But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
These words, though ultimately true of every sin, are spoken of actions which, going forth from us, perform their mischievous errands, but will come home again, bringing retribution with them. The Eastern proverb is true of crimes as well as curses: "Curses, like chickens, always come home to roost." God urges this truth as one out of many motives for strengthening us against allurements to sin. Sinners indulge vague hopes of impunity; they act as though they said, "The Lord shall not see," &c. (Psalm 94:7). But they cannot escape from sin. Lapse of time will not annihilate sin; careful concealment will not hide it up; mere repentance will not avert all its consequences. Nor will death screen from detection. We cannot escape from our sins -
I. BY LAPSE OF TIME. "Sin is the transgression of the law." It is a disturbing element, like a poison in the blood, or an error in a calculation as to the course of a ship. It is useless to say, "Let bygones be bygones" (cf. Psalm 50:21, 22 and Ecclesiastes 8:11). There is no "statute of limitations" in regard to the debt of sin. Illustrations: - Lot going to live in Sodom, and reaping domestic ruin years afterwards; Adoni-bezek (Judges 1:5-7); Saul's "bloody house" (2 Samuel 21:1).
II. CAREFUL CONCEALMENT. A sin may appear to be safely buried (like a murdered corpse), and grass may grow on the grave; but a resurrection awaits it. No immunity, because no concealment from God. In the law of Moses certain secret sins are mentioned which, through the ignorance or connivance of the judges, might escape punishment (Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:1-6, &c.); but God himself threatens to be the executioner. Conscience may at last make further concealment impossible. (Confessions of murderers.) A sinner should stand in awe of himself and dread the spy within him. Or a strange combination of circumstances may bring the sin to light when detection seemed almost impossible. Illustration: - Dr. Doune finding a nail in a skull dug up in his churchyard. Apply Ecclesiastes 10:20 to the greater danger of sinning against God (Job 20:27; Ecclesiastes 12:14).
III. BY REPENTANCE. The penitent who trusts in Christ is forgiven; but a sin when committed may have put in motion a series of temporal results from which no subsequent repentance may be able wholly to deliver us; e.g., habits of dissipation, or single acts of passion or of falsehood. Illustrations: - Jacob's receiving in the course of his life ,6 the fruit of his doings" after having' wronged Esau and deceived Isaac; David, pardoned, yet followed by the consequences of his sin (2 Samuel 12:10-14). Thus God would make us wary of sin, as of a mad dog, or a poison that may lurk long in the system (Matthew 7:2). God's caution signals against sin.
IV. BY DEATH. After death, in the fullest sense, sin must find the transgressor out. There is a fearful contrast suggested by the benediction in Revelation 14:13: "Cursed are the dead that die in their sins; for they have no rest from their transgressions, but their guilt follows them." Think of being found out in that world where the prospect is of "eternal sin" (Mark 3:29). The only true salvation is from sin itself, assured to us through repentance and faith (Matthew 1:21; Titus 2:14). - P.
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.