By David McNeely
God HATES sin.
Sin WRECKS people, places, and things.
Creation is PAYING THE PRICE for our sin.
Jesus tells us to deal harshly with it. Plucking out eyes and cutting of hands should not be taken literally but rather as a call to grab sin by the throat. The Holy Spirit promises to give us the power to do it. He loves giving that power.
The ultimate reason we are to deal harshly with it is because we want to love what God loves and hate what God hates. That’s the driving force.
Can I offer another motive which is both biblical and practical? Kids.
Exodus 34 is simultaneously one of the most comforting and upsetting passages in all of the scriptures. Reading the whole chapter gives context but listen to verses 4-7:
So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
The Lord passes by Moses and whispers what is true about Himself. He says, “I am merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands of generations while forgiving our wrongs.”
We all jump up and scream “Hallelujah!” Steadfast love is the Hebrew word “Hesed.” Few words are richer. The Jesus Storybook Bible explains it this way, “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” Hesed lets us know we can never outsin the cross.
And then God says He won’t forget sin. He’ll take it out on our grandchildren. And before the sentence is complete, our cheering turns to stunned silence. But what is God actually saying? Will He punish my sons for my sin?
John Piper offers great insight:
“When God visits the sins of the fathers on the children, he doesn’t punish sinless children for the sins of their fathers. He simply lets the effects of the fathers’ sins take their natural course, infecting and corrupting the hearts of the children. For parents who love their children this is one of the most sobering texts in all the Bible.
The more we let sin get the upper hand in our own lives, the more our children will suffer for it. Sin is like a contagious disease. My children don’t suffer because I have it. They catch it from me and then suffer because they have it.”
Mom and dad, hear this: Sin is worth fighting!
God does not leave us alone in the fight. Jesus resisted temptation, not just on one day in the desert, but on every day everywhere. The gospel tells us God not only forgives us when we sin but that He also gives us Jesus’ power to resist before we sin. While we won’t choose that every day on this earth, it can happen as often as we walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.
Resisting temptation brings glory to God, and that’s the driving motivation. But a legitimate, God honoring motive is also to spare our kids from added temptation. They deal with plenty of it already.
Grab sin by the throat. Let’s deal with our lust, gossip, greed, unrighteous anger, unbelief, and dozens of others sins. Do that by faith as you repent, cry out to God for help, and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. And for the sake of your children, remember the words of John Owen, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”