Real Salvation and Whole-hearted Service

By R. A. Torrey

Chapter 8



" Be sure your sin will find you out." — Num. xxxii. 23.

No man can escape his own sins. Every sin we commit will find us, and call us to account and make us pay. No man ever committed a single sin that he did not pay for in some way. No man ever committed a single sin by which he was not a loser. There never has been a sin committed on this earth that paid. The most stupendous folly of which a man can be guilty is for him to imagine that he can ever gain anything by doing wrong. Whether you hurt any one else by your own wrong-doing or not, you are bound to hurt yourself. There are doubtless many men and women in this audience to-night who contemplate doing some wrong act. Very likely you contemplate doing it tonight. Very likely your being in this place is simply a step toward the sin you have in mind. I want to say to you to-night, as Moses said to the children of Reuben and Gad, " Be sure your sin will find you out." You can't escape it. You are bound to suffer by that sin. It is pretty sure that if a man puts his hand in the fire he will be burned. It is absolutely sure that if a man sins he will suffer for it, and suffer for each individual sin he commits. You may escape the law, you cannot escape the consequences of your own sins. You may escape the laws of men, you cannot escape the law of God. No man can hide where his sin will not find him. Let me point out some ways in which a man's sins find him out.

1. Men's sins find them out by the execution of human laws. The execution of law in human society is necessarily imperfect, and yet it is astonishing how surely men who break the laws are sooner or later brought to book. A man may successfully elude the meshes of the law for days, or weeks, or months, or years, but he is all the time weaving a net that will almost certainly entrap him at last. Take an illustration. Some years ago a crime was committed in the city of Chicago. The detectives set to work to ferret out the criminal. Every clue failed. One day a detective was speaking to me about it. We were just about to separate. He was utterly discouraged. Just at the last moment a thought flashed through my mind about a party who had not once been suspected. A man who had, as he thought, covered all his tracks, not a soul on earth but himself knew that he was the criminal. Inside of two hours that party was under arrest and had made full confession of his crime. It is a marvellous thing how crime comes to light; how a man's sin finds him out and exposes him at last to the contempt of the whole world.

2. Men's sins find them out in their own bodies. When a man does not pay the penalty of his sin before human courts, he pays it in a court where there is no possibility of bribery, the court of physical retribution for moral offences. Not only do certain diseases follow in the train of certain sins, but in a general way there is the most intimate connection between morality and health. All sins have physical consequences. The suffering consequent upon some sins is not so immediate or so marked as the physical suffering consequent upon a few well-known vices, but it is none the less true that every sin has physical consequences. The man who sins will suffer for it in his body. His sin is bound to find him out. Scarcely a week passes that some one does not come to me suffering some great physical evil that is simply the consequence of his own sin. Young men see others suffering the terrible consequences of transgressing God's law, yet go right on as an ox to the slaughter. They fancy that they will be an exception. There are no exceptions to physical law. Any action that is unnatural or immoral is bound to be visited with penalty. Why so many men with broken bodies and shattered intellects? Violation of God's law — their sin has found them out. Why so many broken-down women? Violation of God's law — your sins are finding you out. Of course, disease may be hereditary, or the result of accident or misfortune, but if we should eliminate all the sickness that is the result directly or indirectly of our own sin, we would be surprised at the little sickness there was left. Many very excellent young men have been guilty of sins in certain directions, and the body is shattered and the mind enfeebled in consequence. The same is true of many young women, who, in many other respects, are most estimable young women. Take even such a sin as anger. Does that find a man out in his body? Surely. It disorders his blood, stomach, brain, nerves. It is demonstrably unhealthy in every case, and in many cases leads to paralysis and death.

In one church of which I was pastor, one of the deacons had a stroke of paralysis that finally resulted in death. It was said that the stroke of paralysis was due to this excellent man losing his temper in a political discussion. It is simply marvellous, if you will only study it, the many ways, some simple, some intricate, some direct and some indirect, in which our sins hunt us down and find us out in our own bodies. Man, if you are contemplating sin, just stop and think of this a moment, " Be sure your sin will find you out! " If nowhere else, in that body of yours. For every sin you commit, you will in some measure pay a physical penalty.

3. There is another place in which our sin finds us out, and this is more important by far than its finding us out in the execution of human laws, or its finding us out in our bodies. Sin finds us out in our characters. For every sin you commit you will suffer in character. Every sin breeds a moral ulcer. A festering body is not so bad as a festering character. You can't tell a lie but your moral blood is poisoned by it, and your moral constitution undermined. Do you think you can cheat a man in business and not suffer in your character more than he suffers in his pocket? Do you think that you can wrong an employee in his wages, and you not suffer immeasurably more in what you become, than he suffers in what he gets? Do you think you can wrong a man regarding his wife, and not have a death-dealing cancer in your own character? Do you think you can read an impure book, or tell or listen to an obscene story, and not breed a stinking distemper in your own moral nature? Do you think you can violate those laws of purity that God has written in His Word, and on your heart, and in your body, and not reap in disgusting tumours in your own character? Wherever else the law may seem to fail, here it absolutely never fails. A man's sin, a woman's sin, always finds them out in their characters, in what they themselves become.

4. Again, your sin will find you out in your own conscience. From whomever else you can hide your sin, you cannot hide it from yourself. And you are so constructed in the mercy of God that to know you are a sinner means self-condemnation and agony. Oh, how many of you are suffering to-night untold agonies from the bitter consciousness of sins no one knows anything about but yourself. No physical torments match the torments of an accusing conscience. An accusing conscience means hell on earth. No earthly prosperity, no human love, no mirth nor music, nor revelry, nor fun, nor intoxication, can dispel its clouds, nor assuage the agony of its ever-gnawing tooth. Well did the old Latin poet Juvenal write:

" Trust me, nor tortures that the poets feign

     Can match the fierce, unutterable pain

He feels, who night and day, devoid of rest,

     Carries his own accuser in his breast."

