“And Samuel said, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Have you ever heard, “It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission”? It is a quote attributed to U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who worked in the computer science field. It is built on the notion that it is better to act first, then ask for forgiveness later. Since we live in a backward society that does the opposite of God’s Word, we know it is not scriptural. I mean, would the Almighty, who commands us to obey Him, approve of that way of thinking? Would He readily forgive us, after we have made a conscious decision to not obey him? For instance, God’s law prohibits adultery. So if knowing the consequences you sin anyway, would God’s forgiveness be a guarantee? If you commit adultery again and again, after being forgiven, do you believe he would constantly forgive you? Let us see, shall we!
If We Obey, We Won’t Need Forgiveness
If we obey, there wouldn’t be a need for forgiveness. From the very beginning, The Most High commanded obedience from His people. It wasn’t a suggestion implying that they could do whatever, nor was it optional. God mandated it by entering in to a blood covenant with Israel. Israel did not keep the covenant, nor did they obey his voice or his law, which they swore to uphold. For the soul that sinned, there was a contingency plan. Animal sacrifices were used to offer atonement for sins and to cleanse the violator of their unrighteousness. Why shed the blood of innocent animals to atone for the sin of man? Animal sacrifice was enacted because “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22) It also foreshadowed the Messiah’s perfect sacrifice as his blood was shed for all.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people: and walk you in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” (Jeremiah 7: 21-23)
“And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.” (Number 15:27)
Can We Really Sin Willfully and Be Forgiven?
Can we willfully (deliberately, intentionally) sin and expect God’s forgiveness? First, what is sin? According to 1 John 3:4, “Whosoever commits sin, transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law”. For those who claim the law was nailed to the cross, what law is John referring to? Today, people want to do what they want to do. As a result, they want their god to be a liberal and lawless god which is Satan, the lawless one. The Bible delineates between willful sins and sins committed in ignorance. In the torah, there were provisions for the forgiveness of sin committed in ignorance. However, Hebrews 10:26 says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.”
“For whom the Lord loves he corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12)
“For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)
“You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD thy God chastens you” (Deuteronomy 8:5)
God Commanding You to Obey Should be No Surprise
People act like God commanding obedience somehow conflicts with Him being a merciful and loving Father. I grew up in a strict Caribbean household. My father is from Jamaica but arrived in the United States at 24. My mom’s grandparents and great grandmother, who all hailed from the Bahamas, raised her. I learned early on what obedience was and what the penalty of disobedience would be. Admittedly, as a child, I did not understand my parent’s need for discipline. They sheltered me from the world until I left home at 18 to enlist in the Marines. By this country’s standards, my parents would have appeared hard. However, they raised us by God’s standards. I guess that is why I can understand the Father’s mandate and see Him as even more loving.
“Blessed is the man whom you chasten, O LORD, and teach him out of your law;” (Psalm 94:12)
“He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)
God Knows Our Heart
God knows our heart so someone who is repentant, would not continually, willfully sin for it is rebellion against God. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry “(1 Samuel 15:23) You cannot be both repentant and rebellious “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). We may hide our heart and true intentions from man, but God searches the heart and tries the reigns. You may appear righteous when others are looking, but God sees and knows everything. To him, you are an open book so you cannot fool or appease him with lip service.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness: according to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit (Psalms 51:1-3; 6-7, 9- 12).
“He that hath small understanding, and fears God, is better than one that hath much wisdom, and transgresses the law of the most High” (Ecclesiasticus 19:14)
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