Sin’s Enticement | Proverbs 1:8-19

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9 ESV)

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10 ESV)

OPENING THOUGHT

Proverbs is the Bible’s handbook of wisdom, which is essentially the skill of navigating through life’s complexities well. The book’s primary author, King Solomon, was one of the wisest men to ever live because he received his wisdom as a direct gift from God. Solomon, therefore, is the ideal candidate to teach us about biblical wisdom.

The first seven verses of Proverbs explicitly tell us the goals and main thesis of the book. The goals include helping us to know wisdom, enabling us to understand words of insight, and learning how to behave wisely. The thesis of the book regards the necessity of fearing the LORD. Verse 7 gave us our first taste of Proverbs’ two paths. One path means walking in the fear of God, and it leads to wisdom and life. The other path rejects the LORD, despising wisdom and instruction. Its end is death and foolishness.

The primary literary device of the first nine chapters of Proverbs is a father giving wise teachings to his son. After reading the purpose and thesis of the book in the first seven verses, we now move into the first fatherly speech. Here the father pleads for his son to refrain from becoming associated with sinners. Sin is the ultimate foolishness because it is rebellion against God, and godly wisdom flees from sin at all costs.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Read chapter 1:8-19 and discuss the following.

  • Which verses stood out most to you as you read Proverbs 1:8-19 this week? Why? What do these verses teach you about who God is?
  • What is the Shema? How do verses 8-9 relate to the Shema? Would you say that the Scriptures saturate every aspect of your life? What are some practical ways to integrate God’s word into your life?
  • What is the ultimate end of sin? Why is sin still so alluring? How can we kill the sin in our lives?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Because all Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What has God taught you through this text (about Himself, sin, humanity, etc.)?
  • What sin has God convicted or reproved you of through this text?
  • How has God corrected you (i.e. your theology, thinking, lifestyle, etc.) through this text?
  • Pray through the text, asking God to train you toward righteousness by conforming you to His Word.

When I Am God

I was quite a metalhead in highschool.

I never dressed the part (just jeans, sneakers, and tshirts for me, thanks), but as far as I was concerned, clean vocals (aka singing) were only reserved for wimps or strategically emotional bridges.

Yes, I was, indeed, hardcore.

Really what drew me most to the screamo/hardcore scene were the lyrics. Words seem so raw and intense whenever they are being screamed along to pounding bass drums.

For me, Oh Sleeper was the chief of this terrain.

Their first album (titled When I Am God) contains one of my favorite song lyrics:

When I am God, this church is unsound.

It’s such a simple statement but also far truer than I am often willing to admit. Thankfully the book of Judges is always ready to remind me again.

Judges is easily one of the darkest books of the Bible. I mean, it describes Israel’s downward spiral into increasingly blatant sinful behavior. While the first sixteen chapters show Israel falling into sin, repenting of sin, and God delivering them with various judges, the final five chapters emphasize how serious Israel’s sin was with tales of wicked idolatry, horrendous sexual immorality and violence, and ultimately a civil war.

It’s far from a light-hearted read. But a twice-used refrain bookends this section:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6; 21:25 ESV)

Furthermore, both chapters 18 and 19 begin by reminding us that there was no king in those days. Obviously, the author wants us to see Israel’s depravity as a result of their self-imposed morality rather than obeying a king. It was essentially Israel’s wild west phase.

But then we reach another problem. Years later when Samuel is judging Israel, the people demand to have a king. This might seem to be a step in the right direction, but Samuel is grieved by it. After praying, the LORD speaks these words to Samuel:

Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. (1 Samuel 8:7 ESV)

Israel’s desire for a physical king was a rejection of God as their king. This means that Judges was not lamenting Israel’s lack of a physical king; rather, it mourns Israel’s refusal to serve God as king. Their decision to do what was right in their own eyes was an act of dethroning God. By rejecting God’s law, they elevated themselves as gods.

But Judges isn’t a story about how sinful Israel was. It’s a story about how sinful we are.

All sin is an attempted usurping of God’s throne. Both great and small sins are an assault on God’s sovereignty and glory. We only sin by rejecting God’s commands and placing ourselves above them. Here’s how R. C. Sproul describes it in The Holiness of God:

Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.

