We’ve all tried to connect the dots between our present circumstances and our past sins. We’ve looked to our circumstances to decipher what God is trying to “tell” us. There are obvious earthly consequences to some of our choices. But we need to be really careful about “reading the tea leaves” to see what God thinks of us: Is God mad at me? Is He getting me back for what I did?
It’s tempting to lose sight of the truth that God is never angry with you (Romans 5:9). You may easily forget there’s no condemnation or punishment from God for your sins. But reality still stands: God is always on your side and in your corner.
While Planet Earth comes at you with all kinds of trouble, God is not the author of that trouble. He is not hurling disaster at you to teach you a lesson. Jesus’s death on the cross was the full punishment for your sins, so you can let go of the concept of “Christian karma” from God: God is not out to get you!
When bad things happen, it doesn’t mean God has deserted you. It means you live in a fallen world. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t care for you. It simply means God is good and the world is not.
In Acts 5, a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira lie about how much they donated to the church. Next thing you know, they’re dead.
Maybe you’ve heard if you sin against God, He may take you out like Ananias and Sapphira. Note the passage never says God killed them, only that they “fell down” and “died.” To go any further is to read something into the text that’s not really there.
A recent news story broke about a pastor on the East Coast who fell down and died of a heart attack at church when his adultery was discovered. It’s possible that Ananias and Sapphira suffered the same fate upon being discovered in their lie. We simply can’t know for sure.
More importantly, we should note the Bible never says they were believers. In fact, it says Satan filled their hearts, which is good evidence they were not. Satan can’t fill the heart of a believer. We have new, obedient hearts (Romans 6:17), we are sealed by God’s Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and the evil one cannot touch us (1 John 5:18).
Acts is a history book, not a doctrinal book. In Acts, tongues of fire fell on those first believers. That’s a historical fact, not a doctrine. In other words, we shouldn’t conclude that, without tongues of fire falling on us, we’re not genuinely saved. It happened once in the book of Acts, and that makes it history, not doctrine. In the same way, the fact that a married couple fell dead one time in the book of Acts doesn’t mean we fashion a doctrine that says God will kill you if you tell a lie. If that were true, church buildings everywhere would be filled with dead bodies!
According to the law of gravity, what goes up must come down. However, we look up and see objects traveling across the sky: birds, insects, airplanes. To the naked eye, they appear to supersede the law of gravity.
The Bible speaks of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1–2), which is quite simple: Sin deserves death. But we see a second law that supersedes or overrides the law of sin and death: … because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
This second law has freed us from the first. You’re not under the law of sin and death anymore. When you sin, you don’t receive the punishment you deserve.
You may quench or grieve God’s Spirit when you choose sin (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). And yes, there are earthly consequences (Galatians 6:8). You drive too fast, you get a speeding ticket. You act cruelly to your spouse, your marriage struggles. But thank God you never receive the spiritual consequence of sin: death.
The law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death!
Dr. Andrew Farley is a best-selling author, the Lead Pastor of The Grace Church and president of The Grace Message, which exists to proclaim the finished work of Jesus Christ and the love and grace of God with boldness and clarity. This is an exclusive excerpt of his new book, The Grace Message, for Steve Brown, etc. The Grace Message, from Salem Books, releases March 8. Learn more about Dr. Farley at http://www.andrewfarley.org.