Sometimes, as we are in our lifelong sanctification process, particular habits of sin take time to diminish and disappear altogether. G-d hates sin because He is holy and because it is what keeps us apart from Him. But He is also patient and long-suffering with us, as long as we are submitted to Him and we cooperate obediently with the authority and power of the Holy Spirit as He continuously works to cleanse us from all unrighteousness—and from glory to glory.
There are, however, also sins, habits and strongholds which last longer than necessary; sometimes due to our unwillingness to give them up. There is a very serious admonition (born of love) in G-d’s holy Word that, in today’s world, might seem too harsh to actually put into practice. Turn to Matthew 18: 15-17, please. The passage reads, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
You may think this cruel and unloving, but these words come directly from the overflow of our Lord Jesus’ perfect heart. He is the very One who willingly died for our sins. His words are trustworthy. Ask yourself these questions: WHY did our Lord die? WHAT were the purpose and benefit of His grueling execution? It was to set us free from the power of sin, and to redeem and restore us so that, though we were scarlet, we could become white as snow in the eyes of Almighty G-d. His death afforded us the possibility to be eternally free of defilement, but we have to see our need and want salvation in order to take hold of this promise.
Further, we hear a lot these days of the often-misquoted and misunderstood text which tells us (but we wrongly interpret) that we are not to judge one another. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells the Corinthian church, “What business is it of mine to judge those OUTSIDE the church? Are we not to judge those INSIDE the church? Expel the wicked from among you.” This exhortation is in line with Christ’s instructions. 1 John 3: 6 explains the reason for the unwillingness to comply with the Lord’s command by pointing out, “No one who abides in Him [Jesus] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” Verse 9 says, “No one born of G-d makes a practice [continual, intentional habit] of sinning, for G-d’s seed abides in Him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of G-d.” And this is frightening, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10: 26-27). Wow! Maybe that seems harsher yet. There are many who don’t “believe” in this Jesus. They believe in an idol they have manufactured in their hearts and minds. Our Lord is indeed the very essence of love (1 John 4: 8, Colossians 1: 15, 2:9), but to love is not to endorse, embrace, accept or tolerate anything and everything; actually, that is at the heart of wickedness because it is opposed to G-d.
Perhaps you have wondered about passages such as Acts 5: 1-11, Joshua 5: 6 or another that makes us question the goodness (moral purity) of our Creator. When you take into account and ponder the overarching picture of the perfection of creation, His desire for fellowship with man for all of eternity, man’s disobedience and the breach in relationship that has ensued, His plan of restoration and the unfathomable love, compassion and mercy of G-d to come into the world and shed His blood to wash us clean so that His original purposes would not be thwarted, you should begin to see that nothing unclean, blemished, defiled, spotted, soiled, corrupted, mixed, stained or rebellious can or should be allowed to exist with Him in perpetuity.
When I used to read Genesis chapter three, I didn’t quite understand what was actually being conveyed in verses 22-24, particularly the words in verse 22, “…Behold, the man has become like one of Us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life and eat, and LIVE FOREVER–.” What the Holy Spirit is articulating is the seriousness of what must not be allowed to transpire. Namely, now that man has sinned, he who was created to live eternally must now not be permitted to or else there would be NO END TO SIN and, therefore, no possibility of man to dwell with his G-d and no victory over sin. Please let that sink in.
Verses 23-24 declare, “Therefore the Lord G-d sent him out from the Garden of Eden… He drove out the man [and his wife], and at the east of the Garden of Eden He placed the cherubim [angel] and a flaming sword that he turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” You see, G-d is eternal with no beginning and no end. He is also 100% holy! So, in order for His people to be reconciled to Him and live forever with Him and in His presence, we must be holy—unblemished, unspotted, undefiled, unsoiled and unstained—as He is holy. He is consecrating those who will follow Him, calling them out of the world, cleansing and restoring them to be fit for His plans and purposes. Anything rebellious, disobedient, sinful and, therefore, wicked, will perish as they have chosen to do by refusing and rejecting the grace and free gift of eternal life. What seem like drastic measures to us are necessary to CONSECRATE AND PRESERVE the purity of His kingdom.
May the Lord G-d grant you wisdom and understanding. Amen.