The more they increased,
the more they sinned against me;
I will change their glory into shame.
They feed on the sin of my people;
they are greedy for their iniquity.
And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the LORD
to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
My people inquire of a piece of wood,
and their walking staff gives them oracles.
For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,
and they have left their God to play the whore.
They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar, and terebinth,
because their shade is good.
Therefore your daughters play the whore,
and your brides commit adultery.
I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,
nor your brides when they commit adultery;
for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes
and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,
and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.
Though you play the whore, O Israel,
let not Judah become guilty.
Enter not into Gilgal,
nor go up to Beth-aven,
and swear not, “As the LORD lives.”
Like a stubborn heifer,
can the LORD now feed them
like a lamb in a broad pasture?
Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone.
When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring;
their rulers dearly love shame.
A wind has wrapped them in its wings,
and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices. 
We live in a broken, fallen world. We are residents of this fallen world, but this world is not our home. We are ambassadors of Christ, and Heaven is the land to which we are going. We know that “Our citizenship is in Heaven” [see PHILIPPIANS 3:20]. Long years past, an ancient writer described the followers of Christ in these words, “Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life… Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to live in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.” 
Throughout the text, we witness the Lord GOD mourning the rampant immorality of His professed people. They are charged with sinning against Him, feeding on the sin that has contaminated almost the entire populace. The priests appear to be suffering from some form of ecclesiastical lockjaw—they are incapable of speaking against sin if it means exposing the perfidy of those for whom they bear responsibility. The LORD charges that the people “cherish whoredom;” in short, they are idolaters. Therefore, we see the divine lament, “like people, like priest.” Spiritual adultery has led to physical adultery.
I must pause for a moment to note a truth that is not often recognised—spiritual adultery leads inevitably to physical adultery. Whenever an individual begins to worship anyone or anything other than the Living God, that person will shortly condone the most vile moral acts. If the individual does not personally become adulterous in his or her relationships, she or he will approve of wickedness. An individual who is spiritually adulterous must, of necessity, soon approve of every form of moral turpitude.
Do you recall God’s record of the incident when Israel made a golden calf to worship? Moses was on the Mountain to receive the tablets on which God had engraved the Ten Commandments. The people grew restless and demanded that Aaron make them an image before which they could worship. When Aaron acceded to their demands, they began a party. Here is the account as recorded in EXODUS 32:1-6 and found in a contemporary translation.
“When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, ‘We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. Make gods who will lead us.’
“Aaron said to them, ‘Have your wives, sons, and daughters take off the gold earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me.’
“So all the people took off their gold earrings and handed them to Aaron. After he had worked on the gold with a tool, he made it into a statue of a calf.
“Then they said, ‘Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.’
“When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival in the LORD’s honour.’
“Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought fellowship offerings. Afterward, they sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy.” 
The issue is important. Note this revelation, “What can be known about God is plain to [all people], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” [ROMANS 1:19-23a].
What followed the spiritual adultery of society? The Apostle continues, writing, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” [ROMANS 1:24-32].
It is a spiritual axiom that when a given society becomes spiritually adulterous, it will move inexorably toward moral declination, the culture exposed as decaying and degenerate. Then, moral turpitude having percolated through society to become the defining characteristic of that culture, the people within that society not only embrace the rot and blight as normal, but increasingly they will demand that all within that society must not only tolerate, but approve of the debasement that marks the culture. They will even attempt to impose their amorality on societies beyond the borders of the nation.
This is the condition that God, through Hosea, exposed in Judean society. Israel, the people whom God had chosen and given their very existence, had become indistinguishable from the nations that they had displaced. Now, God’s prophet was pointing out the cultural corrosion that defined what the nation had become, forcing all who heard him to acknowledge that God was just in pronouncing the judgement that was surely coming. Likewise, when the man of God speaks prophetically in this day, it is not because he hates people, but because he loves the Lord supremely.
