ANSWER: God is absolutely holy and righteous. When He forgives sins He forgives the guilt of the sin immediately, fully and forever. In Psalm 32:5, probably referring to his dreadful sin of adultery which he tried to cover up by murder, David said: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Yet as we follow his history, we see that he had to face the consequences of his sin the rest of his life.
The New Testament reiterates the same principle, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap, for he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:7-8 NKJV). God has embedded this principle in nature also. Who plants bean seeds and expects to reap tomatoes from those plants? Or who would be foolish enough to expect to pick mangos off a banana plant in his garden?
Many children have been born to unmarried parents as a result of their sin of fornication. Once the child has been conceived, no amount of repentance will undo this act. Abortion will only add murder to the already-existing sin. Whether the parents were saved when the conception took place, or unsaved and then later got saved, God will forgive their guilt, but their child will ever remain as a silent witness to their sin.
Yet God in His great grace has offered salvation to all these children, saved them, and used them in His service. Again and again we see glorious evidence that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas. 2:13), and that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20).
Scripture speaks of Jesus’ blood cleansing from all sin and from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:7,9) and washing us from our sins (Rev. 1:5), but says nothing of His blood washing away curses. Yet we know that because of Christ’s work accomplished for God’s glory on the cross at Calvary, in due time the curse will be removed from the earth. The final chapters of Isaiah and Ezekiel depict this in graphic language. Romans too, tells us that “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” All creation eagerly awaits this glorious day, but “labors with birth pangs together until now” (Rom. 8:21-22).
We Christians are still on earth, subject to all that our fellow human beings are subject to, for God’s government runs parallel to His grace. We know God can perform miracles, making exceptions to the rules by which He governs the universe, but normally He does not do so. The sun shines and the rain falls on Christian and non-Christian alike. Believer and unbeliever are both subject to sickness and death. Both must work for a living. Christian and non-Christian women bear babies in pain, and both are subject to the same difficulties and problems. Thorns and thistles do not miraculously disappear from a man’s fields the moment he becomes a Christian. But the Christian can turn to the Lord for help. He knows God as Father and Jesus as Great High Priest and Advocate. The Holy Spirit, that wonderful Comforter, indwells him.
Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world. God wants us to traverse this world as pilgrims and strangers who, like Abraham, look for a city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:8-16). Our fellow men may regard us as “the filth of the world, the off-scouring of all things until now” (1 Cor. 4:13). But by contrast, Revelation clearly shows that those who dwell on the earth will ultimately fall under God’s judgment.
By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org
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