32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness (Numbers 14:32–33, NKJV).
The children of Israel rebelled against the Lord by refusing to trust Him and enter Canaan (Num. 13-14). Because of Israel’s sin, none of that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, would see the land God promised their fathers (Num. 14:23-24, 29-30). They would die in the wilderness, and their children would enter the land of promise (Num. 14:31-32). A couple of principles of truth rise to the surface for our attention. (1) The sinner is accountable for his sins. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20). Children do not bear the guilt of their father’s sin. The doctrine of inherited depravity is itself depraved, corrupt, and false (Rom. 5:12). (2) The innocent often suffer due to the sins of others. The offspring of the wilderness rebels bore the brunt of their parents’ infidelity during forty years of wilderness wandering (Num. 14:33). Untold numbers of innocent souls continue to suffer the consequences of foolish, faithless people. For example, all humanity suffers physical pain, toil, and death as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin (Gen. 3:16-19). Do not confuse guilt and accountability for sin with the consequences and effects sin has on others. All have sinned, and Christ is our salvation from sin’s guilt and eternal death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). And, the fact that our sin affects others is a reason to resist evil and not rebel against God.
And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ (Acts 13:22, NKJV)
What an extraordinary blessing for God to identify David as “a man after My own heart.” God did not describe David this way because he was sinless (far from it), but because David gave his heart to God and to His purposes. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). This kind of heart prepared David to do all of God’s will. When David sinned, he learned some hard lessons. He learned you cannot hide your sins from God (Psalm 32:3-5). He learned the painful consequences of sin (2 Samuel 12:11-14). David’s heart allowed him to learn the lessons. When his sins were laid before him, David did not become defensive. He did not blame others. He took responsibility, he repented, and he remained faithful to the Lord (Psalm 51). None of us are without sin. How we acknowledge our sin and remedy it shows whether or not we are people after God’s own heart, who do all of His will.
Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard. (Proverbs 13:15, NKJV)
Sin is a choice that brings hardship to everyone who is enslaved by it. The consequences of sin are hard, and can be permanent (as is indicated by the Hebrews word which is translated “hard” in today’s verse). When we choose to be unfaithful to God’s standard of truth, under which we live and to which we are accountable, the course of our life will be difficult. When we choose to be unfaithful to God, we only hurt ourselves (cf. Acts 9:5). Unfortunately, evil influences in this world are at work to play-down the age-old truth, that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Many think they can sin without consequences or punishment. They have been deceived by a permissive society that glamorizes and rewards sin. It is a hard, yet necessary lesson, to accept the consequences of our sins. Only by acknowledging the reality of our own sins against God – as well as the consequences they bring – will we ever be willing and able to repent and obey the Lord to be saved by His grace (cf. Acts 2:37-41). Good understanding of sin’s difficulties helps us avoid sin, and obtain favor from God and men. Sinners will obtain favor from God by coming to Jesus. His yoke is far easier, and His burden is far lighter, than sin (Matt. 11:28-30).