Blog Update

It’s been several weeks now since I last update my blog. There have been several reasons for this, which are:

1. Vacation: I had some much needed time off with my family.

2. Job Change: After working 16 years with the wonderful ministry of Thru the Bible Radio I was laid off due to a restructuring of the organization. Since that time I have been looking for new employment. Recently the Lord has blessed me with a temporary job with a high potential of becoming permanent.

3. Illness: About two weeks ago I was diaganosed with diabetes. Although not life threatening, it certanly has caused life changing.

Despite these joys and challenges I hope to return to regular postings by the end of the month. Until then I ask that you would pray for God’s grace to continue with me and my family

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What is Sin?

FROM “THE BODY OF DIVINITY” BY THOMAS WATSON

Question 14. What is Sin?

Answer: Sin is any lack of conformity to the law of God, or transgression of it.

“Sin is the transgression of the law.” Of sin in general:

Sin is a violation or transgression. The Latin word, to transgress, signifies to go beyond one’s bounds. The moral law is to keep us within the bounds of duty. Sin is going beyond our bounds.

The law of God is not the law of an inferior prince—but of Jehovah, who gives laws as well to angels as men; it is a law that is just, and holy, and good. Rom 7:12. It is just, there is nothing in it unequal. It is holy, nothing in it impure. It is good, nothing in it harmful. So that there is no reason to break this law, no more than for a beast, that is in a fat pasture, to break over the hedge, or to leap into a barren heath or quagmire.

I shall show what a heinous and execrable thing sin is. Sin is the distillation of all evil. The Scripture calls it the “accursed thing.” It is compared to the venom of serpents, and the stench of sepulchers. The apostle uses this expression, “sin might become utterly sinful,” Rom 7:13, or, as it is in the Greek, “Hyperbolically sinful.” The devil would paint sin with the pleasing color of pleasure and profit, that he may make it look fair; but I shall pull off the paint that you may see its ugly face. We are apt to have slight thoughts of sin, and say to it, as Lot of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” But that you may see how great an evil sin is, consider these four things:

I. The origin of sin, from whence it comes. It fetches its pedigree from hell; sin is of the devil. “He who commits sin is of the devil.” Satan was the first actor of sin, and the first tempter to sin. Sin is the devil’s first-born.

II. The evil nature of sin.

[1] It is a defiling thing. Sin is not only a defection—but a pollution. It is to the soul as rust is to gold, as a stain to beauty. It makes the soul red with guilt, and black with filth. Sin in Scripture is compared to a “menstruous cloth,” and to a “plague-sore.” Joshua’s filthy garments, in which he stood before the angel, were nothing but a type and hieroglyphic of sin. Sin has blotted God’s image, and stained the orient brightness of the soul. Sin makes God loathe a sinner; and when a sinner sees his sin, he loathes himself!

Sin drops poison on our holy things, it infects our prayers. The high priest was to make atonement for sin on the altar, to typify that our holiest services need Christ to make an atonement for them. Duties of religion are in themselves are good—but sin corrupts them, as the purest water is polluted by running through muddy ground. If the leper, under the law, had touched the altar—the altar would not have cleansed him—but he would have defiled the altar. The apostle calls sin, “Filthiness of flesh and spirit.” 2 Cor 7:1. Sin stamps the devil’s image on a man. Malice is the devil’s eye, hypocrisy his cloven foot. Sin turns a man into a devil. “One of you is a devil!” John 6:70.

[2] Sin is grieving God’s Spirit. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” To grieve is more than to anger.

How can the Spirit be said to be grieved? For, seeing he is God, he cannot be subject to any passion.

This is spoken metaphorically. Sin is said to grieve the Spirit; because it is an injury offered to the Spirit, and he takes it unkindly, and, as it were, lays it to heart. And is it not much thus to grieve the Spirit? The Holy Spirit descended in the likeness of a dove; and sin makes this blessed dove mourn! Were it only an angel, we should not grieve him, much less the Spirit of God. Is it not sad—to grieve our Comforter?

[3] Sin is an act of rebellion against God; a walking direct opposite to heaven. “If you will walk contrary to me.” A sinner tramples upon God’s law, crosses his will, and does all he can to affront, yes, to spite God. The Hebrew word for sin, Pasha, signifies rebellion; there is the heart of a rebel, in every sin. “We will do whatever proceeds out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven.” Sin strikes at the very Deity. Sin is God’s would-be murderer. Sin would not only unthrone God—but un-God him. If the sinner could help it, God would no longer be God.

