With You there is forgiveness,
that You may be reverenced.
Psalm 130:4

The Rippling Effects of Sin <- Previous  <- Next
Photo of ripples in water.

Photo ©iStockPhoto.com/fpm

The rippling effects of our sin may have far greater consequences than we will ever realize in this life

If we could see the far-reaching consequences of our sin as God does, we would probably be horrified. Even sins that we think are private or insignificant often have a far greater impact than we think. At the very least, every sin we commit hinders us from being all that God would have us to be and from doing all that He would have us to do. This affects those around us, and they in turn affect others, and the effects go on and on. This is something we really should spend some time thinking about. Doing so may be used of God to help us deepen our repentance, grow in our hatred of sin, and battle temptation. We will soon realize that our sin often has far more impact than we can ever remedy. God cares very much about relationships and righteousness. When we sin, God not only desires us to acknowledge it and agree with Him about it, but also to make things right when we can. If we steal from someone, God doesn’t just want us to confess our sin; He wants us to make restitution if possible. If we lie about someone and cause them harm, God doesn’t just want us to confess; He wants us to do what we can to repair the situation. But sometimes, our sin does damage that can’t be repaired. Murder is an obvious example. No matter how broken and repentant a murderer may be over their sin, their victim will never resume their life in this world and the victim’s family and friends will never have their loved-one restored to them in this life. A dishonest CEO who has cost investors billions of dollars probably couldn’t repay his victims in a hundred lifetimes no matter how repentant he is. Likewise, some of the things we say may cause harm that can never be undone. Our relationship with someone may be permanently broken or their reputation may be damaged for life no matter how hard we try to make amends. And things we have failed to do may also have unalterable consequences. We may never again have the opportunity to say those words that could have radically altered someone’s future and destiny. What’s worse, the rippling effects of our sin may have far greater consequences than we will ever realize in this life. We may never know how much we have hurt our testimony and the gospel message by our sin.

Picture depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.

Part of a watercolor by James Tissot at Brooklyn Museum.

Because of the cross, God is able to forgive our sin no matter how great it is.

While dwelling on these things can be helpful, thinking too much about them could also lead to despair. What are we to do about all the things we can’t fix? Shall we do some sort of penance or try to do extra “good deeds” to atone for them? No, we can never atone for them. Take them to the cross. That is the only remedy. Jesus has already paid the debt we could never pay. Because of the cross, God is able to forgive our sin no matter how great it is. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband, Uriah, murdered to cover up the adultery. When the time was right, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. Nathan told him the serious on-going consequences that God would bring into his life. But when David repented, the prophet Nathan added, “The LORD also put away your sin. You shall not die.” David deserved to die but God forgave him. How could God do this? What about Uriah and his family? Couldn’t they say that God was unfair? If it weren’t for the cross, they could. On the cross, the Son of God suffered and died for all the sins of David. He took the punishment that David deserved. David could never restore Uriah to life and return him to his family nor could he stop the rippling effects that his sin would have throughout the nation. David could never “make things right” in this regard. Yet God was still able to forgive him because of the cross. If Uriah’s family considered their own sin then they, like us, would have much cause to be thankful that God does deem it fair for Jesus to take the punishment that we deserve. Though most of have never murdered anyone, we are all just as desperately in need of forgiveness as King David. In fact Jesus said that if we harbor hatred in our heart towards someone, we are guilty of murder in our heart. Even the sins that never leave our hearts are serious in the sight of God. So let us take time to consider the seriousness of our sin, and its far-reaching consequences. Then let us take time to think upon the incredible price that Jesus paid so that we can be forgiven. And let us be thankful.

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