Archive for the 'Sin' Category

No Innocent Parties

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Rom. 3:10-12

Our sin is pervasive. Pervasive in the sense that sin has affected our hearts, wills, minds, emotions, and even our physical body. Our attitude and actions motivate us to selfishness and pride. Every aspect of our lives has been marred and scarred by sin. Our bondage is so great that we cannot do anything to deliver ourselves. The effect of our sin is complete: there is nothing we can do to please God.

However, we are still valued in God’s eyes:  we are never insignificant and worthless in his eyes. How do we know?  Even while we were God’s enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:10). Even in the midst of our fallenness, the blessed Trinity reached out to you and me in love and mercy. Christ’s Cross defeats the pain, bondage, frustration, and tragedy of our sin.

Before the cross of Jesus there are no innocent parties. The cross is not for some and against others. It is the place where all are guilty and all are forgiven.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 151

He Loved Me in My Sin

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:4-5

Jesus loves us as we are, but also loves us not to leave us as we are. He loved us in our sin, he loves us and forgives us of our sin, he loves us to deliver us from our sin , he loves us to give us victory over our sin, and he loves us to empower us to live apart from sin. Thank the Lord for his continual grace and patience in our fallenness.

The Savior did not love me that I might continue in my sin: He loved me in my sin that He might rescue me from my sin. From my sins, yes; from the penalty due to my sins, yes. But that is only half of the Gospel: from my sin. He died that I might live a life of holiness, delivered from my sin. He did not only die that my past might be forgiven and forgotten, and that I might go to heaven when I die; He died that the period in between forgiveness and heaven might be crammed with all the glory that our almighty Savior can pour into it.

Leith Samuel, “Grieve Not the Holy Spirit,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 260.

What Does the N.T. Mean by “Flesh”?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Rom. 8:7-8

Recently, my wife talked with a young man who claimed to free from all sin. Obviously, this young man failed to read the Letter of First John, “”If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:8). Also, he does not read the Apostle Paul correctly: Paul declares in both Romans and Galatians that our flesh is still with us until the resurrection from the dead.

Our fleshly, sinful nature takes our basic needs and turns them into obsessions (Rom. 8:1-8). Our flesh, that is our fallenness, yearns to govern us and divert us from intimacy with God. Our flesh cries out for attention and desires to rule us and others.

Our sinful nature is an idolatrous over-desire that arises from deep within our being: a heart that is afraid of disappointment, doubts that God will be faithful, worries about unmet needs, and angered over frustrated goals. The flesh takes elementary human desires and turns them into addictions, cravings, and fixations.

Discipline is not the favorite word of our flesh (Prov. 23:12). Discipline says to the flesh, “No more control.” Discipline looks to the Holy Spirit to work in us what Christ did for us on the Cross. The Holy Spirit imparts sanctifying grace to enable us to say, “no,” to worldly passions and unrighteous desires (Titus 2:11-14).

Freedom from our sin nature is the reward of disciplined trust in the Holy Spirit. We depend on his grace to enable us to make godly choices and there we find release from the flesh’s bondage. The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome the flesh’s grip: he puts to death its passions and desires (Gal. 5:16-21).

Our flesh is always searching out opportunities to gratify itself according to the particular sinful desires each of us has.

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day-by-Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 273.


Self Deception of the Worst Kind

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Why Does Sin Look So Good?

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

Heb.11:24-26 (ESV)

Sin promises pleasure without consequences, love without commitment, fulfillment without sacrifice. Sin pledges that things, circumstances, or people will satisfy without God’s direction or blessing. Our desire for affection and fulfillment is perverted when we attempt to meet our needs without trusting in God’s faithful provision. Sin swears happiness without obedience to Christ and his commands.

Sin does not provide forgiveness, fulfillment, or the freedom we seek: it fails to bless by creating fleshly bondages, disappointed expectations, and emotional destitution. Money, sex, and power are the ultimate sinful idols of our society—they promise happiness, love, and influence. However, sin make promises it will never keep. Sin is a hollow promise that fails to deliver. By sin’s own design, it cannot bring true fulfillment: only God’s blessing of intimacy in Christ can provide heart-satisfying joy. Sin is deception of the worst kind.

Sin lives in a costume; that’s why it’s so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party.

Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn’t present itself as evil, which is part of its draw.

You’ll never understand sin’s sleight of hand until you acknowledge that the DNA of sin is deception. Now, what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers . . . . We’re all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good.

Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway 2008), 32.

HT: Between Two Worlds

Spiritually Blind, Deaf, Lame, Dumb, Dead

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The Disability of Sin

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins . . . .

Eph. 2:1 (ESV)

Theologically, disagreement exists between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics over the nature our sin which was inherited from Adam. Roman Catholic teaching prefers the terms, “propensity to sin” and “inclination to evil” to describe our fallen state (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 405). Roman Catholic teaching wants to leave open the possibility that we can in own ability respond to God’s call to faith and repentance.

