When we only have ourselves to blame
Pointing fingers since Genesis 3,
all we had to do is look in the mirror.
Leviticus 26 warns us of the consequences of our choices in life,
film noir reminds us in film.
James M. Cain said most of his books were about the horror of “the wish that comes true.” His characters go to ferocious lengths to obtain something, usually involving some combination of sex, money, and violence, only to find they can’t stand to live with the very thing they doggedly pursued. Cain invariably depicted lust and murder arising out of the same bellowing furnace chamber of the self. Films like Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Mildred Pierce teach us “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
This is a warning for the future (v. 14, “But if…”) It hasn’t happened yet. But it will. We normally attempt to bypass responsibility by saying, “I didn’t know!” even when we actually did! To have been given God’s revelation and ignore it, is worse than not to have had His Word in the first place (Matthew 11:20-24). How can we look in the mirror of God’s Word (James 1:19-25), see its ethical reflection and turn away to do the opposite?
The reasons for sin’s consequences include deliberate rejection of God, continued violation of His laws, and open hostility toward God’s intentions. Do we ever practice “in your face” disobedience? Do we ever ask, “Why should I listen to you?!” Do we ever say, “I could care less what you say!” Our best efforts are in vain when we harbor unrepented sin (vv. 18-20).
14 “they will not listen, will not carry out”
15 “they reject my decrees, abhor my laws”
19 “they have stubborn pride
21 “they are hostile toward God and refuse to listen”
23 “they continue in their hostility”
Continued disregard for sin’s consequences increases our distress. This happens when we disregard warnings—someone saying, “Look out!” (18 “If after all this…” v. 21 “If you remain hostile…” 23 “if in spite of these things…” v. 27 “If…you continue hostility…”)
The normal, accepted ebb and flow of life will be interrupted. Is the pleasure of the moment worth the many of pain, discomfort and shame? (16 “cause your way of life to waste away”)
God takes an active role in the discipline of His children. We often forget that God hates, becomes angry, and will judge. However, God never forgets His promise: “I will not completely abandon them or destroy them. That would put an end to the covenant with them and I am the Lord their God” (26:44). [16 “I will punish” v. 17 “I will turn against you” 18 “I will increase your punishment” v. 28 “my anger will turn on you”]
Learn from the consequences of others’ sins. Why is it that we do not want to listen to the advice of others, especially those who are older? Why do we say, “It’ll be different for me!”? [40-41 “the sin of your ancestors”]
The people of God, when disobedient cause the wrath of God. Judgment begins with the house of God (1 Corinthians 11:31, 34; 1 Peter 4:17; Leviticus 26.41 “which made me hostile toward them…”)
The obedience and disobedience of God’s people seems to run in cycles of generations: when one disobeys the next sees it and repents (vv 39-45 “generations”)
If film noir teaches us anything it is that we are our own worst enemy, we think consequences will not befall us, and we should be careful what we wish for.
Dr. Mark Eckel is teaching this coming Sunday at Crossroads Community Church on the theme “suffering may come because we only have ourselves to blame.”