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The Consequences of Sin

Most of us are aware of the seriousness of cancer. Few things are more dreaded than this word, spoken by a doctor after a biopsy. Compared to cancer the word sin seems very tame and its consequences insignificant. But once we understand the true nature of sin, we will understand that it is worse than cancer.

Cancer can only destroy our physical life and separate us from our family and loved ones for a time. Sin, if unforgiven, destroys our souls and separates us from God forever.

Thankfully, God has provided the cross as a remedy to remove the eternal consequences of sin for those in Christ who truly repent. This fact, however, may cause us to feel a little less fearful of sin. We may think, "I will enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, then repent and God will forgive me." What we must realize is that even when sin is forgiven there are consequences. If I get into a drunken brawl and lose an eye, my sin may be forgiven, but it does not replace my eye.

Some sins weaken our bodies, and forgiveness will not heal them. Time may be required to live down the damage sin does to our reputation and some people may hold our sins against us for years. The worst damage may well be to our own self-respect. Indeed, guilt often lives longer in our own conscience than anywhere else; we fancy that people are holding against us things which they have long since forgotten or things about which they never knew.

In the book of Genesis we have the familiar story of Joseph whose brothers sold him to be a slave in Egypt. Later, when they encountered Joseph in Egypt, he was in position to punish them severely, but instead he forgave them freely. He was kind to them and proved that his forgiveness was genuine. Yet, when their father died they were afraid that Joseph would then have his revenge. They said, "What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him" (Gen. 50:15).

The lesson of all of this is to avoid sin. But once we have sinned, we must repent of it, obtain forgiveness from the Lord and from others against whom we have sinned, learn from the experience whatever we can, and then forget it.

We can destroy our lives by brooding over the sins of our past. This is neither true repentance nor becoming humility; rather, it is a lack of faith in God's promise: "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more forever" (Heb. 8:12).