But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
I. SINNERS ARE IN THEIR HEARTS UTTERLY AVERSE TO BE FOUND OUT BY THEIR SINS, AND THEY HAVE MANY SHIFTS FOR THAT VAIN PURPOSE.
1. They will excuse and justify their sins as if there were no evil in them.
2. They will carry the matter so quietly as that it shall be hid from the eyes of the world, while in the meantime God's watchful eye is still upon them, though they do not regard it.
3. They will deny it when charged upon them, and so cover one sin with another. "They wipe their mouth and say we have done no wickedness." Oh what pains do many take to ruin their own souls. Credit before the world is bought at prodigious rates of soul, and consciences, lies, and perjury.
4. They will keep out of the way, where their sin is most likely to find them out. They live strangers to themselves, dare not examine themselves impartially.
II. TO SHOW IN WHAT RESPECTS SIN SHALL FIND OUT THE SINNER.
1. By discovering and bringing to light their works of darkness.
2. By presenting sin in its native colours to their awakened consciences.
3. By giving them the due reward of their works.
III. Snow WHENCE IT IS THAT SIN CERTAINLY WILL FIND OUT THE SINNER. How can it be otherwise, if we consider —
1. That none can sin without witnesses, who will surely at length discover the sin. Let sinners choose the most secret place for their works of darkness, they have always two witnesses present with them.
(1) Conscience within their own breast is as a thousand witnesses, whose testimony one cannot get denied.
(2) The omniscient God, whose eye is always upon the sinner.
2. God has said it.
3. There is a watchful eye of Providence over the world that never closes, but takes notice of all men's actions at all times and in every place. Use
1. Of information. This lets us see —
(1) That an evil conscience is a sad companion, and guilt lying within the breast unrepented of will break out sadly at length, to the sinner's confusion. Many a secret blow it gives the sinner, that the world knows not of.
(2) God is a just God, and will not be mocked, nor can He be blinded. Use
2. Of warning,
(1) To take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall. The way of sin is down the hill, it is easy to go downward, but there may be broken bones before you get up again.
(2) Please not yourselves in that you get your sins covered and hid from the eyes of men. For though you may prosper a while in that course, yet your feet may slip at last.
(3) Let us all labour to find out our sins, lest they find us out. To inquire more particularly than we have yet done into the Lord's making sin find out the sinner. This is one of these things in which the providence of God does shine most illustriously; upon which unbiassed spectators must say, "This is the finger of God, and verily there is a God to judge upon the earth." Consider here,
I. THE GENERAL KINDS OF SIN, WHICH THE LORD MAKES TO FIND OUT THE SINNER. As for open sins confessed by the sinner, I need not speak of these, the sinner meets with them every day. But —
1. Sins which men will not own to be sins, the Lord makes to find out the sinner. Crucifixion of Christ.
2. Secret sins to which no man is witness, the Lord makes them find out the sinner.
II. THE TIME IN WHICH THE LORD MAKES SIN TO FIND OUT THE SINNER. Times and seasons are in the Lord's hand, and the time fixed by His providence is always the best time, and whoso considereth circumstances will be obliged to own it. The best time for his own honour, and for the conviction of the sinner in mercy or in wrath.
III. THE PLACE, WHERE SIN FINDS OUT THE SINNER. Many times there is much of God seen in this, and God reserves the discovery always to the fittest place. And He can make the sinner's own feet carry him to the place of this heavy meeting, while he has no mind of any such thing.
1. God can make sin find out the sinner sometimes, where he can have least support under the awful meeting with his sin. Joseph's brethren.
2. Where they may have least help to shift, their sins finding them out. Companions in sin are ofttimes farthest to seek when their help is most needed, and some time or other they will all prove physicians of no value.
3. Where it will confound the sinner most and pierce his heart most keenly. God makes secret sins, which no eye has seen committed, find out the sinner publicly before many witnesses, and in the face of the sun.
IV. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE LORD MAKES SIN FIND OUT THE SINNER. There is much of God seen in this also. He never wants means to discover the most secret sins, which He wishes to bring to light. Sometimes this is done —
1. By the natural product of the sin, by which the sin is made to discover itself.
2. By some act of indiscretion and folly in the sinner himself.
3. By some unforeseen accident which the sinner by his own utmost diligence could not prevent. Man's capacity is but narrow, there are many things which he cannot foresee. When he goes out of the way of God, he may, ere he be aware, be caught fast in such a snare as will hold him till his sin finds him out.
V. THE WAY AND MANNER OF SIN'S FINDING OUT THE SINNER. This many a time is such as must needs make men to say, "This is the finger of God." Providence appoints the meeting, and wonderfully brings matters about for the keeping of it.
1. Ofttimes sin finds the sinner unexpectedly and surprisingly when they are not looking for it.
2. Often does the way which sinners take to hide their sin prove the way of its finding them out.
3. Sin always finds out the sinner securely, that there is none escaping, no getting beyond it, but the sinner is hedged in on every side.
4. God's writing the sin upon the punishment, so that the sinner shall be forced to say, "As I have done, so God hath requited me." Thus God makes men's sins so to find them out, that they cannot fail to see that He remembers such a sin against them. Sometimes the punishment is the same in kind with the sin: as in the case of Adoni-bezek. Sometimes there is a visible likeness between the sin and the punishment. The Sodomites burned with lust, and God sends fire and brimstone on them to burn them to ashes. Sometimes there is a certain relationship betwixt the sin and the punishment. Jeroboam's hand withering, the belly of the adulteress swelling, and her thigh rotting. Finally, sometimes there is a direct contrariety betwixt the sin and the punishment. Thus God threatened the Israelites: "Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies, which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things; and tie shall put a yoke of iron on thy neck, until He have destroyed thee." Adam would be like God, and he became like the beast that perisheth. I shall now confirm the doctrine.Here consider —
1. That no man can sin without witnesses. This has been already illustrated under the third head.
2. Consider that God both can and will make sin find out the sinner. How then can the sinner escape? Many a time atrocious crimes escape among men, because such as would cannot find them out, and such as can will not do it. But there is neither cannot nor will not with God in this case.
(1) God can do it. For He hath everything necessary to qualify Him to find out the guilty. He is privy to the most secret wickedness.
(2) God will do it. For He hath said it, His truth is engaged for it.
(3) It lies upon God's honour to make sin find out the sinner.
(4) History and observation afford abundant testimony to this grand truth, in the events that have appeared and do appear in the world in all ages. Many a practical commentary has Providence written on our text in the shame and ruin of many a man and woman ; although the brightest piece of it is reserved to be written out at the last day, when thousands of blanks that are in it shall be filled up.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.