TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  Encountering Sin

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Chapter 37  Part I

Encountering Sin

Inevitably on occasions sin “leaks” into our lives, with its ill effects on ourselves and on our relationship with God. But if we address it as the Bible says to, God promises to forgive our sins and take in hand its effects.

Note that the teaching in this section is applicable to both new believers ridding themselves of their old ways and to believers returning to God after having lapsed into sin. However, the focus is more on the latter – with the former being primarily dealt with in the section Repentance.

Consequences of Sin for God’s People

See also:

Prelude: God’s people still sin

James 3:2a  [James, to believers:] For we all stumble in many ways.  NET

1Jn 1:8  [John, to believers:] If we say that we do not have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and we’re not being truthful within ourselves.  ISV

No one’s sinful nature has been completely eradicated.

Sin deprives God’s people of his blessings

Jer 5:25  [God, to unfaithful Israel:] Your misdeeds have stopped these things from coming. Your sins have deprived you of my bounty.  NET

Sin deprives God’s people of rest

Jer 6:16  The Lord said to his people: “You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path. Ask where the old, reliable paths are. Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it. If you do, you will find rest for your souls.” But they said, “We will not follow it!”  NET

This indicates that if one does not walk in God’s ways – i.e. continues to sin – one fails to find rest for one’s soul.

God punishes sin, which can mean physical suffering and emotional anguish . . .

Ps 38:3-8  [David, to God:] My whole body is sick because of your judgment; I am deprived of health because of my sin. 4For my sins overwhelm me; like a heavy load, they are too much for me to bear. 5My wounds are infected and starting to smell, because of my foolish sins. 6I am dazed and completely humiliated; all day long I walk around mourning. 7For I am overcome with shame and my whole body is sick. 8I am numb with pain and severely battered; I groan loudly because of the anxiety I feel.  NET

. . . along with various other troubles

Ps 40:12  [David:] For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.  ESV

The clause “my iniquities have overtaken me” refers to the results of David’s sins, which had overwhelmed him.

Sin defiles God’s people – making them spiritually unclean

Ps 106:39  They [the sinful Israelites] were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions.  NET

Lam 1:8a  Jerusalem has sinned greatly, therefore she has become unclean.  ISV

God turns away from those who persist in sin

Mic 3:4  Someday these sinners will cry to the Lord for help, but he will not answer them. He will hide his face from them at that time, because they have done such wicked deeds.  NET

As sin makes people spiritually unclean, God will ultimately turn away from those who persist in sin, for God in his holiness will not coexist with such uncleanness.

Further implications of deliberately or habitually continuing to sin

1Jn 3:6  So anyone who lives in Christ does not go on sinning. Anyone who goes on sinning has never really understood Christ and has never known him.  NCV™

Heb 10:26-27  For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, 27but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies.  NET

To deliberately keep on sinning after having previously accepted Christ’s sacrifice as payment for sin is effectively to spurn Christ’s sacrifice. The result is that one is left without any possible “further sacrifice for sins” (v. 26) and so faces God’s judgment and dreadful punishment (v. 27).

 Questions for Section A

Addressing Sin (I): Return from Sin to God

See also:

Even if sin has not led to a believer completely falling away from God, all sin hinders one from being fully devoted to God to some extent. Thus one needs to turn away from any sin and return to being completely devoted to God.

Stop sinning, turning away from sin

1Cor 15:34a  Sober up as you should, and stop sinning!  NET

2Tim 2:19  “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.”  NET

Do not be stubborn, resisting God and persisting in sin

Heb 3:7-8  [The writer, to Hebrew believers:] So then, as the Holy Spirit says: “If you hear God’s voice today, 8do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were when they rebelled against God, as they were that day in the desert when they put him to the test.  GNT

Jer 5:3  [Jeremiah, speaking to god about the people of Judah:] O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.  ESV

So get rid of sin . . .

Ezek 18:31  Get rid of all the sins you have done, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new way of thinking. Why do you want to die, people of Israel?  NCV™

. . . and get rid of things involved in sinful practices

Judg 10:16  They threw away the foreign gods they owned and worshiped the Lord. Finally the Lord grew tired of seeing Israel suffer so much.  NET

Return to God

Lam 3:40  Let us carefully examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord.  NET

Return to God with all your heart

Joel 2:12-13  “Yet even now,” the Lord says, “return to me with all your heart – with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your garments!” 13Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and boundless in loyal love – often relenting from calamitous punishment.  NET

In returning from sin to God, do what God wants

Ezra 10:11  [Ezra the priest, to the unfaithful people:] Now then, confess your sins to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do what pleases him.  GNT

Hos 12:6  [Hosea, to Israel:] But you must return to your God, by maintaining love and justice, and by waiting for your God to return to you.  NET

 Questions for Section B

Addressing Sin (II): Deal with Sin before God

Confess your sin to God

Lev 5:5  As soon as you discover that you have committed any of these sins, you must confess what you have done.  CEV

Neh 1:6-7  [Nehemiah, to God:] I confess the sins that we Israelites have committed against you. Both I and my father’s house have sinned. 7We have abandoned you by not keeping your commands, your ceremonies, and your judgments that you proscribed to your servant Moses.  ISV

Be sorrowful over your sin

Ps 51:17  The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin.  NCV™

A “broken” spirit or heart is one that is deeply remorseful.

