While reviewing Romans 6, verse 21 hit me: “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”
Sin ends in death, every time. That little white lie? Keep coddling it, and like a baby viper, it will naturally kill you.
We grasp this a bit after we’re saved, when we’re reading God’s word and His Holy Spirit is helping us finally make sense of it and our world. We dimly realize that doing things our way instead of God’s is bad. The benefit we thought we were getting from sin doesn’t really exist. Now we’re ashamed of what we’ve done. But it takes a while to really grasp that the outcome of sin is truly only death.
Moses was unique in Israel, a prophet “whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). Hebrews 11:24-26 says, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”
When we grow up, we know enough to refuse what’s inferior for what’s superior. Moses rejected being a prince of one of the greatest kingdoms the world has ever known (with treasures that still stun us today) for something he realized was far better. He chose a season of suffering with God’s people because he perceived that the temporary kick we get from sin is actually fatal.
Moses knew something only mature believers understand: identifying with Christ, although it invites the world’s censure, surpasses all that the world can offer.
Like Jesus in Hebrews 12:2, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,” Moses tolerated temporary hardship for eternal wealth. How good is God? So good that He sets joy before us, not shame.
God is so good that He considers us His beloved children (1 John 3:1): “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
The world has never known God or His goodness. The world has never understood how bad sin is, either. That’s why sayings exist like, “If it feels good, do it,” or “That’s true for you but not for me.” God is absolutely good and sin is absolutely bad, and the world often does not like or even recognize absolutes.
First John 3 continues (verse 2), “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.” We have such a great hope and future in our good God and Father, beyond all that we can ask or think! Why should we jeopardize our relationship now, or miss out on the joy He loves to give us daily, or exchange it for something that wants to destroy and ultimately kill us?
The world encourages us to commit sin. It eggs us on. It cheers us on (Romans 1:28-32):
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
The world will cheer for you all the way to your grave—knowing full well that’s where sin leads! Sin is really, really bad.
God is really, really good. The second thing that hit me in Romans 6 comes right after the first (verses 21-23): “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It’s that simple. There’s no benefit from sin. All we derive is shame and finally, death. Before God freed us through Jesus from sin to follow Him, we were duped into thinking what we did was good. However, following God does benefit us. We are set apart and holy. We will live forever.
God is so good, He gave His life for us (Romans 5:8-9): “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”
God is so good, we can go to Him for all our needs (Matthew 7:7-11):
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
With all my faults, I love my children, so I love to give them good things. God loves His children perfectly, so He loves to give us nothing but good.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I heard an eminent scholar turn this famous verse on its ear. With anger and anguish in his voice, he declared the exact opposite of how the verse has been accurately understood for millennia because he and those he loved had experienced horrible things.
Horrible things are a natural result of sin, which is horrible. Good things are only the supernatural result of our good God.
The charming Sound of Music song, “Something Good,” gets it wrong. God does delight in rewarding our good behavior, but He alone is the source of goodness. We need to “know that God causes all things to work together for good. . . .” The only conditions regard us. If you love God and are called according to His purpose, rest assured that every single thing that happens to you is good, no matter how it seems in the short-term. God filters all of it through His Good sieve that misses nothing.
God is so good, Israel’s great King David invoked His goodness to implore His forgiveness (Psalm 25:7):
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.
David appealed to God’s goodness because God is so good and sin is so bad.
David describes God’s goodness (Psalm 31:19-20):
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
God is so good that in His goodness, He protects us from the world.
God is so good, His goodness fills the earth (Psalm 33:4-5):
For the word of the LORD is upright,
And all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindess (King James Version [KJV]: goodness) of the LORD.
Sometimes also translated mercy, God’s goodness is often hesed in Hebrew.
God is so good, His goodness lasts forever (Psalm 107:1):
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness (hesed) is everlasting.
Psalm 107 lists many instances of God’s hesed toward Israel, urges praise and thanks to God for His hesed five times and concludes (verse 43 KJV), “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness (hesed) of the LORD.”
God’s goodness is what turns us from sin (Romans 2:4 KVJ): “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Here, “goodness” is translated from the Greek chrestotes.
God is so good, He defines Himself by His goodness. When Moses calls God, God comes, proclaiming (Exodus 34:6-7), “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness (hesed) and truth; who keeps lovingkindness (hesed) for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Sin is so bad, it always has consequences, even for our descendants.
Lastly, God is so good that goodness is the essence of His being. When Moses begs God to let him see His glory, God replies (Exodus 33:19), “I Myself will make all My goodness (tub) pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
We can trust God, but not ourselves. We can’t even understand ourselves! Proverbs 17:9 says,
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
The answer to the rhetorical question is, Only God can (verse 10) because “. . . God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20)
Proverbs 3:5 says,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
We need to trust God wholeheartedly. When we doubt God’s goodness, we’re doubting His process and character, trusting ourselves and our limited understanding instead. We are sinfully following our heart instead of His.
Sin is so bad, but God is so good.
Trust God’s goodness and love for you!
- Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB (New American Standard Bible) copyright by The Lockman Foundation http://lockman.org
- Greek and Hebrew translations and lexicon from the KJV (King James Version) of http://blueletterbible.org