By Mike Willis
Most people think that being a Christian is difficult. One must admit that the way to salvation is strait and narrow (Matt. 7:13-14), sometimes attended with persecution (2 Tim. 3:12), and requires abstinence from the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). Nevertheless, the yoke of Christ is “easy” and His burden is “light” (Matt. 11:30).
Sometimes Christians see the world enjoying the “pleasures of sin” for their season and envy them. The wise man wrote, “Let not thine heart envy sinners” (Prov. 23:17; cf. 24:1,19). If one envies the sinners of the joy they get from their sin, before long he will be joining them in participating in sin.
Rather than the way of the Christian being hard, the Scriptures teach that “the way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15). His life is more difficult while on earth than is the life lived in obedience to the Lord.
Obedience Is Best For Man
Most of us quickly admit that obedience is best for man in view of eternity. However, some believe that it is best for man only in view of eternity. This idea needs to be corrected before one will allow the law of the Lord to be written on the tables of his heart (Heb. 8:10).
God gave His commandments to man for his own good. “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always. . . ” (Deut. 6:24; cf. 10:13). The man who obeys the word of God preserves himself from evil (Prov. 16:17; 19:16). Those who disobey the Lord love death. “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36).
Sin Has Consequences
Sin has its temporal consequences. One cannot sow to the flesh without reaping its harvest of sorrow and woe (cf. Prov. 11:3,5; 13:13; 15:32). For example, the wise man taught that the man who is cruel brings trouble to himself (Prov. 11:17). Sin has its temporal results.
Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner (Prov. 11:31).
He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail (Prov. 22:8).
In Proverbs 1:25-31, Solomon taught that the temporal consequences of sin cannot be averted by godly sorrow that leads to repentance.
Sin includes among its consequences (depending upon the circumstances) the following: (a) civil punishment (Prov. 10:13; 21:7; 29:24). When one violates the law, the judicial system is obligated to administer punishment (cf. Prov. 1:18-19). (b) Shortens life. “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Prov. 10:27). Sin’s temporal consequences have shortened the life of many a man (e.g., a drunkard in an automobile accident, a fornicator contacting a terminal illness, etc.). (c) Creates enslaving habits. “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins” (Prov. 5:22). Peter described some wicked men who “while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption” (2 Pet. 2:19). Sin entangles its victim, making him a slave of his own lusts. The man who chooses a life of sin, brings these temporal consequences on his own head.
The Prodigal Son: An Example Of Sin’s Consequences
Luke 15:11-32 contains the parable of the Prodigal Son, one of the Savior’s most hearttouching parables. The young man, not content to await his father’s death before obtaining his inheritance, went to his father and asked for his share of the inheritance. The young man left the father and went into a far country where he wasted his substance on harlots (15:30) and riotous living (15:13). Sin’s temporal pleasures were enjoyed by the young man for a season. Soon his inheritance was gone. His dissolute life brought him poverty (cf. Prov. 21:17). His “friends” forsook him when his money was gone. He was a foreigner in a strange land, broke, hungry, and nearly naked. In his desperate circumstances, he went to work feeding pigs “and he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him” (Lk. 15:16). Here the young man was learning this lesson: “The way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov. 13:15). In his desperate circumstances, “he came to himself.” He remembered his condition before leaving his father and decided that kind of life was better than the one he was now living.
Let us consider some of the consequences which come from a life of sin, using for our examples some of the sins common to our age.
1. Immorality. Many have chosen to commit fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. What consequences follow this life? Many are afflicted with diseases of the body (AIDS, venereal disease, sterility, etc.). If married, their sins frequently lead to divorce and always to family conflict. Emotional problems follow which range from guilt to haunting memories. “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
2. Drinking. The majority of Americans indulge in drinking intoxicating beverages. Not a few become drunks (alcoholics), totally addicted and enslaved to the bottle. These people lose their jobs, their family, their self-respect, and become dependent on others for their necessities of life. Even those who do not become alcoholics have problems such as increased strife (from arguments to fights). Read Proverbs 23:29-36 for a description of what occurs when one is drinking. Those who engage in social drinking are frequently the cause of wrecks which destroy property, cause bodily injury and death. Some are serving prison sentences for involuntary manslaughter because they chose to drink. “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
3. Drugs. A sizeable portion of the American society has chosen to use drugs. What are the consequences of this sin? Many become addicted to drugs. In order to support their habit, they spend all of their money and soon turn to crime to find enough money for the next fix. Young mothers who use drugs are giving birth to children who have an addiction. The way of drugs is a life of addiction, poverty, and physical maladies. “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
4. Greed. The lure of materialism promises a happiness which it cannot deliver. “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house” (Prov. 15:27). Those who chase after riches frequently become dishonest. One Christian who became involved in an embezzling scheme is now serving time in a federal penitentiary. Those who are not dishonest in their greed frequently value things more than people, leading to problems in their family life (divorce, separation from children). “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
5. Laziness. The industriousness commended in the Proverbs (6:6-10) has been rejected by some who think “the world owes them a living.” They are too lazy to work and too proud to beg; consequently, they have chosen to live off welfare or punch a time clock without doing any work. Laziness leads to poverty and want. The children born to welfare families rarely learn enough industriousness to keep them off welfare in the next generation. Perpetuating a welfare state will bring national bankruptcy and the destruction of the nation. “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
6. Sins of the tongue. Many Christians never learn to control their tongues. They are guilty of lying, gossip, whispering, flattery, and other sins. After a while, their friends recognize these sins and shun them. Their word is not believed or trusted. Soon they are isolated and lonely, being without friends. “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
“Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward” (Prov. 22:5). The Lord told wicked Israel, “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths” (Hos. 2:6). God has ordained that the “way of the transgressor is hard.”
We should give thanks to Him for this. Those who cannot be reached by the instruction of the word, like the prodigal son, sometimes come to themselves while trying to survive in the pig pen of sin and resolve to return to their Father’s house. Because the temporal consequences of sin lead some lost souls to repentance, more will be saved than might have been saved had God not ordained that “the way of the transgressor is hard.”
The wise person will not have to experience the hard ways of the transgressor to know that is not the path in life to choose. He can learn from the sufferings of others and avoid the path of wickedness in his life. Indeed, he will recognize that obedience to God’s commandments is the best life available to him and will devote himself to following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 19, pp. 578, 599
October 2, 1986