This verse just keeps coming back into my mind this morning and so I will write what is on my heart. I know that there are people in this world that started a relationship with Jesus Christ and then sort of filtered away from obedience. For some it may be that they never really submitted to obeying our Lord and for others it may be that they fell into some snare of sin that keeps them from repenting and returning to a life of obedience. Either way the consequences for sin piled upon sin will come and it’s just a matter of time. Timing is not in human hands; however, the timing of consequences appearing is with God. As I often say it is important to not take a scripture out of context or otherwise truth my not be found, so let’s look at the passage surrounding the verse above.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:19-36, (ESV).
The writer of Hebrew is making a clear case for why we are under grace and not the law as followers of Christ. This author also clearly states that to continue sinning while covered by grace is going to have serious consequences. The argument is needed today as many so-called Christians are living lives struggling with disobedience and in fact are rebelliously disobedient. As the writer of Hebrews states, taking that kind of attitude places your destiny into the hands of the living God who created you and who will seek revenge and judgement will come. I believe that I have lived long enough to see some consequences from sin and this rebellious attitude play out in other people’s lives and I want to share a few stories with you about what I have seen.
There was a young man who went to Bible College and seemed to really be on fire for the Lord. He married and went on to get a master’s degree in order to teach at a college. As time went on he and his wife had children but he never really liked teaching so he went into business. Years passed and there was a divorce, for what reason I cannot really say but he became bitter and started to walk away from God. Perhaps he had started to walk away from God before the divorce I do not know. I only witnessed the aftermath and his bitterness that was on display before me. It was many years before I saw him again and this time I could see firsthand the erosion of his morals. It was very obvious that he was far from the Lord and drifting farther and farther away from God. I tried to talk to him, to restore him to the Lord as I know did others but he would not listen. He said that he would change when he was inches away from dying but until then he wanted to have fun. What I saw was not fun that he was having, he was seeking revenge and he was consumed by his bitterness about the divorce. I never saw him again as the years went by and life took me elsewhere. One day I get a phone call from a mutual friend telling me a sad story, our friend had been murdered. It was winter and he had broken both his legs and was walking very slowly with the aid of a walker or canes. Apparently someone had knocked on his front door and since he was the only one at home he slowly walked to the door to see who was there. When he opened the door there was a shotgun pointed at him and there was a bang and my friend fell to his death. No one ever was convicted of his murder although there were strong rumors that it was some woman’s husband who was seeking his own revenge. I seriously doubt there was time for my friend to say to God his repentance of multiple sins but I will never know. This was such a sad ending to a man who once loved Jesus. I don’t know whether my friend will be in heaven or hell but I do know that it was a terrible way to die. His consequences came calling that day and the result was death for my friend.
There was a middle-aged man who was not a Christian who fell into the snare of an affair. As a young person I witnessed this first hand. The woman would not let go of him when he tried to return to his wife and so after several attempts at restoring his marriage he divorced his Christian wife, or rather she divorced him. After the divorce he and his mistress were married. Years and years went by and he developed a heart condition. In fact he had a major surgery where half of his heart was discovered to be dead. He had to be really careful and his life was limited in daily activities. No little blue pill could be used any longer and his list of medications to stay alive was long. He also had to give up his beloved steak, alcohol, and other rich foods as well. His death eventually came. His wife was also diagnosed about the same time with a terrible disease, scleroderma. It is a slow progressing disease where all your skin and flesh and muscles freeze and turn to a plastic substance. She had been a dancer and had been very active and towards the end of her life she was in a nursing home with her feet having been amputated. It was a horrible way to die. I can’t say for sure that this couple’s diseases are a direct result of their sin of adultery. I am not their judge, but it really makes me wonder. Towards the end they both seemed to be repentant and my hope is that they were genuine in their turning back to God.
I also want to tell you of another friend, one I have known all my life. In fact we had shared a playpen as infants. He was a kind-hearted guy but as so many of my generation he got into alcohol at a young age and then got into drugs. There were some heavy sorrows that had plagued this man and he became quite rebellious even though he had been raised to be a Christian and knew what was right to do. Years went by and life pulled me away from my friend and I lost track of his life as is quite common in adulthood. One particular night I felt the urgent need to pray for my friend. I kept waking up and felt the deep need to pray for this man and so, not knowing what was going on in his life, I did pray. In fact I prayed nearly all night for him and even all the next day before some bit of peace came upon my heart. More years went past and I didn’t know why I had such an unusual experience. Then I saw him one day and heard his story. He had been thinking of committing suicide in a jail cell and struggled all night long as to whether to do it or whether to repent and turn back to God and a life of obedience. He chose to repent and turned his life around. We narrowed the time of my experience and his to the same night that I felt such a strong urge to pray for him. He went to Bible College and graduated and has been telling others about Jesus ever since. I can’t help but think that had he not changed his life how horrible his stories ending would have been.
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God but we are all there. We make the choice of becoming a Christian and living a life of obedience and love and grace or we make the choice to turn away from God. Either way, though, we cannot escape the hands of our God. I have one more passage to share with you.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith, Galatians 6:1-10, (ESV).
We are called to bring our brothers and sisters in Christ who are caught up in sin to repentance and turn back to God. We do this with a sincere heart because we are seriously concerned about their souls. Eternity will come, judgement will come because God is not mocked or made fun of and since God has said judgement is coming. We can believe it and we must warn our fellow Christians of the importance of being obedient in our daily walk with the Lord. Paul, the writer of Galatians, makes it very clear that there are consequences that follow sin and there are rewards for those who stay obedient to the Lord. As I stated in the beginning, I have lived long enough to see some consequences played out in other people’s lives. I have also seen the faithful die a peaceful and graceful death. It is your choice but I do pray that you make the best choice.
Until next time…Katherine