Humble yourself before God over your sin – and its consequences

Luke 18:13  The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’  NET

2Chr 33:12-13  In his pain Manasseh asked the Lord his God for mercy and truly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.  NET

Manasseh had been exiled because of his sin (cf. vv. 9-11).

Ask God for forgiveness and restoration

Ps 51:1-2, 7-12  [David, to God after his sin with Bathsheba:] God, be merciful to me because you are loving. Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs. 2Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again.7Take away my sin, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you crushed be happy again. 9Turn your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilt. 10Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again. 11Do not send me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me. 12Give me back the joy of your salvation. Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit.  NCV™

In petitioning God, express your anguish over consequences of your sin – even with fasting

Joel 1:13-14  [Joel, to the priests in Jerusalem:] “Put on your mourning clothes, you priests; and cry aloud, you ministering servants at the altar! Come! Stay the night in mourner’s clothes, you ministers of my God, because withheld is the grain offering and the wine offering from the temple of your God. 14Set apart time for a fast! Call a solemn assembly! Gather the elders and everyone living in the land to the temple of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord!”  ISV

Apparently as a consequence of the people’s sin, an awesome plague of locusts had devastated the land of Judah, leaving neither grain nor wine even for offerings (v. 13b). Thus the prophet calls on the priests – and similarly the people (cf. vv. 5-12) – to express their anguish before God (vv. 13-14a), in conjunction with crying out to God for help (v. 14b).

Note: Accept God’s discipline for sin

Prov 3:11-12  [A wise father, to his son:] My child, do not despise discipline from the Lord, and do not loathe his rebuke. 12For the Lord disciplines those he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.  NET

2Sam 15:25-26  The king told Zadok, “Take God’s ark back to the city. If the Lord looks favorably on me, he will allow me to come back and see both it and its dwelling place again. 26But if he says, ‘I’m not pleased with you,’ let him do to me what he considers right.”  GW

 Questions for Section C

God’s Response to Repentance

Note that there are also a number of examples in the preceding two sections of God’s response to various aspects of repentance.

Prelude: God seeks to draw his wayward people back to himself

Isa 65:2  [God:] I spread out my hands all day long to my rebellious people, who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable, and who did what they desired.  NET

Jer 35:15  [God, to the people of Judah:] I sent all my servants the prophets to warn you over and over again. They said, “Every one of you, stop doing the evil things you have been doing and do what is right. Do not pay allegiance to other gods and worship them.  NET

When we repent God forgives our sins . . .

Isa 1:16-18  [God, to the people of Judah:] Wash! Cleanse yourselves! Remove your sinful deeds from my sight. Stop sinning! 17Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow! 18Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool.  NET

The repentant actions (vv. 16b-17) were critical to God forgiving the people’s sins (v. 18b).

1Jn 1:9  [John, to believers:] But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.  NET

. . . Being merciful and compassionate, God saves us from the consequences of our sin

Deut 30:2-3  [Moses, to the Israelites:] And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.  ESV

Prov 28:13  [Solomon:] If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy.  NCV™

Note that the assertion in the above subheading does not mean that the consequences of our sin are always completely eradicated (cf. 2Sam 12:9-14).

When we repent God restores our relationship with him

Zec 1:3  So tell the people [of Judah]: This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: ‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord All-Powerful.  NCV™

Jer 24:7b  [God:] I will be their God and they will be my people. For they will wholeheartedly return to me.  NET

Here God in effect promises his unfaithful people that if they returned to him wholeheartedly, he would restore his relationship with them to what it should be. As such, they would again be his people and he would be their God.

Note: Not repenting and returning to God brings judgment

Jer 44:5-6  [God:] But the people of Jerusalem and Judah would not listen or pay any attention. They would not stop the wickedness they were doing nor quit sacrificing to other gods. 6So my anger and my wrath were poured out and burned like a fire through the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. That is why they have become the desolate ruins that they are today.  NET

Rev 2:16  [Jesus Christ, to the church in Pergamum:] Therefore, repent! If not, I will come against you quickly and make war against those people with the sword of my mouth.  NET

The reference to “the sword of my mouth” possibly means that the judgment would be in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words or pronounced by his word/s and thus come into being. In effect his words would “cut like a sword” (CEV).

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians