1 John 3: 4
“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”
This is the 24th session on the Lecture on 1st John.
Continuing from the last session, I will talk about the justice of God.
The reading passage 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”
As said, if we commit sins and practice lawlessness, we will be judged according to justice.
Of course, if we repent of the sins that we committed, we will be forgiven in the name of Jesus Christ.
But even though you might say you repented, God sometimes says you did not really repent in His sight.
Repentance that is acceptable to God is repentance with heart and not just with words.
You have to confess your sins with a repenting heart and depart from sins completely after that.
As we discern the tree seeing the fruit, we can be recognized to have repented with heart only when we bear the fruit of true repentance.
So, when those who commit sins repent, they may still undergo repeated trials until their repentance has been borne as complete fruit of repentance.
Also, to truly repent, the spirit of repentance has to come by the grace of God. And the spirit of repentance just does not come for some grave sins.
In such cases, you cannot repent from the heart no matter how much you try to repent. So, you can neither receive forgiveness nor avoid calamity.
But even though the judgment comes according to justice, the actual appearance of the trial may be different from person to person.
Some people receive the punishment as soon as they commit the sin, while for others they receive punishment after living a comfortable life for some time.
The disaster might come upon the sinners themselves or it can come upon their children or descendants.
Sometimes, those who commit grave sins might live a comfortable life without facing any particular disaster.
But they will finally receive a greater punishment, which is the punishment in Hell.
If they do not receive any punishment until they die, it means they do not get any chance to realize their sins and repent of them. Thus, it is more miserable and pitiable to receive no punishment.
I am not talking about the unbelievers in the world.
They say they believe in the Lord, but if God turns His face away from them and there is no punishment even after they commit sins, how fearful a thing it is!
We sometimes see such cases in the church.
They committed grave sins and they don’t repent from heart, but there is no substantial punishment.
In conducting my ministry, I have seen people who committed similar kinds of sins. Some went through great trials even after they repented from the heart.
Some of them repented thoroughly and were forgiven while they were suffering from serious illnesses or calamity, but still in the end they did not receive answers or healing and they passed away.
For there are people who go through nothing even after committing grave sins, I asked God the reason why.
I wanted to find out if they themselves or their ancestors stored up so much goodness to receive God’s special compassion, or there were other reasons.
I wanted to find out the reason why, but it was not because I wanted them to suffer and receive punishment.
If you commit sins before God but there is no punishment, what meaning is in it?
Hebrews 12:8 says, “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
I’d feel fortunate and thankful if they had some deeds or heart of goodness to receive God’s compassion, and for this reason they were exempt from the punishments.
But what if their walls of sin still remain but God has turned His face away from them like illegitimate sons because they caused God’s great anger?
I was even more fearful about it than those people themselves, and that is why I wanted to know the reason.
If God has really turned His face away from them, don’t you think I should make them repent and receive salvation somehow?
That is why I wanted to know what kinds of rules of justice were applied to them.
God explained that it is not because they stored up so much goodness that they don’t receive any punishments.
It’s not because their ancestors stored up goodness either. But rather, their ancestors also stored up much evil, and they are born with hearts that are not good.
The reason why God does not punish them even though they commit sins, is because punishing them will not make any difference.
If they can repent with their hearts because they are involved in a big accident or getting a disease, God will give them His grace to go through such things.
But they don’t even have that kind of heart to be able to repent.
As I explained once already, some people have no sense of shame or guilt and they don’t receive any punishment. This is the same case.
I will explain about one more person. After committing grave works of the flesh, he repented outwardly.
Since then, he diligently goes to church and even does his duty as a leader.
He lives without any accidents or disasters, fulfilling his church duties.
But as I saw it, his repentance was not true repentance.
He did not rend his heart in repenting. When I see his life after that, he does not bear any fruit of holiness. It was not the kind of truthful life paying back the compassion he received from God.
In fact, he had committed sins before and was at the threshold of death, but was revived by God’s grace.
