I told you soI received a comment about how some of the verses we have been studying in Hosea and the question was based on the translation, comparing the New King James, the New American Standard, and the ESV.  I appreciate comments that are made to me after church and during the week about the message and daily devotionals, and this one was actually significant, and I wanted to make the comment about it because this was good.  It comes down to a matter of punctuation.

If you remember, we looked at Hosea 6 and saw that the people were saying, Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up.”  And I preached that they were saying that, but not doing that.  Now we all agree on the fact that they were not doing what God was telling them to do.

Of course, in the original Hebrew manuscript, the fun of dealing with Hebrew grammar is that there are no punctuation marks, and in fact, no vowels.  Hebrew is written in consonants only.  The vowels were only added later to assist with the public reading of Scripture, so that you could be certain of the terminology.  That’s why the scribes were steeped in the Scripture and knew what the Scripture said.

Now when I got the comment last week, “Hey, look where the quotation marks are here—look at who’s actually saying this,” I went back, and half of the commentaries that I trust agreed with me, and the other half agreed with the New American Standard.  So I think there was a good consensus there that this is something to take into consideration.  It may not have been Israel who said this.  We know they didn’t do it, but it’s also a very distinct possibility that God said to the people, “This is what you need to say.  And if you would say this and do this, then I will heal, I will revive, I will raise, and I will restore.”

How often is it in the Scripture that God does just that?  He tells us exactly what we need to say, and exactly what we need to do, and we don’t do it.  We just don’t usually do it.  The Lord told Israel what they needed to say.  And they didn’t do it.  They continued on in their iniquity, and they were going to be judged.  God tells us what to do.  He is always able to say to us, “I Told You So!”

God tells us what to do, exactly what to do.  He tells us exactly what His will is, and we struggle to determine what we ought to say or do, don’t we? As if there is some confusion.  Well that really points to a distrust of the word of God, to an unwillingness to deny ourselves and to submit to His will over our own will, in the event that our will and His don’t agree.  We’re quick to be sure of our desires.  We’re quick to be sure of our decisions.  We work hard to justify what we do and what we say and what we think, and at the same time, we are much too quick to discount God’s Word and God’s will and God’s ways.

Now imagine what it would be like if we doubted our own desires and our own decisions like we doubt God’s Word.  Is His Word really that ambiguous?  Is the Scripture really that unclear?  I mean, to me it’s fun that we can have a discussion over, “Where do the quotation marks go?”  That’s awesome, because it forces us to dig in and to say, “What is God communicating to us in this text?”

We find that often when God’s Word is considered confusing to us, it’s because we have already made up our minds about what we believe.  We’ve already decided against it, or contrary to it.  And all too often, we come to the Word to find justification for our thoughts and for our actions, instead of coming to the Word to be sure that we are submitted to the infallible rule of what God has told us through His Son and through the apostles and prophets.

When we do get into chapter 7 it begins: 1 “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria. For they have committed fraud; a thief comes in; a band of robbers takes spoil outside. They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face. 

The first point from Hosea 7 that we learned was too often we play hide-and-seek with sin.  We try to camouflage sin, as if God is not aware.  And we would never really try to camouflage our sin, would we?  Hide it, cover it?  No, no.  That’s why we don’t call it adultery or fornication or unfaithfulness.  We call it having an affair or a fling, right?  That’s why we don’t talk about the sin of drunkenness or gluttony; we refer to it as an addiction, as a disease, as a weakness, as a shortcoming.  We blame our emotions, instead of calling our flesh on the carpet to say, “No.”  That’s why we shy away from those old-timey Bible terms.  So we talk about it in medical or psychological terms.  Have you noticed that?  We make up new, nice-sounding terms that make us the victim, instead of the perpetrator.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who was a fantastic and phenomenal preacher of the Word of God—and also, by the way, a medical doctor before he surrendered to the call to go into the ministry to preach—he rightly said that many of the undiagnosable, or seemingly untreatable conditions that we face today really are not disease, but more than likely they are the physical manifestation of the consequences and results of sin in our life.  Sin messes us up.

Read the Psalms.  Read what David says in his guilt.  His bones get brittle; his body dries up and shrivels.  This is not just hyperbole.  Sin has an effect on our physical and our mental health.  At times, we would really like it to be a disease, wouldn’t we, so that a pill could fix it—so that a pill could treat it?  In reality, it’s sin and it’s self that must be crucified with Christ.  You see, popping a pill is certainly easier on the ego and self-esteem than the mortification of sin. I am not discounting legitimate disease, but how much of what we suffer—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually—how much of that is the result of the lack of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and of the presence of sin?

We would rather deaden the pain of what’s killing us, while it kills us, than take an axe to the root.  What is the root?  It’s our stubborn will.  And we can call sin by any other name, but whatever we call it, we can’t hide it from God.  We must never forget that when Christ died on the cross for our sin, He paid for it all.  He died for it all, for every sin—before we were ever born, before we had ever even sinned.  So think about this: If we sin in the future, and we will—if we sin after He saved us, this is not news to Him.  He’s already paid for it.  Don’t try and hide it from Him.  Confess it and forsake it.  He knows.

And to be clear, that’s not a permission to slip into licentiousness.  That doesn’t mean because He’s already provided for forgiveness, that then we can sin all we want and think it’ll be covered.  Because if we really understand the price for our sin, and if we really are embracing God’s forgiveness and understanding the fullness of the pardon we have in Christ, that really should lead us to hate our sin even more.

When it comes to sin, we cannot deny that we’re sinners.  We can’t deny that we sin often.  Numbers 32:23 is one of the scariest verses in all the Bible, to me: You have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.”  Knowing this, why do we try to hide it?  Trying to hide it, in fact, is evidence itself that we know that it’s sin.  That’s also why we often make sure that we are alone when we sin, isn’t it—or at least have the support of the crowd that’s running with us?  But we’re never alone, are we?  And every time we sin, it involves at least two people—us and the One who paid the price for that sin on the cross.  So when it comes to sin, all too often we view ourselves as the victim, and not the perpetrator.

In Psalm 51:1-4, in this great Psalm of confession, David says, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.”