“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:67 & 71).
As Christians, God’s Word, The Holy Bible, is our rule for life. Its laws, its precepts, and its commandments, provide the framework in which is found God’s peace and joy. Like the natural laws of the universe, to not respect God’s spiritual laws is to invite trouble.
We all understand that to walk off of a tall building is an invitation to disaster because of the Law of Gravity. We understand that to walk out in front of an oncoming bus is not wise, the great mass and speed of that bus will always win when pitted against human flesh and bone.
Believe it or not, the spiritual laws of God are as unalterable as the physical laws of the universe. One cannot break the laws of God with impunity. That is the testimony of the Psalmist in the verses above. As he began to operate outside of God’s Law, God allowed some affliction to enter his life. At some point, the Psalmist put two and two together and realized that his affliction was a result of his going astray. On top of that revelation was the revelation that the affliction was for his own good that he might learn to walk within the statutes of God.
Most of us, as Christians, understand the consequence of what we might call the “grosser sins” but periodically find ourselves not so watchful against the “lesser sins.” Our minds might justify that the small sins can do no great harm, but to think that is to deceive ourselves. The littlest sin still has the nature of sin in it just as a littlest drop of poison still has poison in it.
The Puritan, Thomas Case wrote, “A small sin shows a greater contempt of God since we dishonor Him for an insignificant thing (as we count it), but venture His displeasure for a little sensual satisfaction.”
The afflictions that God allows in our lives when we wander from His way awaken our conscience, identifies our sin, and moves us to prayers of confession and repentance. It is then, that our soul returns to its rest.