[4] Sin is an act of ingratitude and unkindness. God feeds the sinner, keeps off evils from him, be-miracles him with mercy; but the sinner not only forgets God’s mercies—but abuses them. He is the worse for mercy; like Absalom, who, as soon as David had kissed him, and taken him into favor, plotted treason against him. Like the mule, who kicks the mother after she has given it milk. “Is this your kindness to your friend?” God may upbraid the sinner. “I have given you,” he may say, “your health, strength, and estate; but you requite me evil for good, you wound me with my own mercies! Is this your kindness to your friend? Did I give you life to sin against me? Did I give you wages to serve the devil?”

[5] Sin is a disease. “The whole head is sick;” Isa 1:1. Some are sick with pride, others with lust, others with envy. Sin has distempered the intellectual part, it is a leprosy in the head, it has poisoned the vitals. “Their conscience is defiled.” Tit 1:15. It is with a sinner as with a sick patient, his palate is distempered, the sweetest things taste bitter to him. The word which is ‘sweeter than the honey-comb,” tastes bitter to him; he puts ‘sweet for bitter.” This is a disease, and nothing can cure this disease but the blood of the Physician!

[6] Sin is an irrational thing. It makes a man act not only wickedly—but foolishly. It is absurd and irrational to prefer the less before the greater. The sinner prefers the pleasures of life, before the rivers of pleasures at God’s right-hand for evermore. Is it not irrational to lose heaven—for the satisfying or indulging of a lust? As Lysimachus, who, for a draught of water, lost a kingdom. Is it not irrational to gratify an enemy? In sin we do so. When lust or rash anger burns in the soul, Satan warms himself at this fire. Men’s sins feast the devil.

[7] Sin is a painful thing. It costs men much labor to pursue their sins. How do they tire themselves in doing the devil’s drudgery! “They weary themselves to commit iniquity.” What pains did Judas take to bring about his damnation! He goes to the high priest, and then after to the band of soldiers, and then back again to the garden. Chrysostom says, “Virtue is easier than vice.” It is more pains to some to follow their sins, than to others to worship their God. While the sinner travails with his sin, in sorrow he brings forth; which is called ‘serving divers lusts.” Not enjoy their lusts—but serve their lusts. Why so? Because not only of the slavery in sin—but the hard labor; it is ‘serving divers lusts.” Many a man goes to hell in the sweat of his brow.

[8] Sin is the only thing God has an antipathy against. God does not hate a man because he is poor, or despised in the world; as you do not hate your friend because he is sick. The only thing which which draws forth the keenness of God’s hatred, is sin. “Oh, do not this abominable thing which I hate.” And sure, if the sinner dies under God’s hatred, he cannot be admitted into the celestial mansions. Will God let the man live with him, whom he hates? God will never lay such a viper in his bosom! Until sin is removed, there is no coming where God is.

III. See the evil of sin, in the price paid for it. It cost the blood of God to expiate it. “O man,” says Augustine, “consider the greatness of your sin, by the greatness of the price paid for sin.” All the princes on earth, or angels in heaven, could not satisfy for sin; only Christ. Nay, Christ’s active obedience was not enough to make atonement for sin—but he must suffer upon the cross; for, without blood is no remission of sin. Oh what an accursed thing is sin, that Christ should die for it! The evil of sin is not so much seen in the multitude who are damned for it, as that Christ died for lt.

IV. Sin is evil in its EFFECTS.

[1] Sin has degraded us of our honor. Reuben by incest lost his dignity; and though he was the first-born, he could not excel. Gen 49:4. God made us in his own image, a little lower than the angels; but sin has debased us. Before Adam sinned, he was like a herald that has his coat of arms upon him: all reverence him, because he carries the king’s coat of arms; but let this coat be pulled off, and he is despised, no man regards him. Sin has done this, it has plucked off our coat of innocence, and now it has debased us, and turned our glory into shame. “And there shall stand up a vile person.” Dan 11:21. This was spoken of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a king, and his name signifies illustrious; yet sin degraded him, he was a vile person.

[2] Sin disquiets the peace of the soul. “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 57:20-21. Whatever defiles, disturbs. As poison corrupts the blood, so sin corrupts the soul. Sin breeds a trembling at the heart; it creates fears, and there is “torment in fear.” Sin makes sad convulsions in the conscience. Judas was so terrified with guilt and horror, that he hanged himself to quiet his conscience. In order to ease his conscience—he threw himself into hell.

[3] Sin produces all temporal evil. “Jerusalem has grievously sinned, therefore she is removed.” It is the Trojan horse, which has sword, and famine and pestilence, in its belly. Sin is a coal, which not only blackens–but burns. Sin creates all our troubles; it puts gravel into our bread, and wormwood in our cup. Sin rots the name, consumes the estate, buries loved ones. Sin shoots the flying scroll of God’s curses into a family and kingdom. It is reported of Phocas, that having built a wall of mighty strength about his city, there was a voice heard, “Sin is within the city, and that will throw down the wall.”

[4] Sin unrepented of, brings final damnation. The canker which breeds in the rose is the cause of its perishing; just so—the corruptions which breed in men’s souls are the cause of their damning. Sin, without repentance, brings the ‘second death,” that is “a death always dying,” Rev 20:14. Sin’s pleasure will turn to sorrow at last; like the book the prophet ate, sweet in the mouth—but bitter in the belly. Sin brings the wrath of God, and what tears can quench that fire? “It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell—the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:45-46

Use one: See how deadly an evil sin is, and how strange is it that anyone should love it! “How long will you love vanity?” Psalm 4:2. “The people have turned to other gods, and love flagons of wine.” Hos 3:1: Sin is a dish which men cannot refrain from, though it makes them sick. Who would pour rose-water into a filthy kennel? What pity it is, that so sweet an affection as love should be poured upon so filthy a thing as sin! Sin brings a sting in the conscience, a curse in the estate; yet men love it. A sinner is the greatest self-denier; for his sin he will deny himself a part in heaven.

Use two: Do anything rather than sin. Oh, hate sin! There is more evil in the least sin—than in the greatest bodily evils which can befall us. The ermine rather chooses to die than defile her beautiful skin. There is more evil in a drop of sin—than in a sea of affliction. Affliction is but like a rip in a coat—but sin a stab at the heart. In affliction there is some good—in this lion there is some honey to be found. “It is good for me that I was afflicted.” Psalm 119:71. Augustine, “Affliction is God’s flail to thresh off our husks. Affliction does not consume—but refines.” There is no good in sin; it is the quintessence of evil. Sin is worse than hell; for the pains of hell are a burden to the creature only; but sin is a burden to God. “I am pressed under your iniquities, as a cart is pressed under the sheaves.”

Use three: Is sin so great an evil? Then how thankful should you be to God, if he has taken away your sin! “I have taken away your sins.” Zech 3:4. If you had a disease on your body—how thankful would you be to have it taken away! Much more to have sin taken away. God takes away the guilt of sin by pardoning grace, and the power of sin by mortifying grace. Oh be thankful that this sickness is “not unto death;” that God has changed your nature, and, by grafting you into Christ, made you partake of the sweetness of that olive tree; that sin, though it live, does not reign—but the elder serves the younger; sin the elder—serves grace the younger.

Romans 5:12-21 – Adam, Christ and Justification

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My friends, this section in Romans is so critical to understand that I want to commend to you the following five sermons by John Piper that will fully develop for you the depth of truth that is contained in this text. Blessings.


Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Justification, Part 1

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Justification, Part 2

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Justification, Part 3

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Justification, Part 4

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Justification, Part 5

The best of saints are sinners

A child of God may slip into a sin—as a sheep may slip
into the mire. But he does not, and cannot wallow in
sin—as the swine wallows in the mire.

The best of saints are sinners, though the worst
and weakest of saints do not indulge sin or cherish it;
or make daily provision for it; or take daily pleasure
and delight in sin; or habitually yield a willing and
total subjection to the authority and commands of sin.

There is as much difference between sin in a regenerate
person—and sin in an unregenerate person, as there is
between poison in a man—and poison in a serpent.
Poison in a man is most offensive and burdensome, and
he readily uses all remedies and antidotes to expel it
and get rid of it. But poison in a serpent, is in its
natural place, and is most pleasing and delightful.

Just so, sin in a regenerate man is most offensive and
burdensome, and he readily uses all holy means and
antidotes to expel it and to get rid of it. But sin in an
unregenerate
man is most pleasing and delightful, it
being in its natural place.

A godly man may have many sins—yet he has not
one beloved sin, one bosom sin, one darling sin.
His sins are his greatest grief and torment.

Every godly man . . .
hates all known sin,
would sincerely have his sins not only pardoned, but destroyed,
groans under the burden of sin,
combats and conflicts with all known sin,
has fixed purposes and designs not to sin,
has a sincere willingness to be rid of all sin.

No sincere Christian indulges himself in any
trade, course, or way of sin. “Oh,” says the
gracious soul, “that I could be rid of . . .
this proud heart,
this hard heart,
this unbelieving heart,
this unclean heart,
this earthly heart,
this froward heart of mine!”

O sirs, this is most certain—whoever gives up himself
freely, willingly, cheerfully, habitually—to the service
of any one particular lust or sin—he is in the state of
nature, under wrath, and in the way to eternal ruin!

– Thomas Brooks

HT: Grace Gems

Romans 5:10, 11 – Much more

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Have you ever been at a point where your faith seemed weak? Have you ever lost confidence in your salvation? Have you ever thought to yourself that you could or have already lost your salvation? If so, then these verses are for you.

