And it was revealed in my ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till you die…
God is a God of infinite mercy to forgive sin, and yet he will "by no means clear the guilty." He will surely visit iniquity by fixing its consequences upon the sinner, and even also upon others who may be related to him.
I. SIN-PENALTIES THAT CAN BE REMOVED NOW, WHILE WE ARE IN' THIS WORLD. They are such as rest on the soul. Sin has a twofold aspect - it is both an act of transgression and a spirit of self-will. It is the soul that sinneth; the self-will, as opposing God's will, is the fountain and source of all wrong-doing. But the soul finds expression and action through the body, and consequently there will be both spiritual and bodily penalties following upon all sin. The soul will undergo a hardening process: The body will come into disabilities and sufferings. Pharaoh is willful. Then the Lord, in his judgment, wilt harden Pharaoh's heart; smite him in the tenderest part of his family feeling by the death of his firstborn; and bring down the pride of Egypt by an ignominious overthrow in the Red Sea. The soul-penalties attaching to sin are expressed in the sentence, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Death, spiritual death, is the necessary result of soul-sin. Our first father, Adam, began to die when, in a spirit of self-will and self-pleasing, he ate the forbidden fruit. Every one of us, nowadays, begins to die the "eternal death" when we sin with our souls. The sphere of the atonement made by our Lord Jesus, in his life and in his cross, is precisely this sphere of soul-penalties. Christ removes the penalties of sin which come upon our souls. Christ renews the life of love, and trust, and submission, and joy in God, which effectually prevents any of the hardenings and debasings of sin becoming permanent in our cases.
II. SIN-PENALTIES THAT CANNOT NOW BE REMOVED. The penalties and consequences of sin that come on our bodies, our circumstances, and others who are connected with us. God has appointed the order in which family and social life should be arranged and conducted. If we would carry out that Divine order perfectly, and obey those Divine laws faithfully, heaven, with its eternal purities, its peace passing understanding, and its joy unspeakable, would be begun below. Sin, in its outward aspect, is the infringement of this Divine order, the breaking of those gracious and holy laws. To every such infringement a natural penalty is attached. This is expressed in a figure by the familiar words, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The redemption provided by the Lord Jesus does not immediately and directly touch these natural penalties of sin. There is an important sense in which the forgiving God "by no means clears the guilty." The child of the drunkard or the sensualist will not have the spirit of drink or of passion taken out of him, nor will he be renewed from his physical deterioration, because his father becomes a Christian in his later years. Consequences of wrong reach on until they get altogether beyond hand-grasp. Do any wrong, and for the soul of the wrong there is forgiveness, and full restoration, in the Divine mercy, through the precious blood-shedding; but you may pursue all your life after the natural consequences, and you shall never overtake them, never master them, never remove them. On they go, carrying their burdens of woe to the third and fourth generation. And Isaiah reminds us that there are some special kinds of iniquity to which the rule must more especially apply, for whose consequences there can be no earthly purging. They are such as are:
1. Maintained in a spirit of willfulness.
2. Such as outlast all warnings and corrections.
3. Such as have become a cause of open reproach.
4. And such as have been the means of ruining others.
In all these cases the judgment must come, and the sinner's fellow-men must see it hanging over him as long as he lives. If it were not so, adequate impressions of the evil and hatefulness of sin could not be kept before the eyes of men. Though we should also see that these sin-penalties, lying so heavy on the race, are part of the Divine remedial scheme for finally delivering humanity from its self-serving and its sin. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.