It is at this point that it must be pointed out that the corruption contaminating a society is able to do so only as the people of God cease to resist the spread of the rot. When God’s people cease to live holy lives, tolerating even a little filth, they grow silent concerning what is displeasing before the Lord God. Having grown silent, they cause God to grieve. Indeed, the people of God, though indwelt by the Spirit, can grieve the Holy Spirit of God—we can cause God pain. Paul cautions all who follow the Master, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” [EPHESIANS 4:30]. I cannot help but wonder if that is the condition of the culture in which we live, a culture that ostensibly is Christian, but in practise is anything but Christian.
THE SIN OF THE NATION — Contemporary western society has become spiritually schizophrenic. On the one hand, our modern culture solemnly parrots what has become the mantra of secularists, “We are not a Christian nation,” even as these same apologists acknowledge the Christian heritage we recognise. We want the benefits that accrue from being righteous without the investment of righteousness. We want to enjoy the blessings of Almighty God even as we refuse to acknowledge that God exists.
Nations are judged! Nations can pay an awful price for the sinful condition of the culture that defines that nation. On a smaller scale, we witness such judgement when the Lord GOD judged Sodom. You will recall how the Lord determined to judge that wicked city for sins which not only were tolerated, but which were celebrated. Wickedness had become normalised, and God held the city accountable.
You will recall how the LORD determined to judge the cities of the plain. God said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know” [GENESIS 18:20-21].
In recent years, prominent evangelical preachers have challenged the reason God judged the cities of the plain. They are uncomfortable with the idea that God would judge anyone because of their sexual choices. Their argument appears almost to be formulating an apologia for deviancy. To bolster their challenge, they appeal to something Ezekiel wrote. “Look! This was the sin of your sister Sodom and her daughters: Pride, too much food, undisturbed peace, and failure to help the poor and needy. In their arrogance, they committed detestable practices in my presence, so when I saw it, I removed them” [EZEKIEL 16:49-50].
Appealing to Ezekiel’s words, these apologists for tolerance argue that failure to redistribute the wealth and social lethargy resulting from the peace in which the cities existed were the great sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. They build an argument that the gravest sins of a society are failure to care for the poor, necessitating redistribution of wealth. However, their arguments apparently ignore the FIFTIETH VERSE, which we just read. Listen again to the Word of the LORD. “In their arrogance, they committed detestable practices in my presence, so when I saw it, I removed them.”
The sin of Sodom was not an either/or condition; it was a both/and situation. Perversion and tolerance of deviance led to arrogance. People seem to hold to the position that because God doesn’t immediately judge wickedness, He will tolerate, perhaps even bless, other sins. God’s goodness is frequently twisted to mean approval of man’s evil. However, people must not imagine that God will overlook sin. He cannot!
The opening words of the Book of Romans constitutes a dark statement. Apologists for deviant behaviour argue that what is written doesn’t mean what it says. However, note the downward spiral exposed in the opening words of that Letter. Each subsequent condition, more abhorrent than the previous, builds upon the sin that preceded. At each step we witness judicial abandonment as God gives culture what the people imagine they must have. It never turns out as people hoped.
The argument begins with acknowledgement of God’s wrath and proceeds to the rationale behind the divine wrath. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” [ROMANS 1:18-23].
The insult to the Holy One is revealed to be refusal to recognise God as Creator, refusal to acknowledge God as good, arrogance that promotes mankind to a position of superiority over God. In effect, mankind adopts the position that man creates God. Therefore, as the Apostle reveals, what follows is the natural progression as people move inexorably away from glorifying the Living God, all the while exalting humanity. Feeding their own desires, mankind descended from one transient height to the next lower level, progressively moving away from knowing God and refusing to do His will.
What was true in the ancient world is to this day witnessed in our present world. People, even people who are supposed to be intelligent and sophisticated, reject the knowledge of the Living God. Having refused Him, or even a casual acknowledgement that He lives, they are susceptible to every imagination. They believe they are moral because they cling to what they casually dismiss as an outmoded morality, all the while picking and choosing what features of that divinely revealed will they hold dear. Without realising what they have done, their morality is fluid, shifting to please them at any given moment. This fluid nature of their moral centre introduces incredible difficulties since there is no longer a fixed standard in society as a whole. We revert to an earlier time when, “Everyone [does] what [is] right in his own eyes” [cf. JUDGES 21:25].
