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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”—Luke 17:2 (NKJV)
From the outset, I want to be unmistakably clear. God is in the business of forgiveness. He desires and delights in forgiving our sin. 1 John assures us that when we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us. So let’s not be confused on this point, because the Lord absolutely forgives our sin the instant we recognize and repent of it.
However, there is another side of the sin coin. Although it is true that God forgives sin, it is equally true that sin still carries consequences. When we sin, it sets a series of effects in motion. Our initial act of disobedience to God doesn’t stay put. It multiplies and ripples out.
In the passage above, Jesus points us to this reality. He warns that the sin of offending a little one will bring about a devastating consequence to the offender. The ripple effects of sin are also seen in the life of Jonah. The sailors of the ship Jonah commissioned experienced some serious ripple effects that very nearly drowned them: “Then they said to him, ‘Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us?’ (Jonah 1:8 NKJV).
Of course, we know the answer to their question. Their “trouble” was due to Jonah’s disobedience to the divine call God had placed upon his life. He sinned against God and the consequences were felt by innocent bystanders.
How should we respond to this understanding about sin? For one thing, it should change our entire attitude towards temptation. When tempted, isn’t it easy to entertain the notion that, “Hey, even if I do something wrong here, God is going to forgive me, so why not sin now and ask forgiveness later?”
As we’ve seen, God will forgive, but there will also be consequences that we (and others) will suffer as a result of our sin. Isn’t it better to prevent these consequences from happening by not sinning to begin with? If we never plant the sinful seed to begin with, nobody will be forced to eat the bitter fruit it would have produced.
Lord, help us to learn from Jonah’s life by stopping in our tracks when tempted. Give us the wisdom and strength of Your Spirit to choose the path of sin’s prevention rather than the course of needing to be cured from its effects.
DIG: What do we need to remember about sin?
DISCOVER: How do we see this truth exemplified in Jonah’s life? What can we learn from Jonah’s life in dealing with our own sin?
DISPLAY: If you fall into temptation today over any kind of sin, be intentional about thinking through the potential avalanche of consequences for yourself and others that may come from it. And remember, there are no innocent sins, no sins without consequence
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.