When he repented of his sins and received my prayer, God dramatically saved him.
Usually, those who receive their life back by God’s grace would be thankful to God for the rest of their lives and try to pay it back.
They would give their testimonies and give glory to God saying, “I received a new life by the grace of the Father God and the prayer of my shepherd.”
Some of them consider the day they gained a new life more precious than their birthdays and come and greet me on that day every year.
They try their best in fulfilling their duties being faithful.
But he was not of this kind at all.
He did not give thanks or give glory to God giving his testimony to the church members.
He did not talk about the power of God the Father or the power given to his shepherd.
He did not thank me for praying for him; he did not change into truth. He did not try to bear any fruit for the kingdom of God.
He just forgot about it almost completely.
He did not repent thoroughly after committing grave sins, but he just acts like he repented.
He has a duty in the church and talks about Heaven and the power given to the shepherd, but he does not teach with his heart.
He always attends the prayer meetings, but he does not cry out for the kingdom and righteousness of God with his heart.
It is just a display and pretense.
He speaks and acts with just his knowledge so that he can keep what he has now and he can be recognized by others.
It is just a means to keep his position and to save face.
But he himself justifies his evil giving various excuses; he covers himself with goodness, and he cannot realize his heart.
He smiles with a bright face before the church members being hypocritical. But he thinks he is doing well.
Because his heart is so hardened, almost like being seared as with a hot iron, he cannot repent truly even if he gets a disease or gets involved in an accident or disaster.
Of course, if he has pain in his body, he can repent for a moment because he is afraid.
But he cannot repent truly, which is turning away completely and changing himself.
So, what if I call that person and directly tell him, “God says all these things. You must repent if you want to receive salvation.”
Because he knows the truth, he would say ‘Amen’ with his lips.
He can even shed some tears before me saying, “I have realized now, and I will turn away.”
But it will still not be repentance of heart.
After some time, he will go back to a state of having no grace, and he will just keep on seeking his own benefit.
If he gets a disease or has an accident as a punishment, it will only cause hardship only for me.
If he comes to receive my prayer, will I not have to mourn so much to save him somehow?
If a leader is in that kind of situation, it is not edifying to the church members.
That is why God is also just watching him.
Dear brothers and sisters, God is love.
Jesus accepted Judas Iscariot until the end, and He tried to give him as many chances as possible.
Even for the doubting Thomas, Jesus showed the evidence so he could believe.
There are people who change and even become martyrs like Thomas while there are people like Judas Iscariot who reach death, but God is patient with any kind of person in His compassion.
He does not break a bruised reed or put out a smoldering wick.
But even though God is giving him chances, this person’s situation is only getting worse.
I see his eyes are increasingly falling into flesh as the days go by, and I feel very sorry for him.
The reason why he receives the compassion of God is that he wants to stay in this church that God is with.
This does not mean that he is longing for the grace manifested in this church or that he is trying to change himself.
It is because he wants to enjoy what he is enjoying here now, and he is afraid that he might face some loss or damage if he goes out of the boundary of God’s grace here.
But he is not the only one whose conscience has become numb and who does not realize their sins are sins.
There are just too many among the unbelievers, and there are quite a few in the church, too.
God is giving them more chances because they remain just within the boundary of grace, and they do not leave the church.
But no matter how many chances God gives them, the choice is up to them.
Some time ago, God let me know about some of the leading pastors and workers. He let me know that they will go to Hell.
At that time, I mourned for several months, clinging to God, and God gave them another chance.
Through that chance, many of them repented, and they also made professions of thanksgiving and faith.
They said they were filled with hope of New Jerusalem and they were trying really hard, and they were fasting and praying with their thanks for their shepherd.
But later, I saw that many of those people changed their mind at their convenience.
Because they do not change their inner heart, the grace they received disappears, and they change their mind if something does not benefit them.
Even though I intercede for them before God and teach them of their faults, they go the way of death any way because they do not change their hearts.
