Tag Archive for 'sin'

Encouragement For Sinners

I have been in a slump that is worse than the one before. I’m going through a very difficult time and would appreciate prayer. Faith is being tested.

I won’t apologize for lack of posts because I don’t presume that people wait for posts with bated breath (whatever that means). But I know that for some reason people like blogs to have regular posts.

I have found that similar to how C.S. Lewis found heavier theological works better devotional material than devotionals themselves, solid theological works can be just as good or better for suffering than books on suffering. I could write more about that, but for now, The Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson has been a great book during a difficult time, and it’s fantastic for knowing God better as much as it is for prayer. It’s becoming one of the best books I’ve read.

On to one of the quotes that I thought might be encouraging to some readers: If we have a right hatred of sin (Romans 12:9) and have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18), and God leaves us in certain sin and tests us through it, we should consider this a normal part of Christian life. This is something I had been thinking about before I read this, which summarizes it better than I could.

The best of saints have remainders of corruption. ‘They had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season.’ Dan 7:12. So in the regenerate, though the dominion of sin be taken away, yet the life of it is prolonged for a season. What pride was there in Christ’s own disciples, when they strove which should be greatest! The issue of sin will not be quite stopped till death. The Lord is pleased to let the in-being of sin continue, to humble his people, and make them prize Christ more. Because you find corruptions stirring, do not therefore presently unsaint yourselves, and deny the kingdom of grace to be come into your souls. That you feel sin is an evidence of spiritual life; that you mourn for it is a fruit of love to God; that you have a combat with sin, argues antipathy against it. Those sins which you once wore as a crown on your head, are now as fetters on the leg. Is not all this from the Spirit of grace in you? Sin is in you, as poison in the body, which you are sick of, and use all Scripture antidotes to expel. Should we condemn all those who have indwelling sin, nay, who have had sin sometimes prevailing, we should blot some of the best saints out of the Bible.

–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer

Know Sin To Know Grace

This quote isn’t quite a key text in my estimation as was the one from a previous post, but it’s too good not to include. I’ve believed that we need to know the depth of sin of people and our own sin in order to more fully appreciate God’s grace. I now see that this is another good reason to read a book like Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen.

He uses italics, but I wanted to emphasis something, so if I may be so bold, I used bold. Bracketed Scripture is supplied by the book’s editors. (Parenthesis are used by Owen, but there aren’t any here.)

Most men love to hear of the doctrine of grace, of the pardon of sin, of free love, and suppose they find food therein; however, it is evident that they grow and thrive in the life and notion of them. But to be breaking up the fallow ground of their hearts, to be inquiring after the weeds and briars that grow in them, they delight not so much, though this be no less necessary than the other. This path is not so beaten as that of grace, nor so trod in, though it be the only way to come to a true knowledge of grace itself.

It may be some, who are wise and grown in other truths, may yet be so little skilled in searching their own hearts, that they may be slow in the perception and understanding of these things. But this sloth and neglect is to be shaken off, if we have any regard unto our own souls. It is more than probable that many a false hypocrite, who have deceived themselves as well as others, because they thought the doctrine of the gospel pleased them, and therefore supposed they believed it, might be delivered from their soul-ruining deceits if they would diligently apply themselves unto this search of their own hearts. Or, would other professors walk with so much boldness and security as some do if they considered aright what a deadly watchful enemy they continually carry about with them and in them? Would they so much indulge as they do carnal joys and pleasures, or pursue their perishing affairs with so much delight and greediness as they do? It were to be wished that we would all apply our hearts more to this work, even to come to a true understanding of the nature, power, and subtlety of this our adversary, that our souls may be humbled; and that—

In walking with God. His delight is with the humble and contrite ones [Isa. 57:15], those that tremble at his word [Isa. 66:2], the mourners in Zion [Isa. 61:3]; and such are we only when we have a due sense of our own vile condition. This will beget reverence of God, a sense of our distance from him, admiration of his grace and condescension, a due valuation of mercy, far above those light, verbal, airy attainments, that some have boasted of.

I also like the very last sentence. How relevant this is today.

There have been a plethora of books on the gospel, and for good reason. The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges, which I read, will have at least one chapter on sin. But it seems a little lopsided. I’ve noticed that many Puritan prayers are half contrition and confession of sin, and half on God’s grace. (Owen was a Puritan.) I read about a fairly well known Reformed pastor who said that he likes the Puritan prayers, but also needed to read some more ‘positive’ (I’m going from memory) material because the Puritan prayers seemed to dwell on sin so much. Maybe some aren’t used to that because of how things are skewed nowadays. I don’t feel similarly, but everyone has different perspectives and needs.

The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Aversation To God

The quote below is so far one of the key texts, in my mind, of the third book of the trilogy on sin and temptation in Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, which I’m only part of the way through. I’m reading the edition edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor. They keep a lot of the difficult words, but provide short definitions as footnotes. Those are provided here for the words that have a dotted underline which you should be able to hover over or touch.

