Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
(1 John 3: 4)
Sin is missing the mark or the target God has set. And as the creation and as Christians, our duty is to attempt to hit that mark set by God – not to miss it or ignore it.
To anyone interested in seeking out God and doing his will, you will not please God if you come before him with sin stacked up behind your name (Exodus 19: 23; Joshua 24: 19; John 18: 21; 1 John 2:1). That means in order to appear before Christ the judge and God the Father and to end up on the good side of things – we must deal with our sin while we are alive.
To complicate things, God has also said ignorance of his will is no excuse and will not stay the consequences for our past actions. The offer is eternal life with the creator of life. So if you believe in God and Christ, and you desire to make it to the heavenly realm to live with God, that means you better get serious and deal with it. You cannot shake it off like a dog does water; and ignoring it will not stop the judgment coming. Sin is committed either by not doing what God has told us, or by doing that which God states should not be done, that which is not good for us and is forbidden. So sin has been defined and identified by God and not by us.
Like every other action, all sins are performed in the past; and as with the rest of the events in this life, sins cannot be undone. We may think ahead of what we may wish to do during the day; yet we rarely think of avoiding sin or displeasing God. It is usually all about us when it comes to how we spend our time. We generally do what we want and never think of any consequences. Yet whatever the case we cannot alter actions once they have taken place. A person might have better success trying to change the color of the sky than to try and undo a single act, good or bad, that has already taken place. And God has said that we can be sure a final accounting will be held.
God has also told us that suffering is the inevitable consequence of our sins. Look around. You do not need to be told it’s true. People commit crimes of every sort all the time; and some are even foolishly said to be committed in the name of God. But God says the price for all of our actions will be played out, not just within this life, but more importantly – eternally. We cannot out run this sheriff. And Death is the ultimate collector. The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Corinthian assembly:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5: 10)
So, Jesus said we will answer for our choices – good or bad. When God gave Moses the instructions, the blessings and curses to Israel as they were getting ready to enter Canaan, part of what Moses told them concerning the taking of the land was God’s commands to them and the rewards for doing his will.
So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the Lord for the war, and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the Lord, until he has driven out his enemies from before him and the land is subdued before the Lord; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the Lord and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the Lord. But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Exodus 32:20-23)
I hope you noticed whose enemies Moses said were to be driven out of the land. Many in Israel likely never heard of these seven nations they were to chase off or destroy. They certainly could not have previously been their enemies because Israel had only recently come into existence. The people had been in bondage in Egypt for four hundred fifty years. So, the nations in Canaan were not Israel’s enemies – they were God’s enemies. These peoples had long before turned away from God.
It seems that God keeps track of things. These nations rejected God and His Word in the years following the flood. They went off their own way using their own intellect and desires, and worshipped their own gods instead of following after The Living God’s instructions. That meant that both individually and collectively they had sinned. And that meant they were on the lawless side of things as far as God is concerned. It seems sin is remembered by God. The collector is coming up the stairs and is ready to knock on every door.
Judgment was coming, and the order was given to the chosen enforcers of God’s law to destroy everything and to spare no one. And friends, those are the facts whether we understand it, find it comfortable with our delicate modern sensibilities, or think it is “wrong” and “unreasonable.” God’s will is non-negotiable. He did not leave us in charge of making rules – any rules. And quite frankly, our disposition on his will is not his concern: just our obedience.
As it turned out Israel did not remove or destroy the nations as God commanded. So they and their leaders sinned. They then sinned in any number of other ways as time continued its march. And each of them paid the price for their carelessness and indiscretions, whether they were led astray by their leaders, their family, by friend or foe. That’s where you and I are unless we recognize that God has said that we stand on the outside with our sins against us. As we violate the Will of God and particularly now the teaching of the Christ, we find ourselves in the same predicament as Israel. Paul wrote:
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6: 7, 8)
So then, it appears the only thing anyone needs to do to end up with the sinners headed down to that place Jesus called “Gehenna…” where “…the worm does not die and the fire is never quenched,” is to do anything other than what God has said to do. (Mark 9: 44, 46, and 48) God also has stated that we deceive ourselves if we twist what he has given or mistake corruption for spirituality.
Some people have offered that God educates us out of sinning. They say something like the moralizing influence of the gospel lifts us out of sin. So why worry, once you accept Christ, you can no longer sin. They say we either learn to live without sin, or when our “bodies” sin, it doesn’t count as God has freed our spirits from it.
But let’s suspend good sense for just a moment supposing that this concept might be true. The Gospel of Christ certainly does lift us up – but that only happens when we accept his terms: when we hear the Gospel, believe that Christ is the Son of God, that he died that we might be free from sin, we repent of our past sins, are baptized into Christ, and are then forgiven of those past iniquities.
Yet these same folks say a man or woman need not do all of those things, but is educated or freed from sin and lives the rest of his life justified. When Jesus saves you as you pray, they offer – you are then scot free from it all.
However it seems both some universal and very biblical truths remain despite what people may say or proclaim. Suppose that a car thief has stopped stealing for a full twenty years, but if he is somehow identified and brought before a court, will a jury spare him the penalty for his past lawlessness? If a man murdered 2 or 3 people and went 15 years in remorse and had stopped killing; and he is found and the evidence comes to light, will the laws forgive him the crime because he has not killed anyone recently?
And what has become of those violations committed in the past? Where are they now? Will they have been forgiven and whisked away? To ask the question is to answer it. If we suppose a man or woman is educated out of sins and they sin no more, there remains the record and memory of the past written against their name. And if there are transgressions on the record – and there surely are – then a penalty awaits. God does not forget and ignore things as we are so prone, even though we might wish he would. The writer of Hebrews posted:
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10: 31)
I wonder if he meant it. Do we believe the Word of God or do we ignore the unpleasant portions?
Do we believe that God will accept us on our terms, and ignore our contrary and sinful pasts? Brothers and sisters, we need to look deeply into the Word to see if we are meeting its conditions and have cast off our burden of sins. We need to come to Christ and accept the Gospel plan and seek God’s forgiveness. Hear, believe, repent, confess that Jesus is the Son of God and be immersed in the name of the Lord for remission of sins.