Walter Williams is correct in his assessment when he writes, “We must own up to the fact that laws and regulations alone cannot produce a civilized society. Morality is society's first line of defense against uncivilized behavior. Religious teachings, one way of inculcating morality, have been under siege in our country for well over a half a century. In the name of not being judgmental and the vision that one lifestyle or set of values is just as good as another, traditional moral absolutes have been abandoned as guiding principles. We no longer hold people accountable for their behavior and we accept excuses.”  Doctor Williams appears to be relegated to the sidelines by his contemporaries in the field of academia and in the halls of power.
During the formative years of the American Republic, John Adams, the second President of the United States of America, wrote a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts. In that letter, Adams said: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Tragically, Americans have forgotten these wise words. The United States has turned away from following the Living God. Thinking themselves wise, they have ceased to be thankful to the Lord who has richly blessed them throughout more than four centuries.
And Canadians appear to have followed the lead of their American cousins. Having followed in the train of modern Americans who imagine that morality is an encumbrance upon their happiness, we rely on our own ingenuity as though the wisdom of our forefathers is grossly inferior to our own. Job slammed the comforters who came to him after he was attacked by Satan:
“No doubt you are the people,
and wisdom will die with you.”
The words could be applied to this present generation when considering the manner in which the wisdom of those who preceded us in founding and settling this great land.
Tragically, nations can be sinful, and their proclivity to sin invites divine judgement. I tremble at the knowledge of God’s righteous demands of the nations. David has written,
“The wicked will turn back to where the dead are—
all the nations that have forgotten God.
[PSALM 9:17 ISV]
Those words terrify me when I think of our contemporary western culture. History is replete with the accounts of nations that were cast onto the trash-heap because of their wickedness. As far back as the day in which Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage and as they prepared to enter into the Promised Land, God was judging nations. And even before Israel had gone down into Egypt, God foretold that He would judge the nation of Egypt when he said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Then, the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites” [GENESIS 15:13-21].
Among Moses final words to Israel was this admonition: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction” [DEUTERONOMY 7:1-2a].
Throughout the Old Testament are warnings from the Living God as He pleads with His people to turn from their wickedness and to again embrace righteousness. God sent His prophet to Israel, warning, “Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back, therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the LORD has spoken it”’” [1 KINGS 14:7-11].
Later, as God judged Judah, He again spoke through His prophet, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day” [2 KINGS 21:11-15].
Again, the warning was delivered to Judah, “Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore my wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched” [2 CHRONICLES 34:24-25].
The nations of the west cannot plead that past commitment to righteousness can spare judgement. The sins of the nations are great, and surely God must hold us to account. We dare not think that past service to the cause of the Saviour will spare us from God’s wrath. We must turn from the wickedness that consumes us now and seek the Lord God. We must confess our sin and turn to Him in righteousness, even now.
THE SIN OF GOD’S PEOPLE — All that stands between divine judgement and continued blessing is the presence of God’s people. Judgement on Sodom was delayed until Lot had departed the city. When he hesitated after the angels had demanded that he leave the city, we read, “The angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, ‘Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.’ And Lot said to them, ‘Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!’ He said to him, ‘Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.’” Carefully note the next statement which the angel made. The angel testified to Lot as he hesitated, “Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there” [GENESIS 19:15-22]. God delayed judgement until the believer was removed from the city, even though the believer was compromised,
Writing the Thessalonian saints, Paul makes a startling revelation when he writes, “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” [1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11].
I am not speaking to the world, though I could wish that I were speaking to those who are even now walking in darkness. I am speaking to the people of God when I say that we are responsible to turn from our own wickedness. We are responsible to turn again to the Lord who has delivered us. We are responsible to again honour Him. I am not charging that the people of God are murderers or rapists or thieves, but I am charging that we have become casual about sin. And there is no such thing as “a little bit of sin.”