Each act of sin is our declaration that we are our own kings, that we are god. And the end is never pleasant. For the Israelites, it resulted in death, nearly the entire destruction of the tribe of Benjamin. Sin’s paycheck is always death, either in hell eternal or on the cross of Christ. Those are our only options.

We never have a severe enough view of our sin.

Or its consequences.

When Israel lived as its own king, doing what was right in their own eyes, thousands died. They fell whenever they became their own god and king.

The same is true for us.

When we are god, the church is unsound.

Joseph Sold into Slavery | Genesis 37

Week 1 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28 ESV).

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14 ESV)
OPENING THOUGHT

Genesis is the book of beginnings. It opens with eleven chapters that describe the creation of the world, humanity’s fall into sin, the great flood that only Noah’s family survived, and the scattering of humanity at Babel. In the creation account, we learn that God created the world good and even made humanity in His image. We were not content, however, to be made in God’s likeness. We wanted to be God, and so we disobeyed, bringing sin onto the earth. But even in the midst of our sin, God showed grace beyond measure, proclaiming hope that one day sin would be defeated for good. Indeed, these chapters are essential for properly understanding both the Bible and ourselves.

Beginning with chapter twelve, Genesis takes a significant shift in perspective by focusing upon a man named Abram instead of on humanity in general. Through his faith walk with God, the LORD promises to bless him by giving him a son through his barren wife, blessing all the nations through him, and giving him all the land of Canaan. Abraham then dies, only seeing the first of God’s promises fulfilled. The narrative then follows Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, as he attempts to follow God but repeatedly trusts in his own strength instead.

We now come to the fourth and final section of Genesis, which focuses predominately on Jacob’s son, Joseph. As the eleventh of twelve sons, Joseph could have been the runt of his family but was favorited by his father instead. This favoritism ultimately causes Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery, leading to one of the most well-known stories of the Bible. Unlike the lives of Abraham and Jacob, Joseph’s life is marked by stunning displays of God’s glory; rather, Joseph’s life is saturated in the providence of God. Although he faces abuse, slavery, and prison, God’s plan is present throughout and ultimately leading to Joseph becoming Pharaoh’s right hand. As we dive into Joseph’s story, may we become more aware of the everyday glories of God around us.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Read chapter 37 and discuss the following.

  1. A great benefit of reading narratives in Scripture is that we often are able to become aware of our own sin through reading these ancient sins. Do you presently wrestle with any sins present in this chapter (i.e. Jacob’s favoritism, Judah’s greed, the brothers’ unwillingness to reconcile, etc.)?
  2. How does this chapter serve as a stern warning against the dangers of unrepentant jealousy?
  3. Because no sin is ever committed in isolation, Jacob is grievously impacted by his sons’ sin. Can you recall a time when your sin hurt someone else? How might “secret” sins still harm others?
  4. The chapter ends with a cliffhanger, informing us that Joseph’s story is only beginning and that his visions might still become reality. How might this example of God’s providence provide hope for those suffering?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Because all Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What has God taught you through this text (about Himself, sin, humanity, etc.)?
  • What sin has God convicted or reproved you of through this text?
  • How has God corrected you (i.e. your theology, thinking, lifestyle, etc.) through this text?
  • Pray through the text, asking God to train you toward righteousness by conforming you to His Word.

My Dog Never Catches Squirrels (and neither do I)

She tries every single morning without fail to get the squirrels chattering happily in the trees above the backyard. She’s out there each day but hasn’t even come close to catching one (and wouldn’t know what to do with it even if she did). It’s a worthless exercise, but one that she will urgently awaken me to pursue.

Unfortunately, I do the same thing.

Not with actual squirrels, obviously. Instead, I tend to always pursue things that are outside my reach.

Like most things, I think the problem started in Genesis.

In that book, we are told that God created a really good world full of good things and made two good human beings to live in it. He made the humans in His likeness, in His image, and established them as the stewards of the planet. He gave them everything to enjoy with only one, single prohibition: don’t eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.

Not content with being made in God’s image, Adam and Eve ate the fruit. They bought the lie that God was withholding something good from them, that they could become gods themselves. Ignoring the multitude of blessings, they sought after what they could not have. They thought that they were wiser than God.

