Sin Is No Joke
Read James 4:8-10 (ESV)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Do you ever feel like the consequences for sin are too harsh? What do you think this reveals about your attitude toward sin in comparison to your attitude towards God’s holiness?
Joshua 7 tells the story of Achan, an Israelite who sinned against the Lord by taking valuable items from the conquest of Jericho that God had commanded them to put in His treasury. The Israelites were not to keep the “devoted things” for themselves. But Achan took some plunder and buried it under his tent. As a result, the Lord was not with them when they fought against Ai and 36 Israelite warriors were killed. God revealed Achan’s sin and Israel stoned him and his entire family. Why did Achan presume he could hide disobedience from an all-knowing God?
In 2 Samuel 6:1-7 and 1 Chronicles 13:9-12, we read the sad account of Uzzah who was helping transport the Ark of the Covenant. Unfortunately, they were not transporting the Ark according to God’s orders (Exodus 25:12-14 and Numbers 7:9). It was only to be handled by the tribe of Levi but the men moving it were not of that tribe. Plus, it was on a cart instead of being carried on the shoulders with the attached poles as God commanded. Then, when the oxen stumbled, Uzzah tried to steady the Ark and was struck dead because touching the holy things was a direct violation of God’s commands in Numbers 4:15. Why did they presume that they could carry God’s holy items any way they saw fit?
In Acts 5:1-11, we read about a man named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. They sold a piece of land, kept back some of the proceeds from the sale for themselves, and gave the rest to the early church as a financial gift. The problem is they lied about how much they sold the land for so that it would look like they were giving the entire amount to God. As a result of their dishonesty, God struck them dead. Why did they presume they could lie to the Holy Spirit?
All of these accounts may seem harsh to you but the reality is, they pinpoint our prideful assumptions and our blatant disregard for God’s commands. Do we think we know more than God? Who are we to think that we can determine what punishment fits crimes against God? From the beginning the consequences of our sin have been clear. God was clear that sin leads to death (Genesis 2:17).
In today’s verses James tells us the only right way to deal with our sin—repent. Turn away from your sin and turn back to God. But in order to do that, we have to humble ourselves. We have to admit that we don’t know what is right for us but God does. We have to lay down our pride and stop presuming our own way is acceptable to Him.
James also said that our sin should break our hearts. Our society tends to treat sin like a joke. Unfortunately, many Christians also take sin too lightly and presume upon God’s grace. But sin has serious consequences. It separates us from God so it should break our hearts. Realization of our sin should turn our laughing into mourning.
But there is good news! James said that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. Psalm 51:17 says, “...a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”. 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Friends, sin is no joke. It is serious business. God made it very clear that unrepentant sin leads to death. But there is a great hope in Jesus Christ. So humble yourself before Him and He will exalt you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Lord, I confess that I have sinned against You many times. I know that I deserve death. But because of Your great mercy and grace, I know that if I draw near to You, You will draw near to me. So I humbly ask for Your forgiveness. Thank You for the promise that You will raise me up with You. Amen.