Spurgeon told the story of a Spartan who painted as an escutcheon on his shield a fly. The fly was life-sized, so it was very tiny. When one of his fellow soldiers said, “Your Escutcheon is very small,” he replied, “True, but I hold it close to the enemy.”  Little things are critical, attention to the small details is vital. It is “the little foxes that spoil the vineyards” [CANTICLES 2:15].
We who name the Name of Christ have become casual about the sins through which we wade each day of our existence on this earth. The filth of this dying world is so prevalent that we are unaware of how greatly we’ve been contaminated by the world. The stench of death clings to our lives, and we are not even aware of how offensive we are to the Lord God. We have become spiritually nose-blind.
Even for the most gentle Christian, our language more likely reflects the sarcasm of the world than it does the grace of God. Our entertainment is more likely to reflect the worldview of this fallen world than it does the joy we should experience by being in the presence of God and with His people. We want to be amused, and we hear fellow saints speak of how good a movie or a television program was because it only had “a little bit of cursing and swearing.” Of course, we ignore the salacious themes and the distorted views of righteousness presented. We are eager to integrate our children seamlessly into the world rather than equipping them to stand against the flow of evil that characterises the world. Perhaps it is time we Christians became serious about sin.
There was a day when our brothers and sisters in the holiness movement would never be caught dressing as the world dresses; but that is no longer the case. There was a day when Baptists would not drink alcohol, knowing that one doesn’t become a drunk without taking the first drink. Now, we defend social drinking because we don’t want to be out of step with the world. There was a day when being an evangelical Christian had meaning. Now, it is primarily valued as a political position. We need to again treat sin as the deadly contaminant it is, avoiding it and seeing it as sinful beyond measure.
I fear that for many of God’s professed people, we have decided that we will be members of God’s secret service. We wanted to be accepted by the world, so we worked hard to avoid appearing fanatical. We allowed the world to define our Faith as fanatical, and then we were fearful that practising our Faith might invite the world to censure us. Consequently, we have allowed ourselves to become indistinguishable from the world in which we live. We have so thoroughly integrated into the world that we no longer need fear offending those earth dwellers among whom we live and move. They still don’t like us, but they aren’t particularly bothered by us.
The world of a distant day charged believers as “men who have turned the world upside down” [see ACTS 17:6b]. That charge is seldom heard in contemporary society. Oh, we are prepared to join a noisy march or stand silently with a sign that the world finds offensive, but we are no longer known for resisting evil. We are not often accused of offending neighbours because we visited in their home and told them of the Master who is prepared to save them. We don’t often hear the charge that we are willing to be holy.
It was precisely such tepid lives that invited God’s condemnation through Hosea. The people of that ancient day lived with one foot in the world and the other foot in the Temple. Their effort to accommodate the world was offensive to the Lord GOD, and that action brought His censure of the people.
This is the grave sin against which the Risen Saviour warned the church in Laodicea. Recall the darks words the Risen Saviour spoke against that assembly. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” [REVELATION 3:15-16]. I had always though the Laodicean epoch lay somewhere in the future; I’m no longer certain that such is the case. The day of Laodicea may be upon us now. We may be even now witnessing that dark, final day of the Church Age.
I’ve mentioned a number of sins, but it is one sin which invites divine judgement. That one sin is the sin of disregarding God, the sin of dishonouring Him by promoting our desires over His will. And this is the sin that has marred the life of the faithful in this day. We talk a pretty good game, insisting that we want to be taken seriously by the world in which we live. But how can they take our Faith seriously when we refuse to permit that Faith to transform our lives? The sin of modern Christians is that we have become casual about honour the Lord.
THE SURE JUDGEMENT THAT MUST COME — God must judge evil. If He should fail to hold the wicked to account, He could not be God. Ruth Graham Bell, wife of the famed evangelist, Billy Graham, reviewed chapters of her husband’s book, “World Aflame,” as they were finished. Mr. Graham had just finished a chapter vividly describing the sinful conditions in the United States, and had given his work to his wife to read. She was deeply sobered by what she read. As she returned the document to the study, laying it on his desk, she said, “Billy, if God doesn’t come soon and bring judgement upon the United States, He’s going to have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah!” 
