Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out – 2

Keith Sharp | via

“But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)


Lapse of Time

Some people think because a sin they committed was a long time ago, the Lord will and people should just forget about it. Solomon was primarily referring to divine punishment when he observed, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Just like King Agag, they reason, “Surely the bitterness of death is past” (1 Samuel 15:32). It wasn’t for him, and it’s not for impenitent sinners today. Twenty-two years elapsed between the time the brothers sold Joseph into slavery and the day they realized “God found out” their iniquity (cf. Genesis 37:2; 41:46; 45:6). Time does not erase the guilt of sin, nor does God forget. “And be sure your sin will find you out.”

Good Deeds

Nor will any number of good deeds by the sinner atone for his sins. “Tobiah, the Ammonite official worked against Nehemiah and the Jews every step of the way as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:10, 19; 4:3, 7-8; 6:12-13). The nobles of Judah reported to Nehemiah the “good deeds” Tobiah had done (Nehemiah 6:17-19). But Nehemiah prayed that God would remember his according to his works (Nehemiah 6:10-14). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and you cannot do enough community service to offset the death penalty. We’re not saved by works done in righteousness but by the grace of God (Titus 3:5). “And be sure your sin will find you out.”


It seems virtually all preachers think the death of the sinner eliminates the guilt of sin. Did you ever year a funeral preacher declare he knew the deceased was in hell? Regardless of the sinful life they’ve lived, the vast majority of preachers “preach them into heaven.” That’s not the kind of funeral sermon Peter preached for Judas (Acts 1:16-25). Peter observed Judas had gone “to his own place” (verse 25). I don’t think “his own place” is heaven. After Solomon had poetically described the debilities of old age and then death (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7), he concluded the words of the preacher by declaring, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The daughters of Zelophehad observed that their father “died in his own sin” (Numbers 27:1-3). “And be sure your sin will find you out.”

Generally Righteous Life

I have heard and read brethren argue that a man who had lead a generally righteous life and had a sin or two of which he had not repented wouldn’t be held accountable for those sins. They have the emotional “what if” story. Why, what if a man was a godly, upright elder of the church, had just gotten his first new suit in years, a taxi splashed muddy water on it, he left a filthy word escape his lips, and then was hit by a bus and died instantly. Surely—sob, sob—God wouldn’t hold that against him. I’ll let the Lord judge any such cases, including the ones where the fellow was on his way to be baptized and was killed. But here’s some passages to chew on.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)

But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and  does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. (Ezekiel 18:24)

Simon, a babe in Christ, sinned one time (Acts 8:5-20), and Peter warned him, “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23, English Standard Version). “And be sure your sin will find you out.”


Which leads to another excuse. Recently I heard a new Christian claim that one who had sinned through ignorance is nonetheless righteous, since he didn’t know he was doing wrong. If that’s the case, don’t teach him right from wrong, or he’ll be guilty. Ignorance is indeed bliss! Under the Law the one who sinned in ignorance was guilty (Leviticus 4:2-3, 13, 22, 27; 5:17). Simon sinned through ignorance—he thought he could buy the gift of God with money—but was still “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23). “And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14). “And be sure your sin will find you out.”

Imputation of the Righteous Life of Christ

About forty years ago some brethren borrowed the Protestant doctrine of the imputation of the life of Christ to the believer in a modified form. Protestants teach that God imputes (sets down to one’s account) the righteous life of Christ to the believer so that God doesn’t see the believers sins but only sees the righteousness of Christ. This is the basis of the Calvinistic doctrine of the eternal security of the believer, also called the impossibility of apostasy or once saved—always saved. The brethren modified it to just cover sins of ignorance and weakness but not sins of high handed rebellion.

The word that can be translated “impute” is found thirty-nine times in the New Testament, and eleven of those occurrences are in Romans chapter four. Thus, Romans four is the heart of biblical teaching on imputation. The principle of imputation is stated by the apostle Paul in Romans 4:5: “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” To the one who does not do the works of the Law of Moses (Romans 3:27-28), but believes on Christ, as manifested by obedience to the faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26-27), his faith is accounted (imputed to him) in order to righteousness. God doesn’t give us credit for the righteous life of Christ; He gives us credit for our own faith, shown by the obedience of faith, and by means of that obedient faith we are forgiven and made truly righteous. God doesn’t cover up our sins with the life of Christ, He forgives our sins when we by faith obey Him. “And be sure your sins will find you out.”

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