Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 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. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God. (Ecclesiastes 8:10-13)
The Lord does not desire that anyone perish extending a longsuffering spirit for men to change their lives. Since the beginning of time, the grace of God has allowed men to continue in their rebellion with the hope of repentance. In the days of Noah, the kindness of God’s love allowed the earth to remain for many years while Noah preached the message of salvation. In the end, only eight souls were saved. Through the prophets, an appeal to repent was given to the nation of Israel before calamity came but largely went unheeded. The northern tribes were destroyed with the southern tribes enduring seventy years of foreign captivity. When John the Baptist heralded the coming of the Christ, his message was simple: repent. Jesus preached the same message. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles declared remission of sins began with repentance. The early church spread the news of God’s longsuffering to a lost and dying world.
One of the reasons that so few repent is because they mistake the forbearance of God as saving grace without any future retribution. The wise man exhorts his readers to embrace the kind mercy of God but not be lulled into believing that judgment will not come for their rebellion. Sin has a price to be paid but for many the cost is not realized until judgment. Warnings are posted of the danger of sin but no consequence is experienced in this life. For many who live without God they do not understand why anyone would fear punishment for sin. Living a full life with all the gusto of a reckless life has no serious consequence so why worry? What they fail to realize is that while no penalties may be incurred in this life there will be a reaping in the everlasting.
The law of sowing and reaping is an absolute. What is different is the timing. The sentence against evil may not be seen until after death but it will become clear when death surrounds the soul. Whatever a person sows in life, he will reap in eternity. If evil is his way of life there will be a consequence when he awakens in eternity. Satan lulls us into the belief there are no consequences to sin. He convinced Eve and he was found to be almost true when he told her she would not die. When she ate of the fruit, she did not die – physically. What he failed to tell her was the whole truth. The nature of sin has always been the same. Sin is like a credit card with no limits – what you buy now you pay for later. Because there is no immediate consequence to sin in this life men fully set their hearts on drinking deeply from the deceitful cup. Too many people think they can charge their life will all this sin and declare bankruptcy without any penalty of payment. That is a lie. Payment will always come due.
Sin will not go unpunished. There will always be a payday. The heart of men can be fully set to do what they desire to do but there will always be a judgment day. Two things are certain in life whether men believe them or not: there is a day of death and there is a day of judgment. All men can see the reality of death but few believe that beyond death another day awaits. Denying the judgment does not dismiss the reality. It will be well with those who believe in death and judgment because they know a loving, caring and forgiving God. Sin does not have to have dominion over the soul because through Jesus Christ it can be defeated. The victory we have in Christ is that perfect love casts out fear. There is nothing to fear in death because judgment is glory. Sadly, for most men, death will be the final realization that while evil was not punished in this life – there will be a day of recompense. Then it will be too late.
In this day, when law and order seem on the way out and criminals get only a slap on the wrist, it is well to remember that the wages of sin remain the same and what men sow they will reap. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)