If God is so forgiving, then why not sin?

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)  

This past Sunday, I preached on the greatest of all Jesus’ stories in my opinion, the parable of the prodigal son. This story, of a rebellious younger son, an offended older son, and a father who displays extravagant grace, reveals our God to be more loving and forgiving than we could have ever imagined.

The danger of displaying such lavish grace, of course, is that people may come to the conclusion that “I can live however I want and confess later, because God always forgives.” This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer labeled “cheap grace” – grace without discipleship. But I believe that outlook is very dangerous for two main reasons:

1) Sin is not innocent, but deadly

Satan is a master fisherman, skilled at presenting the bait and hiding the hook, showing the short-term pleasure but hiding the long-term misery. As Klyne Snodgrass put it, “Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap.” The flirtation, the drink, the purchase, the venting of your anger, the laziness, the food – it may feel so good in the moment. But if it is contrary to God’s will, it will inevitably lead to long-term pain.

2) Genuine repentance is not that simple

You may think that you can live however you want today and just repent tomorrow. But you do not realize that sin hardens the heart, making it likely that the future repentance may never happen. In his book “What’s so amazing about grace,” Philip Yancey tells a story about a man who was considering leaving his wife for another woman and came to talk to Philip to ask if God could forgive what he was about to do. In response, Philip said this:

“Can God forgive you? Of course. You know the Bible. God uses murderers and adulterers. For goodness’ sake, a couple of scoundrels named Peter and Paul led the New Testament church. Forgiveness is our problem, not God’s. What we have to go through to commit sin distances us from God – we change in the very act of rebellion – and there is no guarantee we will ever come back. You ask me about forgiveness now, but will you even want it later, especially if it involves repentance?”

Do not fall for the lie that you can live however you want and just repent later. Trust that the God who gave His Son for you loves you and has your best interest at heart, and that in following Him is found life to the full.

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