What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
The apostle's question is addressed to Christians, and he says not only that they had no fruit in their sins, whilst they were living in them, but that now, after they had abandoned them, they were still ashamed. See also Ezekiel 36:31; Ezekiel 16:62. To the child of God, the penal consequences of guilt are forever remitted, and the dominion of the principle of evil is dethroned. Still in many ways does his past iniquity ever continue to molest him, and to the end of his days will not cease to mingle painfully in his otherwise joyous and blessed cup. How often, for example, are a Christian's efforts at usefulness impeded by the recollection that others have of what he once was. It is said of one of the most eminent ministers in modern times, that at an early period of his life, deeply tinctured with infidelity, he made active efforts to instill its principles into others. With some he awfully succeeded, and these, at a later and a better period, he sought anxiously but fruitlessly to reclaim from the fearful sin into which he had himself been the means of seducing them. What, think you, would have been his answer to the apostle's "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof you are now ashamed?" Would he not have said, truly then they were fruitless and unsatisfactory, but now they are, and ever will remain, sources of the bitterest shame and sorrow. Then, again, every exercise of a sinful principle contributes to the formation of an evil habit. The more and the longer it is acted on, the stronger the habit becomes; and the stronger the habit is, the more difficult, of course, will it afterwards be to subdue and eradicate it; the more constantly and readily will the mind yield to every little temptation that may arise to excite it, and the more naturally will the thoughts recur, when most unbidden and most distasteful, to the scenes of their former associations. Thus does the indulgence of sinful propensities heap up fuel for future difficulties and future pain. Every corrupt habit forms a barrier to what will then be our leading object in life, to grow in grace and purity — and increases the number and strength of the enemies we shall have to contend with; while ideas, easily and involuntarily arising within us, which our former courses have suggested, but which we now loathe and detest, will add to our pain and self-reproach and confusion of face. Oh, how can men talk lightly of sin? how can they go on from day to day in reckless and obstinate perseverance in ways that are ungodly and corrupt? Why is it that they will rather lay up for themselves, as it were, a pile that will consume themselves, and forget the end that must arrive at last?
(J. Newland, A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.