In verse 10 Paul begins by reminding us of the foundational truth of our salvation. He reminds us of our position before God saved us, that we were enemies of God – meaning we hated God, we wanted nothing to do with God, we were not looking for God, nor seeking him in any way, shape or fashion. But even in this state of enmity God decided (his choice, not ours) to reconcile the relationship through the death of his son on the cross who paid for our punishment (God’s wrath) so that he could declare us righteous in his sight. The wall of division was torn down and our relationship to God changed from him being our judge to becoming our Father. That’s what we have been seeing throughout this chapter.

Paul then goes on to say much more, and what he is speaking about is God’s continuing work of salvation in our lives. The hard part of getting us saved, of justifying us has been completed through the death of Christ. Now, says Paul, much more we are being saved (continuous action – day by day) through the life of Christ. Paul is saying that it was the death of Christ that saved us (a single point in time), but it is the life of Christ that keeps us saved.

To put it in another way, God demonstrated his love towards us as his enemies through the death of his Son, reconciling us to God. If that is true (and it is), we are no longer his enemies, in fact we are his children, then how much more will he keep us saved because he loves us as children.

In this much more truth we can find confidence, hope, and assurance that our salvation will continue because of God’s gracious work to keep us saved.

Romans 5:9 – Saved from the wrath of God

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Have you noticed that the wrath of God is little discussed today? Recently I was reading a blog post that attempted to answer the question of why God can say he loved Jacob, but hated Esau (Malachi  ). In the post the person wrote much about the love of God, but not once did he mention the wrath of God.

The truth of the matter is that the Bible has much to say about the wrath of God, particularly the wrath of God upon those who have not come to faith in Christ. Jesus himself speaks very clearly on this subject. In fact, he does so in the midst of his discussion of the love of God in John 3.

When we look at John 3 and Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus there seems to be an overwhelming focus on John 3:16 and the love of God, but the conversation does not stop at John 3:16. No one seems to keep reading to verse 18 which says:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Jesus will go on to say in verse 36:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

So in this wonderful chapter that speaks of God’s love we have two verses that also highlight and emphasis God’s condemnation of and his wrath towards sinners or unbelievers.

Paul says here in Romans 5 that it is the wrath of God that we are being saved from – through Christ. This is the problem that all humanity has before God – He is holy, righteous and hates the sin and the sinner (Ps. 11:5) for their rebellion against him, but in his grace and mercy he has saved a people unto himself through the work of Christ on the cross. He has saved us from his wrath and condemnation. We deserve his wrath as does all of humanity born into this world, but through Jesus we no longer have to fear his wrath, but have been saved. God no longer is our Judge, he is now our Father.

Romans 5:6-8 – Christ died for sinners

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

 

Christ only died for one kind of person – the sinner, or the ungodly.

You might recall in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) there is recorded for us the conversion of Matthew (Levi) the tax collector. When Matthew came to faith in Christ he had a great feast at his home and he had invited many of his tax collector friends. They were all there eating with Jesus. When the Pharisee’s saw that Jesus was mingling and eating with sinners they complained about it thinking that they were more righteous since they kept a good distance from these people in order to preserve their righteousness. Jesus responded to them with these words: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

For those who believe themselves to be righteous or to be good enough or those who believe that they are a good person, God has nothing to offer them. There is no salvation for the righteous, or should I say the self-righteous. These don’t have to be on the same level as the Pharisees who boast in their righteousness with contempt for all who have not obtained to their level. No, they could be the ones who simply say and believe that they are a good enough person that God will simply accept them into heaven. They are the ones who believe that they are not as bad as those who murder, or steal, or rape, or are violent. They believe that they have done enough good deeds in their life as to outweigh the bad things they have done and so believe that when they stand before God all will be good.

God is not saving these people! God is only saving the sinner. Let me give you another example from a parable Jesus gave. It’s the story Jesus told about the Pharisee and the publican who were in the temple at the same time. The Pharisee boasted about his own righteousness and even thanked the Lord that he was not like the publican. He in essence exaulted himself before God. On the other hand, the publican sat in the back beating his chest in humility, crying out to God to have mercy on his soul. At the end of the story Jesus asked which of these went home justified before God – the answer being the publican.

Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus only died for sinners. While we were weak, without strength, with no hope, Christ died for us. But the “us” are only those who have come to understand our sinfulness before God, our rebellion towards him, our disobedience to his law. It is not merely recognizing that we have done some kind of wrong – all people will say they have sinned – but that we are at the core of our hearts sinners.

Those who have humbly come to Christ, seen their sin and their sinfulness, who come to him with nothing to offer of their own righteousness, who come empty handed before God, only these will find faith in Christ, only these has Christ died for, only these will find salvation in Christ.