Life after Sin


The story is in 1 Samuel 12.  Israel did one of those “wrong response to pain” things and asked for a king just because Nahash the Ammonite was on a rampage.

This started a messy process which culminated in Samuel giving them a monster ear banging about how rotten their choice was.  Then just to make a point of how angry he was at them, Samuel served up a huge dose of rain and thunder at the time of year when rain is “impossible.”

He made his point.

The people were badly shaken and they begged for mercy.

Interestingly, Samuel (and God) did nothing to undo the sin they had committed.  There was not even a suggestion of un-crowning Saul and going back to the system of haphazard warrior/judges which they had been under for a few centuries.  The die was cast and they had to live with the consequences of their choices for the rest of human history.

In this context of a repentant people but no removal of the enduring consequences of their choices, Samuel makes a simple, yet profound statement.

“You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.”  I Samuel 12:20 NIV

This feels like a principle to me.  Let’s paraphrase it this way.  After a life-wrecking choice, we should focus on getting the inside priorities back in alignment, and let God salvage the outside mess.

Israel’s mess was gargantuan.  However, God is bigger than that, and although their choice was horrifically wrong and unchangeable, He still managed to produce David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Jesus Christ and a number of lesser luminaries out of the gargantuan mess.

God has produced some rather astounding masterpieces over the years, working primarily in the junkyards of our lives.  It is kind of a specialty with Him.

All He asks is that we make Him a priority.  We are usually as incapable of repairing the inside damage as we are the outside mess.  God has to play a major role in the internal reconstruction process.  But there is a clear expectation on His part that we bring to the table some intentionality when it comes to putting Him first.  He will work with whatever we bring.

My favorite scene in the divine/human “Let’s Make a Deal” game was at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration.  The father said, “Lord, I believe.  Help Thou mine unbelief.”

Christ said, “One half unit of flimsy faith in exchange for my evicting one mean demon.  Alright. If that is all you have, I’ll deal.”

So the question is not so much what we bring to the table, as it is whether we are willing to trust Him to sort out the external mess, while we put our best, first efforts into pursuing relationship with Him.

At the end of the day, if we turn our heart toward Him, there can be life after sin.  Even a good life after a big sin.

Copyright April 2011 by Arthur Burk

From home

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10 Responses to Life after Sin

  1. Carla says:

    God’s math. I like it. When I first came to him it was a deal-making venture for me. I wanted my marriage saved. I wanted my husband back. All in exchange for coming back to God. When I look back at that time, I am moved to deep gratitude. With perspective I can see how flimsy my offering was to God. And he took it anyway. He met me where I was and began working with me. Inside and out. All I knew was to hold on to him, first from desperation to keep my marriage (idol) and then from desperation to keep close to God. How did that happen my small little heart for God grow? God. Now, in the middle of a big, but different kind of mess, I’m counting on God’s math again. My paltry offering to trust him (with what little trust I have available) in exchange for his redemption. Thank you for pointing this scene out in scripture. I needed it.

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  2. Irina Rivera says:

    I think that it’s true about God “saving” us, but it also seems like there is a nuance here that is distinct from Jesus’ death. I’m mulling this, so it’s not a fully formed idea. But His death gives us a totally clean beginning and what I sense here is that it’s not what God intended but as we go towards Him in spite of the mess, we are able to see Him do above and beyond.
    If anyone can better illustrate this, I’d love to hear it. Wish I could better finish this thought. Will keep mulling.

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  3. Denise Jensen says:

    Wow. As usual a simple (looking) concept we have heard before. But from this perspective, much more tangible, accessible and implementible. Thanks

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  4. Roxanne says:

    Thanks Arthur! Love the gospel of good news; Life after sin post levels out the fire/damnation message…praise God for *your God given discernment.
    Bendicion.

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  5. Ann Patrick says:

    Thank you, thank you. What a blessing this post is to my heart. I would so much rather hide myself under a rock somewhere but I can’t get away from the expression of Christ that I know is to come from me. How can I… what right do I have…? I can’t and none are the incomplete answers. The finish is “but God”. So I continue to live…conciously and with deliberate intention …face forward, allowing God to build anew on better foundations.

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  6. Irina Rivera says:

    I thought of the question, “Death where is your sting?”. By Him doing great things in this situation, He is overcoming death. I’m not trying to diminish Jesus’ victory over death, but if the wages of sin is death, there is another kind of death we bring about with our sin. Putting Him first overcomes it. He is always life.

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  7. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    In a sense doesn’t this principal encapsulate the message of salvation? Thing were perfect in the garden, along came the serpent to convince Eve they were less than perfect, she ate, he ate, they were evicted.
    You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.
    Along came the Abraham, a covenant was forged, people continued to sin every kind of heinous sin one can think of and some you can’t.
    You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart
    Then God, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, Omniscient and Omnipresent, God who is above all Holy, sent His only Son who without spot or blemish came at His expense to fix up the mess than mankind had made of things.
    You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.

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  8. Amanda Hambly says:

    Amazing Gracious God who is so FOR us!

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  9. Melanie says:

    Love it, needed it, thank you!

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  10. Kevin says:

    Thank you for posting Arthur!!

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