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.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23–26, NKJV)
Let that soak in for a moment. Our sins make us guilty before God and under His wrath. Our just punishment is eternal death (Rom. 1:18; 3:19; 6:23). But, God has provided an offering for our sins that appeases His wrath against sin (1 Jno. 2:2; 4:10). That offering is His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s grace justifies sinners by the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:24; 5:9). His blood appeases God’s wrath, redeeming us from sin’s bondage and death (Rom. 5:10; Heb. 10:1-10). The Law of Moses could not do this. God’s power to save sinners is in the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16; 3:20-22). By the offering of His Son, God showed Himself to be just (innocent, holy) when He bore with previous sins (Rom. 3:26; Acts 17:30). Now, He commands all sinners everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30-31). Thus, God is vindicated. The death of Jesus shows God was just in forbearing with “sins that were previously committed.” And, His righteousness is seen in justifying those who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). The faith (the gospel) produces personal faith that obeys the word of Christ (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:17; 6:17-18). Believing sinners obey Christ’s command to be baptized, which is into His death so their sins will be washed away by His blood (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16).
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (Psalm 32:3–4, NKJV)
We saw in 2 Samuel 11:1 in yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1843) that David was not where he should have been, when he should have been there, or doing what he should have been doing. Failing to guard himself against sin, suffering came upon David, his house, his nation, Bathsheba, Uriah, and others. David was tormented with guilt over his adultery, deception, and murder(cf. 2 Sam. 11:27). You see, covering up sin does not comfort the heart of the person who is given to doing the will of God. David was such a person – a man after God’s own heart, in fact (1 Sam. 13:14) – yet he sinned (Psa. 51:3-4). He felt the internal pain of sinning against the Lord. He could not escape the turmoil that captured the depth of his soul. His vigor was sapped from him. David inserted a suspension in the music at this point in the psalm (“Selah”) – a pause, perhaps to reflect on the gravity of sin’s destructive powers and our futility to overcome it alone. Surely we should pause and ponder the depth and guilt of our own sins and our helpless condition without the mercy of God. David’s only real escape and renewal of hope was through God’s mercy and forgiveness (Psa. 32:1-2). The same is true of us (Eph. 1:7; 2:1-10). The guilt and shame for our sins need not be our undoing. Through Christ, we obtain mercy, grace, regeneration, and hope (Tit. 3:4-7; Acts 2:37-41).
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 6:15, NKJV)
Shame over one’s sin ought to motive repentance and a return to the Lord. But, the people of Judah had so entrenched themselves in sin that they were not at all ashamed. They had lost their ability to blush over things that are disgraceful and repugnant to God. Not unlike many in our time, they abandoned following the truth of God and reveled in their sins of idolatry and immorality. God assured them their sin brought them under His punishment. Does the sight of sin cause you to blush? Or, have you adapted to its presence, even starting to participate in sin without embarrassment? Christians must have such an aversion to sin that we turn away from its shame. The shame and guilt associated with sin should deter us from becoming comfortable with it.
1 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? 3 “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:1-4)
Israel used this proverb of sour grapes because they believed they were being punished unjustly due to the sins of their fathers. In effect, God answers, “No, you are being punished for your own sins”. Children do not inherit the sin of their fathers; not its guilt and not its punishment (see John 9:1-3). The doctrine of total hereditary depravity does not come from the Scriptures. It comes from the theological contortions of men. Every soul answers to God for itself, because all souls are His. Your life is a gift from God. Live your life as a blessing to God and to men. You will answer to the Lord and receive either eternal life or eternal death for what you have done (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:46). We all will.
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
All of us have sinned against God, and because of our sin we are “guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19). God’s great redemptive plan justifies sinners by His grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:21-26). When a Christian sins the Adversary will use the guilt of sin to try to paralyze you and keep you from being zealous for Christ. The devil lies to you that once you have practiced sin you are forever compromised and never able to be a productive Christian. This lie advances faithlessness instead of trust in God’s mercy. This lie comes from the wisdom of men instead of the truth of God’s word. If you are struggling with the guilt of sin, come to the Lord for release from sin’s bondage. Repentance will refresh your spirit, remove sin’s guilt and bring the joy of salvation.