However, Evangelicals teach the concept of “pervasive sin” and “inherited guilt.” Every aspect of our being is affected by sin–our minds, emotions, desires, hearts, wills, and physical bodies. Evangelicals do not deny that fallen people can do good things, but in relationship to God, no spiritual good can be achieved toward a relationship with him (Rom. 7:18; Titus 1:15; Jer. 17:9; Eph. 4:18).Evangelicals recognize that only God by his grace can awaken us from our dead state and draw us into the life of Christ.

Theologically, God’s drawing is called prevenient grace. Prevenient grace is the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts granting us the ability to receive or resist the gospel. Our sin enslaves us, God by his unmerited favor must go before providing us the ability to accept or reject his offer of salvation in Christ.

[Prevenient] grace  is working quietly at the point of our desiring, bringing us in time to despair over our own righteousness, challenging our perverse dispositions, so that our distorted wills cease gradually to resist the gifts of God (John 6:44).

Thomas Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 246.

Jesus himself illustrated human lostness by the language of physical disability. By ourselves we are blind to God’s truth and deaf to his voice. Lame, we cannot walk in his ways. Dumb, we can neither sing to him nor speak for him. We are even dead in our trespasses and sins.

Moreover, we are the dupes and slaves of demonic forces. Of course, if we think this exaggerated or ‘mythical’ or frankly false, then we shall see no need for supernatural power; we shall consider our own resources adequate. But if human beings are in reality spiritually and morally blind, deaf, dumb, lame and even dead, not to mention the prisoners of Satan, then it is ridiculous in the extreme to suppose that by ourselves and our merely human preaching we can reach or rescue people in such a plight . . . .

Only Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit can open blind eyes and deaf ears, make the lame walk and the dumb speak, prick the conscience, enlighten the mind, fire the heart, move the will, give life to the dead and rescue slaves from Satanic bondage. And all this he can and does, as the preacher should know from his own experience.

John Stott, I Believe in Preaching (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1982), 329.

The Way Things Are Supposed to Be

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011


But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

2 Peter 3:13 NLT

Shalom is peace: a rest and repose of the heart that knocks out all disturbing and disruptive forces which would steal our fulfillment in Christ. Peace is an deep, inner sense of contentment supplied by God. This peace pervades our beings when we hold steady trusting the faithfulness of our heavenly Father.

We receive Christ’s peace for he is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) into the deepest recesses of my spirit. We have peace with God through faith in his shed blood (Rom. 5:1), which establishes peace with others (Eph. 2:14), while freeing us to trust his peace (Isa. 26:3), and as a result, we can now walk in peace in the midst of our greatest needs (Phil. 4:7). At the Second Coming of Christ the whole world will experience God’s peace for all the fallout from the Fall will have been fully redeemed by the Cross of Christ.

The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. In English we call it peace, but it means far more than just peace of mind or ceasefire between enemies. In the Bible shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as the creator and savior opens doors and speaks welcome to the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things are supposed to be.

Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Sin: Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be



An Affront to God

Saturday, May 21st, 2011


Sin: It Was Not Meant To Be

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

James 4:17 NLT

Every sin of yours and mine is an affront to God.

Our sin is an assault on God’s authority: We don’t want to do what God says.

Our sin is an assault on God’s character: We don’t want to be like God.

Our sin is an assault on God’s Word: We don’t believe that what God says is true.

Our sin is an assault on God’s love: We don’t trust that God has our best interest at heart.

What is our essential problem? Is it our parents, our economic backgrounds, our upbringing, our circumstances, our jobs? No, our greatest problem is us. That great trinity of me, myself and I. Our own selfishness, our own desire to be first and foremost, our own self-absorption, our self-concern, and our self-conceit. Our rebellion towards God and distaste for his Lordship over our lives.

Sin is selfishness evidenced through our willful thoughts, words, or actions. Sin involves a choice in which we consider ourselves more important than God and others. The foundation of all sin is the selfishness.

Sins of commission: We act purposefully for selfish reasons. Sins of omission: We avoid doing what is right for selfish reasons. Sins of ignorance: We choose to be ignorant of what we should or should not do for selfish reasons. Sin is turning the world upside down by living as if the world should revolve around us.

Above all, when we think the curse for violating God’s Law is too severe, it’s because we don’t understand God or the nature of sin. God is transcendent in his majesty and sovereign in his authority.

In effect we’re saying, “I don’t care what You say; I’ll do as I please.” Furthermore, God has commanded us to be holy as He is holy. Therefore, each sin is an insult to His character. It’s as if we’re telling God, “I don’t want to be like You.” Think what a rebellious affront it would be for a child to say that to his parent.

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day-by-Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 123.

The Amazing Generosity of God

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Restoring Not Repaying

I will restore to you the years that othe swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.

