We make decisions based on what we believe is right.
It’s pretty easy to act when something you know is true is guiding you. For example, if you want to move a dozen boxes of different shapes and weights into a building, you have to consider the law of gravity before you load the handcart. If you don’t, you may have to load it more than once.
You also may have to explain why some of the boxes are damaged.
That can be a sticky situation.
If you can practically apply the law of gravity, you’ll know how to create that load.
But what if what you believed was really a lie?
Consider those folks in Revelation 16. In the first three verses, we see a pattern. First, if they belonged to God, something went wrong somewhere on the road. It’s as though they’d planned a trip to get somewhere and along the way something caught their attention and pulled them off the path.
The trouble with distractions is that if there are enough of them and they are attractive enough, you’ll forget the plans you made and never make it to your original destination.
There are two plagues in the first three verses. The first is the presence of sores on the people under God’s wrath. The second is death.
It’s easy enough to look at pagans and conclude that they’ll end up miserable forever. Sure, they may be having fun on the outside but on the inside they’re miserable.
Christians can be miserable inside too. My pastor reminded me today that the worst thing you can have going for you is your obedience when you know it. This leads to pride and self-sufficiency, which leads to self-righteousness and perfectionism. You start thinking you have life under control and God is lucky to have you.
That kind of thinking will make you miserable, guilty, alone, and bound.
The mortal sin alluded to here is rejecting Christ for another god. John Calvin said our hearts are idol factories. Augustine called the church a whore. The reason we have to be careful to remind ourselves of the Gospel is that we’re not Home yet. We’re righteous in God’s sight and no longer condemned. But we’re still working out our salvation practically while we breathe.
We really need Jesus every hour to keep our hearts faithful.