Text: Numbers 13:30-14:12
I. In a desire to be kind, to give each person a chance, our criminal system frequently fails to uphold justice
A. We assume people want to improve themselves, so we give people multiple second-chances.
1. For a few it is an opportunity to turn their life around
2. But for many, it is a means to avoid the consequence of their action.
B. Parents do the same thing.
1. Misbehavior is excused and ignored for as long as possible because we hope that it was just a mistake.
2. We forget the warning - Ecclesiastes 8:11
C. Yet, are we not to be longsuffering? Shouldn’t we be showing patience?
II. Longsuffering is not endless tolerance
A. II Peter 3:9 - God doesn’t want men to perish, so the destruction of the world has been delayed.
1. Notice though that there is no promise of a permanent delay.
2. In fact, look at II Peter 3:7. We know that there will come an end.
B. When mankind was found to be wholly evil, God could have wiped out the world immediately. Instead, God waited for Noah to build an ark - I Peter 3:20
C. Some people misapply the longsuffering of God - Romans 2:3-4
1. Condemning others for what we do ourselves makes a mockery of God’s longsuffering.
2. We could be wiped out on the spot when we sin, but God doesn’t.
3. God suffers with us so that we might repent, but too many act as if the delay is approval for their own sinful deeds. They make no attempt to change.
III. Longsuffering is not equally applied
A. God shows great patience with his people - Psalm 86:15-16
B. Yet, there is a limit - Exodus 34:5-7
1. God is patient with the failures of those trying to do his will
2. Yet, those uninterested in turning from sin are punished.
C. Notice the difference.
1. Some people make a mistake and sin. God suffers with the sin so that the sinner will repent and make effort to live righteously.
2. Some people sin with no desire to change. God does not always delay the punishment of these people.
IV. Longsuffering does not mean sin is not punished
A. Notice that Moses quotes God’s own description of himself in Numbers 14:18
1. God is longsuffering with an intolerable people
2. He forgives sin, but justice is still applied to the guilty.
B. Moses pleads with God to forgive the people - Numbers 14:19
C. God grants his request, but those who rebelled are still punished - Numbers 14:20-23
D. At times God puts up with sinful people so the greatness of His glory may be shown - Romans 9:22-24
1. God did not withhold destroying the Israelites because He did not wish to look mean
2. He did not withhold destruction because they were only human and bound to sin.
3. God withheld destruction to show his greatness and to fulfill his promises to Abraham
4. Yet, even so, the people who sinned did not enter into Canaan.
V. What longsuffering is
A. Longsuffering for man is to continue seeking God when everything goes against you
1. II Timothy 4:1-4
a. Notice that Paul is not telling Timothy to tolerate sin.
b. He had to rebuke and reprove, but he had to have the attitude of patience.
c. Why? Because people will not always listen to a preacher!
d. But a preacher can’t give up. He must deliver God’s message even when it is rejected.
e. The suffering here is not suffering with sin, but suffering with rejection.
2. II Timothy 3:10-11 - Paul is the example of continual dedication in the face of persecution.
B. Longsuffering means having patience when dealing with our fellow Christians - Colossians 3:12-13
1. We cannot succeed in get along if we take offence at each apparent slight.
2. It doesn’t mean that sin is ignored, but is dealt with in a loving manner.
C. The goal of longsuffering is to bring repentance and not a continuation of sin.
1. Our duty is to expose sin - Ephesians 5:11
2. The innocent, the weak, still need protection from error
a. At times sin will creep into a church
b. Some will not notice because they have not matured - Hebrews 5:13-14
c. It is the responsibility of the mature to point out the sin - Romans 16:17-18
d. Sometimes there is a hope that what is not noticed will not influence a person, but this is not how sin works.
e. False teaching unchecked spreads.
D. Longsuffering is a chance for salvation - II Peter 3:14-17
1. This is how Paul was saved - I Timothy 1:16
2. But understand that others will use the time to distort the teachings of God
3. Since we are warned, we must be on guard.