1 Samuel 3:13, “For I have told him, that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth: because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”
DOCTRINE. It is highly offensive to God and shows men to be at risk of God’s judgment when they will not reform what they know to be amiss.
The fact that Eli knew his sons to be vile and yet he did not do what he should have to restrain them aggravated his own sin. Sometimes people, through ignorance, are at a disadvantage to know the mind of God in particular cases. Or maybe the matter is disputable. It’s a question to them whether the thing is a sin or not. Now though this doesn’t wholly excuse sin, it may lessen its severity.
But when men have sufficient light to expose sin, and even though they confess it they persist in it, this makes them very guilty before God and shows their offence to be very great. It is here that God threatens in a peculiar manner to punish his own people, as in Amos 3:2, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities.” Why is this? Not because God loves them less than he does others, but because his name and honor suffer by their sins. Because they continue in sin when they have greater light than others that still wander in darkness, they are more inexcusable (Job 15:22). Also, as James 4:17 states, “To him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin.”
Such behavior discovers a prevailing love for sin. It shows that sin has a great deal of power in their hearts, for the more light that is resisted in sinning, the stronger and deeper love men have to it.
John 3:19 says, “This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light.”
It shows a lack of love to God; too little sense of and regard for God’s honor. Sin is loathsome and abominable to God. He looks on it with displeasure and abhorrence, and it should also be seen that way by us and be the object of our hatred and displeasure. And where a spirit of love to God is exercised, it will be that way. They that love the Lord will hate evil, and so the psalmist expresses his indignation against sin, Psalm 101:3, “I hate the works of such as turn aside, it shall not cleave to me.” And Psalm 119:104, “I hate every false way.”
It is an argument of spiritual deadness, stupidity, and dullness of conscience that sin can be left alone and suffered to lie quietly in the heart. A tender conscience may be sometimes clouded with ignorance, and through mistakes pass a wrong judgment in some cases, allowing one to remain for a time in some sin without repentance. But otherwise, a tender conscience will rebuke and condemn sin. … If conscience is allowed to fall asleep, the soul lies like a town unguarded, ready to become prey to an approaching enemy. Satan easily gets an advantage over such a person, and many sad breaches are made in the peace of their souls.
Because it shows a greater choice and freedom in sinning. Such people do not sin because of the sudden surprise of temptation; they sin with more deliberation. The amount of light they possessed made their sin inexcusable and took away all pleas and pretenses they previously had to excuse or cover it. They can’t say they did not know it was sin, or that it was a thing so offensive to God or dangerous to themselves. Possessing light of the gospel shows these things to them. Christ tells us that such sins expose a person to greater judgment (Luke 12:47).
It also shows there is little dread in their hearts for God’s judgments. Sin exposes men to the just displeasure of a holy and righteous God. So often by his providences he reveals his wrath against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, expecting that these events should be a means to restrain them from continuing any longer in their impenitence. But even when his wrath is not made visible in the punishment of sin, it is shown in his threatening against it, hanging like a flaming sword over the head of a sinner. This should be enough to make them afraid of exposing themselves to divine justice, like David said in Psalm 119:120, “My flesh trembles for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments,” and Job in Job 31:23, “Destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.” God requires men to “stand in awe and sin not,” (Psa. 4:4). And Isaiah 26:9 says, “When his judgments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Corrections should be instructive, we should learn the evil of sin by them, and be afraid of continuing in it. If there were any suitable awe of the justice, or truth of God on the heart, any sense of the terribleness of his displeasure and what a fearful thing it is to be the sorrowful subject of his threatenings or judgments, it would be so. Therefore, those whose hearts are glued to their lusts and idols and will not part with them will expose themselves to the wrath and jealously of a sin-revenging God. And though they have the light of truth concerning the judgment of God in his threatenings and providences, they are not changed or restrained by it.
[For more on this excellent work by William Williams, visit www.puritanpublications.com ]