Ah! there is a place where all our sins will soon find us out — every one of us. Have no doubt of that, my friend. " Be sure your sin will find you out." It may be hidden from the officer of the law, it may be hidden from the eye of every man and every woman. But it will speak to your conscience some day. It will find you just there, then beware! That sin you are contemplating to-night looks fair and sweet. It won't look so fair, nor taste so sweet, after it is committed. It will find you out and you will suffer. Oh, how you will suffer.

Before I pass on to another place where your sin will find you out, let me say that the fact that your sin is sure to find you out in so many ways, in your relations to your fellow-men, in your body, in your character, in your conscience — all this points unmistakably to the existence of a moral governor of this universe. Everything in this universe is tuned to virtue. The stars in their courses fight against Sisera. Everything conspires to punish sin and reward goodness. To see this and to question the existence of such a God as the Bible pictures is to be supremely irrational.

5. But there is another place where your sin will find you out, i.e., in your children. That is one of the most awful things about sin, its curse falls not only upon us, but upon our children also. God does visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children. You may complain about that as much as you like, but it is an unquestionable fact, and a wise man doesn't think so much of what he would like to have true, as of what really is true. There is no question that our sins find us out in our children. Let a man be a drinking man, for example. He may not be a very hard drinker, but there is almost sure to be a curse upon his children. It is more than likely that some one of his sons will be a drunkard. I remember a man who was a constant, but moderate, drinker. He had three sons. I don't think that man was ever drunk in his life. Indeed, he despised a drunkard. But he laughed at total abstainers. Each one of his three sons became a drunkard. In a New England town I knew of a young woman belonging to one of the best families. I don't think that her father was a drunkard, only a moderate drinker, but the daughter inherited an appetite that completely overmastered her. She became a periodical drunkard. At times she would disappear from home, go to Boston, and when pursued be found in the lowest slums beastly drunk. Her father's sin had found him out. Take the liquor dealer. His sin is almost sure to find him out in his children. A friend of mine of very wide experience says he never has known a man in the liquor business where the curse sooner or later did not strike in his own home. A man was pointed out to me in an American town as the one who had made a determined effort to upset the temperance principles of the majority of the town by introducing a saloon. Two members of his own family came to violent deaths through drink. His sin found him out.

Take the Sabbath breaker. Nowadays a great many Christians are careless about the Lord's Day. They go out riding, or go out to the park, or go bicycling, or playing golf. Let them look out. Their sin will find them out in their children. Their children will go farther than they do. They will disregard the day altogether, they will very likely turn out infidels and drunkards and rakes, and all that is bad. If there is anything I thank God for in my home training, it is the strictness with which we children were trained to observe the Lord's Day. Some of us wandered into sin in later life, but when that one day in seven came round we couldn't find heart to do what we did on other days. We would go to church, and so we were brought back to Christ. The sin of the adulterer will find him out in his own children. Let him take heed regarding his daughter. A very prominent man in America, an excellent man in many respects, was led on into sin. Very few knew of it. His wife knew of it, and freely forgave him. But his sin found him out in his own family. His own daughter fell a prey to an infamous scoundrel. Oh, men and women, who are contemplating some sinful act to-night, beware, lest you bring a curse upon your own household. It looks attractive to-night. It seems as if it would pay, but it won't. " Be sure your sin will find you out."

6. There is one more place where your sin will find you out — your sin will find you out in eternity. This present life is not all. There is a future life, and our acts and their consequences will follow us into it. If your sin does not find you out here, it will there. You may be absolutely sure of that. We shall in eternity reap the consequences of every sin we sowed in time. It sometimes seems to go on here to the end unwhipped of justice. Men defraud their employees, they rob the widow and the orphan, they condemn other men and their families to beggary, that they may increase their already too enormous wealth, and no one seems to call them to account. It will not always be so. God will call them to account, to strict account, and a few thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions of their ill-gotten wealth given to charity will not blind the eyes of a Holy God. They shall suffer. Men sometimes lay traps for foolish girls, and they go down to ruin and contempt and an outcast's grave, and no one seems to call the man to account. He goes on and on, admitted to the " best society," and loaded with honours. It will not always be so. His sin will find him out, if not in this world, in the next; and he will stand before the universe exposed to shame, loaded with dishonour, cast out to everlasting contempt. Men despise God, laugh at His Word, and trample under foot His Son, and God still lets them live. He does not seem to call them to account. But it will not be always so. " Be sure your sin will find you out." " The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."

" Be sure your sin will find you out." The principle of our text is sure. All history is a confirmation of and commentary on this point of the Word of God. Every man's experience is a confirmation of it. You cannot sin without suffering for it. Your sin will find you out in the workings of human society, or in your own body, or in your characters, or in your conscience, or in your children, or in eternity, or in all together. Is there a man here to-night contemplating sin? Don't do it. I beg of you, don't do it. You will regret it. You will suffer, you will pay an awful price. Your sin will find you out.

But many of us have sinned already, and our sins are finding us out already. What shall we do? Fly to Christ. I have preached law to you to-night. Now, a word of Gospel. There is but one way of escape from the penalties of the law, that is, in the grace of the Gospel. " Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal. iii. 13). Fly to Him at once. He calls, " Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. xi. 28). Come — come at once.