Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           August 16, 2009                           NO. 30

Sin's Most Serious Consequences

    Job called adultery "A heinous crime." (Job 31:11) 1 Cor. 6 teaches that the consequences of adultery are even more serious than those of other sins. After any sin, however, the most serious consequence is the rupture of our relationship with God.

    The story of David's adultery and murderous attempt to cover it are all too familiar to need repeating here. And the Prophet Nathan's forthright rebuke and courageous "Thou art the man" are equally well known. David's attempted cover up was now uncovered and his guilt was publicly exposed.

    The first thing that David had to worry about was the legal requirement that both he and Bathsheba be put to death (Lev. 20:10). What a relief it must have been when Nathan said, "The Lord also has put away your sin: you shall not die" (2 Sam. 12:13)! One would suppose that David could now put it all behind him -- he was forgiven and reprieved. But was this the case? Psa. 51 shows otherwise.

    Psa. 51 is a window to the heart of David. His primary concern was not what he had done to Uriah, Bathsheba, the baby, or to the rest of his family. Nor was it the sullying of his reputation or the effect on his reign. These things must have been on his mind to some degree, but his heart was broken by what he had one to his very best friend -- God. Hear his confession: "I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and don this evil in Your sight" (vss. 3,4). Hear his plea: "Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me" (vs. 11). Forgiven? Yes, but that was not enough.

    Unlike many modern adulterers, David realized the seriousness of his sin. Regardless of all else, it had interfered with his friendship with God. That constant reverent awareness of God, reflected in so many of his Psalms, was allowed to lapse -- else he would never have done what he did. David's longing for God was replaced with lust for sin. Now God speaks through Nathan, "Why have you despised the command of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? ... You have despised Me" (2 Sam. 12:9,10). Once David is again aware of God, he despised himself and longed to have once more the joy of God's salvation and the support of His generous Spirit (Psa. 51:12).

    David has no complaint against God; he makes confession "that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge" (Psa. 51:4b). He makes no excuses. Not Bathsheba, but his corrupt heart had caused his sin; now he pleads for a clean one. Even more than a change of conduct he needs a change of heart.

    What more could David do? There were sacrifices for sins of ignorance, but none for presumptuous sin (Deut. 7:12; Heb 10:26). "You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering" (Psa. 51:16). His only hope lay in his confidence that "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart -- These, O God, You will not despise" (Psa. 51:17).

Lessons For Us: -- All of us are tempted, and anything that prevents sin is good, but some considerations are better than others. Concern for reputation is good, but concern for character is better. Fear of grieving loved ones is proper, but unwillingness to grieve the Spirit (Gal. 4:30) is nobler. Fear of losing the fellowship of the church is intended as a deterrent to sin, but fear of losing our relationship with God should be even greater. That was Joseph's concern: "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). Our true concerns in dealing with sin are a window to our own hearts. Whether we succumb to temptation or resist it, our greatest need may be a clean heart -- true repentance.

    When we have sinned, we have even more reason than David to weep over what we have done to God. We have seen the cross -- the great sacrifice God and His Son had to make in order to say to us "The Lord also has put away your sin: you shall not die." Consider the words of John S. B. Monsell:

My sins, my sins, my Savior,

    Their guilt I never knew,

Till with Thee in the desert,

    I near Thy passion drew;

Till with Thee in the garden,

    I heart Thy pleading prayer,

And saw Thy blood-sweat falling

    That told Thy sorrow there.

My sins, my sins, my Savior!

    How sad on Thee they fall!

Seen through Thy gentle patience,

    I tenfold feel them all.

I know they are forgiven,

    But still their pain to me

Is all the grief and anguish they laid,

    My Lord, on Thee.

---Sewell Hall
in Biblical Insights, Vol. 7, No. 2, Feb. 2007

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No Problem!

    When a person is eager to learn the way of salvation and is willing to accept the word of God as the final authority, there is no problem in teaching him what to do to be saved.

    When differences arise among brethren and all have a humble attitude, and there is a sincere desire for peace and unity, and all parties want to follow God's word, the settlement is no problem.

    When a person genuinely believes that Jesus is the Son of God and wants to yield in submission to Christ, once he is shown the Lord commands baptism for the remission of sins, because he is honest and longs to go to heaven, there is no problem getting him to be baptized.

    When a worshiper comes into the assembly with the right attitude of heart, there is no problem if the song leader misses the pitch on one of the hymns or if the building is too warm, or if the janitor has missed some cobwebs over the pulpit.

    Many of the problems that arise are the bitter fruit of improper thinking.

---Irvin Himmel

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