Disobedience has consequences. As God spoke to the people of Isreal through Moses, these were his final words. After outlining his commands to the people, God wanted them to be sure of two things.
Disobedience has consequences.
Obedience offers rewards.
Today we live under a different but similar agreement with God. You may wonder...different but similar? Exactly. Under the old agreement, God expected us to be holy and faithful to Him. He provided laws, regulations, and instructions.
The biggest difference under the new agreement is Jesus. Jesus came to bring a final, eternal sacrifice. Jesus came to show us God in the flesh. Jesus came to live out what the old agreement was supposed to look like. Jesus came to show that God wants to remove limits, not set minimum expectations. Jesus was the answer to a relationship with God that had become more about rules than transformation.
Whether it's the old agreement or the new one, the bottom line is the same. Following God is much more about your heart than your outward appearance. Didn't God tell Samuel, "The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and intentions." (1 Samuel 16:7)
So what is the purpose of consequences? Why can't a loving God just rescue us from bad choices so we don't have to suffer? Because without consequences, true change will seldom happen. God's grace cannot be fully realized without recognizing we have done wrong.
We all have two basic responses to sin and its consequences. We can harden our hearts towards God and head further and further into destruction. Or we can allow our difficulties to soften our heart and allow the grace of God to heal.
Want to see an example of the two choices lived out? Let's look at Judas and Peter.
Judas sold Jesus out. He took money to betray his friend Jesus. And after his betrayal he stayed in his sin and allowed it to drive him to the point of suicide. His guilt killed his spirit. As far as we know, he never tried to seek forgiveness.
Peter on the other hand had a broken heart. When he denied Jesus and looked into the eyes of his friend, Peter went away and wept. And on that beach one morning he shared breakfast with Jesus and found the grace of God in full measure. It was only a few weeks later that the man who denied Jesus stood in the same city and proclaimed Christ to thousands.
Is your heart hard against God in some area of your life? Do you feel guilty about something? Do you feel like God has deserted you? If you feel any of these things remember the promise God made to the Israelites. "I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out. I, the LORD, am their God. I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of Egypt while all the nations watched. I, the LORD, am their God."
We serve a God who keeps His promises. Our God is faithful and will never leave us. The question is, are our hearts hardened to the point where we might leave Him?