Look: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21)
Listen: This is a bracing word!
It reminds me of what the preacher says in Hebrews 10:26-27: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
They warn me and all believers against intentional rebellion against God’s will after Christ’s grace has come to our lives. Acts 17:30 says: “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”
Once “love comes to town,” though, once Christ entered our lives, we could/can no longer claim ignorance of God’s will for us. As beneficiaries of what Christ accomplished on the cross, our desire should be, from simple thankfulness, to seek to live in accordance with God’s will as revealed in His Law. Obedience to the law can’t save me. But obedience to God’s law is the desire of anyone who knows how much God loved and loves us through Christ. One look to the cross should motivate any Christians to seek to live according to God’s will for human beings. Thankfulness should incite me to delight in the law of the Lord and to meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:1-2)
Deliberate, intentional sin after one has experienced grace is a kind of “repentance from” righteousness, a walking away from Christ, a choice to stand outside the grace of God. It means that one removes the covering of Christ and once more stands naked before God in sin. And the wages of sin are still death (Romans 6:23).
That’s a terrifying thing!
And there have been times when I have intentionally, knowingly wandered away from You, God. I have turned to sin I knew to be wrong. I have done things I knew to be displeasing to you. I took Your grace for granted. I took the benefits of eternal life with You from Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross as my right. But I have no intrinsic right to claim life in Your kingdom. That’s a gift given to those who empty themselves of the sin of this world and tage hold of you! (Acts 3:19; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:30-32; John 3:16-18).
When, knowing Christ and His grace and Your Law, and still knowingly sin, I am, at the least, on very shaky ground.
And, as one who is called and presumes to teach Your Word, the ground is even shakier when I intentionally defy You. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).
Respond: God, in Jesus’ name, forgive me for the contempt I have shown to You and to Your Word. Forgive me for taking for granted Jesus, His painful cross, His humiliation, and His death for sinners like me. Forgive me for sinning knowingly, even as Your Holy Spirit told me, “Don’t do this, Mark!” Forgive me and restore me. I call upon You, Lord, with as much authenticity and humility as a human being is capable of, and I beg You, for Jesus’ sake to forgive these and all my sins. Help me to call on Your name and have my relationship with You restored. Send Your Holy Spirit to come alongside of me and speak Your truth--both Law and Gospel--to me, and help me to listen. Fill me and guide me with Your Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Erase from me all the feelings of hatred and contempt and disdain and all the words and actions that come from me reflecting these sins. Forgive me for my covetousness and help me to be content with You and what You have given to me. Forgive me for the ways in which I have hurt others. Forgive me for stewing over what others think of me. Forgive me for focusing on what’s unimportant and forgetting the important to which You call me. Let "daily repentance and renewal" be a feature of my life, an authentic and repeated surrender to you each day so that my life will express the gratitude I have for the gracious gift of Christ.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen