“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”
It is true. There will always be consequences for sin. One cannot sin and get away with it. Our sin does not always find us out immediately; judgment may be delayed. Some sins will not be found out until the final judgment, but they will be revealed. Most of us can remember times in our youth when we committed some offense, and when retribution did not come right away, we assumed that we had escaped without paying for our sin. However, our text tells us differently.
The devil wants us to believe that sin carries no severe penalties, but he is a liar. He used this tactic with Eve in the garden of Eden. God told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and warned him, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Later, Satan tempted Eve with these words, “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). The Bible gives us many examples of those whose sin was found out. Some tried to hide or cover their sin, but it was found out.
The only way that we can avoid the penalty for our sin is to have our sins forgiven. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation, God forgives our sin because of the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus suffered and bled and died on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb of God, that our sins could be forgiven. When we sin as Christians, we must confess and forsake our sins, or we will be chastened. If we will judge ourselves, we will not have to be judged by the Lord.
It is quite interesting to consider the particular type of sin that Moses is speaking of in our text. Moses was warning the tribes of Gad and Reuben about their responsibility to go over the Jordan River and fight with their brethren, driving out the enemies of Canaan before they settled on the east side of Jordan. He said, “if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” In essence, it was the sin of neglect that God would surely judge. If they did not carry out their duty to God, they would suffer the consequences. Most people do not really believe that sins of omission or neglect will be chastened. We need to understand that it is just as sinful to disregard what we should be doing as it is wicked to do things we shouldn’t.