Punishment and suffering never seem fair.
Why would a loving God allow us to feel pain?
Because He is merciful. What’s that? How is punishment merciful?
And what about those times when our sin did not precipitate our suffering? Again, His mercy. His lavish grace enables us to do good.
This morning I was caught by a couple of verses tucked away in that book we sometimes avoid reading: Leviticus.
Sometimes it can feel like passages in the OT are from another world—like we cannot relate to them. Yet even though their culture was vastly different, there is still so much that remains the same.
We still struggle with this thing called sin and at the root of that sin is ugly pride.
And our God? He remains the same. He hates our pride and our sin but loves us so very much. He does not delight in punishing us but He cares too much for our souls to leave us in our sin:
“But at last my people will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors for betraying me and being hostile toward me. 41 When I have turned their hostility back on them and brought them to the land of their enemies, then, at last, their stubborn hearts will be humbled, and they will pay for their sins.”
There in these two little verses, we catch a glimpse at the heart of God toward us and toward our sin.
🔘 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐬.
Like gravity reminds us (sometimes painfully), we will have an opposite reaction for our action. We can’t escape the law of gravity and we can’t escape God’s laws. He made us—not to live for sin, but to live in relationship with Him.
🔘 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐨𝐝.
Sometimes we give our sin nice names to make space for it in our lives. We think of our sin as something we can’t do anything about. But Jesus did something about it. The reality of our sin cost Him His own life.
𝐆𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐮𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝.
🔘 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐲𝐚𝐥 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐆𝐨𝐝.
Give sin its real name. Betrayal. Name each sin and then deal with it biblically. Irradicate it and don’t allow it. The sin we cherish betrays us, too.
🔘 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞. 𝐖𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐰𝐞 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫.
Any parent will tell you we can see it in our own children—we ask them to do something and they choose (free will) to do what they want. My youngest son will frequently start his explanation for this by saying, “I thought . . .”
We can rationalize our sin away by our thoughts, but the truth still stands. And putting our thinking above God’s is the highest pride.
🔘 𝐆𝐨𝐝’𝐬 𝐩𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐮𝐩 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐰 𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞.
I hated spanking my kids when they were younger. Wished they would just choose to do right, but it was actually cruel to not deal with their sin and leave them in their sin.
🔘 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐝𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐬𝐢𝐧.
The stubbornness of our hearts is humbled when we endure suffering. Humility—the very thing we wanted to avoid, our humbling, is the very thing that will bring us joy and sets us free from the bondage of sin.
We waste so much time on this earth trying to be enough, to prove our worth, but God already did that. He is our worth, He is our sufficiency. We can stop striving for our own righteousness.
And sin’s offerings will not ever bring us what we seek. Temporary acceptance? Power? The ability to “do what we want”?
We were made for so much more.
God hates sin because of what it does to us. It separates us from God and destroys our lives. And it is rebellion against the Holy God Who made us for His glory and to be in relationship with Him. In the very beginning, he warned us about sin—it would try to master us, but we must master it: Genesis 4:7:
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
🔘𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐧, 𝐰𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐮𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐇𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝. 𝐇𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14