But for these people who don’t have any intention to repent, even though God just leaves them be without any punishment, it doesn’t mean they will live in peace all the time.
As the time goes and if their walls of sin are stored up more, it will somehow be revealed.
If they are completely forsaken by God, Satan might capture them. They might also get into a very difficult situation where they can find no way out.
In case of King Saul, he kept on standing against God, and he had agony due to evil spirits.
At those moments, David, whom God loved, played the harp, and the evil spirits left Saul and his mind was refreshed.
But later, even though David played the harp, the evil spirits captured Saul more strongly, and he raved, which means he was talking loudly and accusing David without reason.
He even tried to kill David by throwing his spear at him.
As Saul did not repent and the magnitude of being captured by darkness increased, even the praises that had spiritual authority would not work for him.
Judas Iscariot who sold out Jesus finally committed a suicide because he could not bear with the pain in his heart, being captured by darkness.
Even if he had spent the rest of his life without any disaster, he would finally face the Day of Judgment, and there is no chance to repent there.
So, if you can repent when you still have a chance, even if it means disasters upon you, it would be something better for you.
In a condition where somebody’s conscience is completely numb to the point where he cannot realize his sins and he cannot repent, I have seen punishment comes on him immediately when God took His compassion away.
A couple of years ago, there was a young man who committed so many sins and eventually died in a car accident.
He stored up evil upon evil knowing the truth, and he did not have the kind of heart to repent even if there was a chance.
But because he did not leave this church like in the above cases, God just left him without giving him any trial.
But God finally gave him out to death in order that other people might have a chance of repentance through his incident.
When the people saw an example of facing destruction due to sins, those who were taking flesh and committing sins with him came to an awakening.
Also, the family of that young man was leading a faithful and diligent Christian life.
Even though his parents lost their son, God gave them grace that they could keep their faith.
They could also realize many things about themselves and change in spirit through that incident.
Furthermore, overcoming such a pain would become a reward for the parents since many of those who were committing sins came to an awakening seeing this incident.
Brothers and sisters, if the parents are faithful in God’s kingdom and pray a lot, their children can receive more grace and they might have a few more chances to repent, even if they are in sins.
But no matter how faithful their parents are, if the children themselves do not have the willingness to change, they cannot receive salvation with just the faith of the parents.
I’ve often emphasized, the most important factor in receiving salvation, answers, blessings, and curses are the choices that you make from moment to moment.
You should not take this message lightly thinking you do not have as evil conscience as to be seared with a hot iron.
How much do you really mourn when you realize sins and evil in you?
You should not just repent and mourn with lips, but you should check whether you are really bearing the fruit of repentance.
You might say, “God the Father, I am sorry. I spoke with piercing words and I was rude to a certain person today.
I have this arrogance and I look down upon others.
Please forgive me and give me the strength to change.”
After praying like this, you should not say, “I repented and I am praying to change, so it’s OK and enough.”
If you really repent and pray with your heart, you should actually change.
You should not show the same kind of act again.
If you still show the same kind of evil even after one or two years, and if you are still repenting of your evil, it is something foolish and heartbreaking.
Such a person has no progress in faith, and so he will lose the grace of God.
The fullness of the Spirit will cool down. Without realizing it, his self-righteousness and frameworks will become stronger and arrogance will take root in him.
Even if he goes into spiritual slumber and is tempted, he cannot discern it and he might easily commit grave sins.
In order not to fall into spiritual blockage, you should not just change your appearance but you have to renew your inner heart every day.
You should not repeat realizing something and repenting of it. If you realize something and repent of it, you quickly have to pull out the root of that sin.
You should not take trivial sins lightly. You should long to become a beautiful bride of the Lord and quickly cast off all sins.
I urge you all to be renewed again and again every day.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In some cases, they didn’t commit sins but they cannot receive answers to their problems, or the answers are delayed. They are related to making vows.