How does God react when I (as His child) willfully choose to sin?
Someone recently asked, “Hey David…
Because of my rebellious personality, I do things sometimes that I know that my heart says No; but I push through that voice to feed my humanistic desires. Usually the after effect is shame and disappointment that I feel towards myself and my Father. I feel that because of my actions, God, much like He was with Moses is pissed and perhaps not wanting to hear much from me. Question; when you go against the Spirit, are you hammering the pain into Christ’s suffered once again? When we sin does Christ suffer from our sin in a spiritual way or is He over it and in the Judgement Chair? I have not given much thought to how my current sins effects Jesus.
My response to this friend, “These are interesting and important questions. Consider the following…”
DOES THE LORD JESUS CONTINUE TO SUFFER THE PENALTY FOR MY ONGOING CHOICES TO SIN?
The letter to the Hebrews suggests not. “Christ suffered for sins, once for all” (cf. Hebrews 10:10f, 1 Peter 3:18). His experience of becoming sin for us and enduring both the physical and spiritual penalty of our sin was fully completed. So the Father is not exacting any additional penalty from His son for us. But this leads to a question which addresses how does God react when I choose to satisfy my flesh in disobedience to God’s Word and Spirit.
WHAT IS GOD’S RESPONSE TO MY WILLFUL CHOICE TO SIN?
This question has several important answers. Here are three important lessons on how God responds to our willful sinning.
1) We are instructed not to be cavalier when it comes to sinning.
Romans 6 asks, “Shall we continue to sin in order that grace may abound?” Paul anticipated this question as he finished Romans 5, saying that where sin abounded, God’s grace superabounded.
But Paul realized someone would be thinking, “Oh good, my sin unleashes more of God’s grace. I guess I can sin!” Of course Paul’s answer is “May it never be!”, a response that has few equals in the Greek language. Emotional, strong. A Christian should never think that God’s grace is a license simply to sin all the more.
2) Our willful sinning grieves the Holy Spirit.
We’re reminded that when we do sin willfully, or refuse (as we will see this evening) to replace “the old man” with “the new man” (cf. Eph 4:20-24), and thus live “like the Gentiles in the darkness of understanding and in the futility of their minds” (cf. 4:17-18), our sinning “grieves the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30).
The word grieve is a strong emotional term; recall how Middle Easterners grieve and wail at the death of a loved one, beating their chests, extremely expressive and pained. While it may be that some of their grieve is contrived, the Spirit’s grief over our sin is never an act. The Spirit is God, and just as passionate about holiness as the Father and the Son. Just as uncomfortable with living inside a person who has decided to use His Temple (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) to engage in that which grossly violates His character. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul likened the misuse of our bodies, the Spirit’s temple, to “joining Christ to a harlot.”.
3) All sinning ends in death.
James reminds us to “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ For God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). Something good and important, which could have lived and should have lived to bring joy and fruitfulness, dies when we sin instead. We regress. We shame God’s grace, we grieve the spirit, and a piece of our holiness and integrity (and whatever else good could have resulted) dies.
“Those who live according to the flesh cannot please God” (cf. Romans 8). “The mind set on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
We can, as God’s sons and daughters, be grateful for what the Apostle John tells us in the 1st chapter of his letter to Christians. We are to walk in the light, and have fellowship with Him and with one another. Sinning destroys, at least for a time, and always for too long a time, that fellowship. “But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Interestingly, after Peter publicly denied the Savior 3 times at the campfire (John 18), Jesus would meet Peter later (after the resurrection). The future leader of Jesus’ church opening lying about his allegiance to his Lord and friend. Not surprisingly, 3 times, face to face, the Savior asked Peter if Peter loved Him. One can imagine the tension in that encounter (cf. John 21:15-19). To me this indicates that the Lord Jesus is very much aware when we sin, desires to hold us accountable for our sinning, but also calls us to love Him more than sinning.
What is the bottom line?
We do well to listen to the Scriptures about the impact of sinning on our lives, on our fellowship with the Lord and with each other. Sin kills. Spirit-empowered obedience is the fountain of new life every day.
Prayerfully dependent on the Spirit, let’s walk by the Spirit, and bring life to our souls and to all those around us.