“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5-6 NLT)
Much of Christian music today emphasizes the forgiveness and love of God, which is well and good, but I rarely if ever hear a song about the consequences of disobedience to the Lord. When Jesus sacrificed His body on the Cross in our place, He paid the penalty for our outstanding sin debt. He did not pay for the consequences of those sins. What do I mean?
If I’m a chain smoker, drug addict, alcoholic, have a sexually transmitted disease, am a chronic liar, gossip, murderer, or have any other habitual sin pattern when I come to the Lord, the blood of Jesus spilled on the Cross covers the death penalty that I could never in eternity ever have paid myself, but it doesn’t cover the consequences of years of living in those sinful patterns.
If I’ve destroyed my heart and lungs smoking, fried my brain with drugs, am serving a life sentence for murder or other violent crime, or whatever chronic effects remain after my conversion, the Lord isn’t automatically going to make those things go away. Neither is He going to tolerate my continued practice of those things after my conversion.
There’s a price to pay for following Jesus, but there’s an even greater price for ignoring His claims on our lives. Notice in the verse above Paul writes: “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.” The clear implication of that directive is “YOU” put to death those things. God is not going to take them away without your permission and commitment to make the effort needed to be free of them.
Over the years I’ve seen many people have a “conversion experience,” only to continue living unchanged. Are they going to heaven because they “prayed a prayer?” Jesus said in Matthew 7:19: “So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
According to Paul’s words in Romans 2:5-8: “But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But He will pour out His anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.”
We tend to lean so heavily on the grace of God that we forget He doesn’t ignore or overlook our disobedience. Rob Turner wrote: “Not obeying Jesus is the most dangerous place to be on the planet.” We are judged by our deeds, not our good intentions.
The greater measure of obedience we desire and pursue, the greater measure of joy and fulfillment we’ll experience in our walk with the Lord. Yes, of course, His love for us never changes. He loves each one who enters a Christ-less eternity. Love is not in question. Obedience is the issue.
In what is commonly referred to as “The Great Commission” Jesus said in Matthew 28:20: “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” We continue to walk in disobedience to the Lord’s commands at our peril.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