- Genesis 2:16-17 (CSB): “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.‘”
- Psalm 79:9 (NASB): “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake.”
- Exodus 20:2-3 (NKJV): “I am the LORD your God … You shall have no other gods before Me.”
GOD’S TEN COMMANDMENTS
Here’s a test you can try with a friend who’s a casual Christian. One of those CEO Christians who makes it to church at Christmas, Easter, and occasional other moments. It’s just a series of five questions. Try it and see what happens!
First, ask if they’ve heard of The Ten Commandments.
They’ll likely say, “Yes, of course.”
Then ask if they can name them.
They’ll probably get four or five right, maybe six, but unless they’ve prepped for the quiz, they’ll probably end right there.
Third, ask if they’ve ever broken one of them. They’ll probably say, “Sure, hasn’t everyone?” as a deflection, then you can ask, “Which one?”
Most likely, your friend will admit to having told a lie occasionally. You know, one of the “little” commandments, nothing big like murder or adultery.
Here’s the fifth question. Ask what punishment they received for breaking the commandment.
They might stare at you like you’ve lost your mind, so maybe ask, “Did you expect any punishment?” Or even ask, “Did you think you deserved any punishment?”
CRIME WITHOUT PUNISHMENT
THE POINT OF THE EXERCISE is to show that while God has given His people, created in His image, clear commandments to follow, we tend to break them repeatedly, often with no thought of any consequences.
Look at Adam and Eve. God told Adam, directly and clearly, not to eat the fruit from one particular tree in the Garden, and Adam relayed that message to Eve. They were told if they disobeyed, they would die.
That’s a severe punishment in anyone’s book, and yet they still disobeyed God and ate from the tree. Yes, Eve was deceived, and Adam disobeyed, but they both knew God’s commandment and the certainty of God’s response.
Because of Adam’s sin, we all are born with sinful natures, yet while we are given a clear picture of God’s response to sin — banishment from the Garden, decay and death of our bodies, hardship in providing food and giving birth, and marital discord — we still disobey God and consider it “unfair” when we’re punished for it.
Yet God, in His mercy, also offers us forgiveness when we repent of, or turn from, our sin.
THE PSALMIST’S LAMENT
THE PSALMIST sings our lament when he cries out to God to save us from the penalty of our sin and forgive us “for Your name’s sake.” (Psalm 143:11)
It pains me to admit that I am part of that same disobedient process. When I disobey God, I tend to rationalize my actions to show I was “right” in what I did.
You could be just as skilled as I am in providing rationale for your own disobedience. We’re good at it, and we don’t believe we should be punished.
Just as I repeatedly violate God’s law, I am convicted of my sin, and I repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. Then, I’m reminded that I should be as gracious toward others and just as forgiving when they violate “my” laws.
God has told us He will forgive us, He will not forsake us, and He will do all that He has promised us for His glory and His holy name.
We serve a glorious and merciful God. Let us give praises to the One who saves, to the One who removes us from the penalty of our disobedience.
O LOVING AND MERCIFUL FATHER, we are deeply grieved by our sinful hearts and our love of evil. We suffer from the penalty of our disobedience and praise You for Your willingness to forgive us when we repent. Lord, hear our cries for help. Strengthen our hearts to be obedient to Your will. We ask this in the name of Your obedient Son, Jesus the Christ, the Holy One of God. AMEN