I used to watch on TV a show called Truth or Consequences. Now I don't know if you ever watched that show.
It hasn't been on for a while, I don't think. But it would go something like this. You would be called out of the audience or called out of your seat, wherever you were. You'd come up and the MC would ask you some totally ridiculous, absolutely impossible question to answer. I mean, you know, the answer you couldn't have figured out. In fact, after they told you the answer, it often didn't make any sense. And he'd give you about one and a half seconds to answer and then you'd hear the buzzer go, and they'd go, consequences. In all the years I watched that show, I never saw anybody. I never saw anybody who answered it correctly without getting the buzzer. Of course, that was part of the reason to exist.
I don't know what would have ever happened if anyone would have. The whole fun of the show was living the consequences of these crazy questions. And we talk about that, we watch a show like that, and we understand basically, I think, what a consequence is.
It's something that comes on us when we don't get everything quite right. But I want to talk to you this evening about biblical consequences, consequences in this case of sin. And I want you to turn with me in the book of James to chapter one. James chapter one. Last Sunday evening, we had a missionary speaker here and so therefore we did not look to the book of James. So it's been two weeks since we've been here.
Therefore, allow me, if you would, to review. We studied in the book of James in chapter one first that God told us through his messenger James that we are to rejoice when trials and difficulties come our way. Because there are some reasons, and those reasons all apply to the fact that as God brings trouble our way, God is really bringing maturity our way. That our troubles are our friends in disguise, bringing maturity and growth into our lives. And then James went on in verse five of chapter one to talk about the fact that if we need wisdom in facing our trials, God will provide. God never looks down on anyone who asks him for wisdom and sincerely wants it.
And that's good news because we all need it. And then we went on to talk about why we should persevere, why we should continue to obey God in the midst of trials. There were some good reasons in James chapter one. And finally we talked about God's relationship to evil in that section. And then two weeks ago we went on to talk about being doers of the word and not just hearers. That God is more interested in what we do than what we say we are going to do or to put it more colloquially that God wants us to put our money where our mouth is. And in that regard, we have already looked at verse 22 of chapter one where James says, but prove yourselves doers of the word, not merely hearers who delude themselves. And I talked to us about the positive side of doing what God says, about obeying the Lord, about the blessing that God gives to those people who obey him.
And time did not permit two weeks ago when we talked about this for us to talk about the negative side. But I want to use this verse, verse 22, as a springboard into a discussion of consequences, the relationship of sin and consequences. Because although there is a positive side, if we obey God, look at all the blessing. My friends, there is also the negative side of if we disobey God, look what happens. And I'm afraid as believers too very often we are not really even aware of what God says about the consequences of our disobedience as believers. And we need to be because saying to God, oh God, listen, I'm really sorry, but I just didn't know.
I'm afraid simply doesn't work. Ignorance really is no excuse. And so the solution is not to try to claim ignorance. The solution is to become cognizant of what this book, what the Bible says about the consequences of what we do.
And so with that little bit of background, let's begin. Now if we're going to talk about consequences, we need to decide what a consequence is. What do we mean? What is a consequence? Well, I looked it up in Webster's dictionary and it defined a consequence like this. It said that a consequence is the result or effect of any action.
Pretty simple. The result or the effect of an action is a consequence. It's the old cause and effect law that every cause produces an effect. And conversely, every effect has been produced by a cause. And so we could say, therefore, in very simple terms that the consequences of your actions are the results that come into your life and my life because of what we do. A consequence is what comes on our life because of what we do or possibly because of what we don't do, that we should have done.
Now the Bible speaks of them. For example, Romans 6 23 says, the wages of sin is, you know it, what is it? Yeah, there's a consequence.
What was the effect? Sin or the cause, forgive me, sin. In this syllogism, I'm probably going to get so turned around, I'm not going to know which ends up.
So you just put it all in perspective, okay? The cause, sin, the effect, death, consequence. We also read of Adam and Eve and being dismissed from the Garden of Eden, not voluntarily. God dismissed them.
