Cause and Effect

Photo by Shark15 from FreeImages

Spiritual and natural laws sometimes blend together leaving us an understanding that the God of the universe has made us a system that cannot be denied by the believer and unbeliever alike. Well sort of. Years ago, I read the works of Francis Schaeffer where he eloquently expounded on God being the “First Cause” of all that exists. As we look at all that has been created, we realize it must have a first cause in the law of cause and effect. This shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. 

MY VERSION OF THE WATCH AND THE WATCHMAKER—If you don’t know the illustration of the watch and the Watchmaker please feel free to look it up on line. As my grandson would say to me, “Google it Grampa!” But for now, take my 2009 Subaru Outback. I know it just didn’t appear in my driveway one day with a note attached to it saying, “Welcome to the Subaru family, enjoy the ride.” I wish! No, the process back in 2011 was a long and drawn out affair, one that I don’t relish repeating. It all went something like this: I had to go to a dealer, work out a deal, get a bank approval for the loan, pay off the loan in the form of monthly payments, and keep up the maintenance on the car, which seems to be an unending expensive process. (Sometimes I think it’s my mechanic that owns the car.) But in the end, I own the car … sort of.  In a nutshell, this is the law of cause and effect. The car was made by Subaru, sent to the dealership, put on the lot to be sold. Someone before me bought the car and after a couple of years returned it to the dealership and traded it in on a newer model. I came along and bought their two year old car. So in a way, the Subaru Car Company is the first cause in the process of cause and effect. Cause and effect made clear and simple. Right? I hope so. 

We read in Isaiah 48:12-13, “Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; When I call to them they stand up together,” I get a picture of Divine cause and effect. This is a repeated theme in the Book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 45:12 God says, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I, even My hand, have stretched out the heavens, and all their hosts have I commanded.” Francis Schaeffer, commenting on this verse says, “God has not made a little universe. He has made the wide stretches of space and has put their all the flaming hosts we see at night, all the planets, stars and galaxies. Wherever we go, let us remind ourselves that God has made everything we see.” 

CAUSE AND EFFECT SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING—When it comes to sin and the fall of man, God created the environment for man to live with Him in peace and harmony for all of eternity. Man was given a command to live by. God also gave our first parents the cause and effect if they didn’t keep His command. God said, And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) This is a cause and effect we cannot get around. The world will call evil good and good evil but it will never negate the fact that we as a society, culture, and as individuals will always reap from God’s law of “Cause and Effect.” 

Let me put it another way. We will always, without exception reap what we sow. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” When my mind turns to corrupt things and from there act them out, I can expect to reap what I have sown. Now, I don’t want to complicate things, but we know that God is not the author of sin and He certainly is not for first cause of sin. My personal sin lies squarely on my shoulders. Our first parents may have passed on the sin gene to all of us but we must take responsibility for our own sinfulness. If I sow corruption in thought and deed, I will reap corruption from it. Is it really that simple? Fortunately, yes, but at the same time I don’t believe we always get it. The Apostle Paul also writes in Galatians chapter six, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3) There are times when I think that my sinning will somehow not have an impact on my life and the lives of others so long as I ignore it. There are times we make less of our offences, we downplay their affect, but we are only deceiving ourselves of the truth—What we sow we will also reap. 

SOWING AND REAPING DOES NOT MEAN WE WILL ALWAYS GET WHAT WE DESERVE—I have come to understand how much I depend of God’s mercy to get me through the day and allow me to sleep in peace at night. That doesn’t mean I am happy with the end result of each day that I live. An unkind word, a harsh statement, a thoughtless act, all have their consequences. If I expose my eyes to something I shouldn’t see, I cannot take back that image. It is burned into my memory. If I raise my voice to my wife, I cannot take back the influence it will have on our relationship. All this is cause and effect—I will reap what I have sown. 

Let me speak with candor, I covet God’s mercy. I would suffocate under the weight of my sin if it were not for His merciful approach to my life. The writer of Lamentations had it right when he said, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him!” 

Now, make no mistake in what I am telling you in this rambling. I do not view God’s mercy as a “get out of jail” card like in the game of Monopoly. Every sin we commit will have an impact on our life and the lives of others, especially within our personal circle of influence. And if I am speaking frankly here, we deserve to reap everything we have sown in sin.  

BUT THEN COMES JESUS—The Author and Finisher of our faith comes to our rescue, delivering us from the eternal consequences of our sinful actions. His Word says, we have sinned and have fallen short of His glory. Yet at the same time His mercy will prevail because He is the God of mercy. When we accepted the provision of forgiveness of our sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, we “sowed to the Spirit and from the Spirit reaped eternal life (Gal.6:8). 

Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “God’s mercy is so great that you may sooner drain the sea of its water, or deprive the sun of its light, or make space to narrow, than diminish the great mercy of God.” I have no illusions about myself as to what is wrong with me, yet I also realize in my shortcomings I can take confidence in the fact that God has an endless supply of unfailing mercy. Does that negate the cause and effect of my sin? No, and it doesn’t for you either. But we can take comfort in knowing, that while we may still be reaping the aftermath of our past sinfulness, we have a God who sees us each new day through the lens of His great mercy. That my friend, ought to give you great peace and joy not only for today, but also for all your tomorrows. Are you struggling with the ramifications of past sins?  You might want to get in line with the rest of us. We all struggle with the fallout of past sins to some degree. But we can work past that fallout knowing that God continues to pour out His mercy on us each new day, moment by moment as we live in Him. 

This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you joy in Jesus!