No place left to hide

Back in Ireland about a hundred years ago there was a large mansion situated out in the country. At one time the house had been very grand and was the social centre for gentry for miles around. Scores of servants had been employed and the belief of the family which owned it was “we will never be in want". What happened in reality was quite pathetic; after many decades of decline all that finally remained of the family was one elderly colonel with just one servant. There was no money to maintain the property so when the roof leaked the colonel and his dogs literally moved their living quarters into another room. When that room started to leak they moved again to the next and so on. Eventually the time came when they had nowhere else to go and they could avoid the leaking roof no longer.

Many individuals are like this when it comes to thinking about God's Infinite Holiness and His call for repentance. Scripture teaches that God isn't just infinitely Loving but that He is also infinitely Holy and therefore requires individuals to truly repent of their sins if they are to be forgiven. Calling on people to repent, so that they could receive forgiveness, was the main theme of Jesus' teaching. It was so central to His mission that after His baptism, Scripture records “From that time on Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' " (Matthew Ch4v7). Later when He sent out His Disciples, He instructed them to deliver the same message, as it says in Mark Ch6v12, “And they went out and preached that people should repent." And in His Commission to the Apostles after the Resurrection, He commanded in Luke Ch24v47 that “Repentance and remission of sins were to be preached in His Name among all the nations."
In His Infinite Love, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to bear the penalty of our sins on the Cross but in His Infinite Holiness, forgiveness of those sins depends upon them being repented of and turned away from.

Unfortunately, many people treat God's Holiness and this command to repent just as the colonel treated his leaking roof. As he thought he could avoid the consequences of those leaks indefinitely, so likewise many think they can indefinitely avoid the impact of God's Holiness upon their lives. The attitude seems to be “ignore the  Holiness and command of God long enough and He will go away." In their conscience, they sense God calling upon them to change their attitudes and their lives. They sense Him pleading with them to repent of their sins and turn to Him. Sadly though, because they “love darkness rather than light" (John Ch3vs19-20) they would rather “run than repent"; they would rather run into the “next room" or onto the “next act of busyness" than obey God's Voice within.

However, the implications of God's Holiness and call cannot be avoided forever. As the colonel ran out of rooms so likewise one day, those trying to avoid and ignore God's call to change will run out of places to flee. Scripture warns that “God will not be mocked" (Galatians Ch6v6) and states that one day “everyone will appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ" to give an account of their actions. (2nd Corinthians Ch5v10). It further adds “without Holiness no one will be with the Lord" (Hebrews Ch12v14), it warns “how shall we escape punishment if we neglect so Great a Salvation" (Hebrews Ch2v3) and St Paul wrote “knowing the terror of the Lord, we plead with people" to repent. (2nd Corinthians Ch5v11).
Repeatedly, Scripture teaches that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs Ch1v7, 9v10 etc) and that it is “by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Proverbs Ch16v6). The sending of God's Son to suffer for us was no small thing. It was an Act of the Most Loving and Stupendous Nature, God the Creator suffering in the place of His undeserving and unthankful creation.  Forgiveness has been bought at a Great Price (1st Corinthians Ch6v20). Those however, who mock and  disregard this Great Sacrifice place themselves under God's wrath and depending on circumstances can even experience His Judgement in this earthly life.

The Rev Isaac Colburn, the famous missionary to Burma wrote of one such example. He had been invited to a special open air service where a group of new Christians were to be baptised in a river. These Christian's had given up much to follow the Saviour and faced many hardships in their love for Him. As the service began, a man and his adult son appeared and began to violently disrupt the proceedings. The two of them started shouting curses and blasphemous words at the top of their voices mocking Jesus and those who followed Him. Then they actually began to carry out their own mock baptisms beside the real baptisms. The congregation was visibly shaken and upset. The Korean evangelist Sau Wah, who was conducting the baptismal service repeatedly pleaded with the men to stop but to no avail. Finally, Sau Wah, addressed the men and the congregation with these words. With a loud and authoritative voice he said “God is Holy, God will not be mocked" and then turning to the two men he said “you men are full of deceit, sons of the devil and enemies of righteousness, will you not cease perverting the ways of the Lord"?

As he uttered these solemn words, the Rev Colburn observed that the atmosphere on the river bank instantly changed and the entire congregation felt a terrifying sense of God's awesome Holiness. The sense of God's angry Presence became so intense that moments later the two men ran up the bank in fear, only to collapse after a few yards. When members of the congregation went over to them they discovered that the father was actually dead. The son recovered consciousness and was carried back to the village but within 6 months he followed his father to the grave. (In Acts Ch 5 a similar event is recorded where again people discovered that God is Holy and will not be mocked).

Today, many people think that by stifling their conscience they can forget about the implications of God's Holiness upon their lives. However, just as the consequences of the colonel's leaking roof couldn't be ignored indefinitely neither will they be able to escape the consequences of God's Holiness and justice forever.