Stop Minimizing Sin

Anselm said in Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man) what is true of too many: “You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin.”

An old Puritan prayer says “Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed as in the Person sinned against.”

David confessed in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” (ESV)

What makes sin so sinful? Why shouldn’t you or I minimize it? Because it is “against God.” It is rebellion against the King of the universe. Here are six other reasons from Matthew Henry in “A Way to Pray” that show us sin’s cancerous nature and why we shouldn’t play games with it:

  1. Consider the sinfulness of sin: Meditate on Romans 7:13; 1 John 3:4; Luke 19:14; Exod. 5:2; Num. 15:30; Neh. 9:26
  2. Recognize the foolishness of sin: Meditate on Psalm 69:5; Titus 3:3; 1 Tim. 6:9; Prov. 22:15; Job 11:12; 2 Sam. 24:10; Ps. 73:22
  3. Admit the unprofitableness of sin: Meditate on Matthew 16:26; Job 33:27; Romans 6:21
  4. Beware the deceitfulness of sin: Meditate on Obadiah 3; Romans 7:11; Hebrews 3:13; James 1:14
  5. Recognize the offence sin has committed against a Holy God: Meditate on Romans 2:23; Isaiah 1:4; Hosea 12:14; 2 Samuel 11:27; Ezekiel 6:9; Psalm 95:9,10; Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30
  6. Become fully aware of the damage sin has done to your own soul: Meditate on Isaiah 50:1; Proverbs 8:36; Isaiah 59:2; Titus 1:15; Jeremiah 2:19; Romans 1:24, 26, 28; Proverbs 14:9

An Invitation to Sin

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:18

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15

How is that for an enticing blog title? Are you reading this entry because you succumbed to it? By it I refer of course to temptation. Temptation is an invitation to sin. There is no sin in being tempted, for the perfect Jesus was “tempted in every way just as we are – yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). However, all sin is from temptation (James 1:14). Sin is a fruit that comes only from that root. So we must strike at that root that we may not eat its fruit. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Prayer is self-explanatory but what does Jesus mean by “watch?” It of course means to be on our guard, to take heed, to consider all ways and means as to be on our guard, great carefulness and diligence that we may not be entangled. In keeping with this idea of watching, Dr. Kevin T. Bauder has done us a great help.

Dr. Kevin T. Bauder has written a concise article on the progress of temptation over on his blog IN THE NICK OF TIME.

In his opening paragraph he writes:

Temptation occurs in a series of stages, each of which involves a growing element of implicatedness in the sin toward which one is being tempted.

He then summarizes seven stages of temptation, explaining how each stage brings one more deeply under the domination of the object of temptation:

  1. The first stage is inclination.
  2. If inclination is not resisted and dismissed, however, it leads to consideration.
  3. Unless it is interrupted, consideration will lead to permission.
  4. Naturally, permission is often followed by participation.
  5. As indulgence continues, temptation moves to the level of habituation.
  6. The last and worst stage occurs when temptation turns into identification.
  7. One other stage may occur, though it occupies no particular place in the order of temptation. It is the step of legitimation.

He then concludes with this exhortation:

Every temptation must be dealt with at the earliest possible stage. To wait for later stages is to multiply exponentially the difficulty of resisting the sin. It is also to involve one’s self increasingly with the sin itself. The first stage—inclination—brings with it no necessary guilt, but each of the succeeding stages involves growing participation in the sin. At no level is a sinner beyond the ability of God’s grace to deliver, but to presume upon deliverance at some later stage is to put God to the test in the way that Jesus refused to do. Consequently, every Christian must seek God’s grace early and employ those means that God has ordained for securing sanctification in the face of temptation

Read the rest here!

For further thought and reflection on sin and temptation I cannot recommend highly enough John Owen’s classic, Overcoming Sin and Temptation.” But be warned, John Owen is not for the casual reader. Studying Owen’s writings requires hard work but the effort required to read Owen is richly repaid.

