Life is hard.
Jesus said that we shall face tribulation in this world – that is, troubles, trials, and terrors. Of this we can be sure! No one is immune to the burdens and battles of life in a sin-cursed world. All of us suffer because we have been born into a spiritual battlefield.
Satan, too, tempts and tries us. He is called the father of lies; the tempter; our adversary; and, the accuser of the brethren. Remember this warning: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8). Many of our problems might be traced back, partly at least, to the work of the Devil.
However, many of our struggles and difficulties are of our own doing. We often suffer from self-inflicted misery. Our heartache and pain is frequently a result of sin.
“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.”
How many blessings has God withheld because of our stubbornness? How many times have we troubled ourselves by our own disobedience? The love of God is entirely unconditional, that is true, for we live in this blessed day of grace. However, the father reserves His special blessings as a reward for the obedient child, and so it is with our heavenly Father. Earthly fathers chasten the wayward child; they do not reward rebellion. Our Father, too, will scourge His sons.
Sin, by the natural laws that God has set in place, will always produce pain, loss, heartache, and death. God might easily forgive us, but the consequences of sin must naturally occur. James put it this way, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15). A loving father will forgive the stubborn child who burns himself through his own defiance, but the scars of that painful event will never be erased. Sin may be forgiven, and fellowship with God restored, but the consequences can last a lifetime.
We have liberty in Christ, for certain, but liberty does not equal license. Sin withholds the hand of God’s blessing, and might invoke the hand of His chastening. A love for God is the best motivation for obedience, but fear and duty can suffice to keep our stubborn wills in check.
Even a casual reading of the Word will reveal the pain and misery caused by sin. Study the lives of Lot, Adam, Samson, David, Solomon, to name but a few, and you will see this to be true. If you doubt the severity of God in this church age, consider the tragedy of Ananias and Sapphira, a powerful reminder of God’s correction that produced a holy fear in the first century church.
Christian, you are commanded to serve God “with reverence and godly fear.” When you indulge in sin, you bring misery and pain upon your self, and upon those you love. Heed the admonition of God: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13). There is enough pain in this world as it is – don’t heap extra misery upon yourself through your own folly.