So far, we've looked mostly at the Old Testament. Even in the OT, much more could have been covered, including the people's rebellion when Moses was on the mountain with God (Ex 32), the incident at Peor (Num 25), and pretty much the entire book of Judges, where the common theme was people doing what was right in their own eyes! (Jdg 21:25)
But let's move to the New Testament. As I said in the first post:
Because of the overwhelming love, mercy, and grace of God (Hallelujah!), sometimes there is this thought in the mind of well-meaning believers: because God forgives our sin He also forgoes the assignment of consequences. In other words, because we are positionally covered by the blood, we also practically escape punishment.
This simply isn't true. We could discuss one of the most egregious sins recorded in the Gospels: the rejection of Christ as Messiah by the Jews and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Jesus Himself prophesied much about what would happen in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24), future eschatological implications notwithstanding. The famous first-century historian Josephus wrote of the terrible consequences of this sin in vivid detail. God's judgment would fall and fall hard...
...the rebels shortly after attacked the Romans again, and a clash followed between the guards of the sanctuary and the troops who were putting out the fire inside the inner court; the latter routed the Jews and followed in hot pursuit right up to the Temple itself. Then one of the soldiers, without awaiting any orders and with no dread of so momentous a deed, but urged on by some supernatural force, snatched a blazing piece of wood and, climbing on another soldier's back, hurled the flaming brand through a low golden window that gave access, on the north side, to the rooms that surrounded the sanctuary. As the flames shot up, the Jews let out a shout of dismay that matched the tragedy; they flocked to the rescue, with no thought of sparing their lives or husbanding their strength; for the sacred structure that they had constantly guarded with such devotion was vanishing before their very eyes.
Most of the slain were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, and they were butchered where they were caught. The heap of corpses mounted higher and higher about the altar; a stream of blood flowed down the Temple's steps, and the bodies of those slain at the top slipped to the bottom.”
When Caesar failed to restrain the fury of his frenzied soldiers, and the fire could not be checked, he entered the building with his generals and looked at the holy place of the sanctuary and all its furnishings, which exceeded by far the accounts current in foreign lands and fully justified their splendid repute in our own.”
As the flames had not yet penetrated to the inner sanctum, but were consuming the chambers that surrounded the sanctuary, Titus assumed correctly that there was still time to save the structure; he ran out and by personal appeals he endeavored to persuade his men to put out the fire, instructing Liberalius, a centurion of his bodyguard of lancers, to club any of the men who disobeyed his orders. But their respect for Caesar and their fear of the centurion's staff who was trying to check them were overpowered by their rage, their detestation of the Jews, and an utterly uncontrolled lust for battle.
Most of them were spurred on, moreover, by the expectation of loot, convinced that the interior was full of money and dazzled by observing that everything around them was made of gold. But they were forestalled by one of those who had entered into the building, and who, when Caesar dashed out to restrain the troops, pushed a firebrand, in the darkness, into the hinges of the gate Then, when the flames suddenly shot up from the interior, Caesar and his generals withdrew, and no one was left to prevent those outside from kindling the blaze. Thus, in defiance of Caesar's wishes, the Temple was set on fire.
The Temple Mount, everywhere enveloped in flames, seemed to be boiling over from its base; yet the blood seemed more abundant than the flames and the numbers of the slain greater than those of the slayers. The soldiers climbed over heaps of bodies as they chased the fugitives.
Let's also be reminded of the New Testament situation of Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the LORD and subsequently died before the LORD...IN CHURCH! (Acts 5) How about the situation with the man who committed incest in 1 Corinthians 5 whom Paul commanded to be delivered "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh." (1 Cor 5:5) He went on to say a few things that make many of us recoil:
"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." 1Co 5:9-13
Yikes! Look at these consequences! Shunning a willingly sinning brother? And this wasn't said just once in the NT...
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." 2Th 3:6
My point in all this isn't to advocate for a mean, unloving church. I suppose what I'm trying to do is to bring some balance to our understanding of grace.
My pastor once said, "It's grace, not grease." Scripture actually says that the grace of God that brings salvation to men also teaches or trains us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. (Titus 2:11-12) Law and Love work together. This is because we serve a loving, merciful, but HOLY God.
Who can forget the LORD's Words to His churches in Revelation chapters 1-3? Much of those loving words were warnings about impending consequence for their sin. Did Jesus love those churches? Yes...that's why He inspired John to write to them! Nevertheless, He disciplines (consequences) those whom He loves and scourges every son whom He receives (Heb 12:6).
There is nothing in the New Testament that even implies that our LORD will not allow the consequences of sin in the church. In fact, the opposite is true.
So, here is a question: Do you believe the church is suffering any consequences at all right now?
"Based on what" you might ask? Next time! :)