The fiery judgement of the Cities of the Plain cast a glare that shimmers over the pages of the Word of God. The account of God’s judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the repeated warnings of God’s judgement on evil included throughout the Bible. Through the Word we hear the warnings repeated in tones that demand our attention. God does not gloat or bluster as He tells of judgement on the wicked; rather, in love, He warns that He cannot ignore sin. If He will hold the wicked to account, how much more when those who will suffer His judgement profess themselves to be His followers.
God must hold sinners to account; and that knowledge should give every professed follower of the Way pause if they are merely playing at being His child. How sobering are the words of an ancient writer, who warns, “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [HEBREWS 10:26-31].
Writing Christians who were identified as Christians dispersed in the Diaspora, the Apostle to the Gentiles encourages these suffering followers of the Christ who are suffering by reminding them that their trials are temporary. Then, he redirects attention to how their “light momentary affliction” [see 2 CORINTHIANS 4:17] is a harbinger of what the lost will experience throughout eternity. Peter writes, “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
‘If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’”
[1 PETER 4:16-18]
“What will become of the ungodly and the sinner,” indeed!
I read a most sobering warning as Paul writes the Letter to Roman Christians. The Apostle warns, “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed” [ROMANS 2:5 NET BIBLE]! A person goes to hell for refusing to believe the Good News that Christ died because of their sin, and then rose to declare them righteous before the Father. However, having rejected the gift of life that God offers, the sinner compounds the dreadful refusal by banking ever greater punishment through the unrighteous deeds that she or he performs. God will judge sinners. The sentence to hell is fixed when one fails to trust the sacrificial death of God’s own Son. The intensity of judgement is determined by the continued choices the individual makes during this life.
I’m not depressed about what must surely come; I’m not frightened by the thought of God’s judgement. No Christian should fear God’s judgement. I trust in the Lord Who will always do what is right. He will deliver His people and hold sinners to account. I have heard the encouraging words of the Master, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” [LUKE 21:28].
Nevertheless, I grieve for family members who are lost. I love them; but I know that they must choose whether they will know the Lord or whether their own desires will drive the choices they make. I am certain that one day we will be separated for eternity. I grieve for neighbours who are decent people, though they are lost. They have decided that personal comfort is of greater importance than God’s redemption. I grieve for dear friends with whom I’ve shared many pleasant hours hunting and fishing. We’ve spoke of the need for salvation on numerous occasions. But they’ve told me repeatedly, “There’s plenty of time for that. I’ll just enjoy myself now.” When judgement comes, there will be no further opportunity to receive the grace and goodness of the Lord.
This knowledge that God must judge sin, and that those who are outside of Christ the Lord are already condemned, impels me to warn all who hear me. Christ died because of your sinful condition. He was buried, though He conquered death and was raised from the dead. Now, the Lord God invites you, if you openly agree with God that Jesus is Master over your life, believing without reservation that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be set free. Believing ensures a right standing with the Father and agreement with Him results in full freedom. Amen.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Letter to Diognetus, c. 124, chapters 5–6: Funk 1, pp. 397–401. Tr. The Office of Readings according to the Roman Rite (Slough, 1983), pp. 591–2, translation revised.
 GOD’S WORD Translation, (Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI 1995)
 Walter Williams, “US in Moral Decline,” Townhall.com, Oct 23 2019, https://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2019/10/23/us-in-moral-decline-n2555108, accessed 23 October 2019
 William J. Federer, Great Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions, (AmeriSearch, St. Louis, MO 2001)
 C. H. Spurgeon, “On Whose Side Are You?” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 26 (Passmore & Alabaster, London 1880) 216
 The account of this incident is found at https://www.answers.com/Q/Did_he_say_If_God_doesn't_judge_America_he'll_have_to_apologize_to_Sodom_and_Gomorrah, accessed 5 November 2019