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The Landscape of Sin part 2

            Last week I remarked that I’d replied to someone’s question regarding how to forget sinful behavior after repentance, with the observation that, “sometimes sin puts a mark on our emotional landscape like a flood leaves a mark on the earthly landscape.” The ravages of nature’s power scar the natural landscape in the same way that sin indelibly scars the mind.

            Regret is a difficult challenge to deal with. Many years ago, I was standing at the bedside of a aged dying brother who only had minutes or hours to live. With all the strength he could muster he was trying to whisper something to me. The words were, “I’ve been really bad in my life.” I asked, “have you repented and asked God to forgive you?” He said, “yes.” The truth was, he’d lived most of his life as a faithful Christian, but as the time drew near to meet his God, the scars of sin and regret become vividly clear. I want to think his real problem was not believing God would forgive, but, because he could remember his sins so clearly, he was worried that God would too. NOT SO! I felt sorry for this brother and tried to console him with the assurance that God forgives and forgets if he indeed repented. But if he hadn’t, there was little time left. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that the new covenant was unique in this regard, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb 8:12)

             I was saddened to learn last week about the death of another brother in Christ who died in a Virginia penitentiary after serving 27 years. His name was Tom. I had communicated with Tom for many years via mail and phone. His father had been a Gospel preacher. Tom had attended a so called “Christian college”, married a good woman and had children. Every letter he wrote contained the remorse and regret for what he’d done, the disappointment he caused his parents, the loss of the fatherhood of his children, and the loss of his children’s souls to the devil. Tom never made an excuse for his evil actions nor did he blame others. What stands out in my mind is when he wrote, “I thought I could run around with evil people and it wouldn’t affect me.” He allowed himself to be pulled into a circle of friends who went on a crime spree in at least two states. The landscape of his heart had scars on top of scars with the regret of his sins. Tom told me in so many words that he understood the full force of 1 Cor. 15:33, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.”

            These two stories of two men who are dead, but before they died they come to the reality that the earthly reminders and consequences of sin are hard to live with. They knew first hand the landscape of sin is hard territory to travel. They understood that there is a day that they would give an account to God for the deeds done in the body. 

            My point is, carefully consider your actions TODAY! The landscape of your heart will never be scarred by doing what’s right. Unintended consequences ALWAYS result from doing wrong. And again, it is unfathomable to imagine living in eternity with the regret we force upon ourselves here. The landscape of sin is a hard reminder of the torment in hell that awaits the unrepentant Christian and unbeliever. Praise be to the God of Heaven who forgives and forgets! Think about it. Mark Pape