That was the effect. What was the cause? They disobeyed him. They did what he said not to do. There was the cause and an effect came directly as a result of the cause. And so the Word of God addresses this.
It happens in our daily lives, all the time. My wife and I were on our way to Baltimore. This was several years ago and I was on my way up to Johns Hopkins. And I said, hey, it's a nice day. It's a sunny day.
Jamie was just a year and a half old at that point. I said, look, why don't you come with me? I have to spend about two hours, that's all.
It's just one class. I'll pick you up. We'll take Jamie and we'll head up to Baltimore and for a couple of hours Jamie can toddle around out on the grass out there and you can just get a day out of the home and I'll go to my class and then we'll go home.
And she said, hey, that'd be great. So we're flying up the BW Parkway and everything and I've got it down almost to a science. I know when I have to hit the Baltimore Beltway and when I have to hit downtown and when I have to hit here. I have it down to a science.
When you do it three days a week for three years, you get it down to a science. And I know when I'm even to the minute ahead or behind. And so as we came flying into southern Baltimore on the BW Parkway, I was behind and I knew it. And so way up the road there's this stoplight, see? So I'm flying towards the stoplight and I'm talking to my wife and we're flying down the road and I see it turn yellow. So I thought, well, I'm doing 55.
That's pretty fast. This is one of those long lights because it's on one of these 55 mile hour roads, you know, so it's one of these long yellow lights. I said, I think I can scoot through. This is a long light.
I definitely don't want to get caught by this light. So I sort of stepped on the gas a little bit and the problem is before I got there, it turned red. There was no way to stop then. So boom, through we went. And my wife, bless her heart, turned to me and she said in such gentle language, she said, you know, one of these days I really hope they give you a ticket for that. So I said, well, Brent, I couldn't stop. She said, oh, yes, you could have. I said, all right. So we were just up the road and I looked in the rear view mirror.
I see this light blue kind of blinking like that. I figured it was a motorcycle cop and I figured, well, I'll move over in the right lane so he can go by. The only problem is he moved in the right lane. I thought, this crazy policeman, what's wrong with this guy? I moved over so he could go by. Why isn't this guy going by?
It never even occurred to me he was after me. I figured I just slipped through. I couldn't stop.
I could tell him that. So finally as I was still cruising a little bit, my wife turned around and said, hey, I think he wants you, especially since he's doing like that. So I pulled over.
He got off his motorcycle, you know, got the old leg out there, got the leather jacket, helmet. These guys, I'll tell you, came walking up. I said, I see your driver's license and registration card, please. I said, sure.
You know, what's the problem? He said, didn't you see that traffic signal? I said, of course I did. He said, don't you know it was red when you went through it? I said, of course I do.
Not stupid. Of course I know it. But I couldn't stop. He said, my friend, you went through that life four seconds after it changed.
Well, now he was exaggerating a little bit, might have been two. So I said, well, I realize I was sneak through a little late. So he went back, sat on his motorcycle, talked on the radio a little bit, walked back up, signed the summons, handed it to me.
So I put my driver's license back in my pocket, my registration card back in my glove compartment and my ticket on my dashboard, and away I went. Now see, my wife's still sitting here, who just seconds before had said, I hope one of these days they can, so I'm riding along. I'm not about to look at her. I mean, there's no way I'm going to look over at her.
She's just sitting there. So we're riding along. And you know I began to think, now, Lord, listen, that's just not fair. I mean, I'm in a hurry. You know I'm going to be late for a class. I'm your servant. You can't do that to me. I'm in the ministry.
I mean, you would think that you would give me of all people a break. And I sense the Spirit of God very gently saying back, hey, friend, when you do the cause, you get the effect. Happens all through our lives, doesn't it?
The old cause and effect. And the consequence is nothing but the effect of what we did. That's all. And deliberate sin, there's no doubt in the scripture, deliberate sin always brings consequences. We know that. You know that.
