Sowing and Reaping

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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Whatever may be the almighty power of God’s grace, we need to be reminded that He always maintains His own moral principles. Whatever God’s love and mercy in embracing a soul, He never leaves that soul in its evil, nor deals lightly with ungodliness. However, the blessed truth of the gospel is that God is for us, although against our evil. Thus, in His love, He maintains His authority in our souls, His hatred of sin, and His delight in what is good. He undertakes to produce the reflection of His own holiness in every soul that He delivers from coming judgment. Because God is true, He continues the watchful work of His love in changing our souls into the image of Christ as we pass through the wilderness.
God’s Unchanging Moral Principles
It is important for us to bring our souls continually to this standard. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of grace and our knowledge of it, but the more we value it, the more we will take care not to sacrifice the moral principles of God because of the grace that He has shown us. It is in view of this that we find the following words at the end of the epistle to the Galatians: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:7-10).
If we are not founded in grace, we may find these verses somewhat startling. If taken out of their context, they may seem at first glance to support the thought that our salvation depends on our walk. It is clear from other Scriptures that this thought is utterly false and that the only foundation on which we can stand is Christ. This foundation is not the work of the Spirit in us, but the work of Christ for us. It is entirely outside of ourselves. But there is a work of the Spirit in us—a constant and serious work. Practically it may be interrupted or even eclipsed from time to time, but God never allows His child to escape the government and discipline of His heart and hand, so as to produce a moral conformity to His own will. He would not be treating us as sons if He let us escape it.
A Mixed Crop of Good and Evil
This principle is universally true, whether of the unbeliever or the believer: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The unbeliever sows to nothing but self and reaps the judgment of God on self, where there is not a single good thing that will stand before God. But what about the believer? That is where the difficulty comes in, for the believer has a mixed crop of good and evil. Satan takes advantage of the unjudged evil of our hearts to lead us into sin. It may not always be gross sin, but the lawless evil of our nature that prefers a little present gratification of self rather than the obedience and glory of Christ. What does God do? Wherever we indulge ourselves, God deals with us in that very thing. We suffer in the thing in which we please ourselves, and the very thing for which we spare ourselves becomes the rod of our correction. Let us be thankful that this is so, for then we have the assurance that we are indeed sons of God.
If it were not so, what would the consequences be? I would have to suffer in hell for it. What is contrary to God must be judged. If God did not carry on His discipline in my soul now, it would have to be judged in hell. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32). The world will feel God’s judgment in a coming day, but the believer feels His hand of chastening now. No matter what it is—I might think it to be only a little sin—it is impossible that God can have communion with that which is not of Christ. What a mercy that now is the time when God deals with what does not flow from His Spirit! It may have to be manifested later at the judgment seat of Christ, but now is the time when the rod is upon us. If it does not appear, for the moment, that God is taking notice of our ways, He is only waiting to deal with us in a more effective way.
God’s Dealings With Our Practical State
Let us not think our Father hard. Can anything too hard come from such a God—the One who gave His own Son to die that we might be redeemed? We know that we are sons of God forever, and nothing can alter this precious truth. But as to God’s dealing with our souls at this present time, a great deal depends on our practical state and conduct. It is impossible that God can sanction what is contrary to Christ, and we should thank Him for it. It is part of the scheme of His perfect goodness towards us.
Thus we see that grace and government are parallel truths, and one does not take away from the other. Thank God, His grace never changes, whether in saving, keeping or restoring us. But a sense of that grace in our souls will make us abhor the evil that God abhors. The contrast between that grace and what it was in us that called forth that grace will draw us toward God and all His goodness. If we fail in this (and the tendency is in each of us, to a greater or lesser degree), God deals with us in His government.
May our desire be that Christ be formed in us in everything, not only that we should have life everlasting, but that our hearts should be according to His heart. This is what God has before Him, and it should be the object of our souls. Accordingly, “let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
J. N. Darby (adapted)