Crime and Punishment

When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. Ecclesiastes 8:11 NLT

Several years ago I was studying with a family, while the wife’s father had a stroke and was in the hospital. I went to see him and arrived literally moments after he had passed away. The family asked me to join them in the family room as they met with doctors. A son said he probably would not have died if they would not have let him add that room onto the house. That extra work is what did him in. The daughter suggested he would still be alive if they had gotten him to his current hospital before taking him to the closer, smaller hospital. Everyone chimed in with their explanations on why the elderly gentleman had just passed away. As they talked, I listened quietly, while I thought to myself, he died because the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23

Image © Jeff Preston from

Image © Jeff Preston from

Satan works with us over a lifetime, getting us to compromise here and there, and to disobey. Time goes by, and we think we are getting away with sin. Then at the end of the line, sin brings us to the grave, which is the reward of sin, and Satan says, “Thank you for playing my game.” While the Bible is chock- full of pleas of mercy from God, and forgiveness for transgressions, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that sin does not have consequences, even when there is forgiveness and redemption. We do not want to use fear as a motivation for obedience, because we rightfully want to focus on God’s love and mercy. We don’t obey for rewards or to avoid punishment. We obey because we love Jesus. That being said, I will never forget hearing a preacher on the radio telling everyone, “God may be loving, merciful, and forgiving, but hell will still be hot!” I don’t know that I would use his exact approach, but he was right. In his lie in the garden, “You shall not surely die,” Satan insinuated there would be no dire consequences for sin. Today, as we stand over the grave of a loved one, we realize Satan is a liar. Even the repentant thief, who asked to be remembered in Christ’s kingdom, accepted his death as his just due. This is one sign that his repentance was genuine. He did not make any pleas for Jesus to deliver him from the consequences of his sin. The repentant thief was sorry for his sin, and not just the consequences. Even though forgiven and promised eternal life, he still had to pay the consequences. People point to David, and say “look at what David did, and God still forgave Him.” True. God did forgive David, and He will indeed forgive us. Still, there are two lessons we can take from David’s sin and repentance.

1. Even though David was forgiven, he still had to reap the consequences of his son dying, and also the influence of his sin on the rest of the family.

One son raped his sister, another killed his brother, and a third tried to take the throne from his father. Not exactly the legacy God wanted His nation’s first family to be passing along. Even though forgiven, David would have been much better off if he had never made those wrong choices. David’s repentance was sincere, in that He did not lament the personal consequences of his sin, but rather that He broke God’s heart.

“Against you, and you alone have I sinned.”   Psalms 51:4 NLT

Many animal lovers ponder why a God of love would institute a sacrificial system where hundreds of innocent animals were slaughtered everyday. But it was not God’s plan for innocent animals to be slaughtered every day. It was God’s plan that when the transgressors crushed out the innocent life of the lamb, it would break their hearts, and they would not repeat the same sin over and over. David’s heart was broken when he contemplated the sacrifice that was made for his sin. This leads us to the second important observation concerning David and his sins.

2. The good news is we don’t see David going back and making the same mistakes over and over.

While Israel kept falling back into apostasy we don’t see David making the same mistake, possibly because, unlike Israel which, as a nation kept making promises and resolutions they could not keep, David clung to God’s promises. Instead of promising God He would be pure He asked God to purify him.

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalms 51:8 NLT

Instead of trying to rehabilitate himself, David asks God to just recreate his heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Psalms 51:10 NLT

The Bible teaches us there is a God who forgives and saves us. He loves us unconditionally. Still, let’s not lull ourselves into a false sense of security, like those Solomon talks about in Ecclesiastes 8:11, and think because sin is not quickly punished that there are no real consequences. From the sanctuary comes the message not only of forgiveness, but also of cleansing. When we submit ourselves wholly to Christ our Mediator, He will cleanse our characters. We can have confidence in His work both in us and for us.



Crime and Punishment — 9 Comments

  1. It's amazing how God ensured that Israel's sins were atoned for even before they were committed by way of the'daily'sacrifice. We need to claim Christ as the atoning sacrifice,otherwise our sins will be on our heads and we shall be forced to bear them just as the scapegoat did. I marvel at how God was elaborate in communicating the redemption plan using the sanctuary setup.

  2. There is a way out: Daily surrender to Christ, daily time with Christ. Take the opportunity today my friends to make a daily commitment to Him. This is the only way to live. Deut. 30:19,20. By thus choosing to live, Christ lives through us. Not I but Christ in everything we do. We think Christ, than the former things we previously cherish become rubbish as Paul says in Philippians 3:8. "Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)," Amplified Bible Again mind you, Paul is not talking about earning salvation. He is talking about daily surrender to Christ, daily time devoted to prayer and supplication, is the way to live.
    Happy New Year, I look at it as another year of life. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to live.

  3. I may be totally mistaken on this but my understanding of the text "the wages of sin is death" refers to the second death for those who are unrepentant and not the first death which inevitably falls to all except the righteous alive at the coming of Christ. Reflecting on the experience related it is important however that our life is "hid with Christ in God" so that when this first death overtakes us we will indeed receive the gift of God, eternal life, rather than death, the wages of sin.

    • True Gerald. The ultimate penalty is the second death which Jesus saved us from, and gave us the gift of eternal life. However the first death came because of sin too. If there had been no sin there would be no first or second death.

  4. Well done William. Although the atoning sacrifice of Christ saves us from sin's ultimate penalty and its power over our wills, we still have to deal with the consequences of wrong choices. But even when we have "played the fool and erred exceedingly," God does not forsake us in our time of need. Blessings.

  5. yes, it's interesting how we forget that time, in essence, is many things. It is life, it is mercy, it is grace as well. What we do WITH time is how we respond to having been given life, (living sacrifice?)
    having been given mercy, and grace, what do we do WITH these gifts?
    In today's politically correct environment, we are led away from the very idea of shame or guilt or for that matter, fear itself. Yet, is that not what satan himself tried successfully with Eve? To redirect her from a very healthy *fear*? "thou shalt not surely die!".
    I believe that our over sensitivity to fear, to guilt, shows that we misconstrue that love itself is the fulfillment of feelings, and why fear or guilt can be a healthy deterrent of what we feel and we should realize that our action when confronted with sin is of much more import as it pertains to the gift of time, mercy and grace. Sin is not natural to man, it is a choice.

  6. The Sanctuary message is something imperfect humans like us find very difficult to understand. In and by ourselves we cannot stop sinning. Sin is much stronger for us to simply kick out of our lives. Hence we need someone or something stronger than us and than sin to deal with sin.

  7. yes indeed the wages of sin is death , both the first and second death, all except those who will be alive at our Lord's seconding coming will all test death because we are born in and with sin , but his salvation will exonerate us from the second death, his righteousness and his blood.God did not create man to experience death in the first place.


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