From the very beginning, God knew you. God knows everything, after all, and he most certainly knew all about you. And one of the things he most certainly knew about you from the very beginning was that you would be a sinner.
As Christians, we sometimes don’t want to talk about the notion of sin because we want everyone to feel good about themselves. We’re worried about our self-esteem, and we don’t want to be judgmental toward anyone else. But the fact of the matter is you are a sinner, and so am I. And God knew that from the very beginning.
God told Moses, “For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give” (Deuteronomy 31:21). That is to say, God could see ahead into the future, and he knew what his people would do even before they set foot in the Promised Land. He knew they would sin and fall away from him.
The fact God knew our sinful hearts before we even came to exist, or before we even committed one sin, makes the gospel of Jesus Christ all the more glorious. God knew we would sin against him. And God warned us we would do so. And yet we still did – in the face of that warning. This somehow makes the sin deeper and more malicious.
But God still forgives.
The law of God, written down by Moses, provides the warning. That is what the “Song of Moses” is, after all. It is a warning that the people would sin. It was a fair warning.
It could be this is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote about how the law makes sin increase. The people had been warned. They knew the reality of sin. And they knew, from the law, they were inclined to sin and would sin. And Paul wrote, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass” (Romans 5:20). Sin gets worse when it is committed in the face of the law. And the law includes the very clear warning from God himself that God’s people will sin.
The law doesn’t make us sin, but it does make the sin worse. The apostle Paul also wrote, “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. … It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure” (Romans 7:10-11, 13). When we are warned about sin and then sin anyway, we are committing acts that are “sinful beyond measure.”
And so the grace of God becomes all the greater. We have no excuse for our sins. The more we know, the more willful our sins become. God warns us we will sin. We hear the warning, and then we sin anyway. And then what is God to do?
The Father sent the Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. He who knew no sin died for those who had much sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
You might have noticed: The warning comes with a promise. God had told his people through Moses, “For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free.” He lets us hit rock bottom. He waits to see when we finally will land. He will wait – “I will hide my face from them” – and he will let us try every method we can to save ourselves.
He will let us look to our “gods” to see if they will provide salvation. “Where are their gods? … Let them rise up and help you; let them be your protection!” What are your “gods”?
And when all is lost, God is there. Yes, the warning comes with the promise: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal.”
Don’t you see how much God loves you? The better we understand our own ability to sin – the more honest we are with ourselves – the better we will understand and appreciate the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul also wrote, “Now the law came to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).
The call today is to get honest with yourself – perhaps for the very first time. Do you recognize yourself as a sinner, someone capable of turning a blind eye to what you know is right in order to do something for your own personal satisfaction? Do you understand how that describes your life and how that falls short of the way of God. His “work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
We’ve fallen short. And we’ve fallen short knowing exactly what God expects of us. And yet, he loves us anyway. My prayer is the Holy Spirit will convict you of these truths today. Nothing will be the same for you after that happens.