I've heard this verse quoted many times and I'm sure that most of you have as well. This verse is usually quoted to scare people from sinning by telling them that they will be caught. Don't sin because you will get caught! Is the message we so often hear.
I was thinking about this verse while I was driving home from work today. Most of last Sunday's snow has melted, leaving behind this grossly brown muddy residue. I wished that we could get some more snow to cover up the ugliness again. And due to the weird way my mind functions, that thought reminded me of the way sin works. When we make mistakes, our first inclination is to cover up what we did. (Just as Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves in Eden). But just as the cover of snow is only temporarily effective, so are our attempts to cover up our sin. That is what made me think of this verse: "And you may be sure that your sins will find you out"
Even though I have heard Numbers 32:23b many times, I've never looked up its context in the Bible and I was surprised by what I found!
In Numbers 32, two of the Israelite tribes, the Reubenites and the Gadites, begged Moses to allow them to stay and inhabit the lush lands of Jazer and Gilead instead of crossing the Jordan river into the Promised Land. They only intended for the women and flocks to stay in this land east of the Jordan, while the men went on and fought. Moses misunderstood them, however, and thought they were unwilling (like their forefathers) to follow God wholeheartedly into the Promised Land. After they explained themselves to Moses, he approved their request, but warned them that if they went back on their word and failed to follow God wholeheartedly, their sin would find them out: "But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23).
Finding out the context of that verse, really gave it a different (and more correct, I think) meaning. The sin that Moses warned would be uncovered is the sin of not following God wholeheartedly. You might be able to fake following God wholeheartedly for a little while, but the lack of Godly fruit in your life will make it all too evident very quickly! If you aren't following God, you are following something else (yourself, other people, money...ect.) and you will begin to reap the fruit of whatever you are following. (That's a whole other topic that I might talk about some other time...)
So the verse is not referring to other types of sin. It is quite possible that one could get away with stealing, murder, adultery, lust, ect. and never be caught (in this world). In fact, the Bible confirms this. In Romans 2:12-15 the author says that men have secret sins that will be judged by God on Judgement Day. In Jeremiah 17:9-10, Jeremiah describes the deceitful nature of the heart. He says that it is so deceitful that only God can understand it.
So if you sin, there is a chance you might be able to get away with it. You might even take your secret sin to the grave with you. However, just because your sin is never found out, does not mean that you avoid its consequences!
I believe that being caught in sin is not the worse thing that could happen as a result of sinning. Not being found out is!!
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Sin leads to death. One type of death that sin cause is natural death. We have all sinned so we all die (eventually). There is alot more to that explanation but I'm not going to go into it now. I want to focus on the second type of death that sin causes: spiritual death. When you allow sin to fester in your life, you are pushing God out. The Bible talks about how it is impossible to serve two masters (Luke 16:13). If you are moving backwards in sin then you can't move forward in God. There is no such thing as standing still in the kingdom of God; you are either moving towards God or away from Him. Sin quiets the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life. The scariest thing is when you cannot hear His voice any longer and you no longer feel any guilt or shame about the sin in your life.
Sin can destroy your destiny in God. I know that sounds overdramatic, but it is true. How you deal with sin can make or break your life. We cannot fix sin ourselves and God does not want us to. If God had to send His only Son to die in order to save us from our sins, what makes us think that we can save ourselves?!?!
So what is the right way to deal with sin?
- Give it to God: 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
- Go and sin no more: Repentance takes it a step further. 180 degree turn away from the sin and the situation surrounding it.
- Get accountability in your life: If you are not a member of a local church, get plugged in! We were not meant to walk out our Christian life alone. Romans 15:1-7 talks about how we can encourage one another and help each other.
- someone you can trust
- someone who has authority over your life (when you submit to authority you receive extra protection)
- someone you look up to spiritually
- someone who is willing to tell you the truth even if it means hurting your feelings!!
Uncovering sin in your life is not the most pleasant or beautiful of processes (like melting snow) but it is necessary before growth can occur in your relationship with God.