Even when we have been regenerated and have the Holy Spirit dwelling and working in us, we still have an aversation “unto God and everything of God”. Many insist that since we have the Holy Spirit and we are slaves to Christ, that the enmity towards God is gone, but I will submit Job 21:14, Romans 7:19, Galatians 5:17, 1 Peter 2:11, just as a small sampling so that we can see that this nature, or “law of sin” (Genesis 6:5), as Owen describes it, is always with us. We are deluding ourselves if we pretend that isn’t the case. Our tendency is to ignore God–not necessarily willfully–and want to sin, although we are freed from having to be slaves to sin; through Christ’s death and resurrection we have become a [re]new[ed] person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2 NIV, Ephesians 2:14-16, Isaiah 40:31, as another small sampling).

In addition to keeping our minds on things that are above (Colossians 3:1) we also need to “watch and pray” (Colossians 4:2), and to be careful that we don’t fall if we think we’re standing firm (1 Cor 10:12).

Carry about a constant, humbling sense of this close aversation unto spiritualness that yet lies in our nature. If men find the efficacy of it, what should, what consideration can, be more powerful to bring them unto humble walking with God? That after all the discoveries that God has made of himself unto them, all the kindness they have received from him, his doing of them good and not evil in all things, there should yet be such a heart of unkindness and unbelief still abiding as to have an aversation lying in it to communion with him—how ought the thoughts of it to cast us into the dust! to fill us with shame and self-abhorrency all our days! What have we found in God, in any of our approaches or addresses unto him, that it should be thus with us? What iniquity have we found in him? Has he been a wilderness unto us, or a land of darkness? Did we ever lose anything by drawing nigh unto him? Nay, has not therein lain all the rest and peace which we have obtained? Is not he the fountain and spring of all our mercies, of all our desirable things? Has he not bid us welcome at our coming? Have we not received from him more than heart can conceive or tongue express?

What ails, then, our foolish and wretched hearts, to harbor such a cursed secret dislike of him and his ways? Let us be ashamed and astonished at the consideration of it, and walk in a humbling sense of it all our days. Let us carry it about with us in the most secret of our thoughts. And as this is a duty in itself acceptable unto God, who delights to dwell with them that are of a humble and contrite spirit [Isa. 57:15], so it is of exceeding efficacy to the weakening of the evil we treat of.

Labor to possess the mind with the beauty and excellency of spiritual things, so that they may be presented lovely and desirable to the soul; and this cursed aversation of sin will be weakened thereby. It is an innate acknowledged principle that the soul of man will not keep up cheerfully unto the worship of God unless it has a discovery of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men had lost all spiritual sense and savor of the things of God, to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invented outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal ornaments; which they have called “The beauties of holiness!” [Ps. 110:3]. Thus much, however, was discovered therein, that the mind of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of God’s worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will prevail. Let, then, the soul labor to acquaint itself with the spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may be rifled with delight in them. It is not my present work to discover the heads and springs of that beauty and desirableness which is in spiritual duties, in their relation to God, the eternal spring of all beauty—to Christ, the love, desire, and hope of all nations—to the Spirit, the great beautifier of souls, rendering them by his grace all glorious within; in their suitableness to the souls of men, as to their actings toward their last end, in the rectitude and holiness of the rule in attendance whereunto they are to be performed. But I only say at present, in general, that to acquaint the soul thoroughly with these things is an eminent way of weakening the aversation spoken of.

John Owen, The Power and Efficacy of Indwelling Sin

Owen on Healthy Introspection

Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days; whatever else they know, they know not themselves. They know their outward estates, how rich they are, and the condition of their bodies as to health and sickness they are careful to examine; but as to their inward man, and their principles as to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of themselves. Indeed, few labor to grow wise in this matter, few study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the evils of their own hearts as they ought; on which yet the whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their eternal condition, does depend. This, therefore, is our wisdom; and it is a needful wisdom, if we have any design to please God, or to avoid that which is a provocation to the eyes of his glory.

–John Owen, The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of Indwelling Sin

When I Confess sin, as part of the ACTS (or ATCS in my case–not easy to say as a word) way of prayer, I often ask God to show me sin I’m not aware of. He is merciful in limiting how much he shows me at once. I’m grateful for God’s speaking in this way, because he’s speaking to us, which is a marvelous thing, and it’s one of the ways God works in conforming us to the image of his Son.

Why Read Owen’s Books On Sin?

As far as the title goes, John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation, which is three books in one, wouldn’t be my first choice. But so many people have recommended it, and since I want to read a few more books by him, I decided this would be one of them. Here is a quote near the beginning of the first book that really compels me to read the rest:

The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.

For some reason, that was a bit of a surprise.

Repost: Important Revelations (1 of 2)

As I’m taking a bit of a respite from blogging, I remembered that I can do what other slackers do and just repost stuff I’ve written before. How easy is that?

This one is serious though. I feel it’s the most important thing God has shown me and that I’ve posted in a long time.

