Written By: Philip Rosenthal
Some people reason that we can disobey God because he is forgiving – and we can always ask him to forgive us later. So then, does that mean you can just do what you like e.g. sleep around, have an affair, divorce & marry someone
else, abort a baby with the plan to ask God’s forgiveness later. Superficially the logic seems plausible. God is merciful and forgiving (no debate). So then what is the catch?
[I write this to rebut a local post-modern false minister, but others have likely secretly thought this without having the audacity to teach it].
Firstly, your plan to ask God’s forgiveness after defying his commands would only work if later after your disobedience you actually had a soft heart, which turns away from sin back to God and asks for his forgiveness.
But now right now you are hardening your heart and the further you go in defiance, the harder your heart will get – the harder to turn around. If you keep going that way, you will get to the point, where your heart is so
hard you simply don’t have the will to turn around – and so you likely won’t turn to God’s forgiveness however much you now think you will.
Secondly, if you keep on turning away from God, he may further harden your heart has judgment so that you don’t turn back to him and receive his mercy. We see this with Pharaoh who kept breaking his promise to let the Israelites
out of Egypt. First he kept hardening his heart. Then God made his heart harder. We also see this with the Jewish people. First they hardened their hearts against the prophets, then Jesus. Now they are very hard towards
Jesus even though he is one of them. God hardened them so they did not turn (Romans 11). What God may also do is to harden your heart for a period of time so that you get into more and more trouble and suffer the painful
consequences of your rebellion – and then after a very long time of suffering – again soften your heart to allow you to turn back to him. God is in control and you can’t play games with him.
Thirdly, even if you do repent later, you may get forgiveness and eternal life, but you do not escape the consequences of your actions on earth. If for example, you drive drunk, you may crash and injure yourself. God may
forgive you, but you are still injured and you may still have a criminal record.
Fourthly, you don’t know the length of your life. You don’t know when you will die. God determines that. There is no guarantee you will live long enough to turn back to God.
Fifthly, disobedience to God isn’t an easy escape – it just leads you on to more problems, where you are again challenged with the next difficult choice of obedience. For example David committed adultery. Then he had the
problem the woman got pregnant while her husband was away. Then he made a plan to get him killed in the army by putting him in a dangerous situation. And the problems for David just multiplied.
Sixthly, even if God forgives you for eternity, it does not mean he will not further judge you in this life. He can do so in all sorts of ways. But God is stronger than us – and he can read our minds. So no secrets can be hidden from him. You cannot outwit God. God cannot be mocked. (Galatians 6).
There is also the issue of your eternal salvation. Can you lose your salvation? There is some debate on that question between respected Bible scholars, but all agree that you cannot persistently rebel against God and expect to get to heaven. You can make mistakes and each time come back to God – but you cannot push on defiantly and expect to do so. If you do so, then you either never were converted or have lost your salvation (depending on your assumptions on the earlier question). Hebrews 10. Ultimately, we cannot judge in this life every apparently borderline case in this life. God will do so on judgement day – but it is an enormous risk to take to push on in rebellion against God.
Those who take this attitude completely misunderstand the nature of how the mercy and generosity of God works. The point is that we are not forgiven because God is lenient, but because Jesus took the punishment which we are owed when he died on the cross (Romans 6) – and that is counted in place of our punishment when we unite with him. Likewise his goodness is counted as ours as we unite with him in being raised with him. That is
rather a bit like if someone really poor married someone really rich in community of property. Then after they are married, the debts and credits get merged and we miraculously end up in credit. But now if in fact we are not going to unite with Christ, in humble obedience but instead to rebel and defy his commands – well then maybe you are not really united with Christ.
A person who is truly united with Christ is not going to think this way – i.e. plotting rebellion with later forgiveness and turning back to God. A person who is genuinely united with Christ wants to obey him. Now one cannot judge
everyone’s heart in this life or where they will eventually end up – but the deal of forgiveness offered in he Bible doesn’t allow for this type of rationalisation that you can disobey God now and repent later.
While God is forgiving – only looking at that side of God creates an unrealistic overall view of God. Most of the world’s population that has already died is not in heaven, but being tortured in the flames of eternal punishment. They have never fulfilled the criteria in scripture for God’s forgiveness – and most of them have never even heard of that offer. And God is perfectly just punishing them for their disobedience for eternity. He is under no obligation to save anybody from such deserved punishment. So then now you who have heard the truth – want to defy his commands and the mercy he offers you, while billions perish without ever even having what you have?
There is the degree of reward in heaven. While we know that the rebel who died with Jesus on the next door cross went to heaven, he did probably did not have much in heaven beyond his own salvation. The Bible indicates not all are equal in heaven. There is heavenly wealth as a reward for service of God, while others will simply arrive as though escaping through the flames.
Not a good idea.