The Consequences of Running from God According to the Bible


Lord’s Library contributor Jared Helms offers this concise Bible study on the consequences of running from God with commentary. Check out Jared’s YouTube channel and two blogs: A Light in the Darkness and Blind Faith Examples.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeWhat happens when we run from God’s call? The Bible is filled with narrative examples to show us what even a minor deviation from God’s precise calling leads to. We have Sarah and Abraham doing God’s will in their own way leading to a history of war that continues to our own day. The Israelites doubted God’s ability and subjected themselves to forty years of wilderness wandering. We have Israel suffering the inaptitude of King Saul, David suffering setback after setback each time he strayed from God’s way, and Solomon suffering for his folly. However, the most outstanding example is that of the prophet Jonah who did not want to go to Nineveh to preach repentance.

There are a few things we can glean from the example of Jonah. First, Jonah suffered greatly in his refusal to yield to God’s call. He endured a horrific storm at sea, and then three days in the belly of a fish: some commentators believe he was dead during this time. He continues to suffer until the end of his book with a negative attitude.

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Consequences of Running from God

Second, Jonah did not suffer alone; everyone on the boat with him suffered until he relented and yielded to God’s call on his life. It is to deceive ourselves and think our response to God’s call only affects us, but this is never the case. When we stray from the path God has set for us everyone around us suffers.

Finally, we see that Jonah’s resistance is futile. God is going to have His way, Pharaoh couldn’t stop the exodus, Jezebel couldn’t snuff out God’s worshippers, and Nebuchadnezzar and his heirs couldn’t overcome Daniel and his faithful friends, so who can stand against God’s will? Isaiah 46:10 makes the matter perfectly clear God is going to have His way: “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”

As we see in all the examples of Scripture, He disciplines His wayward children, allowing them to suffer the consequences of disobedience until they return to the way. See Hebrews 12:6: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

Running from God’s call on your life is disobedience, and the result of disobedience in the life of a believer is misery. There is misery from placing ourselves further from the fullness of the love of God. We reject a portion of that love in rejecting His call on our lives. This leaves an emptiness that we want to fill, and so we chase satisfaction in places where it cannot truly be found.

This leaves us exhausted and disillusioned. Depression may well follow, even an overwhelming despair. Those around us are hurt, for we cannot minister to them as we ought. They are hurt because they must witness our suffering. They hurt because of the result of the discipline we are under. Many more may suffer because we bear a false witness, declaring to follow Christ while running from Him. We will suffer the pangs of our violated conscience, provided we have not sheered it numbness. The one who writes this testifies that it is so.

Here the writer asserts to you dear reader, the further outside of God’s design we attempt to live the more miserable out lives will become. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. If we try to use a screw-driver as a hammer the task of driving a nail is going to be much harder than if we used a hammer. In the same way, when trying to use God’s creations in ways outside of His intentions it is not going to work as well.
  2. God has written His law on every heart according to Romans 2:14-15: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” When we go against the grain of reality, we experience a disconnect between reality and our perceptions. This disconnect is uncomfortable for us as it continually reminds us that our perceptions are invalid. This requires us to dedicate substantial energy to reinforcing our invalid perceptions. Ultimately this is a losing battle as we cannot alter reality.
  3. The promises of rest offered outside of God’s Will are always broken leading to a mounting disappointment. The human soul can only handle so much disappointment before it collapses into disorder.

Some may point to contrary examples, but we remind our readers that appearances can be deceiving. We should not be surprised that life outside of God’s Will is miserable. A life outside of God’s Will is a life of sin, and the wages of sin is death according to Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

When we heap up death for ourselves how can we live well?

We cannot miss this point: running from God’s call is sin. We sin when we do things that are against His commands, and when we fail to do the things that He commands. In fleeing His Will for our lives, we do both. Again, it doesn’t matter how slight the deviation seems to us, it is a sin against an intimately Holy God, and it deserves eternal death.

However, God has made it possible for us to escape the ultimate consequence of our sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gift God offers us is eternal life. The prophet Isaiah puts it well in Isaiah 53:6; see also Acts 3:19:

  • Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
  • Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

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Jared Helms
Jared Helms

Jared Helms

Jared received his Bachelor of Arts from Bryan College in 2012, and his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Tennessee. Most importantly, Jared has walked with Christ most of his life. His interests extend from theology to church history, but he is particularly passionate about ecclesiology and homiletics.

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