But here's my question for you tonight. How does God forgiving our sin as believers relate to his removing consequences that our sin produces? How does God forgiving our sin as believers relate to his removing consequences that the sin produces? Or to put it another way, when God forgives a believer of deliberate sin, we're not talking about genuine mistakes, we're talking about deliberate, willful, cognizant, voluntary disobedience.
When God forgives that, does he commit himself to removing the consequences? That's our question. It's a good one.
And the answer to that question may shock some of you. Let's turn together in the Old Testament to the book of Numbers. Numbers chapter 13. Excuse me, Numbers chapter 13.
Now in Numbers 13, while you're turning, I'll give you the background. We find the Israelites about to enter the Promised Land. They've wandered, they've been to Mount Sinai, they've seen the Lord, they've met with the Lord, and now here they are about to enter the Promised Land. And you know the story, they send 12 spies in, and the spies come back. And two of the spies say, oh, it's a great land, it's a beautiful land, and oh, God's been so good to us, Joshua and Caleb.
But 10 spies bring back what the Scripture calls to be an evil report. And they say something like this, we can't go in there. We don't have a chance against those guys. I mean, those guys are so big, we're like grasshoppers in their site.
And they all live in walled cities, and they all have great defenses. We can't go in there and take that. So God, it was a nice thought, but there's no way we can do that. And so Joshua and Caleb and Moses and Aaron get down on their knees and they beg these people, they go, listen, don't listen to these 10 guys. Listen to us. God's going to give us the land.
Let's go in. And the people say, no. The people say, let's appoint a new leader. Forget you, Moses.
Let's appoint a new leader and go back to Egypt. Why did God lead us out here to die in the wilderness? In chapter 14, verse one, then all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried and the people wept when they heard the report of the 10 spies. And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron. And the congregation said to them, would that we had died in the land of Egypt, or would that we had died in this wilderness? Why is the Lord bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder.
Would it not been better for us to stay in Egypt? So they said to one another, verse four, let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt. And Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. And they tore their clothes, verse six, and they went on to say in verse seven and following, look, don't do this.
It's a good land. God's going to give us the land. And verse 10, but all the congregation said to stone them with stones. And then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to the sons of Israel. They were going to kill Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Caleb and anybody else who felt like allying with these men and appoint a new leader and go back to Egypt. And it was only God himself intervening and appearing in power and majesty that stopped them. God says in verse 11 to Moses, how long will this people spurn me and how long will they not believe in me? You see, their unwillingness to go into the land was a direct act of unbelief.
That was the problem. Despite all the signs which I have performed for them, I will smite them, verse 12, with a pestilence and I will dispossess them and I will make you, Moses, into a nation greater and mightier than they. Had these people sinned deliberately?
Oh, you betcha they had. And God was outraged. God was furious at these people. He said, that's it, Moses. I'm going to wipe them out and I'll start over.
I can't do any worse. And Moses, you know the story, prayed for these people and said, oh, God, don't do that. And finally, in verse 19, Moses says, pardon, I pray the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of thy loving kindness, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now. This wasn't the first time they'd done this. Verse 20, so the Lord said, I have pardoned them according to your word.
Very important now. Did you catch that? God forgave them.
Do you see that? Verse 20, God says, I have hardened them. God forgave them.
The sin was forgiven. But I want you to look down in verse 29. The Lord says, your corpses shall fall in the wilderness. He goes on to say, verse 31, your children whom you said would become a prey, they are the ones I'll bring in to the land which you have rejected. But as for you, verse 32, your corpses will fall in the wilderness. And your son shall be shepherds for 40 years in the wilderness. And they shall suffer because of your unfaithfulness until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, even 40 days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even 40 years, and you shall know my opposition. I, the Lord, have spoken.
Surely I will do this to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against me. And in the wilderness they shall be destroyed and there they shall die. A consequence of their sin. Was the sin forgiven?
Yes, yes it was. God said, verse 20, I pardoned them. But here are the consequences and God didn't lift them, as a matter of fact.
