s judgment is hamartia-centric (sin-centered).
Think with me, now: Hamartia (sin) is, literally, “to miss the mark.” Sin is humanity missing the mark of God’s worldview for it. Christ came, in human form, though without sin (2Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1Pet. 2:22; 1Jn 4:5). It cannot be humanity that is in the cross-hairs of judgment, or else God in the form of Jesus Christ could not have come in the likeness of humanity (Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:7). Why didn’t Jesus remove humanity itself, rather than the sins of humanity, on His cross if this were some punishment for human beings (Heb. 9:26)? It is sin that has been destroyed, and it is sin to which we are no longer enslaved (Jn. 1:29; Rom. 6:6, 11, 14). Humanity presents itself to sin (Rom. 6:13). Humanity is under the power of sin (Rom. 3:9). It is the knowledge of sin that condemns humanity (Rom. 3:20). Sin is that which misidentifies humanity (Rom. 6:22; 7:13). Sin becomes an identity to humanity (Rom. 6:17; 7:17, 20).
The “believer” has identified with the fact that his/her sin (and its punishment) was transferred to Christ on the cross. The “unbeliever” (by definition), however, has not (Rom. 6:23). Likewise, Christ’s own right-standing-with-God has been transferred to humanity, which the “believer” acknowledges (Rom. 5:19; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38; 11:4), but the “unbeliever” does not (1Pet. 3:12) and that one stands connected and identified to something alien – sin. The unbeliever alienates him/herself from God because God cannot associate or be associated with alienating sin. Thus, it is because of humanity being identified by and identifiable with sin that one is the beneficiary of separation from God. Humanity can be identified with and identifiable to Christ by believing on the Christ of the cross and, thereby, escaping the separation because of sin.
God is not judging humanity, though He judged sin at the Cross of Christ. The coming of Christ is Good News. It is a rescuing of humanity to safety and, as such, cannot be at the same time “bad news” (judgment). Humanity was already separated from God (bad news), so Christ came (Good News). God is not judging, for He judged His Son. He dipped Christ in the judgment of separation. Humanity is a casualty of the judging of sin, or the recipient of the forgiveness of it.