Man's Folly and God's Testimony

James Smith, 1856


"Be sure your sin will find you out!"
Numbers 32:23

These solemn words were uttered by Moses to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, in reference to their conduct in wishing to remain on the Egyptian side of the Jordan. He seems to be suspicious of their motives, and to fear they would act wrongly, therefore he thus warns them.

But the words are as true respecting sinners now, as they were then, and thus let us consider them. Sin will, sooner or later, find the sinner out, and punishment or chastisement will be inflicted. Here we have

Man's Folly Intimated. He supposes he can hide his sin. He may attempt it but he will never accomplish it. Sin cannot be hidden!

What is sin? It is a deviation from God's rule. God has placed man under his law, and requires him to walk by his rule.

In reference to God himself he requires us to love him with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength. To love him supremely. To love him every moment, in every place, and under all circumstances. He always deserves to be thus loved, and he just requires what he deserves.

In reference to our fellow-creatures God requires that we should love our neighbors as ourselves; or do unto others as we would they should do unto us. Whatever place I may be in, in whatever circumstances I may be placed I am to look upon every man as my neighbor, and God's law requires me to love each one as myself. There is no exception. If any man is my enemy, even then, Jesus, the true expounder of the law, says, "Love your enemies, bless those who curseyou, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you." This is the rule, and every deviation from this rule, in thought, word, or deed is sin.

But the reference may be especially to personal sin, that which we deliberately and willfully commit. Every sin is an offence to God. God loves his law, and is pleased when his creatures make it their rule, and endeavor to walk by it; but when they cast it behind their backs, neglect it, or willfully violate it he is offended. Therefore it is written, "God is angry with the wicked every day!" Every action is either pleasing or displeasing to God: but deliberate violations of his law are insults offered to him, and must be peculiarly offensive. And such insults, unless repented of, confessed at his throne, and pardoned through the blood of his Son will be visited with his rod or sword.

Man's sin casts dishonor on God's perfections. He was intended to reflect the moral perfections of God, and thus show forth his glory. All God's moral perfections appear to be summed up into one, "God is love," therefore all the requirements of the law are included in one, "You shall love;" and love is the fulfilling of the law; if man therefore had kept the law, he would have reflected the glory of God's nature and character on all around him. As when God created the glorious sun, and hung it up in the Heavens, he created also the moon, to catch and reflect its brightness and beauty on our world by night; so he created man to catch and reflect his moral beauty and glory on all around. The moon continues to answer the end of its creation; but, alas! for man, he "sinned and came short of the glory of God."

If we deviate from the rule God has given us we sin, and if we sin we offer an insult to God; and if we do so willfully we may be sure our sin will find us out. If we fail to reflect God's glory, especially his love on all around us, we fail to answer the end of our creation; and if we fail to answer the end of our creation, willfully and deliberately our sin will surely find us out, and we shall smart for it.

It is folly, gross folly, in any man to think that he can hide his sin from God. There are no secret places, when God is concerned for all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. The omniscient eye of God rests upon every sinner, penetrates his nature, and searches the depths of his soul. It surveys his motives, intentions, and designs! "Hell is naked before him, and destruction has no covering." "Darkness and light to him are both alike." How then can a sinner hide his sin?

The folly of our first parents, who attempted to hide themselves among the trees of the garden from the omniscient eye of their offended Maker is repeated every time the sinner tries to hide his sin. The very nature of sin forbids it. It is a disease like the leprosy. As the leprosy came out on the forehead of Uzziah in the temple so will hidden sin break out on the countenance of the sinner. It is a fire, it may smoulder for a time and appear feeble but at length it will break forth, and there will be an awful conflagration.

Sinner, beware of indulging in such folly. God reads your heart. He sees every action of your life. He registers every transgression of his law. Let us now attend to

God's Testimony. "Be sure your sin will find you out!" Yes, your sin. Your secret sin!

Are you covetous, and do you try to hide it? It will find you out!

Are you dishonest, and do you try to practice your dishonesty in the dark? It will find you out!

Are you idle, and do you cover over your idleness with a cloak? It will find you out!

Are you gluttonous, fond of indulging the appetite? It will find you out!

Dishonest workers, who secretly rob their employers, first of little things, and afterwards to a greater amount their sin will find them out!

Oppressive masters, who exact from their workers more than they ought, and pay them less than they should their sin will find them out!

Deceitful children, who practice deception on their fond unsuspecting parents their sin will find them out!

Foolish parents, who spare the rod and spoil the child, ruining their offspring by fond indigencies their sin will find them out!

Sly drinkers, who indulge in strong drink in secret, and pass for sober and consistent people their sins will find them out!

Deceiving tradesmen, whose short weights, or adulterate their articles, or mislead their customers by falsehood their sin will find them out!

Could we see as God sees, this one text would account for much that takes place in families, in churches, and in the commercial world; and many who are now pitied would be blamed! For many family trials, church troubles, and commercial panics are but the effects of sin finding parties out.

Sin cannot always be hidden, for God's eye watches the sinner, and he has said, "What is done in secret shall be published on the housetops." Satan, the great tattletale, sees it, and he will not always conceal it. He first tempts to sin, then accuses of the sin and then exposes the sinner! He persuades us to sin on earth and then accuses us day and night before God. The judgment will disclose it, if providence does not. "For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad."

Oh, what an exposure will take place then! Earth's secrets will be known both in Heaven and Hell. "Exposed! what if I die unpardoned, unsanctified, and unsaved shall I be exposed before devils, angels, and men?" Yes, you will be so exposed! "Will my whole life be laid bare; and all my secret sins, my hidden crimes be brought to light?" Yes! your sins will find you out, cover you with shame, fill you with agony, and expose you to everlasting contempt!

Sin always has found sinners out!

It found out Cain, when his brother's blood cried out for vengennce. He slew his brother when they were alone in the field: he thought no eye saw him but God called to him, convicted him, and sentenced him; so that he cried out, in deep horror of mind, "My punishment is greater than I can bear!"

It found Achan out. He saw the wedge of gold, and the goodly Babylonish garment, he coveted and took them, though it was prohibited. No one saw or suspected him. He hid them in the midst of his tent in the earth but the eye of God rested on them, and they must be brought forth, and Achan and his house must be stoned; for "that man perished not alone in his iniquity."

It found Gehazi out, he ran after Naaman, obtained his silver and the garments, stored them away, and pretended that nothing had taken place. But he was detected, exposed, and punished; for "he was covered with leprosy!"

It found Judas out. He brought the thirty pieces of silver, for which he had sold his Master, into the temple, and in agony of mind, exclaimed, "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood." The only reply he could obtain from the cruel priests, his employers, was, "What is that to us? see to that yourself," and being in misery, he went out and hanged himself.

It found Annanias and Sapphira out; they tried to deceive the apostles, and kept consecrated property for themselves; but they were questioned, convicted, and struck dead in the presense of the assembly.

Vain, vain is the attempt to sin in the dark, or to think of ultimately concealing our transgressions.

See that poor, dejected, disconsolate wife, going alone to the house of God. She takes her seat, hangs down her head, appears unhappy, and full of thought. She is a professor, she married an ungodly man, she knew Scripture forbade it, she had heard her pastor preach against it but passion prevailed over principle and now her sin has found her out. She cannot keep from the means of grace, or go with her husband into the world, for the root of the matter is found in her; he does not sympathize with her in her religious feelings and views, and she is indeed wretched. When she seems to be hearing the Word, her thoughts are often following her husband to the ale-house, or some pleasure party, or the indulgence of some carnal appetite. She mourns now but she ought to have taken heed in time.

Look at that young man pale, weak, and dejected. He was once strong, healthy, and comparatively happy but he threw the reins on the neck of his lusts, he yielded to temptation, he joined the company of mirthful, worldly, wicked companions and now his sin has found him out. His few remaining days will be spent in feebleness, pain, and remorse; while he is obliged to acknowledge that "it is an evil and bitter thing that he has sinned against the Lord his God!"

Enter yon prison go into that cell see that picture of misery. He was once respectable, loving, and beloved but he gave way to evil company, was led away by the deceitfulness of sin, and now sin has found him out! He pines in solitude, dreads appearing before an earthly judge, and grieves over his folly too late.

Go to the sick chamber cast your eye on the dying bed! There lies a wretched victim. Hear his heavy sighs, his despairing groans. He was brought up in the church, experienced conviction of sin, and was impressed with the importance of vital religion; he was exhorted to look to Jesus and live; but he trifled with convictions, and they died away; he hardened his heart against God; he went out into the world, seeking for pleasure and satisfaction and now his sin has found him out, and he is dying in black despair! How hopeful his case once, how hopeless now!

Mark that backslider. Once he was happy in God, alive in the ways of religion, and diligent in adorning his profession; by degrees he grew cool, drew back from the means of grace, neglected his Bible and his prayer-closet and now there he is, his evidences beclouded, his comforts lost, and his prospects most dreary! Satan accuses him, and conscience seconds the accusation; the Holy Spirit is grieved, and refuses to comfort him, and he is truly wretched. Ah, sin has found him out!

Think of HELL! What is Hell? What do you see there? Sufferers, hopeless sufferers! For what are they suffering? For sin! In what degree are they suffering? In just proportion to their crimes. In Hell, sin has found the sinner out, and . . .
like a scorpion it stings him,
like a never-dying worm it gnaws him,
like devouring fire it torments him!

Oh, sinner, sinner, beware in time sin will find you out!

Your way is dark, and leads to Hell;
Why will you persevere?
Can you in endless torments dwell,
Shut up in black despair!

Why will you in the crooked ways,
Of sin and folly go?
In pain you travel all your days,
To reap immortal woe!

Reader, unless we find out sin, carry it to the cross of Jesus, confess it before God, obtain the pardon of it, and forsake it it will surely find us out! It has found thousands, millions out! Do not think that you can escape for you cannot. "He who hides his sins shall not prosper but he who confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy." This is God's Word, and cannot fail of its accomplishment.

Think of being found out by sin when it is too late to obtain pardon, or find deliverance from its dreadful consequences. Repent, therefore, and seek the Lord, so that iniquity shall not be your ruin. God stands pledged to expose sin, and punish the impenitent sinner.

His Word requires it.
His justice demands it.
His nature prompts to it.

Direct your thoughts forward to the day of judgment. See that multitude, as pale as death, quaking with fear, trembling with anguish of soul, trying to avoid the eye of the Judge, dreading the sentence about to be pronounced upon them! What is the cause of all this? Sin has found them out, and they are about to receive the due reward of their deeds.

Reader, what if you should be one of them! What if you should? Is it possible? Can you bear the thought? Can you endure the idea? Oh, make sure work of it fly, fly to Jesus at once, believe in his dear name, confess your sins at his feet, get his blood sprinkled on your conscience, and his Spirit imparted to your soul then, then you are safe, and safe forever!