But I’m in no position to judge. I do the same thing, and most of the time it’s not “big sins.” Just the little, nagging ones that are equally as damning.

For example, I know what the Bible teaches about rest. In Christ, we might no longer be required to observe a sabbath day, but the pattern is still a really good idea. God created us to function best when we rest one day and work six. That weekly rest helps us refocus and reenergize.

But I often opt for vacations instead. I refuse to take a true rest week after week, focusing on a getaway that will recharge my spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical batteries. Vacations never live up to the hype, never meet the expectations. I simply can’t go nonstop for 6 months to a year and expect my body to recover in one week. I wasn’t designed for that kind of living, but I often pursue it anyway.

Likewise, I know where God tells me to look for rest: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)” But my eyes always look to Netflix or YouTube by default. He has never failed to give me rest when I come to Him for it, but I still chase after worldly things that never satisfy.

Sin is an empty promise, offering what it cannot give, causing us to dedicate our time and energy on things worthless pursuits. It is a vanity of vanities, a chasing after the wind.

Christmas, Sin, & Small Towns (Dec 2, 2016)

Here are a few articles from around the Internet that are worth reading.

A Plea to Pastors: Don’t Cancel Church on Christmas

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so why should we attend church on Christmas?

It’s the day we celebrate the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, the entrance into our world of the second Person of Trinity. Don’t we want to sing? Don’t we want to celebrate? Don’t we want to preach and praise and pray?

Sin Will Never Make You Happy

With all eternity hanging in the balance, we fight the fight of faith. Our chief enemy is the lie that says sin will make our future happier. Our chief weapon is the truth that says God will make our future happier. And faith is the victory that overcomes the lie, because faith is satisfied with God.

Big Dreams and Blue Jeans

Since I pastor a church within a small town, it’s encouraging to remember that small towns matter in the kingdom of God.

How to Stop Despairing Over World Suffering and Start Addressing It

I believe we should act locally, specifically, and personally. We should start with the spheres closest to home, and then continue to reach out from there, as God gives time, money, and opportunity. Such giving combats some of the feelings of fatigue and guilt that come with knowledge of worldwide suffering. To stay stuck in that place of guilt is to remain in a selfish spot. But if we assume ourselves responsible for all the problems of the world, that also is a selfish response.

5 Christian Clichés That Need to Die

But one-liners aren’t always helpful. Sometimes, in our desire to simplify truth, we can trivialize and even obscure it. And to obscure the truth is to tell a lie.

Is Remarriage After Divorce Sin?

Divorce sucks.

And many know it firsthand.

Unfortunately, the sting of divorce is rampant. If you haven’t felt it personally, chances are you’ve felt it through friends or family.

Since it is, by nature, the destruction of a covenant of the utmost intimacy, divorce is never a light or easy topic.

This Sunday, I preached, in part, over Matthew 5:31-32. There, Jesus briefly discusses divorce as it relates to adultery. I believe that Jesus’ main point was to reclaim the seriousness of marriage by emphasizing that the marriage covenant should never be severed, unless by the direst of circumstances: sexual immorality within the marriage. To be clear, Jesus is not creating an excuse for divorce; rather, He is limiting His followers to never treat divorce as a readily available option. Christians should always seek to preserve marriages first. Divorce is, on occasion, a necessary action due to the exceeding sinfulness of the human heart, but it should only be utilized under certain circumstances.

Of course, we could spend all day discussing what marriage ought to be, but the reality is that nearly half of all marriages do not survive. And even when brokenness and devestation are left in divorce’s wake, many often find solace in searching for love again in remarriage. Yet because of the Christian’s high view of marriage, is remarriage after divorce an option, or is it sinful?

Truthfully, you will find numerous pastors and theologians arguing a variety of answers to that question, and the purpose behind this post is NOT to defend one of them. Instead, I simply want to present the possible answers and turn your eyes to Scripture.

If we believe that the Bible is God’s Word, we will submit to its teaching, not whatever we feel God should have said.

I cannot do justice to the weight and complexity of this issue within a single post, so I only hope to present for you Scriptures to prayerfully meditate upon and articles, sermons, and books for you to think through.

