I'd like to go a bit further on this thought of consequences by taking a look at a particularly powerful example from the Old Testament (there are many!).
Let's look at what happened at AI.
Many of us are familiar with Joshua chapter one. Moses the servant of the LORD was dead. Joshua son of Nun was God's chosen successor. Joshua was given the divine commission to lead the children of Israel into the land promised to them by God and wage war in order to dispossess the pagan nations that lived there.
You might recall the LORD's encouragement to Joshua:
Jos 1:3-9 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Amen! All Joshua had to do was follow God's instructions (and command the people to do so) and God would be with him, protect him, and give him great victories in the upcoming battles!
I pray I'm not alone in thinking that this sort of blessing is often available for believers today! Yes, the ultimate victory of Christians is spiritual in nature, granted unto us through the blood sacrifice of Jesus. Temporal victories pale in comparison to the glories of heaven! Amen!
But the church of Jesus Christ is still an army...one with a Commander in Chief (Jesus!) The Body of Christ is still in a right now fight. There are souls to be won and discipled, revivals to spark, generations to raise up, and devils to put to flight!
Wouldn't it make Kingdom sense that God would bless obedience more than disobedience? (Deut 5:29; 1 Sam 15:22)
So back to AI.
After Joshua's commission, Israel miraculously crossed the Jordan (Josh 3). Joshua then circumcised all the males in accordance with God's command and prepared for the first great test, the upcoming battle at Jericho (Josh 5). And God brought them great victory there! How could they lose with this sort of help...
Jos 5:13-15 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Given that Joshua's worship was not rebuked and the "holy ground" reference, many believe this was a pre-incarnate appearance of the LORD Jesus! Anywho, after the wall came a tumblin down at Jericho (Josh 6), I'm sure there was elation in the camp of Israel. The LORD was true to His promise! Israel was unstoppable! The Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites better watch out! (Josh 3:10)
Not so fast.
Out of hundreds of thousands of people in Israel, in the first verse of Joshua seven Scripture describes the sin of ONE man, Achan the son of Carmi. Unknown to Joshua, Achan had taken of "the accursed" or dedicated things. Joshua sent spies into AI. The spies came back and said essentially, "Just send a few thousand troops Joshua. There aren't many enemies; this battle will be easy."
It wasn't. Israel was routed.
Joshua cried out to the LORD for answers. Here is what the LORD said:
Jos 7:11-13 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
Israel's crushing defeat was a direct consequence of sin in the camp.
If you read the rest of Joshua chapter seven, you'll see the sad end for Achan and his family. Praise God for grace in Jesus in the New Testament! But the point here is obvious: Sin has consequences.
Yes, Christians are redeemed. Yes, positionally speaking our sins are cast from us as far as east is from west in Jesus. Yes, believers are blood-bought and Holy Ghost filled. BUT, is there room in our theology to take a sobering look around the church and the world and see the results of sin in the camp?