‘Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more’ ~ Amos 4:4
This is God urging Israel to keep up with their sins for ‘they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil heart. They went backward and not forward’ (Jeremiah 7:24). Granted, ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) and ‘if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8). So, sin is not the main setback in someone’s life, but unrepentant sin is. For ‘if we confess our sin he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (v9). God recognizes our fragility and disposition to sin and so forgives us without count or limit. However, to those ‘who cling to deceit and they refuse to turn’ (Jeremiah 8:5), God asks, ‘When men fall down, do they not get up? When a man turns away, does he not return?’ (v4). So, one who heaps sin upon sin does not ‘repent of his wickedness, saying “What have I done?”’ (v6). God says to such;
‘Woe . . . to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin’
Heaping sin upon sin is also focusing on what seems favourable and discarding the rest of God’s commands. Jesus cautions the Pharisees who ‘neglected the more important matters of the law- justice, mercy and faithfulness’ (Matthew 23:23), ‘You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel’ (v23-24). When God clearly stated that ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings’ (Hosea 6:6), the Israelites did not heed and so God gave them over to do as they please; ‘Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves!’ (Jeremiah 7:21). In fact, those who heap sin upon sin are so deluded that they call ‘evil good and good evil’ (Isaiah 5:20). They justify their sinful actions and say, ‘But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine’ (Jeremiah 44:18). So God tells them, ‘Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows!’ (v25).
The consequences of heaping sin upon sin is that God gives them over to their sin, to a point that ‘your sins have been your downfall’ (Hosea 14:1). Because ‘sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death’ (James 1:15). Unrepentant sin leads to one becoming a captive of sin to a point they are given over completely. ‘Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another’ (Romans 1:25). When one is given over to sin, the Word of God does not penetrate in their Spirit for they have shut it out for a long time that ‘the word of the Lord is offensive to them’ (Jeremiah 6:10). God says, ‘Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac’ (Hosea 9:7). God ‘long(s) to redeem them but they speak against me. They do not cry out to me from their hearts’ (7:v13-14).
One’s ‘arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the Lord his God or search for him’ (v10). They ‘continually provoke me to my very face’ (Isaiah 65:3). God is appalled at such haughtiness and asks, ‘Should you not fear me? Should you not tremble in my presence?’ (Jeremiah 5:22). However, the arrogant simply ‘turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord nor enquire of him’ (Zephaniah 1:6). In fact, such ‘obeys no one . . . accepts no correction . . . does not trust in the Lord . . . does not draw near to God’ (3:v2). They are even ‘still eager to act corruptly in all they did’ (v7). ‘They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God’’ (Jeremiah 5:25) and so God tells them, ‘your sins have deprived you of good’ (v25), ‘your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realise how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me’ (2:v19).
A Believer is one who is quick to repent, but the stubborn and rebellious ‘become heartless like ostriches in the desert’ (Lamentations 3) and so God says, ‘I will pass judgement on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned’ (Jeremiah 2:35). In fact, ‘their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord’ (Hosea 5:4), so much that ‘even when their drinks are gone, they continue their prostitution’ (4:v18). In other words, those who are unrepentant, sin even without any influence or motivation. They simply heap sin upon sin. Their ‘sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes’ (Revelation 18:5). But God asks, ‘Why should you be beaten any more? Why do you persist in rebellion?’ (Isaiah 1:5).
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” ~ Joel 2:12