I drove by a “church” the other day and they had a sign out front that said “We are not punished for our sins, but by them.” This is a quote from Elbert Hubbard. This may sound good to people, but is it true? Let’s look at the last part of the statement first. Are we punished by our sins? Another way to look at this is: Are there repercussions for our actions? Of course there are. This is common sense.
If you have sex outside of biblical marriage between a man and a woman, you run the risk of contracting AIDS, or herpes or some other sexually transmitted disease. If you steal something valuable from a meth house (not knowing it was a meth house), it could cause you serious health problems. If you do drugs, you may have immediate consequences – you could lose your job or get into an accident. You could harm yourself or someone else. But let’s say that marijuana is your drug of choice. Let’s say that you never gateway into anything harder. It’s just weed. There surely isn’t any harm in that. Right? Wrong. Regular marijuana use causes long term memory loss.
So even if there aren’t immediate consequences, sometimes there are long term consequences. It may appear that you are getting away with it. It may look like you can sin all that you want to and it won’t cause you any problems or get you into any trouble. It may look like you are not really punished by your sins after all. You just keep enjoying the pleasures of sin and there aren’t any consequences. There isn’t any punishment. Or so it appears. But later on, it catches up to you. You may not even see it coming. It may be something as simple as long term memory loss that takes a long time to even show any symptoms. But eventually there is punishment by your sins.
So the last part of the statement appears to be true and most of the time, there are consequences for your sins. But what about the ones that actually get away with it? According to the FBI, around 6,000 murders a year in the United States go unsolved. So over the past 16 years, 100,000 people have been killed in America and their killers were not caught. That’s 100,000! So if 100,000 people have gotten away with murder over the past 16 years, then we really can’t say that we are punished by our sins – at least not each and every time. So the last part of Mr. Hubbard’s statement is not completely true.
Now let’s look at the first part of his statement: We are not punished for our sins. Is this statement true? It’s hard to even ask this question with a straight face. Are we punished for our sins? Many sins are punishable by law. So if you get caught breaking the law, chances are you will suffer punishment for your sins. There was a local man who recently pleaded guilty to distributing nearly $7 Million worth of K2. Now he faces up to 40 years in prison.
So similar to being punished by our sins, we can also be punished for our sins. So Mr. Hubbert’s statement may sound good, but it is most definitely false. We are punished for our sins. But again, what about the 100,000 murders that have gone unsolved over the past 16 years in the U.S. alone. They haven’t been punished for their sins – at least not yet.
But do not be deceived. We are punished for our sins. Even those murderers who think that they’ve gotten away with murder, they have not gotten away with it. They will be punished and that punishment will be far more severe and so much worse than receiving life in prison. Once a person receives this sentence, the verdict can never be reversed. There is no early release program. There is no chance for parole. There are no second chances. Hell is eternal. The flames are never extinguished. The torment never stops. The pain and anguish is everlasting. The screams never stop. There is never a break from the mental anguish; not even for one second. It is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is so horrible, that I can’t even adequately describe it to you. It is worse than your worst nightmare a billion times over. It is punishment beyond words. You definitely do not want to end up there.
So who in the world deserves to go to that awful place? How about Hitler? How about those terrorist thugs – ISIS? How about mass murderers? How about rapists? How about child molesters? Who really deserves to go to Hell? All these people mentioned definitely deserve to go to Hell, but what about “good people” like you and me? Do we deserve to go to Hell? Surely our sins aren’t that bad. Surely we don’t really deserve to be eternally damned to Hell. Surely, not us. But oh, think again. We actually do deserve it. We do deserve to be punished for our sins forever in Hell. We have all rebelled against almighty God.
You may continue protesting that you really aren’t that bad. But you don’t understand who God is. You don’t understand how Holy, righteous and just He is. Many people have heard that God is loving, merciful and kind. These are attributes of God. But the Holy, just and righteous attributes equally describe God’s nature. If God didn’t punish sin, then He would no longer be God. God is God! God created Heaven and earth and He created you and me. He is all powerful and almighty. He is the final authority.
God has every right to punish us and He will do so. Listen to what God says. The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4). The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16).
The Bible goes on to say: Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivers from death (Proverbs 11:4). The Lord is known by the judgment which he executes: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands (Psalm 9:16). The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God (Psalm 9:17). The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Even little lies are enough sin to banish someone to Hell for all of eternity. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall not escape (Proverbs 19:5). A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall perish (Proverbs 19:9). A high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin (Proverbs 21:4). Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). Jesus said that if you lust after someone that you have already committed adultery with that person in your heart. So not only do we deserve to be punished for our sins, we even deserve to be punished for our wicked thoughts.
Do not be deceived. God will punish sin. God is angry with unrepentant sinners. The foolish shall not stand in your sight: you hate all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5). God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Do not be deceived, Judgment Day is coming. But the LORD shall endure forever: he has prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness (Psalm 9:7-8). For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished (2 Peter 2:9).
1 Peter 4:17-18 states: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
You cannot undo your sins. You can’t erase them. You can’t make them go away. Doing more good than bad does not work. You cannot do more good than bad to make yourself right with God. Our very best is as filthy rags to our righteous and Holy God. He is that Holy! So if you are counting on your own goodness to save you, it will not work. None of us are righteous on our own. We are all sinners and we cannot save ourselves. Numbers 32:23 says: be sure your sin will find you out. Unrepentant sinners will stand before God on Judgment Day and they will have no excuse. Hell is their final destination, but it is no resting place. Don’t foolishly die in your sins and end up suffering the torments of Hell forever and ever.
Jesus Christ is the only Savior. Only Jesus can cleanse you from your sins. Jesus is the only sinless, perfect One; the precious Son of God, who took the place of sinful man, when He was beat beyond recognition and then hung on the cruel cross for the sins of the world. God’s anger over our sin was poured out on Jesus as He hung on that cross. Jesus took our punishment for us. He paid our sin debt in full. He died on the cross and rose victoriously from the grave. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is an Advocate for His followers. He is a mediator – the only Mediator between sinful man and our Holy God.
Only Jesus saves sinners. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus the only way. He is the only Savior from the wrath of God, the same wrath that we rightly deserve.
Come to Jesus. Be saved today. Turn from your sins and turn to Jesus. We are to have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ our Lord. Please put your trust in Jesus. Trust in His finished work on the cross. Trust in His righteousness. When you put your faith in Jesus and repent from your sins, God then sees you through Jesus’ righteousness and He places your sin on Jesus – who already paid the sin debt in full.
Get right with God today. Put your faith in the Son of God. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36). He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. Choose life. Repent by turning away from your sins and turn to Jesus. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved (Acts 16:31). Believe in the Lord Jesus. When Jesus is your Lord, you surrender your life to Him. When you are surrendered to Christ, you say: Your will be done Lord, not mine. You deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him. Do this today and be saved. Repent and believe the Gospel.
(This message was lifted up in the open-air in downtown Springfield, MO on October 3, 2014)