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“I WILL TEAR YOU IN PIECES”
by Philip Owen

            We are called Grace Bible Church for a reason, namely, that the God Who is revealed in Scripture is a God of infinite grace, freely giving salvation to hopeless sinners and flooding the undeserving with innumerable blessings.  The Scripture is replete with precepts and examples that prove this to be true.  But we present a caricature of God and do disservice to His creatures if we fail to point out that our gracious God is first and foremost a holy God Who does not overlook sin or excuse unrepentant sinners.  We would do well to remember Psalm 50, the song written by Asaph, King David’s chief musician.  He sang a song the theme of which is seldom heard today. 

            God hates sin.  Addressing the wicked, God offers a laundry list of their sins:  “you hate discipline,” “you cast my words behind you,” “when you see a thief, you are pleased with him,” “you associate with adulterers,” “you let your mouth loose in evil,” “your tongue frames deceit,” “you sit and speak against your brother,” “you slander your own mother’s son” (vv. 17-20).  This list runs the gamut from “big sins” to “little sins.”  Most of us may not be comfortable associating with a known thief, but which of us has not sinned against a brother by spreading gossip, making a sarcastic comment, or criticizing some attitude or behavior?  We should note that God makes no distinction among these sins.  He does not say some are significant, others not so much.  He does not suggest that He might judge the worst and excuse the others.  His definitive opinion is clear:  He is addressing “the wicked” (v. 16).  All sin is wicked before Him.

            God judges sin.  A statement that follows the list in the preceding paragraph offends the modern conscience and may even shock many nominal believers because it contradicts the false view of God held by a majority of people.  “Now consider this, you who forget God, Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver” (v. 22).  Doubtless someone reading this verse will be angry with me—as though I have presented a blasphemous lie about God.  However, I have done nothing more than quote a verse from the mouth of God in which He Himself describes how He will deal with rebellious sinners:  He will punish them without mercy; no one and nothing will halt their total judgment.

            An example.  That this is not merely poetic language, which we should feel the liberty to soften, may be illustrated by what befell the “young lads” near Bethel who had the temerity to mock the prophet Elisha.  That gentle, gracious man of God “cursed them in the name of the Lord.  Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two of the lads” (II Ki. 2:23, 24).  Certainly, when God says He will “tear . . . in pieces” adamant sinners, we need not expect that all will be judged in the manner of these forty-two boys.  Nevertheless, the language describes a judgment that is horrendous and from which there is no recovery.


              Such is the nature of our gracious, loving God.  Therefore, if we make light of sin, we make light of God’s holy character, and we encourage sinners to persist in their sin.  We need grace because a holy God never relents in pursuit of sin.  May we not usher sinners into hell by excusing their sin before a holy God.

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