We were not designed to sin. We were created to live in the presence of God. Yet God gave a choice: the tree of life or the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I’ve spoken to some who think that this was a “set up” from God, especially since He knew we were going to choose evil over good. But love is a choice, and just as He chooses every day to love us, He gives us the opportunity to choose to love Him in return. In Psalm 38 we see David’s lament over his own sinfulness.
Sometimes we think that God punishes us in anger against us for not being obedient. Yes, God’s anger burns when His children are disobedient, just like any other parent, but His anger isn’t a selfish, conceited, control-freak kind of anger like we often experience. We take offense when people don’t listen to us (children or otherwise) because we are a prideful people and we take it personally as an affront to our own wisdom and intelligence. We call people foolish for not listening to us and look down upon them for making their own decisions regardless of what we think they should do. How much more then of a right does God have to be angry with us in this way since He actually knows what is best for us? Yet still, His anger burns not because our disobedience challenges His sovereignty (it doesn’t, by the way). No, His anger burns against us because He knows how destructive our disobedience is to us.
Sin carries its own punishment. Think of any sin right now. Then think about why you would do it: it’s pleasurable and enticing in some way. Yet after the sin is committed, there come consequences. God has already told us what happens as a result of our sinfulness. More than anything, it pulls us away from His presence, which is the most glorious place you could think of being. But aside from that, it destroys us. Physically, emotionally, mentally…sinfulness isn’t just about not doing what God tells us to do. It’s living outside of our design. If you don’t believe me, wait until your child runs out into traffic without “permission” from you. As a mature adult you know the consequences: it could destroy and literally kill your child. That’s why you are so adamant about your child not doing it. You even put rules and boundaries and habits (hold my hand, look both ways, don’t stop to pick things up, etc.) to try to protect them from that danger that looms. God, as our loving Father, does the same to us.
If your child were to get hit by a vehicle, would you then punish them afterwards? Would you pick them up and spank them to “teach them a lesson” or is the lesson already learned? God will correct and discipline us before the destruction is done in order to help us avoid impending doom, but the sin itself carries its own punishment and lesson in the consequences of our actions. David knew this and He cried out to God for help. “Don’t be angry with me Father, for I have been a foolish son. I’m falling apart here as a result of my sinfulness. Help me not be destroyed by it but restore me and help me learn from it and grow.”
I want to invite you to read through Psalm 38 again. This time, keep in mind your own sinfulness. How have you disobeyed the Lord? What burdens you? Who comes against you as a result of your own sinfulness? If you can’t think of anything, contemplate what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Submit your sinfulness to God. Confess them. Repent of them. Rebuke them from your soul. Cry out to God and claim His salvation and love and mercy. Receive His grace.