There is no way that in one short article, I can formulate a complete doctrine of sin. The presence of sin runs from the garden of Eden to this present day. The effects of sin are seen all around us. Jesus came into the world to die for sin. The very name, Jesus is a name that implies that he would save man from sin.
Dr. Alexander Whyte wrote, “If we would enter truly into any of our Lord’s texts, and would really and truly take home to ourselves any of our Lord’s sermons, we must continually keep in mind what exactly and exclusively, his errand was in the world, SIN was his errand in the world, and it was his only errand. He would never have been in this world at all, either preaching sermons or doing anything else, but for SIN.”
The problem of sin is woven through every message of our Lord. “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” “Whoever commits a sin is the servant of sin.” “I am come to call sinners to repentance.” The problem of sin is addressed by every writer of the New Testament.
Sin keeps us from knowing the true nature of sin. The people Jesus was hardest on when it came to sin were not the publicans and prostitutes. He held his strongest rebuke for religious people who hid behind a veil of religion but in their hearts, they were “whitewashed tombs” and “of their father the devil.” He cut the Pharisees no slack.
His scathing denunciations were given to religious sinners. He talked to the woman at the well, he rebuked the Pharisees. He went to the house of Zacchaeus, the publican, not to condone his sin, but to deliver him from his sin. He was not blind to the faults of the publicans and sinners. I think the Lord knew he could reach people who knew in their hearts they were sinners easier than those who wouldn’t admit it. He said, “the publicans and harlots” would enter the kingdom before the priests and elders.
Why did Jesus condemn the Pharisees? They started out on the right track, but they degenerated into a group of self-righteous hypocrites with double standards. There was no doubt where he stood when it came to the Pharisees. To him, they were far worse sinners than the publicans, whom the Pharisees hated because their sins were of a religious nature.
In Matthew, chapter 23, he blasted the Pharisees for their pride, their desire for position and prestige. In this one short chapter, there are eight “woes” against the Pharisees. He calls them “fools… hypocrites… blind guides… lawless… serpents…and a brood of vipers.” So much for being politically correct or sensitive to the feelings of the congregation. Those who think being meek and lowly means weak and wimpish, don’t know much about the Jesus of the Bible.
Why was Jesus so hard on these religious people? They had forgotten they too were sinners. They were justifying their sins as less damning than the sins of prostitutes and tax collectors. The zealots of the day, the terrorists of their time, were greater sinners than those who said their prayers in the synagogues. In other words, Jesus condemned them because they weren’t willing to look in the mirror and see their lives, their sin, as Holy God sees it. Is it any different today? I think not.
Thomas Watson wrote, “The sins of the godly are worse than others, because they bring a greater reproach than religion.” It is a great sin to love what we might call an insignificant sin. God hates sin, period. It cost His son his life, end of discussion. That means if I justify my sin, I am standing in opposition to God. That’s hard for me to write, hard for you to read and hard for us to believe. Why? We no longer operate by absolutes. There is no right and wrong, everything has become relative and shades of gray. In our time we’ve defined sin as, “something you do that I don’t do that I don’t approve of.” Or, “something I do that really isn’t hurting anyone and since that’s the case, it’s none of your business.”
Let’s not buy the lie, “What harm is there in doing this, or not doing that?” There’s nothing but harm if Christ is not pleased and sin is justified. We must not ignore or skirt around the issues of Scripture, no matter how painful they are to deal with. The prophets of the Old Testament had the responsibility of delivering bad news to God’s chosen people. That’s the role of the preacher today. It’s one that no one relishes, but it is required if we are to be true to the Lord and His Word. There is no joy in being a prophet, because there would be no need of the prophet if God’s people were living in righteousness.
In Proverbs chapter six we read, “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (NASU) In First John, chapter one, we find these words, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” Not much room for negotiation and interpretation there. Sin is sin. The standards of Jesus are much higher than any opinion poll or some denomination’s interpretation. Anger is murder, lust is adultery, that’s pretty tough for our ‘enlightened’ minds to grasp.
All have sinned, we know that. All will not admit they have sinned, we know that. But whatever happened to the standard of Scripture? Why is it, in our day, as desperate as the times are, we are unwilling to look in the mirror? Do we really think that God categorizes sin in levels of seriousness? Yes, there are levels of consequences, but I do not find there are any sins that are less serious than others. Killing people (created in the image of God) and robbing God in tithes and offerings (disobeying the Word of God) are both sins.
We like to think one is more serious than the other. God’s Word doesn’t give us that option. God defines sin, not man. Sin is deceitful and sometimes the most deceived are the people of God who should know better. Every sin is against God. We tend to think sins against man are the worse – but all sin, no matter how much we justify it, is first and foremost against God. That, my friends, should sober us up and make us look in the mirror. To show you the power of sin in your life (and mine) when confronted with truth, do you bow up or bow down?
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