Is God disappointed when we sin?

So what is God’s attitude toward us when we sin? Early in my Christian life I was taught that when I sin, my fellowship with God is broken at that moment. I lose, at least for a period of time, my intimacy and closeness with Him. It sounds reasonable enough, but I don’t think it reflects an accurate understanding of the gospel.

Jesus experienced on the cross the penalty for all of my sin–past, present and future. All of it. And part of that penalty involved Jesus experiencing alienation from God the Father. That’s why He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God the Father was turning His face away from Jesus, so that He would never turn His face away from us. That’s why the gospel is such good news! His Spirit lives in us as a permanent resident. He never leaves us. He is always loving us, drawing us to Jesus.

But, is God disappointed in us when we sin? My family was discussing this around the dinner table last Sunday after church. One of my sons made the comment that He knew God didn’t leave us when we sin, but he also felt that God was disappointed in us. While this also sounded reasonable, it didn’t seem accurate. As I thought about it, I realized why this word “disappointed” isn’t really accurate as it relates to God’s heart toward us when we sin. If a parent says to a child who disobeyed, “I’m really disappointed in you”, what they are really saying is, “This is all about me. You disappointed me. I had certain expectations and you didn’t meet them.”

I do not believe that is God’s heart toward us when we sin. The Bible says that our sin “grieves” the Spirit. That’s a very different picture. To grieve is to be sad about how our sin will negatively impact our lives. A parent can grieve a child’s choices, knowing the heartache and consequences that will result. That grieving is an expression of love. God grieves as we sin. He is saddened by the impact this will have in our lives–but that grieving is grounded in His love which is unchanging. To say that God is disappointed in us is to say that we didn’t meet His expectation, which is a direct affront to the gospel.

“Religion” is all about trying meet the expectations of a holy God. The gospel is about receiving from a holy God the free gift of forgiveness, love and the indwelling Spirit. God no doubt grieves the impact of our sinful choices, but He never, ever removes in any way His loving Presence. It is that Presence that has the power to transform us in the midst of the sin in our lives.


  1. Eric Krug   •  

    This is exactly what I have been discussing with my friends this week.
    Too many times we live in a guilt driven relationship with God. We will never be able to fully understand the love and grace God has for us!!!
    This always takes me to Romans where Paul struggles with his sun nature.
    We shouldn’t be obedient due to guilt. Nor should we sin due to grace.
    We should do our best to be obedient due to our love for Jesus and what he as done for us through His love.
    Let grace take care of the rest.

  2. This is a very interesting distinction. I must admit I have experience oodles of false guilt over the years from “Religion” and paid a negative price for it. Your point is well said. Thank you.

  3. Cheryl Stewart-Douglas   •  

    Thank you so much, Pastor Alan…..this message really touched my heart, and I believe it will help me in responding to my son….who always challenges me about God and His heart. Your sermon on the 6th also helped me immensely, as it reassured me that even though my son has turned away from God, God will never turn away from him. He accepted Jesus in his heart as a young child, and followed his faith until he was 20….so the Holy Spirit will never, ever leave him! This gives me hope that his heart will be softened once again. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  4. Ron   •  

    I’m not sure that being disappointed is the same as Him taking his presence away. I can be disappointed with my child and still love and being there for him. My love is still there but my intimacy may not be as close. I can also have different levels of intimacy with all my children too just as Jesus had with his disciples.

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