In the past, Tim Challies posted an article titled The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do. It’s a terrifying article. It crushed me reading it and apparently it did for many others as well. I saw this article referred to and re-posted numerous times.
The most terrifying thing God can do is to turn an unsaved person over to his sin. Having just gone through Romans 1 in my Sunday School class, I was starkly reminded again of God giving them over to their sin. It’s stated three times at the end of the chapter. This again clutched my heart with terror and grief. Sin is such a powerful drug, a terrifying trap.
As for Challies’ article, here is a sample of the scriptural truths the article contains:
We speak often of hell and eternal consequences for sin, but perhaps we give too little attention to God’s action against sin in this world and this life. God’s punishment for sin is sin. His punishment is allowing people to experience the life-stealing, soul-rotting consequences of their sin. He expresses his wrath by allowing them the very thing they want. He does this because when they get the thing they want, it only deepens their destruction.
In this way, sin is its own punishment. And in all the world I see nothing more terrifying than this: the prospect of God allowing people to experience the full impact and weight of their sinfulness. Nothing is more terrifying than God determining that he will no longer restrain the evil within them.
This is a terrifying thought.
This would be a terrifying event.
Just before I came to salvation, God turned me over to my sin. Or so it seemed. He released any restraint and allowed me to pursue it to a more headlong degree. The Valley of the Shadow of Death loomed.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
I’d lived for 43 years as a sinner, but I had a besetting sin that consumed me. After so many decades, the Lord turned me over to it and released restraint. He turned me over to my sin so that I’d choke on it, and by virtue of contrast, thirst for His purity and holiness. After a few mercifully short years, I cried for mercy to the God that I would finally acknowledge and my sin that I would finally admit.
I remember the day when I realized that the sin wasn’t so fun anymore. I realized that my sin had me, I didn’t have it. Like a rabbit in a snare, I tried to shake loose of it, and could not. This perplexed me, because I had always been able to do anything I’d set my mind to. This was different. I was trapped. (Romans 7:14). Now I know that we are slaves to sin, in bondage to it and to the god of this world, satan. All unsaved people are in bondage to their sin, but many don’t consciously know it. At my nadir I finally did.
But like quicksand, the more I tried to get out of my sin on my own terms and in my own effort, the more I foundered. I truly felt like I was sinking, forever to be engulfed in a toxic brew of my own making, sinking under the weight of it. My lips were only inches above the water and I felt I had only moments to go, relatively speaking, before I’d sink below the surface to rise no more. And it was cold there in my sin. Cold.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
All the while, God had given me over to my sin, which I still pursued, though I did not want to anymore. The law of diminishing returns was clearly demonstrating that it was not a worthwhile pursuit. But I still wanted it. How can this be? Because I was a slave to it, I could do nothing else. My nature was one of sin, not righteousness.
I was a woman who was well and truly locked in sin. Being allowed to pursue it is truly terrifying. There is a soul-numbing effect that God’s release to sin as punishment has on a person. At least it did to me. The grief is violent, desperate, physical, all-consuming. Spiritual torment! And yet I didn’t know what I was grieving over!
The Lord graciously saved me! His hand plucked me from the mire and turned my heart from stone to love.
I repudiated my sin. I sought God, who was holy. I repented. Of course the Lord enlivened my spirit and drew me there up to that point. I had no conscious knowledge of the invisible hand of Providence drawing me. I had not a clue what to do except wallow in my sin and cry. It was the Lord who was the catalyst.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Being given over to sin is terrifying. That feeling never left me. It fuels me, it haunts me. Sin is a terrible thing. Even more terrifying is God allowing us to bask in it, wallow in it, then sink in it. But what beauty and relief and joy when the Light comes! It pierces the dark night of the soul and banishes sin from the heart. It gives us release from the spiritual torment. We can finally say, ‘Mercy has arrived!’ and with it, means to resist that soul killing sin. The Holy Spirit is housed in us and works with our enlivened conscience to see sin for what it is, and to labor at banishing it as the driving point in our lives. Jesus is now the apex of our life, bright and holy.
Obey the Lord. Be grateful for His grace. He saved us from a ghastly fate.