You will, therefore, find two sections below: first, a list of applicable Scripture (non-exhaustive, of course, but it should be a good start), and second, a brief description of the various views with links to the articles that defend them in more detail (yeah, I know it’s a lot).

What Scripture Says

Malachi 2:14-16 | But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Matthew 5:31-32 | It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:3-12 | And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Mark 10:2-12 | And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 | Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Romans 7:1-3 | Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 | To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 7:39-40 | A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Ephesians 5:22-33 | Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

4 Views on Remarriage

I should first emphasize that remarriage itself is not a sinful idea, and each of the four presented views agree on at least two crucial matters.

First, the Bible clearly presents remarriage after the death of a spouse as a justifiable action. Romans 7 even uses the idea of death breaking a covenant to describe how Jesus freed us from the Old Covenant. Therefore, each of these views agree that remarriage for a widow or widower is biblical.

Second, they also agree that divorce is permitted, at times. Jesus clearly states that divorce is allowed in the case of sexual immorality within marriage. Paul also adds that if a Christian spouse is divorced by his or her non-Christian spouse, “let it be so.” Thus, the positions below each acknowledge that divorce because of adultery or abandonment is sometimes unavoidable.

Remarriage is the element of disagreement.

View #1 // No Remarriage Outside the Death of a Spouse

This view claims to uphold the words of Jesus in Luke 16:18 (which is similar to Matthew 5:31-32, only without the exception clause), and they often cite Paul’s words at the end of 1 Corinthians 7 as proof that a spouse is only “free” from a marriage when the other dies. Ephesians 5:21-33 is also crucial to their understanding. They argue that if a husband truly loves his wife as Christ loves the Church, wouldn’t that prevent him from clinging to a new wife? Would he not lovingly wait for her in singleness, praying that she would one day be reunited to him?

John Piper argues for this position in this article.

View #2 // Remarriage Only for Death or Adultery

This next view agrees with much of the previous but adds a single caveat: sexual immorality. They argue that Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5:31-32 & 19:3-12 clearly imply remarriage in their discussion of divorce. This view also claims that separation by a non-Christian spouse is permissible, but remarriage is not an available option in that circumstance.

R. C. Sproul holds this view. Read his quick thought on the issue here OR listen to a sermon on it here.

View #3 // Remarriage for Death, Adultery, or Abandonment

Holders of this view agree with the previous views on death and adultery but also claim that abandonment justifies remarriage. 1 Corinthians 7 is the primary text in view here. Paul clearly allows for divorce if a Christian’s non-Christian spouse seeks it. They argue that Paul emphasizes fighting for reconciliation (vv. 10-11), but if the non-believing spouse refuses reconciliation, the Christian is then free to remarry if the Lord wills.

John MacArthur argues for this view of remarriage here.

View #4 // Remarriage for Death, Adultery, Abandonment, or Abuse

This view agrees with view #3, except they add in another caveat: abuse. Some who hold this view support it biblically by claiming that domestic abuse is form of the abandonment that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7. They state that abuse destroys the marriage since it effectively strong-arms the Christian spouse into acting out the separation.

Mandy Marshall defends this view here.

You can also read another thought on abuse, divorce, and remarriage here.

Conclusion

I’m under no illusion that these four views presented are all-encompassing. They are, however, four of the most common and most biblical.

You will also find within the articles linked a common thread of thought: divorce (and remarriage) is never meant to be an easy solution. Jesus taught that God only permits divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts (a.k.a. sin).

One man, one woman, lovingly united until death: that’s God’s design of marriage.

I encourage you to let Scripture guide your thoughts on divorce and remarriage. Not the culture. And not even your own experiences.


Below are a few more resources worth checking out.

If you are divorced and remarry, are you living in adultery?

Should I divorce my spouse from an unbiblical remarriage?

Matthew 5:31-32 

Remarriage After Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views // This book covers views 1, 3, & 4 above.

Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views // This books also covers the view that divorce is never permissible for Christians.

a thought on repentance, obedience, & the Law

I’ve wrestled with this question a lot.

Though I was saved at an early age, I didn’t fully understand the gospel (especially the eternal security of believers) until I was in college.

As a kid, I truly wanted to live a Christ-like life, I knew I was a sinner, and I believed that Christ died for my sin. I struggled, though, with the notion of what Jesus’ forgiveness looked like.

