The message of I Samuel 12 to a people who had sinned is a hopeful one: if they will admit their sin, God will forgive, and they should not give up on their relationship with Him. But it ends with a warning that we would all do well to hear. Verses 24-25 admonish: “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart ; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.” In other words, there was restoration available for their relationship with God, but they must not succumb to the idea that because He had been gracious to them that they could take sin lightly, and continue in it. He says “if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”
Those of us who have “messed up” today still need this warning against “cheap grace” — the idea that forgiveness is easy, and that we can continue to sin without repercussions. God is very gracious, as we observe all through His word. But we must not think that because He is gracious, that we can continue to sin with impunity.
One of the great examples of grace in scripture is in John 8’s account of Jesus and the adulterous woman. Despite being caught in the very shameful act of adultery, Jesus was gracious to her, and said, “Neither do I condemn you.” But we must also never forget that He then gave her a stern warning: “Now go and sin no more”! There was forgiveness available for her, but she was not to take His forgiveness lightly, and blithely continue in sin.
That message is very similar to the one God gave His people in I Samuel 12. It should stand as a warning from the Lord to any of us who would be tempted to “take advantage” of His gracious nature, and think that because He is gracious, and has forgiven us, that we may casually continue in sin while counting on more forgiveness and grace. There is indeed forgiveness and restoration from God when we have “messed up” — but we must not take it for granted. You must take your sin seriously — it cost the death of God’s own Son to purchase your forgiveness! His grace which offers you forgiveness for past sin is the same grace which will produce in you the strength to turn away from sin in the future. Those who have genuinely been touched by God’s grace will never take their forgiveness — or their sin — lightly. Rather, by His grace, they will take a different path from that day forward.
In tomorrow’s final installment of “When You’ve Messed Up”, we’ll look at YOUR responsibility towards others when THEY are the ones who have sinned.