Zechariah 13:8-9 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, says the LORD, two parts in it shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, They are my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
Remember your brothers and sisters who are under great afflictions as we all endure the refining process of being conformed to the image of Christ. Keep them in your prayers, for we are all in this together. And do not forget the Great Comforter that we have on our side to lead us into all truth. Breathe your sorrows at the throne of Grace, for our God is faithful in hearing our cry. There is only one Comfort for our weary souls, nothing else of this world will suffice; run to Him.
By Jeff Reed
God assures us, if we truly are repentant, we can receive forgiveness no matter what our sins. When we initially repent and are baptized, we are washed clean by the blood of Christ. As we live our lives as Christians, still not perfect, we are continually faced with overcoming sin. We are assured in Hebrews 4:16 that we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” The love of God for us is truly great.
I knew this when I was baptized over 13 years ago. I was eager to have my sins forgiven and washed away, and I assumed that now my life would also be perfect. I quickly learned I was wrong. I had received forgiveness, but I still faced the effects of my prior sins. Relationships with people I had damaged by my wrong behavior were still messed up. The effects of repeated sin on my character were still there. All the wrong television, movies, music, and twisted popular culture continued to haunt my thoughts. Eating the wrong foods for over twenty years would continue to have negative impacts on my health. The consequences of sin remained.
In Deuteronomy 28 God gives a list of blessings for obedience to Him and curses for disobedience. These were given to the nation of Israel at a national level. If they collectively obeyed His laws, great blessings would occur. If they disobeyed, there would be an opposite outcome. The outcomes are very natural and are part of the world He created. They are as natural as the law of gravity. If we toss an object into the air we know the consequence will be it will fall to the earth. Because the laws God gave Israel are natural laws, they can be applied to any nation at any time in history.
Let’s imagine that everyone in our country kept God’s law against murder. The consequence would be everyone would feel absolutely safe in every situation, time and location. But the reality is that even though the vast majority of people keep that law, because there are a few who don’t, and our justice system has become weak and ineffective, people are often faced with situations where they are on guard or fearful. It is why we have elaborate security systems, people carry personal weapons, locations are well lit at night, and many other precautions are taken to keep people safe.
We can apply these natural consequences to a personal level as well. If someone is an alcoholic or drug addict before they become a Christian, he will still be dealing with the consequences of that sin for the rest of his life. If someone engages in illicit sexual practices, before becoming a Christian or sometimes unfortunately after becoming a Christian, the effects of disease, broken marriages, unwanted pregnancy, and other problems will remain, even after repentance and forgiveness.
To truly repent is to also accept the consequences of our sin. In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul writes about the attributes of Godly sorrow the Corinthian church was displaying. He writes:
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” 2 Corinthians 7:10,11
One of those attributes is “the readiness to see justice done” even if that justice is applied to ourselves. Imagine if you have stolen something and were sentenced to jail time and community service. If you have Godly sorrow that leads to true repentance you will accept your punishment willingly.
King David learned this the hard way when he was faced with his own terrible sins of adultery and murder. Nathan rebuked David for his sins and David repented:
“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” 2 Samuel 12:13,14.
One of the consequences of his sin was the death of his child born to Bathsheba. David faced this with much sorrow. He fasted and pleaded with God to save his son. Afterward David had learned a great lesson and was able to write, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4). He accepted the judgment of God and was ready to see justice done in his life. His true repentance led him to accept the consequences of his actions no matter how painful they were.
We need to be very grateful that God has and will forgive us. We need to learn the lessons of our lives and what the consequences of sin can teach us. God, by His Spirit, is creating Godly character in us by those lessons.
This article can be found here.