Joel 2:25

When we sin, our actions hurt God and others. They create a ripple affect of pain and disappointment. Our families grow discouraged, our friends are disheartened, and the church is not blessed. Instead of being an example of faith and obedience, we give others an excuse not to obey God’s law and Christ’s commands. Our selfishness makes us central instead of Christ. We turn the world upside down.

When we repent, God not only forgives our sin; he heals our pain. God lifts us up from the miry clay and gives us a firm place to stand (Psalm 40: 1-3). God not only releases us from the debt we have created, but he heals the damage we have inflicted on ourselves and others. When we repent, he takes the mess we have made, and uses it for our good and his glory. It always better not to sin, but if we sin and repent, God will take our disaster and develop real maturity. God goes beyond just forgiving, he generously heals, restores, and renews.

Consider the amazing generosity of God. He did not limit His promise merely to restoring the land to its former productivity. He said He’ll repay them for the years the locusts have eaten, years they themselves forfeited to the judgment of God (Joel 2:25). God could well have said, “I’ll restore your land to its former productivity, but too bad about those years you lost! They are gone forever.  That’s the price you pay for your sin. He would have been generous just to have restored them – but He went beyond that. He would cause their harvests to be so abundant they would recoup the losses from the years of famine. He said He’ll repay them, though He obviously owed them nothing.

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day-by-Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 67.

The Christ Life vs. the Self-Life

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Spirit vs. Flesh

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Gal. 5:16-17

The Christ Life is peace, a peace that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven. The Christ Life is rest, a rest that experiences by faith God’s adequacy and faithfulness in every life situation resulting in freedom from worry, anxiety, and care. The Christ Life is power, power to walk apart from sin and live unto God.

The Self Life is striving, the frustration of living the Christian life without joy and victory. The Self Life is manipulation, our attempt to achieve in our own power what only the Holy Spirit can achieve. The Self Life is self-righteousness, the prideful assumption that we can keep God’s law by our best efforts.

The self-life is living the Christian life by your own capability without regard to the leadership, ability, and power of the Holy Spirit. The self-life manipulates people and controls circumstances while contriving spiritual success. The self-life does God’s work, your way, and achieves limited worldly success.

F. B. Meyer

Great Receivers Stare Down Temptation

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

God Will Provide a Way of Escape

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Cor. 10:13

Temptation is an allurement or enticement to sin (1 Tim. 6:9). Temptation is a drawing and wooing from Satan to follow the ways of the world and give-in to the cravings of our flesh. Being tempted is not sin itself, but capitulating to the desires of the flesh is sin (Rom. 8:5). The flesh, or sinful nature, takes our basic needs and turns them into obsessions. Our flesh (i.e., fallenness) yearns to the govern us and divert us from intimacy with God. Our flesh cries out for attention and desires to rule our lives. Our sinful nature is an “idolatrous over-desire” that arises from our being: a heart that is afraid of disappointment, fears that God will be unfaithful, worries about unmet needs, yearns for control, etc. Giving into the demands of the flesh is strictly forbidden by God’s law (Rom. 8:5-8).

Temptation did not spoil Christ’s sinlessness (Heb. 4:15). Christ’s temptations were completely like the temptations that are common to us all (Heb. 2:17). Because of sanctifying grace, succumbing to temptation is avoidable. Great receivers know that they cannot overcome temptation in their own strength. They look to Christ with hands wide open for “grace and help in their time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16). The triumph of Christ over the world, the flesh, sin, death and the devil (Matt. 12:28-29 ; Col. 1:13 ) means that a way of escape is always available for those who look to Christ in faith. However, when we allow temptation to overcome us, forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Heb. 2:18 ; 4:14-16 ; 1 John 2:1).

As we approach then, dearly-beloved, the beginning of Lent, which is a time for the more careful serving of the Lord, because we are, as it were, entering on a kind of contest in good works, let us prepare our souls for fighting with temptations, and understand that the more zealous we are for our salvation, the more determined must be the assaults of our opponents. But “stronger is He that is in us than He that is against us,” and through Him are we powerful in whose strength we rely: because it was for this that the Lord allowed Himself to be tempted by the tempter, that we might be taught by His example as well as fortified by His aid.

For He conquered the adversary, as ye have heard, by quotations from the law, not by actual strength, that by this very thing He might do greater honour to man, and inflict a greater punishment on the adversary by conquering the enemy of the human race not now as God but as Man. He fought then, therefore, that we too might fight thereafter: He conquered that we too might likewise conquer. For there are no works of power, dearly-beloved, without the trials of temptations, there is no faith without proof, no contest without a foe, no victory without conflict. This life of ours is in the midst of snares, in the midst of battles; if we do not wish to be deceived, we must watch: if we want to overcome, we must fight.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 39,3.

HT: Enlarging the Heart