The Abiding Consequences of Sin

There are at least two results of sinful choices: guilt and consequences. By guilt, I mean that which God places onto your spiritual account and for which the impenitent will be eternally lost. By consequences, I refer to the negative circumstances of life that are brought about by the sin. Let us consider these two components.

Guilt

When a man commits sin, he transgresses God’s law (1 John 3:4) and incurs a debt to God that he is incapable of repaying (Matt. 18:21-35). But because Jesus poured out his lifeblood in suffering the penalty for sin (Heb. 2:9; Matt. 26:28), God can remove that debt (Rom. 3:24; 5:9). It matters not what the sin is; God is “faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Saul of Tarsus is an excellent example of this. Regarding his pre-Christian life he wrote, “I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it” (Gal. 1:13). He was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1 Tim. 1:13). Still, he was “shown mercy” and overflowing grace (v. 13-14).

Praise God for the salvation that is in Christ!

Consequences

While submitting to the will of God can forever remove the guilt of sin, the temporal consequences may remain long after God has forgiven. Consider the bittersweet case of Moses. While leading God’s people through the Sinai wilderness in search of water, God instructed Moses to speak to a particular rock and water would miraculously come from it (Num. 20:8). In a moment of anger, Moses dishonored God in the presence of the people by striking the rock instead of speaking to it (v. 10-11). As a consequence of his sin, God barred him from entering the Promised Land (v. 12; Deut. 34:1-6).

We know that Moses had the guilt of that sin removed, for centuries later he appeared in his glorified state with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-3). Notice, however, that even though God removed the guilt of his sin, he did not remove the temporal consequences. Moses died forgiven, but outside of Canaan.

One may commit a crime against society, subsequently seek and obtain God’s forgiveness, but still face a lifetime of consequences. The penitent and forgiven drug abuser of the past may still endure health and family problems the rest of his life. Divorcing one’s mate for a reason other than fornication can be forgiven, but a subsequent remarriage is still forbidden (Matt. 19:3-9).

The Wisdom of Forethought

Wisdom demands that we look before we leap. We should consider the consequences of our actions before we follow through with them, because when we choose an action we choose the consequences of that action. Scripture puts it this way: “Watch the path of your feet” (Prov. 4:26). “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naïve go on, and are punished for it” (Prov. 22:3).

It is a beautiful thing to have the promise of God’s grace to remove the guilt of our sins and set us on the road to eternal glory (Titus 2:11). But God has never promised to remove the temporal consequences of those sins.

Hebrews 13 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. Final Exhortations (13:1-17)

A. Show hospitality (13:1-3, 16)

B. Be morally pure (13:4)

C. Be content (13:5-6)

D. Submit to the elders (13:7, 17)

E. Do not be deceived by false doctrine (13:8-9)

F. The old law has fulfilled its purpose (13:10-11)

G. Identify with the suffering of Jesus (13:12-13)

H. Look toward heaven (13:14)

I. Praise God (13:15)

II. Concluding Remarks (13:18-25)

A. Prayers requested (13:18-19)

B. Prayer offered (13:20-21)

C. Final salutation (13:22-25)

QUESTIONS

  1. In showing hospitality to strangers, some had actually entertained _____________ (13:2)?
  2. They were to remember what group of people (13:3)?
  3. Why were they to honor God’s marriage arrangement (13:4)?
  4. What were they not to love (13:5)?
  5. Whose faith were they to imitate (13:7)?
  6. How does the writer describe Jesus (13:8)?
  7. As they considered the suffering of Jesus, how were they to respond to it (13:12-13)?
  8. What are we seeking (13:14)? In that seeking we are imitating some faithful saints of the past. Which ones (11:13-16)?
  9. What should we not neglect (13:16)?
  10. What do our leaders watch over (13:17)?
  11. Our conduct should allow our leaders to do their work with ________, not with ________ (13:17).
  12. What does the writer urge them to do (13:22)?

APPLICATION

I can think of no better way to end this study of Hebrews than the way the writer ended it in verses 20-21, with a prayer of praise and petition:

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 12 Study Sheet

The following is a simple study sheet that contains a brief outline of the chapter and a few questions that focus on the text. One of the first and most important parts of good Bible study is observation. What does the text say? Until we know what the text says, it is fruitless to try to discover what it means and how it applies. Most of the questions are designed to do little more than help the reader observe the text. There may be an occasional question that asks for deeper meaning or application.

OUTLINE

I. The Endurance of Faith (12:1-11)

A. Christian living is a race (1-2).

B. Jesus endured (3).

C. Trials have disciplinary value (4-11)

II. Exhortation to Faithfulness (12:12-17)

III. Christianity and Judaism Compared (12:18-29)

A. Judaism as Mount Sinai (18-21)

B. Christianity as Mount Zion (22-29)

QUESTIONS

  1. Who comprise the “great cloud of witnesses” (12:1)?
  2. What two things must we “lay aside” if we would run the Christian race successfully (12:1)?
  3. On whom must we fix our eyes as we run (12:2)?
  4. Though the recipients had endured persecution already, they had not faced the kind of persecution that involved what (12:4)?
  5. Hebrews 12:5-6 is a quotation from what Old Testament passage?
  6. What does a good father do to his children (12:7)?
  7. What is God’s purpose for disciplining us (12:10)?
  8. What two things should we “pursue” (12:14)?
  9. If we are not diligent we might fall short of something. What is it (12:15)?
  10. We have not come to Mount _______, but to Mount ________ (12:18, 22).
  11. How is the church described in 12:23?
  12. As members of an unshakeable kingdom, how should we act (12:28)?

APPLICATION

In 12:9-11 the writer focuses on the analogy of discipline within the family and drives home the point that God sometimes disciplines us through trials. Just as our earthly fathers disciplined us, so does God. And since we submitted ourselves to our earthly fathers and respected them when they disciplined us, how much more shall we submit to and respect God, our heavenly Father? God disciplines us so that we can, through that instruction, become partakers of his holiness.

The discipline we receive from parents is sometimes inconsistent and imperfect, simply because it comes from imperfect people. But discipline from God is never arbitrary, and it is always in the appropriate measure. If we properly respond to God’s discipline, we will be able to bear the peaceable fruit of righteous living. Discipline is for our own good.

May God help us to develop the perspective of psalmist, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word…It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes” (Psa. 119:67, 71).