Summary: A look at how God's forgiveness does not always undo the consequences of our sin.
OUR QUESTION: Why won’t God fix my problem?
- We see Him blessing others and wonder why those same blessings are flowing toward us.
- We see God move powerfully in another’s life and we wonder, “Why not me?” The problem might hearken back to past mistakes.
- There are a lot of possibilities and we’re only dealing with one of them this evening. This one has to do with our sin.
IS FORGIVENESS A "DO-OVER"?God’s forgiveness can take care of our guilt, but it may not undo the consequences of our sin.
- Genesis 16:4.
- As I said a moment ago, there can obviously be a lot of reasons for our problem – and many of them have nothing to do with sin.
- But for the situation we’re looking at this evening, we’re talking about times when we sin.
- We often act like God’s forgiveness can magically fix everything.
- God’s forgiveness is not a Magic Eraser when it comes to the consequences.
- Many of us have believed in “cheap grace” that thinks of the plan of salvation as simply a way for me to be excused from my sin and feel free to continue on sinning.
- A true understanding of grace and forgiveness grasps the heavy price that Jesus paid to open up that opportunity. In understanding that, we then desire that our sin would be gone from our lives as much as possible. We see ourselves as being rescued from that sin and hate it. We hate what it does to us and what it costs us.
- Many instead view forgiveness like the Magic Eraser product. [Maybe have one.] We sin and when we feel a little guilt about it, we pray and God forgives us and then everything is ok again.
- Unfortunately, sin has consequences. And divine forgiveness can take away the guilt, but may not be able to take away the consequences.
- Our actions have consequences.
- God has given us the “dignity of causation.” That means that our actions mean something. This isn’t just a dress rehearsal where we all do our best but there’s no audience so our performances don’t ultimately count for anything.
- Part of that truth involves the mistakes we make. We might wish sometimes we could just wake up and find that it’s all been a dream and things are as they were before. But that’s not how life works. What we do matters – for us and for others.
- I heard one pastor explain this phenomenon in three words: “Samson died blind.”
- In other words, God empowered him again and enabled him to achieve a final victory, but that didn’t bring back his sight.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE: Sometimes “the least bad option” is all we’ve got.
- Genesis 16:7.
- Verse 7 – “a spring in the desert.”
- The phrase in v. 7 that the angel of the Lord found them by “a spring in the desert” is a fitting picture.
- They’re in the desert. This is a mess. This is not where they want to be.
- But God has provided a spring in the desert. There is a little hope in the middle of all the trouble. There is a little sustaining water amid the sand.
- There is some hope there (“spring”), but the fact remains that the larger context of where they’re at is bad (“desert”).
- Having Hagar go back and submit to the authority of Sarah is not idea, but it’s the least bad option.
- This is a mess that was not created by God, but instead by Abraham and Sarah’s creative meddling.
- We may take the good options off the table by forcing God’s hand or not trusting Him and His promises.
- God may still want to bless, to bring good things into our lives, but our sin may have taken away several options.
a. A pastor gets involved in an affair and ends up with a divorce. Therefore he can’t serve as pastor anymore.
b. A woman has sex with her boyfriend and gets pregnant. Therefore her original career options become much more difficult and her child endures a greater struggle for not being raised in a stable two-parent household.
c. A church is divided by vicious gossip. Eventually there is repentance and reconciliation, but the attendance does not rebound.
- God works within the messes that we’ve made – and for that we can be thankful.
- But the fact that He is willing to enter into our mess is not to say that He can brush off all the mud and everything is back to the way it was before we fell into the mud.
- The fact that God will meet us in our messes does not mean that we should create messes.