“It is the great duty of all believers to use all diligence in the ways of Christ’s appointment, that they fall not into temptation.” – John Owen

The Deceitfulness of Sin

 

I was reading my copy of the Global Prayer Digest tonight and the Lord struck my heart with its verse for the day – Hebrews 3:13:

“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

What really jumped out at me was the word “daily.” What are all the implications of that? How should that look in a church body? Do communities of Christ practice this? It is scary to think just how hardened my life and many communities of Christ might just be but they don’t know it because they don’t encourage one another!

Later tonight as I was scrolling through my Google reader I came across this quote from D.A. Carson:

“It is a cheap zeal that reserves its passions to combat only the sins and temptations of others.”

Here then is the primary step toward realizing Hebrews 3:13 in communities of Christ – I must first be more worked up about my own sinfulness than the sinfulness of others.

This I believe will protect me from “scolding one another daily,” or “suspecting one another daily” or “poking holes at one another daily” instead of “encouraging one another” and what is more this will enable me to be “encouraged” daily also that I might not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

“Lord, stir within me a spirit of deep conviction of my own sinfulness that I might get more worked up about my own sinfulness than I do anybody else’s.”

 

I Can’t Believe How Wicked Ahaz Is…(2 Kings 16:1-4)

Ahaz is a wicked king.

He begins his reign at an early age, being only 20 years old (v. 2).

He reigns for 16 years.

16 years of sheer wickedness.

Listen to how he is described:

  • “And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done” (v. 2)
  • “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel” (v. 3)
  • “He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel” (v. 3)
    • This is disturbing. If Ahaz shares in those abominations, will he not share in their judgment?
  • “He sacrificed and made offering on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree” (v. 4)
    • Notice the third person singular pronoun “He.”

This leads to what is perhaps most alarming about Ahaz – there is no mention of the Davidic covenant. In fact, it has been quite some time since we have read of the Davidic promise in regards to Judah.

Recall Abijah in 1 Kings 15 with me.

Here is another wicked king but there we are told, “Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong” (v. 4).

Recall Jehoram in 2 kings 8.

He was wicked but we read “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendents forever” (v. 19).

For Ahaz, instead of being reminded of the Lord’s promise to David we are reminded of the Lord’s driving out of the nations before the Israelites.

Things do not bode well for Judah.

There is a great gathering of darkness in Judah.

At this point we are tempted to wag our heads and put on our “angry, scornful, self-righteous” eyes and glare at Ahaz in disbelief.

But beware!

Thomas Watson, a Puritan minister of many years ago had this to say:

Take every word as spoken to yourselves. When the word thunders against sin, think thus: ‘God means my sins;’ when it presseth any duty, ‘God intends me in this.’ Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the word, bring it home to yourselves: a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.

When you read of Ahaz and his sinfulness remember the sovereign God’s description of you:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” Ephesians 2:1-3

The same evil heart that is in Ahaz is in you.

Given the right circumstances, you are just as capable of doing what Ahaz did.

If you fail to realize that then great is your pride.

When you read of how sinful Ahaz was, remember the words of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

There is a great darkness gathering in Judah. There is a great darkness gathering in your heart “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Did you hear how wicked Ahaz is?

Did you hear how wicked Andrew Manwarren is?

Did you hear how wicked you are?

BUT GOD!

“We are more wicked than we ever feared yet more loved than we ever hoped.”

 

 

Gain Revenge on Sin

I just saw this over at Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile. Read it slowly and prayerfully and joyfully!

Thomas Brooks:

O look upon sin now as you must look upon it in eternity, and as God and conscience will present it to you!  Consider that these very sins which Satan paints in virtue, also cost the blood of the Lord Jesus in sorrow and death.  He who waved the sceptre of heaven was spit upon and nailed to the cross.  Ah, how should it provoke our hearts to gain revenge on sin!  Sin has murdered the Lord of glory.  It was good counsel one gave: “Never let go out of your minds the thoughts of a crucified Christ.”  Let this be meat and drink unto you; your sweetness and consolation, your honey and your desire, your reading and your meditation, your life, death, and resurrection.

Works, 1:16-18; quoted in Richard Rushing (ed.), Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Reading (Banner of Truth, 2009), p. 218.

God’s Counter-offensive

“The Bible is the story of God’s counteroffensive against sin. It is the grand narrative of how God made it right, how he is making it right, and how he will one day make it right finally and forever.”

– Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 61.