A menacing tone of voice from an adult causes the toddler to pause as he reaches up to grab the pot of bubbling sauce on the stove. He remembers that tone preceding trouble and pain last week. He withdraws his hand.
“You know the rules,” the father says to his daughter as she walks out the door on a Friday night to meet up with her friends. She remembers the time she broke curfew and had her cell phone confiscated for a week. Doesn’t sound too terrible but it nearly crushed her not to have instantaneous access to message and interact with her friends on social media. She comes home on time.
The dad is late for work and is doing 15 mph over the speed limit. A school zone is ahead with a speed limit 25 mph less than his current speed. Does he chance it and keep going 55 in a 30 zone? He remembers a buddy of his who got blue lighted a couple of months ago in the same speed zone doing about the same speed. Because it was a school zone the fine was doubled. He slows down knowing he’ll be a minute or two late for work. He might get written up but that’s better than a $400 speeding ticket.
In all three cases, memories informed and shaped decision-making. Experience taught them that failure to obey could produce undesirable and unpleasant consequences.
What about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They had had no bad experiences prior to that day. They had never disobeyed God (or knew of anyone or anything that ever had). A lot of people have written about “the fall” (and a lot of it is good). But I haven’t read too much on what seems to be a major salient point of the account. The main selling point of Satan was that they were not answerable to God. They could do as they wished and there would be absolutely no blow-back. Boy, were they wrong!
Sin abounds when people set aside that they are answerable for every word they speak (Matthew 12:36) and every deed that they do (Matthew 16:27 & Revelation 22:12).
I know we are not answerable for what we repent of but I also know we cannot sin because we can repent of it (Romans 6:15-16 & Hebrews 6:4-6).
We have become far too cavalier about disobeying God. The Bible is clear about taking innocent life (see the 6th Commandment) but plenty of churchgoers are proudly pro-abortion. It is equally clear about adultery (see the 7th Commandment, Matthew 5:27-28, & 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) but adultery (and other sexual sins) are apparently rampant among Christians as well (see this article). We (Christians) are doing these things because we are believing the same lie that Satan sold Eve: you won’t have to answer for it.
We can ignore the Word of God. We can take it out of context to justify our decision-making. We can bend, twist, and even rewrite it. We can even be like Eve and talk about God while we are deciding to disobey Him. But what we will never be able to do is evade being answerable to God for any/all of our unrepented sin(s).
One of the most frightening things Jesus ever said was near the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. Here it is:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).
When we don’t repent of our sins we are saying that we will not be answerable for them. The key to the passage above is the phrase “the will of my Father.” It is neither your will nor mine that counts in the end. It is obvious that the people Jesus was referring to were doing a lot of things (that they conveniently omitted) that were not the will of the Father. I guess they must have convinced themselves they would not have to answer for those things as long as they did an equal amount of things that were in line with the Father’s will. They were/are/shall be wrong.
Don’t miss the fact that Jesus said they called to Him as “Lord” repeatedly. It didn’t help. They had convinced themselves that what they were doing, that they didn’t bring to His attention, they wouldn’t have to answer for because they had reconciled themselves to it. They believed they weren’t answerable. What they/we failed to consider was that they/we are never going to be able to reconcile God to blatant disobedience. They weren’t to be cast from His presence for the good deeds they reminded Him of, but the plethora of deeds/words that Jesus called acts of “lawlessness.”
We may be able to reconcile ourselves, and even those around us, to our “lawlessness” by shining the light on what we are willing to do that God says. It’s the old magician’s trick where we draw attention to the hat in one hand while the other is grabbing the rabbit (hopefully unnoticed). It may convince a lot of people (maybe all of them) but they aren’t the ones that need convincing. God is. And He is keenly aware of what that other hand is doing.
So, say what you will, do what you want, and vote how you choose. Just be mindful that if it isn’t according to the will of the Father, you (and I) will have to answer for it. And all the good deeds you ever did won’t compensate for “…everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them…” (Matthew 7:26).