By Mike Willis
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. This nursery rhyme from our youth had a moral lesson that is particularly apropos to the circumstances our nation presently faces. Our President has confessed his sinful conduct, the independent counsel charges that he was guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and other abuses of his political office. But, our President wants to say “I’m sorry” and resume the work which this nation elected him to do.
One might say that our President is trying to put “Jack” back in the box or trying to unscramble eggs. There is just no way possible for one to undo what he has done. A bank robber can’t just say, “I’m sorry” and things go back to the way they were before he robbed the bank; a murderer can’t say, “I’m sorry” and things go back to the way they were before he murdered; an adulterer cannot just say, “I’m sorry” and things go back to the way they were before his adultery.
Sin has consequences. The approach to sin which implies that our President’s “I’m sorry” should mean that he can continue in his office despite his immoral and criminal actions ignores the consequences of sin. The book of Proverbs describes one in the condition of our President:
Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my re- proof:
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil (Prov. 1:24-33).
The person described in the book of Proverbs ignored the divine commandments, choosing to live in rebellion, instead of in obedience, to the word of God. This man “set at nought” God’s counsel and “would none of my reproof.” At last the consequences of sin fell heavily upon this man’s head. The Lord then laughs at the sinner’s “calamity” and mocks when his “fear” cometh. Fear comes on him like desolation and destruction like a whirlwind, bringing dis- tress and calamity.
In his suffering the sinner calls on God to deliver him from the consequences of his sin. The Lord replied, “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me” (Prov. 1:28). The sense of this passage is not that God will not forgive sinners who ask forgiveness as they reap the bitter consequences of sin. Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son whose sin resulted in him being in the pig pen shows God’s willingness to forgive any sinner who will turn to him. That rebellious son said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:18-19). Yes, the Father forgave him, but the prodigal son’s inheritance was forever squandered and all that was left belonged to the older brother, even in that parable (Luke 15:31).
The sense in which God will not hear the sinner who calls on him is that he will not deliver the sinner from sin’s consequences. In the words of the text in Proverbs, the wise man said, “Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Prov. 1:31-32). Our President now must face the just consequences of the sins that he has committed.
Not Just The President
What was written in Proverbs was not written with the President in mind. It was written for all sinners who turn their backs against God to walk in disobedience. The President’s problems just serve as a good opportunity to be reminded of this important biblical principle. There are Bible characters who suffered the consequences of their sin, just as our President is.
1. Adam’s sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Gar- den, the Lord was merciful to forgive them. However, the consequences of sin came to the entire human race. The pain of woman’s childbirth was multiplied and her husband would “rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). Man had to earn his living by the sweat of his brow from a cursed earth that brought forth thorns and thistles. Furthermore, separation from the tree of life brought physical death upon the entire human race (Gen. 3:17-19). How Adam must have cried over the consequences of sin when his own son Abel was the first human to suffer physical death, and that at the hands of his brother.
2. David’s sin with Bathsheba. The Lord forgave David of his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. Nevertheless, the consequences that came to David because of his sin included the following: (a) The baby born to Bathsheba died (2 Sam. 12:15); (b) God raised up evil against David from among the members of his own house (2 Sam. 12:11, Absalom’s rebellion); (c) David’s wives were sexually defiled in a public manner (2 Sam. 12:11; this occurred when Absalom publicly had relations with David’s wives, 16:22). David lost his moral authority over his children and was in no position to address the sinful conduct of Amnon against Tamar (2 Sam. 13). The sorrows that followed David the rest of his life were the direct consequences of his sin with Bathsheba.
I remember sitting with several preachers discussing the sad consequences lying ahead of a preacher who had just repented of and confessed his adultery. The older, more mature preacher in the group said, “He can’t put Jack back in the box” and he can’t “unscramble eggs.” The point was that sin’s consequences would come to this preacher, even though he had been forgiven. In some cases, preachers who confess their sin and are told that they no longer can preach for the local church charge that members in the church are not willing to forgive them because they will not allow them to continue their work as preacher. Preachers with this attitude only multiply their problems.
I have seen other adulterers who confessed their sin, unrealistically expecting that their mate was biblically obligated to take them back in the marriage and live as though nothing had happened. A penitent adulterer can no more demand that his mate take him back than a penitent preacher can demand that a local church continue to let him preach. Sin has its consequences.
The next time that the Devil’s temptations seem over- whelming, remember what Solomon taught about the consequences of sin. There is no pleasure that sin can give that is worth the pain it causes. As we witness the sad experience of what is happening with reference to our President, let us use it as a reminder that not even genuine repentance can rescue one from the consequences of his own sinful behavior.