We may think that we can do the wrong thing and nothing will happen. We think this because it actually occurs quite often. How many times have you done something you knew was wrong and you went on your way without any consequences? No one ever found out. You ‘got away with it.’ Of course, no sin is completely hidden, and there are always consequences for actions. Just because the consequences of sin aren’t visible does not mean they don’t exist. But for all intents and purposes it seems like, 'no harm, no foul.'
Sometimes we do the wrong thing expecting that there will be a day of reckoning, but figuring that mercy will win out and we won’t have to pay the ultimate price for our misdeed. This happens quite often as well. It is not unusual for a criminal to have a long ‘rap sheet’. I have seen some cases where a 21-year old may have dozens of legal infractions… and they are arrested yet again. It is like a revolving door. This person has been trained to think that while they will likely be caught for their sin, they won’t have to pay for it. We may call it ‘a slap on the wrist.’ Just because you don’t pay the full price for your sin does not mean it isn’t costly.
And then there are the times when you do have to pay a steep price for your evil deeds. Whether due to a great trespass or an accumulation of crimes, some people end up spending many decades in prison or are even given the death penalty. Usually this comes as part of what we call ‘due process’. God has given society the obligation to set boundaries for what is acceptable behavior, and the ability to set penalties for when those boundaries are trampled.
Back to my original statement… The afternoon of the day I posted it I was driving home from an errand and was passed by several police cars moving at a very fast speed. As I was about to turnoff to go to the house I saw a commotion about a half a mile up the road. I drove up on the scene where there were over 20 police and emergency vehicles. Less than 10 minutes before I had arrived a man had gone into a cash loan store and tried to rob the clerk. An alarm was tripped by a neighbor business. A police officer arrived. The assailant was holding the robber at gunpoint in the doorway. She wrestled the gun away and the officer shot the perpetrator dead. It turns out the subject’s gun was an air soft gun.
That man chose his sin (attempted robbery, grabbing the clerk, standing off against the law enforcement officer). But he didn’t get to choose his consequences. I doubt he thought he would have to pay the ultimate price for his evil deed that day. He probably thought he would get away without trouble. At the worst he may have thought he would get caught and have to spend a little time in prison. But there’s no way he walked into that store thinking he would be dead before he could go home.
On paper it doesn’t seem just or right that a man would lose his life over an air soft gun and a failed robbery. There isn’t a judge or jury in America that would sentence you to death for trying to rob a store with an air soft gun. But his case reveals the truth found in God’s Word. The apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome said, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) This means that when we sin, we earn the death penalty. It isn’t inappropriately thrust upon us. It is the right payment. We don’t get to choose how sin pays out. And the Bible doesn’t say that death is the payment for some sins, or the worst sins, or for the sins of sinners… but for sin… period. There is no sin that is not worthy of death. None. God’s mercy and grace make a way for us to survive sin… but not so we can continue to live in it. Paul went on to tell the readers, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Today, you get the choice of whether or not to sin. You do not get the choice of the consequences. Best thing is to not do the wrong thing. You may think you can beat the system, but there is no promise you can. If you don’t want to die guilty, don’t be guilty.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.