Interestingly enough, verse 40, and in the morning, the next day, the people rose up early and they went up to the ridge of the hill and they said to Moses, here we are. Oh, we've indeed sinned. Oh, Moses, yeah, yeah, we did it, we did it, but it's all water under the bridge. And you know, Moses, nobody's perfect and God will just have to understand this the way we are.
We have a real problem with this. And so here we are and now we'll go to the place which the Lord's promised. Come on, Moses, get your spear, get your shield.
We're sorry we did it and let's go take the land. Verse 41, but Moses said, why are you transgressing the commandment of the Lord when it won't succeed? Don't go. Moses said, you better not go, lest you be struck down before your enemies for the Lord is not among you. Verse 43, he says, and the Lord won't be with you. But they went us up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country and neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses left the camp. Moses said, don't go. They said, we're going anyway. Moses said, fine, you want to go? That's up to you. Hey, but fellas, you're not getting me out there.
I'll stay right here and I'll wait for you to come back because I know you're coming back. And would you notice verse 45, then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in the hill country came down and struck them and beat them down and repulsed them. And so they started 40 years of wandering around in the desert. Did God forgive these people sin? Yes, he did. Did God lift the consequences of what they had done?
No. But you might say, well, these people probably weren't believers. I mean, most of these Israelites were probably rank unbelievers.
All right, probably most of them were. Let's take another example. Turn with me, if you would, still in the Old Testament, to 2 Samuel, the book of 2 Samuel. 2 Samuel 11. And here we're going to deal with a man named David. I trust you've heard of him. David, a believer? I sure hope you'd say he's a believer. God knows if David wasn't, we've all got serious problems.
A believer? Of course he was. A man who knew our Lord?
Of course he was. A man that God said was a man after his very own heart. A man God called the pupil, the apple of his eye. One of the greatest men that ever lived. A tremendous servant of our Lord.
A man that God blessed so abundantly that most of the Old Testament after his life mentions him at some point. So we're not dealing with a bunch of rebellious Israelites here. We're dealing with a man very close to the heart of our Lord. Now watch what happens.
You know the story. David committed adultery, chapter 11. It happened in the spring when the kings go out to battle, which is where David should have been, by the way.
That David sent Joab instead and he stayed home. And when evening came, David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one person said, Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliab?
Notice the wife of Uriah, the Hittite. David sent messengers and took her. And when she came to him, he lay with her. And when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned home. Verse five, and the woman conceived and sent and told David and said, I'm with child.
I'm pregnant. Well, adultery. She was somebody else's wife. And probably David could have slipped by with it. He was the king. He could have slid it under the rug somewhere, but she gets pregnant.
You might say, So what's the problem in that? She was married. Oh yeah, she was married.
But you see, the problem is her husband's in the army. Guess where he's been for months? He's been away with Joab, which is where David should have been, fighting.
So when the baby's born, they're going to go. Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. And when they come up with one, they're going to come up with no Uriah around. But David had her in his house at one. David knew people were going to put two and two together and come up with five.
So what did he do? He said, Ah, I've got a great idea. David was, David could connive.
David was a pretty sharp character. I've got a great idea. I'll call Uriah home. Bring him home under the pretense of delivering a report of the battle. And then I'll befriend him and I'll say thank you very much. And go home, spend a few days with your wife. And everybody, when they count back to one, will say, Oh yeah, Uriah was home on furlough.
Oh, okay, sure. So he calls him home. So Uriah comes home. David says, Hail Uriah.
How is it? And I don't know what Uriah said, but basically said it goes pretty good. David said, all right, great. Thanks.
Really appreciate you bringing that report. Now go home, spend a couple days, take a break, and I'll send you back. Well, it didn't work like that. Verse 14, same chapter. It came about in the morning, David wrote a letter to Joab and said, I'm sorry, please forgive me.
I'm a little bit ahead of myself. When Uriah came, verse seven. When Uriah came, David came to him, David asked concerning the welfare of Joab and the people and the state of the war. And then David said to Uriah, go down to your house, wash your feet, take it easy. But Uriah went out of the king's house. And even though a present was sent after him, the end of verse eight, Uriah slept at the door of the king's house. And he didn't go down to his house, verse nine. And verse 10, when they told David said Uriah didn't go to his house, David said, Uriah, have you not come from a journey?
Why didn't you go to your house? And Uriah said, the ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters. And my Lord Joab and the servants of my Lord are camping in the open field. Shall I go to my house and eat and drink and lie with my wife? By the life of you and your soul, I will not do this.
Uriah said, hey, all my comrades are out there sleeping on the hard ground in tents with no comforts and no woman. And I just can't justify this, king. So David, I'm sure kind of went, oh, I don't believe this.
So he said, all right, I got another idea. Stay here, verse 12, today also and tomorrow I'll let you go. So Uriah stayed, verse 13, and David called him that night and they ate and they drank and he made him drunk. So I'm sure towards the end of their meal, David put his arm around Uriah and said something like this, now Uriah, go down and stay at home. And Uriah probably staggering just a little bit.
But in spite of the fact that he was drunk, you know what he did? Well, the scripture tells us, verse 13, he went and laid down with the servants and didn't go to his house. Now David really has a problem. I mean, he really has a problem because now people are going to start wondering, you know, around the king's house, what is going on around here? So David, I think at this point, feels trapped. He's scared. He doesn't know what to do. He's feeling pressured, being backed in the corner. And every one of these details are backing him farther and farther in that corner. And so in a very unwise move, in a very stupid move, verse 14, in the morning, David wrote a note and sent it to Joab by the hand of Uriah.
Can you imagine this? Uriah carried the note. Verse 15, and he had written in the note saying, place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and then withdraw from around him quickly so that he may be struck down and die.
David sends a note. He says, I want you to murder him. I want you to put him where the battle is the hottest.
And then when it's really fierce, suddenly withdraw and leave him standing there by himself. And we'll call it a casualty of war. And you and I, Joab, will be the only two that know any difference. And so, the servant comes back to see David, a servant of Joab.
And he reports to him a little bit later. He says, some of the king's servants, the end of verse 24, are dead, and your servant, Uriah the Hittite, is also dead. Murder, nothing short of it.
Not even second-degree, first-degree, premeditated, purposeful, planned murder, and adultery by one of God's choicest servants. And then Nathan, chapter 12, comes to see David. I wish I could have been here for this confrontation. And Nathan comes in, and we won't read the whole thing, but there's a little story. Nathan comes in and says, David, we have a problem in the kingdom.
What is it? Nathan says, well, we've got this rich man who lives next door to this poor man. And the poor man just has one little lamb, and he loved that lamb, and he cared for that lamb, and it lived in his house, and it was like a child to him. And the rich man has thousands of lambs. But one day, the rich man had a friend come to visit, and he wanted to fix him a special meal. And so instead of going out and taking from the thousands of lambs he had, you know what he did, David? He went next door and took that poor man's one and only single lamb and killed it and gave it to his guest. And David said, I can't stand it. That man deserves to die, and we're going to take some steps here, Nathan. And I can see it now, those brown eyes of Nathan burning, very slowly, with his shoulders drawn erect, realizing what he was saying, pointing his finger in the face of the king and saying, you are the man. You see, David had hundreds of wives.
Uriah only had one. And so David's home and lonely at night. But instead of taking one of his hundreds of wives to comfort him, he takes Uriah's one and only. So here our friend David had condemned himself out of his own mouth. And so David says, Oh, I want God to forgive me.
Oh, I want God, please forgive me. Verse 13, then David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said, the Lord has taken away your sin. Do you see the forgiveness? The Lord has taken away your sin.
You shall not die. But would you notice verse 14? However, because by this deed, you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born shall surely die.
And Nathan turned and walked out. And do you know when that child was born, David prayed and fasted for seven days for that child. And I'm sure he lay there on his face and said, Oh, God, I'm so sorry I did this, God.
Oh, God, it was so stupid and so foolish and it'll never happen again. And Lord, I know you forgive me, but please don't take the life of this child. And guess what God did?
He took the life of that child. Now, what are we saying? We could look at lots of other examples. But the point I want to get across to you this evening is a very simple point. And it's this, that nowhere in this book, nowhere does God ever commit himself to removing the consequences of our sin.
Nowhere. I didn't say he never does. I said he never commits himself, obligates himself that he must do it. And Galatians chapter six, verse seven says, Don't be deceived. God's no fool. Whatever a man sows, that's what he'll reap. And when we sow disobedience, we reap consequences.
That's a fact. And God never obligates himself anywhere in this book to forgive those consequences. Now he obligates himself to forgive the sin, to take away the penalty and the guilt of the sin.
Yes, he does. First John 1-9, If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness. God obligates himself to forgive the sin. And take away the guilt.
But never, never does he obligate himself to remove the consequences. So therefore the question we need to ask ourselves as believers, when we find ourselves contemplating some sort of deliberate sin, some sort of deliberate disobedience, is not the question will God forgive me? That's the one we always ask ourselves. That's the wrong question.
Because the answer to that question is always yes. But that's the wrong question to ask. The question we need to ask is this one, what consequences may I be potentially bringing on my life as a result of this sin that God may not decide to take away?
That's the question that we need to ask. Now I could go out if I had the desire, I don't. But if I had the desire I suppose I could go out and commit adultery. And I could come back and I could ask God to forgive me.
And if I was sincere in my request, he would. I wouldn't lose my place in heaven. But there are some consequences that he may not decide to take away. For example, I would very probably have to resign from the ministry, not just leave this church, but leave the ministry. There's a very good chance I would destroy my testimony for our Lord, that my ability to share Christ with others would be severely hampered. I would certainly, as David did, bring disgrace to our Lord. There's a very good chance over something like that that I could lose my wife and lose my family. And so you see, when I'm contemplating, for example, if I were and I'm not, but if there ever were a time where I might be contemplating adultery, the question I need to ask is not, Lord, would you forgive me if I did that? That's a rhetorical question. The question is, Lord, if I go do that, what may I bring on my life that you won't take away that I'll have to live with the rest of my days?
That's the question. Now, I should balance here and make a couple of statements. First of all, I'm presenting this message with the idea that sin should be the exception and not the rule in a believer's life. Facing the kind of crisis David faced should not be the thing we face in large proportion every single day, I hope. But there are times when we may find ourselves in such a position, but they should be the exception.
A second point of balance, and I want you to listen carefully. God often does forgive and remove the consequences. Did you hear that? God often does. Paul says in 1 Timothy, I was a persecutor of the church.
I witnessed them kill Stephen. I went around throwing Christians in jail and having them killed, and yet God removed the consequences because I did it in ignorance. See, God sometimes does remove consequences, large amounts. And it's especially true of people who did lots of things for which the consequences are great as unbelievers, and then they receive Christ, and God oftentimes in His mercy wipes out the bulk of those consequences. And I praise God for that. I'm not in any way implying that God never takes away consequences.
He does it all the time, and we'd all be in very serious trouble if He didn't. And I might go even farther and say that even when God leaves consequences in our lives, that continued obedience to our Lord will soften and even overshadow the consequences that remain. Remember, David's next son by Bathsheba was King Solomon, whom God loved. And as David got back to a place of obedience, God overshadowed the consequence with a second son who became the next king. Why does God allow consequences to remain?
Oh, I don't have all the answers. But I know one of the reasons that I find in my own life is to remind me that sin doesn't pay. If God took all the consequences away, we just removed them. If I had total impunity to anything I did with no consequences, then why should I obey God? But when God leaves a few of them around, just to remind you that sin doesn't pay, it helps elongate our memories.
I want to conclude by just trying to draw a knot on all of this. Many Christians look at disobedience in the Christian life by simply saying very glibly, oh well, God will forgive me. Oh well, I'll confess it. And as we've seen, if we do confess our sin, true, God will forgive us. And perhaps many of you all here this evening, your life, your Christian life is characterized by this sort of attitude, oh well, 1 John 1.9, I'll confess it, I'll forgive it.
