The Sinner's Guide

Against abusing God's Mercy

The Sinner’s Guide has a chapter titled “Of Those Who Continue in Sin, Trusting in the Mercy of God” which starts off saying:

You say that God’s mercy is great, since He died on the cross for the salvation of sinners. It is indeed great, and a striking proof of its greatness is the fact that He bears with the blasphemy and malice of those who so presume upon the merits of His death as to make His cross, which was intended to destroy the kingdom of evil, a reason for multiplying sin. Had you a thousand lives you would owe them all to Him, yet you rob Him of that one life which you have and for which He died. This crime was more bitter to our Saviour than death itself. For it He reproaches us by the mouth of His prophet, though He does not complain of His sufferings: “The wicked have wrought upon My back; they have extended their iniquity” (Ps. cxxviii. 3.)

Who taught you to reason that because God was good you could sin with impunity? Such is not the teaching of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, those who listen to His voice reason thus: God is good; therefore, I must serve Him, obey Him, and love Him above all things. God is good; therefore, I will turn to Him with all my heart; I will hope for pardon, notwithstanding the number and enormity of my sins. God is good; therefore, I must be good if I would imitate Him. God is good; therefore, it would be base ingratitude in me to offend Him by sin. Thus, the greater you represent God’s goodness, the more heinous are your crimes against Him. Nor will these offences remain unpunished, for God’s justice, which protects His mercy, cannot permit your sinful abuse of it to remain unavenged.

The Letter to the Hebrews also puts it:

For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31 RSVCE).

And again:

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:4-8 RSVCE)

But then it continues with hope:

Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9-12 RSVCE)

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