When we’re convicted of sin, or spoken to by God, or our eyes are opened to something in Scripture, we can’t expect it to have the same impact on others as it has had on us. It’s very frustrating to read authors who feel that everybody has the same weaknesses. People are on different timetables and have different strengths and weaknesses. But aside from that, the sin of murmuring, as Thomas Watson puts it, is something I see a lot of that goes largely unnoticed, including myself of course, until recently. I mean noticed, not taken care of. That will come. But I’ve made progress already. The post is recent, from July 2.

——————

Murmuring

This is a sin I haven’t really been aware of much lately. It isn’t talked about often. Thomas Watson writes about this in The Art of Divine Contentment. I’ve been making an effort to think more positively, or less negatively, but when he uses the word murmur and explains it like he does, it’s very convicting. I can see how this is subtly insidious, and the devil would love to see a lot of it, without our ever really realizing it as long as it stays under the radar, so to speak. I can also see how profitable this would be if it could be reduced by working on it with God’s grace.

Thou that art a murmurer art in the account of God as a witch, a sorcerer, as one that deals with the devil: this is a sin of the first magnitude. Murmuring oft ends in cursing: Micah’s mother fell to cursing when the talents of silver were taken away, (Judges 17:2) so doth the murmurer when a part of his estate is taken away. Our murmuring is the devil’s music; this is that sin which God cannot bear: “how long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?” (Num. 14:27) It is a sin which whets the sword against a people: it is a land-destroying sin; “neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” (1 Cor. 10:10) It is a ripening sin this; without mercy it will hasten England’s funerals. O then how excellent is , which prevents this sin! To be contented, and yet murmur is a : a contented Christian doth acquiesce in his present condition, and doth not murmur, but admire. Herein appears the excellency of contentation; it is a spiritual antidote against sin.

I think that letting this happen is one way that nice young people can become cranky old people. Not cranky like Carl Trueman, but truly mean and destructively negative people. But remember not to murmur about them. Some are in a lot of pain in one way or another, have systems in their brain or hormones that are out of whack, or who knows what. And some people have a heart of gold under that protective veneer.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
Philippians 2:14 NIV

Also see (because people murmur a lot about politics and whatnot):
The Contemporary Calvinist: Christians Have a Choice to Make: God or Country?

Being content
In rhetoric, a solecism is defined as an offense against the rules of grammar by the use of words in a wrong construction; false syntax.

Passage of the Day: You’re No Good

Deuteronomy 9:4-6 HCSB
When the LORD your God drives them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The LORD brought me in to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ Instead, the LORD will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness. 5 You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, the LORD your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to keep the promise He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 Understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

1 John 1:8 HCSB
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Meme: What Has God Been Teaching Me?

I’ve been tagged by TC Robinson for a meme started by Roger Mugs.

“In an effort to keep it simple, short, and easy to follow, I’d like to challenge you to quote one verse (not one chapter). And then say what the Lord has been teaching you in one sentence (not one paragraph). Then tag 5 peeps (you know the drill).”

Psalm 51:4 TNIV
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

God is the holy lawgiver and when we sin it is against the one who not only gave the law, but is the Holiest of holy who is infinitely more offended by sin that any people we sin against, and caused David to declare that only against Him was he sinning.

That verse always mystified me. In a future post I may elaborate on this regarding forgiveness which is more personal in nature.

I’d like to tag:

  • Stefan – even though he doesn’t have time right now
  • Mike – ditto
  • Bryan – I follow Christ (or whatever it’s called now)
  • John MacArthur

How do you know you are saved?

This GodTube video of Paul Washer speaking expresses some of the ideas written about on 23Oct07 and 6Oct07 in the last third of the video/audio:
How do you know you are saved?

Related Scripture:
My soul followeth hard after thee:
thy right hand upholdeth me.
Psalm 63:8 KJV

Dead To Sin

Romans

Romans 6:3-7
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin.

In his commentary on Romans, Thomas Schreiner says, “…he is not exhorting believers to cease from sin (a command in the imperative mood); he is proclaiming to them the good news that they have died to sin (a statement of fact in the indicative mood).” (emphasis is the author’s) Later, “We died with Christ in baptism in that we were united with him in his once-for-all death. Because we are incorporated into Christ, his death becomes ours.”

Imperative – “It is imperative that you…”
Indicative – Indicates

Verses 11-14 shift from indicative to imperative:
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:11-14

We are no longer slaves to sin and don’t have to sin as we used to. Obviously this doesn’t mean that we won’t sin and some still won’t struggle with some habitual sins or addictions. But we are free to know that we are righteous in His sight and that we are free to grow and become what God means for us to be.

Schreiner says, “The indicative is realized in the concrete world of the imperative by which it is demonstrated that the indicative actually is a reality.” This sounds like scholarly gobbledy-gook but it makes sense when we see it as knowing what God has done and who we are in Him compels us to be obedient with the strength that He give us.

The imperative is reminiscent of Philippians 2:12-13:
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Related Scripture:
Galatians 2:20