25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” (Hebrews 12:25–26, NKJV)
There are terrible consequences for rejecting the word of God. The ground shook when God spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18). Yet, Israel rejected God’s word, and made a golden calf to worship in direct violation of His commandments (Exodus 20:1-6; 32:1-7). About 3,000 men died that day as punishment for their sin (Exodus 32:28, 34-35). There is an unmistakable lesson for us from this event. We will not escape punishment if we reject God’s word that He has spoken to us from heaven “in His Son,” by the New Testament Scriptures (Hebrews 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Day of Judgment will remove heaven and earth. Only His kingdom will survive His awesome judgment (Hebrews 12:26-28). The words and wisdom of men will never prepare you to escape divine wrath against sin. But, the gospel of Jesus Christ will; it is God’s power to save you (Romans 1:16). Believe God’s word and obey the Lord Jesus, to “have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11–12, NKJV)
The parent who loves his or her child will discipline the misbehaving child. Instruction, along with punishment, consistently applied to correct disobedient behavior, works. The Lord God, who made us, knows it does, and He applies His “chastening” (instructive and corrective training) to produce respectful, obedient children. The child-rearing experts who refuse punitive correction do a great disservice to this generation – and the next. It is precisely because the father “delights” in (loves) his child that he corrects his child. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). True, correction is not pleasant when applied, but “afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11). Parents, teach and correct your children, using consist love, as the Lord does His children. Let us all heed the wise counsel of Solomon not to reject the Lord’s correction of our sins. It is intended for our benefit now, and our eternal salvation by and by.
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31, NKJV)
This passage does not excuse or encourage sins committed out of ignorance. Indeed, it plainly says that God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” of their sins – including sins of ignorance. This verse does acknowledge the forbearance of God, who mercifully gives sinners time to repent before interposing His just penalty against their sins (see Acts 14:16-17). Ignorance will not be an acceptable defense to free us from our sins and their wages (which is death, Rom. 6:23). God’s command to repent is merciful, since it seeks to prepare us for the coming day of judgment. Additionally, God has assured us of the future judgment by raising from the dead His appointed judge; Jesus Christ. Escaping eternal punishment on Judgment Day is a compelling motive to repent of our sins. God has been very clear. He will impose His punishment “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). Are you ready for the Judgment Day? Now is the day of salvation in Christ (2 Cor. 6:2; Acts 4:12).
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11:22–23, NKJV)
In considering the purposes of God that brought Gentiles into His kingdom while at the same rejecting unfaithful Jews, it is imperative that we recall God’s goodness and His severity. His goodness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). So does His severity (Heb. 10:26-31). It is altogether proper to use God’s punishment of sin as an incentive to be faithful to Him, because our God is a “consuming fire” against transgressors (Heb. 12:29). This verse tolls the death knell for the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. Those who do not “continue in His goodness” do not remain in His favor (“the soul who sins shall die,” Ezek. 18:20). God’s severity is impartially meted out against those who do evil (Rom. 2:9-11). God goodness is extended to and received by all who will “fear God and keep His commandments,” including Jews who “do not continue in unbelief” (Rom. 11:23). If Paul can use the goodness and the severity of God to urge people to follow Jesus, then we are confident we can, and should, do the same.
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–3, NKJV)
The brutality experienced by these Galileans did not signal greater sin on their part than others. Jesus nullified any attempt to directly correlate physical suffering as a measure of evil in one’s life. Indeed, the Son of God would Himself suffer greatly, although He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). Without ambiguity, Jesus warned that we will experience punishment unless we repent of our sins. In another place, He explained this perishing will be agonizing and unending in its breath and scope (Mk. 9:43-48). Today is the time to change your mind (repent) toward sinning against God. Thank God for the time He gives you to repent. Sin does not bring God’s reward. Sin brings eternal punishment. Use your time wisely – you do not know whether you will have tomorrow.
7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and try them; For how shall I deal with the daughter of My people? 8 Their tongue is an arrow shot out; It speaks deceit; One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the Lord. “Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 9:7–9, NKJV)
God’s ancient people needed refining; the dross had to be removed. Jerusalem and Judah was to be cleansed by God’s punishment (Babylonian destruction and exile, Jer. 25:1-14). One of their pervasive sins was speaking deceitful words. They spoke flattering lies with hearts full of malice. From this we learn that God takes note of our words and of our heart that prompts what we say. God saw their flattering, malicious lies as a personal affront to His holy character. He would avenge Himself on the unholy nation. This impresses us to realize that when we speak lies we sin against God Himself. Sins of the tongue do not escape His notice or His judgment. May we purify our hearts so that both our words and our hearts are acceptable to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel (Psa. 19:14).
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! (Galatians 5:13–15)
Liberty in Christ is not freedom to sin without eternal consequences. The apostle had just warned Christians against falling from grace (Gal. 5:4). Now, imagine if it were impossible to fall from grace as many believe and teach. Christians could then “bite and devour one another” and claim liberty in Christ as their exemption from eternal punishment. Even though such conduct is the sinful fulfilling of the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). What a harmful and deceptive view of sin! Backbiting, gossip and maligning others consumes brotherly relations while destroying the loving service that adorns our relationship in the family of God. Such works of the flesh condemn the soul (Gal. 5:16-21). Love your neighbor as yourself. Your liberty in Christ frees you to serve others in love, not to be a bondservant of sin.