No big deal. But I'm afraid that's just too nonchalant an approach for God's liking. Because as we've seen, the real question we need to ask is not will God forgive me, but what consequences may God not remove if I do this? We need to understand that sin always hurts. It always burns. It always has consequences. No one sins and gets away with it.
No one. The pain may not come right away. But based on the authority of this book, I assure you, it will come. It'll come. The chickens always come home to roost in God's economy. In the Old Testament, God said this, Numbers chapter 32, be sure your sin will find you out. If you go to the moon, my friends, believe me, it'll follow you.
If you dig down into the earth, believe me, it'll follow you. God says, no matter where you go, unforgiven sin will find you out. And the consequences will always happen. And in the book of Proverbs, here referring to adultery, but the principle is true with regard to anything.
Listen to these verses. Can a man take fire into his bosom and his clothes not be burned? The writer of Proverbs is saying, could you take a torch flaming and stick it here against your skin and not burn your clothes, among other things, up? Of course not. Of course not.
It's a law of nature. Can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be burned? Well, I've seen pictures of people doing it in the Near East, but I wouldn't try it. How many of you would light up your barbecue grill, cook your steaks, then empty the ashes out on the ground and take your shoes and socks off and do a Mexican hat dance on your coals? Be crazy. In fact, if you did that with your shoes on, you'd have problems after a while.
Of course you can. What's the writer of Proverbs saying? He's saying there are certain natural laws that simply don't change.
Listen. So, too, is it the case with he that goes in, meaning adultery, to his neighbor's wife? Can you do that and not reap the same consequences that you would get walking on hot coals and sticking a torch next to your clothes? God's saying no. And that just doesn't apply to adultery. That applies to anything, any act of disobedience. Can you do it without the absolutely certain consequences being a factor in your life? No.
You can't. So don't ask God to change the way he does things for you. So many believers have sat in my office, both here and before I've been here, and said, oh, you know, I've really been praying and I know it was wrong, but I've been asking God just to take away all these problems as a result of it.
Do you think he will? And they expect me to say, oh, I'm sure of it. But you see, I can't say that because he might not. And I'm a firm believer in the fact that even though God may take us as unbelievers and wipe away the bulk of the consequences that we've earned, as he did with Paul, my friends, when you're a believer, when you know Jesus Christ, and you know the validity of this book, and you know right from wrong, and you know that the Spirit of God is available for obedience if you want to obey, and you still go out and deliberately choose to disobey God, I am convinced our Lord is not nearly as magnanimous in those situations, because we know better. They might say, wow, what a downer message. I mean, just all this negative stuff. Well, it's not a downer message if you obey God. It's a great message if you obey God.
It's only a negative message if it applies. And my overriding concern is for those of us here who are playing with sin or contemplating playing with sin, because I assure you, you cannot take the torch of sin and rub it next to your clothes and walk away unscathed. So learn to ask yourself the question, forget the question, will God forgive me?
Forget that question. Learn to start asking yourself the question, what may I have to face that God will not remove if I do this? Believe me, it'll change the way you deal with temptation to sin. Let's have prayer. Lord as I have shared this this evening, I myself am reminded that with those of us who know you, you are simply not playing games.
You're serious. Lord that you expect from us more than you expect from people who don't know you, that you will deal with our disobedience more severely than people around us who have no relationship to you. So Lord, I pray that you might take what we've talked about this evening and grip our hearts and Lord teach us that you're not playing games, that this is an important thing to you, the thing we call obedience. Father I pray for myself that you would teach me to ask myself that question, what may I be possibly bringing on my life, that you might teach me to ask myself that as I contemplate every action of life. I pray for these people Lord that are sitting here this evening under the sound of your word that you might work in their hearts to learn to ask themselves the same questions. Father give us an attitude of seriousness about sin that reflects your attitude towards sin, that we might really be people that you're proud of. In Jesus' name, amen. Father give us an attitude of seriousness about sin that reflects your attitude towards
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-18 13:28:41 / 2022-11-18 13:45:00 / 16