Summary: Bible study on the consequences of sin and the rewards of obedience. The struggle over temptation and sin is a difficult battle for Christians (and others). One tool in our struggle is to consider the negative consequences of sinning, as well as to consider the rewards or blessings we experience when we obey the Bible’s instructions.
Summary: Bible study on temptation, sin, and obedience. For individuals and small groups.
Think about the consequences
Have you ever decided to sin and thought, “I don’t care about the consequences”? I’ve counseled with many people who allowed themselves to be carried away by temptation, thinking they didn’t care what happened, only to discover that they really did care when they faced devastating consequences.
Realistically considering the consequences of our actions can help us make the right choices. For me, it helps to consider the rewards or blessings of not sinning as well as considering the consequences of sinning.
Consider the results of not sinning
Just as there are consequences to sin, there are rewards or blessings when we obey what the Bible says. Train yourself to remember consequences of obedience when you are tempted.
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)
You please God.
Each time you say “yes” to God, he is pleased, much as an earthly parent takes pleasure in his or her child’s obedience.
You grow in the Spirit.
When you are tempted, it is an opportunity to grow in the Spirit. It’s exciting to see the power of God working in your life when you say “yes” to God and “no” to sin.
Related: Bible studies on growing in Christ
You build resistance to further sin.
When you overcome temptation, you learn that you have the strength to say “no.” That makes it easier to say “no” the next time.
You are a good example to others.
When you obey God, you provide a great example and encouragement to others.
You experience joy.
When you obey God and break free from the power of sin, you experience the excitement and joy that come from spiritual victory.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:10-11)
You avoid the negative consequences of sin.
When we follow God’s word, we avoid all sorts of problems.
Consider the results of sinning
Remember that your actions have consequences. When tempted to sin, don’t let your emotions overrule your intelligence or your desire to please God. Discipline yourself to consider the possible consequences of your actions.
Sin grieves God.
God loves you intensely and is hurt when you sin. For example, he is grieved when you give in to anger (Ephesians 4:30-31).
Make it your goal to please him, not to get away with sin. Ask yourself, “Do I want to grieve God?”
Sin harms your walk with God.
A tragic consequence of sinning is that you put a wedge between God and yourself.
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. (1 Timothy 1:5-6)
Fight the good fight holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Sin gives Satan an opening.
When we sin, we give Satan an opening. For example, when we are angry and speak unwholesome words, we “give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27) and open ourselves up to further temptations.
God punishes sin.
Sin has consequences. God often punishes (or disciplines) us when we sin, usually to help us learn (Hebrews 12:5-11). Paul referred to God’s punishment when he warned the Thessalonians about sexual sins: “The Lord will punish all men for such sins” (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. (Proverbs 6:27-29)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
God does not always punish sin, especially when people repent (Psalm 103:10 and Jonah 3:10). However, we would be foolish to choose to sin, assuming he would not take action. For a striking example of God’s punishment, read Isaiah 42:14 and 42:24-25.
Sin harms others.
One of the saddest consequences of sin is that when you sin, you hurt your spouse, children, friends and others. For example, when people divorce for non-biblical reasons (Matthew 19:9 and 1 Corinthians 7:15), they usually inflict indescribable pain on their children and spouse.
Some of the most painful counseling I do is when I talk with children whose parents divorced. I wish these adults could fully understand the agony they put their children through.
God punishes those who lead others into sin.
If you tempt someone to sin with you, God takes it seriously.
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)
Sin harms your witness for Christ.
When you sin, you may put a stumbling block in other’s paths and your ministry may be discredited.
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2 Corinthians 6:3)
Sin harms your potential.
If you give in to temptation, you can miss out on the exciting life God wants for you. You can waste your life without developing your gifts or touching this world for Christ.
Sin results in natural consequences.
If you overeat, you may get sick. If you continually overeat, you probably will get fat. If you engage in immoral sex, your spouse may divorce you and you may get a sexually transmitted disease. If you gamble, you are likely to lose money.
I sometimes think about the natural consequences of sin when I am tempted to eat too much unhealthy food. I think about how I would only enjoy eating it for a few minutes, then I consider how much time it would take to work off the calories. I also think about potential illnesses down the road that might be caused by eating a lot of junk food.
Sin results in guilt and misery.
You may think sin will make you happy. But, although you may experience temporary pleasure, you will end up miserable because of your guilt, natural consequences and God’s punishment.
He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. (Psalm 7:14-15)
1. Name one temptation you face:
2. What will be the negative consequences if you say “yes” to this sin and “no” to God?
3. What will be the positive consequences if you say “no” to this sin and “yes” to God?
4. Write a prayer asking God to help you remember the consequences and turn from sin.
Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
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