|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
Peter Ray Cole
Sin often begins as a tiny ripple of thought— an internal temptation—that swells into a tidal wave of catastrophe destroying virtually everything in its wicked wake (James 1:14-15). Many lives are swept up in the chaotic consequences created by another’s sinful choice. Because of one person’s sin, spouses and children weep while families are destroyed, friendships are rent asunder, godly influence is traded away for a selfish desire and souls are often lost for eternity.
Sin always has a devastating impact upon the one who commits the action (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:20). Sin creates a division between the individual and the Creator (Isaiah 59:1-3). Yet, the devastation rarely stops there. In a selfish attempt to minimize and excuse sinful actions, many will claim the transgression never hurt anyone else or never affected other aspects of their lives. The deceitfulness of sin hardens our hearts and blinds us to the reality of the utter destruction caused by our actions (Hebrews 3:13).
In 2 Samuel 11-12, we see the devastation that started out as one man’s lustful thought. David allowed a tiny ripple of sin to flood his life. A moment of unrestrained lust led to adultery, lies, deception, conspiracy and murder. David’s sin devastated his relationship with God and his personal life. However, David’s sin did not only affect him. His choice to fulfill his lust impacted the lives of Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, his own son and ultimately an entire nation.
Just like David, our own sin when allowed to grow and fester will create a series of unanticipated and unintended consequences. Failure to truly acknowledge and repent of sin will harden our hearts and compromise our ability to make good decisions. David’s sin of adultery could have stopped there. However, because David was unwilling to honestly face his own actions, he resorted to lying and murder in an attempt to cover up and escape the consequences of his actions. In fact, the tiny ripple from a sinful thought and the catastrophic wake that followed could have been prevented altogether (1 Corinthians 10:13). He could have chosen to look away and go back into his home.
By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are able to see hope in this mess created by sin. Nathan, the prophet, was convicted in his obedience to God enough and compassionate toward David’s soul enough to confront the king and expose the sin that David had tried so hard to conceal (Galatians 6:1-5). David confessed his sin both privately (2 Samuel 12:13) and publicly (Psalm 32), even writing about the devastation that he had caused (Psalm 51). Just as sin has a ripple effect, so does righteousness. By one man’s courage, conviction and compassion, David’s heart was once again able to be softened.
Like David, we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but we need to humbly submit to God’s will and not to allow our hearts to become hardened. Like Nathan, we must have the courage, conviction and compassion to confront sin and promote righteousness. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
Have You Grown Tired of God?
As it was in Malachi’s day, so it is still the case today that many are willing to put personality over principle, and because of ignorance of the Scriptures, they are apt to go in any direction. Franklin Camp once observed, “When you leave the principle of the need for Bible authority, there is no end to where you will wind up.”
Can we not see that this is true? Worship and moral issues would, then, be settled by what men want instead of what God wants (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah10:23; Leviticus 10:1-2; 1 John 2:3-5). God’s people came to embrace the sins of the day and wanted to find acceptance and popularity with the world. They decided to offer a truce of peace with the false religions of the day. It is no surprise, then, that we find even God’s people are readily accepting idolatry. No wonder God would ask his people, “Have you grown tired of me?”
We can see the progression. Tolerance led to acceptance, and that acceptance eventually led to joint participation. My friends, these three things have not only influenced religion down through the ages, they have also had an unsettling effect on things pertaining to moral issues. We will just mention two, homosexuality and abortion. When people of our day are willing to follow the false philosophies of the world and thus plunge headlong into immorality and into religious error, then, isn’t it obvious that they also have grown tired of God (Romans 1:24-32; Proverbs 23:23)? Micah, like Hosea, became disturbed over the hypocrisy of Jehovah’s bride, Israel. He boldly preached to them. We need that bold preaching today (2 Timothy 4:1-4)!
Can we see three similarities between what had taken place in Micah’s day and our day? Because of the ignorance of the Word of God, God’s people were influenced by the world around them, and also by the false religions of that day and time. We recall their strong desire for acceptance of the world. We regret that God’s people were willing to compromise truth to find that acceptance. Their lax attitudes toward truth led to departures in worship to God.
First, one of these had to do with improper attitudes in worship. They thought that they could simply go through the forms and not have to have their hearts in it. Second, they thought that they could observe rituals while they neglected righteousness. Third, they thought they would do no harm in adopting into their worship some of the religious practices of their neighbors, but obviously, this led to a departure from God and truth in their worship. Such a departure from God finally led them to idolatry. Short steps from God’s pattern led to long distances of apostasy.
What about worship today? Has it become a ritual or habit? Are we active participants in worship or just observers? Are our hearts bowed in humility before the one true and living God? Am I still concerned about what is authorized in worship (John 9:24; Romans 1:9; Colossians 3:17)? Do we recognize the Godhead as the audience and that we are to offer in worship only what pleases God? Do we need to be reminded that the only way we can know what pleases Him is through what He has revealed in His Word? A good question for many today still is, “Have you grown tired of God?”