Sometimes after we have turned from sin we are in a position to see the damage we've caused in other people's lives from that sin. We like to think that our sin will only effect us, but truly no man is an island. We see this truth throughout Scripture. When we walk with God those around us will be effected for it, just as Potiphar, and then later the pharaoh, was blessed because Joseph was in the house hold (Gen 39:5).
But when we walk in a way contrary to God we bring heart ache, danger, and destruction upon those around us. Jonah was given a Word from the Lord, but his flesh didn't want to receive it, didn't want to proclaim it, and so he ran. Thinking he could out run God he boarded a ship and set sail for Tarshish. Imagine his surprise, and dread, when he and his fellowship mates were surrounded by a storm God had sent. His disobedience put these men at risk, they could have lost their ship and their lives because Jonah refused to follow God. And the only way to save them, the only way they could be released from his sin was for him to be gone. And so Jonah was cast into the sea and swallowed by a great fish. Then the waters were still.
Our disobedience effects others, we like to ignore that fact, but it is the truth. And what do we do about it, when that storm comes as surely it will, what do we do? There comes a point where we have to choose, do we love God? Will we serve Him? Or do we love our fleshly desires more?
After Moses came down from the mountain and discovered the Israelites engaged in idol worship, fornication, and a multitude of other sins he knocked the idol over and stood to the side. Before the congregation he declared that those who would have God, those who are for God, those who would repent and submit to God MUST stand behind him. And those who didn't? What happened to them? Hundreds, thousands of people died because they refused to turn from their sin. They met their destruction because they were unwilling to die to their flesh, and countless families lost fathers and sons and daughters and mothers. Families were torn apart because of lustful pride and disobedience.
But what about those who stood with Moses? Surely they felt the shame of their sin, obviously repentance was needed, perhaps some of them even had to go to their loved ones and apologize for sinning against them. But is that it? Is that all one has to do? Apologize? Perhaps. Perhaps an apology is all God would have you give in certain situations. But how often do we have to take measures to correct the wrong we've done in another's life? The Old Testament is filled with it. If you stole a lamb you were expected to repay the loss, ect. Sometimes a repayment is all that is needed.
But what to do if the sin you've done can't be repaid, time, emotion, trust, these are things you can't write a check for. So what do you do? Do you continue in sin because you can't repay the person? Do you continue to sin because there is nothing that will satisfy them aside from a continuance in sin?
Sometimes it is necessary to part ways. Such was the case with Abraham and Ishmael. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, but Abraham was old and his wife was barren. How could he be the father of many nations when he didn't even have an heir? This was their reasoning for his going to Sarah's handmaid, Hagar. Hagar bore him a son, but it was a son conceived out of distrust, out of disobedience, outside of the will of God. And eventually God delivered the son He had promised, eventually Sarah conceived and bore Isaac. But Hagar and her son were still there and a contention arose between the two mothers until it got to the point where Abraham had to let them go. He had to send them away because things would only get worse for them.
I'm positive this grieved his heart, I'm sure he adored the boy, but even still they had to go. And God provided for the boy and his mother, He cared for them and sheltered them. But Abraham needed to be separated from his sin, he had to be removed from his temptation. After all, it was custom to bless the first born son and he would be the leader. If Ishmael had stayed it would have been tempting for Abraham to bless him rather than the son God determined to use. Sometimes the only way to correct a wrong is to remove yourself from it. It isn't an easy decision to come to, but if God leads you to it...Well, then it becomes vital for you, and for the other person/ people involved, for you to obey.
In all situations, whatever the corrective measure is, it is vital to obey because disobedience will only bring heart ache and destruction into our lives and the lives of those around us.