It seemed both logical and desirable to repent regularly, both of known and unknown sins. Yet for several years, the need to ask for forgiveness consumed me.

Each night I would fall asleep praying for forgiveness over and over again. I was terrified that if I died in my sleep, God would send me to hell because my last thought might be a sinful one.

My young mind essentially created its own penitential system for dealing with sin. Instead of trusting God to forgive all of my sins by grace through faith, I established a means of working off my sins through the constant and repetitive asking of forgiveness. I was heaping up empty phrases, hoping to be heard for my many words (Matt. 6:7). It was an attempt to barter for grace instead of receiving grace through faith.

Once For All

A trip to New Mexico one summer changed everything.

I don’t remember who preached or what text they preached, but after worship service, I sat on a pew and understood (for the first time) the significance of Christ dying once. As common sense as it might seem, I never truly considered that Christ’s death paid for ALL of my sins– past, present, and future.

And it was the future sins that really got me.

On that cross, all of my sins were future sins, but He died for them. This meant that He knew them, even the ones that will come decades from now. None of my sins came as a surprise to Him, and because of that once-for-all sacrifice, I could be truly certain of my forgiveness and salvation.

But that isn’t to say that we should stop repenting of sin.

In many ways, repentance is the great mark of a true Christian.

We are called to repent of sin continually, not just initially (Matt. 3:8).

However, laying my cards on the table, the question “Must I repent after each sin?” is a loaded one. The word must implies an obligation, a requirement, or even a coercion to do something, but as followers of Christ, we get to repent of our sins, knowing that God is faithful and just to forgive us. It is a joy to ask our Father for forgiveness and strength to turn from sin because we already know what His answer will be.

Outward Obedience

While studying to preach on Christ’s relationship to the Old Testament Law, I finally came to understand why Paul calls us captives under the Law before Christ came (Gal. 3:23).¹

Laws are necessary, but by nature, they merely rein in our sin. A law’s power is equal to the consequence for breaking it, and those punishments leverage our sinful nature for the benefit of society. For instance, if the consequence is severe enough, most people will not risk stealing. Or we could ask, how many killings are prevented simply because the fear of punishment hinders an act of blind rage?

Laws confine sinful behavior by establishing a punishment as a reason to refrain from sin.

Because of this, obeying a law does not make me a inwardly moral person; it only means that I am outwardly behaving according to the law.

Outward obedience does not necessarily correlate with an internal godly morality.

This is why Jesus’ teachings so angered the Pharisees. They nearly perfected outward obedience, but Jesus called their bluff. He knew their hearts didn’t line up with their actions, so He called them what they were: hypocrites (Matt. 23:25).

Inward Obedience

Fortunately, Jesus had a better answer to the problem of sin than the Law could provide.

Jeremiah describes Jesus’ followers as having the law written on their hearts (Jer. 31:33). This means that they would no longer be compelled to obey God’s law out of fear of punishment; instead, they would actually want to obey.

Our captivity to the law is broken on two fronts.

First, Jesus’ death decisively eliminates the eternal punishment of sin, allowing us to live in the joy of knowing that we will never suffer the wrath of God, only His loving discipline.

Second, we have a joy from obeying the law because Christ has now written it within our hearts. We, therefore, no longer feel obligated to obey God; instead, we joyfully obey Him with thanksgiving!

Jesus has erased the must, the obligation, from obedience and from repentance.

Conclusion

So, in answer to the original question, if a Christian dies immediately after sinning, they are still in Christ because God already justified them once for all. The lack of time to repent of a particular sin will NOT override God’s grace.

But of course, given time, Christians will naturally desire to repent.

Repentance is what we do.

And that desire will come from gratitude to God, not requirement or mere necessity.

My younger self’s brokenness over sin and desire for obedience was certainly a good sign of truly following Christ, but I’m immeasurably thankful for the grace of knowing the gospel’s truth and assurance more fully.

Does repenting of sin ever become a requirement in your heart instead of being a desire, delight, and grace?


 

1) Charles Leiter’s The Law of Christ has helped me tremendously to understand our New Covenant relationship to the Old Testament laws. Hopefully, the brief discussion of the topics in this post will encourage you to study them more deeply in Leiter’s book.