As I heard the story, having listened to her kindergartner repeatedly bang the refrigerator door with a spoon, the frustrated mother said, “You hit that door with that spoon one more time, and I will pick you up and throw you out this window!” Well, the young lad’s sin nature took over, and he hit the refrigerator door with that spoon as hard as he could. His mother raised the window over the sink, picked up the child, and threw him out the window. What the mother knew, but the child didn’t, a heavy snowfall had occurred during the night, and he simply descended into a massive mound of snow just outside the window. While I’m not recommending such actions, it was probably a lesson the child never forgot.
In the first two chapters of Amos, the prophet used a phrase eight times to explain why God was about to release His judgment upon His people. “For three transgressions, and for four.” Three transgressions represented God’s legal limit for their sins. The fourth represented the tipping point for God. What His people had failed to learn through His mercy and His grace, they would have to learn through His judgment and then His wrath.
Beloved, God has allotted each entity a measure of sin, and when that measure is exceeded, His righteous judgment is not far behind. And notice I used the word “entity!” To make it personal, I am a man, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a son, a brother, etc., and I serve God as a Pastor. God has established a legal limit for my sinful behavior in each of those areas, and since they are all connected to me, a failure in one area affects all the other areas.
Obviously, it is the same with a woman, but it is also the same with a marriage, a family, a church, a denomination, a city, a state, and a nation. Each business is an entity, as is a school, an office, or a factory. God has allotted a measure of sin to each entity, and when that measure is exceeded, God reveals His wrath. Apart from His divine intervention, the final result is without remedy.
We have all heard several definitions of sin, including the one penned by the Apostle Paul as “falling short of the glory of God.” God created each one of us for a unique purpose, and unless we are living in full obedience to that heavenly calling, we may be living pure lives in some areas, but we are sinning against God in the main, and there is a limit to His grace. Sin is also transgressing God’s laws, or presuming upon God’s grace, or failing to obey God’s Word, or diminishing His glory before others. Then there are sins of omission, as James said, “the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him is sin.” (James 4:7)
We cannot know God’s limit for each entity in which we are involved. Obviously, the limits are different for each person, for many are living in immorality and engrossed in iniquity, but on the surface, it seems God is not holding them accountable. The same application can be made to those churches, schools, businesses, corporations, and nations that continue to dishonor God, and like the Psalmist, we cry out, “How long?” However, once God’s wrath is released, there is no relenting. For example:
- In Noah’s day, the wickedness of man exceeded God’s limitations. God was so grieved He decided to cleanse the earth of everything He had created and start over. God allowed them 120 more years to repent, as Noah warned them of what was to come with his work and his words, but they would not repent.
- Sodom and Gomorrah exceeded their legal limit by just one sin – God could not find one righteous man, so He destroyed them.
- God’s people exceeded His patience in the wilderness, and He forbid that whole generation from entering into the Promised Land, save Joshua and Caleb.
- Ananias and Sapphira exceeded their limit of sin by lying about the amount of money they were giving to the church. God took their lives without allowing them to repent of their sins.
Each time we are exposed to the Word of God, including the reading of this pamphlet, if the Holy Spirit brings to our minds those sins for which we should repent, we had better act immediately, or else we continue to add to our sins. How can we know that sin of neglect will exceed the limit God has placed on our lives? Every day a person continues to harbor their sin, they are adding to the wrath of God, which will be outpoured.
Just because it doesn’t seem like God is punishing us for our sins doesn’t mean we will not be. In fact, such an unrepented attitude only adds to the limit God has established for our lives, and we could be in danger of the immediate release of God’s judgment upon our lives. In A.D. 33, Jesus said to Jerusalem, “Your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37-38) But His wrath was not revealed until A.D. 70, when the Romans raised the City of Jerusalem, including the Temple.
In the book of Amos, the fourth sin among God’s people was their false worship. In that day, the priests had added and subtracted so much to God’s character, the “god” they worshipped was nothing more than a figment of their imagination, i.e., a false god!
On the surface, it appeared they were worshipping the One True God, but in reality, they were worshipping a concept of God they had fashioned and designed for themselves. Their hearts may have been sincere as they went through the rituals and the ceremonies, but they had no intentions of allowing those events to change their hearts, and consequently, they added to their sins with their false worship.
When we come before God with a sincere desire to worship Him in the beauty of His holiness, we must recognize Him as the God He is and humble ourselves before Him. Sadly, much of what we see as worship today is nothing more than prideful entertainment designed to attract a crowd, rather than humbling ourselves before a holy God and giving Him the glory due His holy name, and therefore, it is adding to our limit of sin.
Man’s greatest sin, and yet perhaps the most subtle of all sins, is his refusal to honor God as God, which is the sin of pride. The sin of pride caused the angel Lucifer to be cast out of heaven. (Isaiah 14:13) When we dethrone God, enthrone ourselves, and arrange our lives around our wants, needs, goals, ideas, desires, and dreams, we become just like Lucifer. When we set ourselves up as our own god, and we become our own judge of what is right, wrong, good, bad, godly, or evil, we become just like Lucifer.
Every sin we have ever committed was an affront to our Holy God and another slap in the face to the One who gave His life that we might be forgiven of our sins. Now that we know the imminent danger of unrepentant sin, how can we go on adding to the measure of our sin? The question is not “Can we repent?” but “Will we repent?”
I urge you to allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of any unconfessed sins in each entity of your life? Get alone with the Lord for as long as it takes, and truly cleanse your heart of all known sin. The Amplified version of 1 John 1:9 says, “If we admit we have sinned and confess our sins, God is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].
Beloved, see to it that no sin is left uncovered by the blood of Jesus Christ, for it is only then that you can effectively pray for the entities in which you share a part. Begin with your marriage, your family, your church, etc., and then for those in leadership of the larger entities. Finally, purpose in your heart to live the rest of your life as pure and innocent before God as a saved sinner can be.
Personalized from a message on The Legal Limit on Sin by Richard Owen Roberts