You would think that as Christians it would be enough to avoid sin just to know that it was displeasing to God. You would think that we would be able to talk ourselves out of following a sinful urge just by reminding ourselves how such things offend God and how much they hurt other people. But isn’t it usually the case that the temporal consequences of an action are what we fear even more than the eternal ones? Isn’t it the fear of losing our job, or our marriage, or our friends that deters us from following the impulse to sin more so than the thought that we are offending God? And if this is the case, doesn’t this show just how little fear we have of God? Yes, it’s a first commandment thing.
I merely point this out because I find this to be true of myself. I find myself contemplating the temporal consequences of a sinful word or action rather than the fact that this or that sin is an offense to God and incurs his wrath. I fear the reproach of men more than the fires of hell, so it would seem. Truly “I am a worm and no man.” If that is what it takes, though, then so be it. This is one function of the Law: to curb coarse outbreaks of sin. I would rather be deterred from sin just because it is displeasing to God. But whatever it takes, I suppose, the important thing is to avoid the sin. If contemplating the fires of hell works for you, then do it. If thinking about the fact that you are baptized and Christ has redeemed you from sin and taken away your sins is what helps you avoid coarse, outward sins, then go for it. Whatever it takes to keep yourself from going against your conscience and following the desires of your sinful heart, then do it.
Sorry y’all, not much Gospel in this post. But that wasn’t the point.