AND NOW THEY SIN MORE AND MORE
- Read Hosea 12:2; Luke 18:10-14.
- Present generation seems undisturbed by sin.
- Not discomforted, bothered, shocked, upset, or distressed by it.
- Little, if any, feeling of anxiety or concern or heaviness of heart. No anguish or torture or terror. People engaged in sin suffer no affliction, grief, or regret.
- Some do not recognize it or will not submit to its reality.
- Others deny it and say it is not true, or they call it a life style.
- There are those who do not want to face up to the consequences of sin and, thus, they minimize it. They claim sin is not as bad as it is made out to be.
- There are those who live so close to sin and are not mixed up in it. They are not aware of it.
- There are still others who are indifferent to sin. They do not care. They are, in no way, saddened, disturbed, or distressed by it.
- Some of the elements of sin:
- Its prevalence (I John 5:10; Romans 3:10, 12, 23).
- Someone has said, “Sin is the most common commodity amongst us.”
- It is everywhere. Where can you go and not find it? It is among the elite and the outcast, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, and the learned and the unlearned.
- In the darkest areas of the world where people do not know—it still exists.
- Lying, stealing, adultery, intrigue, rape, murder, materialism—all exists among all classes and grades of people, whether civilized or uncivilized.
- Its power (Romans 6:12–14).
- It caused Adam and Eve to forfeit paradise, Cain to slaughter his brother, David to lie and commit
adultery, and Judas to sell his Lord for thirty measly, contemptible pieces of silver.
- Do not underestimate its power in one's life. Example of lion and Cape Buffalo (I Peter 5:8).
- Its progression (II Timothy 3:13).
- Give attention to the progression in Psalm I:
- Walks not.
- Stands not.
- Sits not.
- Spreads like a gangrene (II Timothy 2:16–17). Increases, advances.
- Note also its growth expressed by James (James 1:14–15):
- Drawn of his own lust.
- Lust conceives and brings forth sin.
- Sin, when finished, brings forth death.
- Its pleasures (Hebrews 11:25).
- Sin is pleasant, magnetic, and attractive. It is pleasurable, causes pleasure, and it is pleasure giving.
- To those who engage in it, it is welcomed. It is delightful, cordial, and stimulating.
- Sin is very charming, captivating, winsome, an sweet—for a time.
- Old Satan does not come in dark array with a forked tail, horns, pitchfork, and a terrifying countenance. He would never win anyone with that approach.
- Sin sends out affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).
- The pleasures are only temporary, that it, it continues for a limited time. It is not permanent. It is transient (II Corinthians 4:18).
- It's persistence (Matthew 4:1—11).
- The lust of the flesh: “turn these stones into bread.”
- The lust of the eye: “cast yourself down.”
- The pride of life: “fall down and worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.”
- Satan continued to temp Jesus through His life on earth, even up to and upon the cross. Does he persist in trying to bring about our downfall?
- Its punishment (Hebrews 2:1—3).
- He is coming in flaming fire to punish those who do not know God and who have not obeyed the gospel.
- Further discussion of the punishment of sin (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:20; Galatians 1:6–9).
- What sin will do:
- It will make a slave out of you (Romans 6:16; Titus 3:3; Romans 16:18).
- Men become addicted to narcotics, alcohol, gambling, nicotine, immorality, curing, hate, and retribution
- Lost will and will power and strength of mind is gone; as also are resolve and control.
- One loses self-command and self-mastery. He no longer has possession of his faculties. Government of his direction is left behind—gone and forgotten. There is no restraint and he becomes oblivious to responsibility.
- Self–control is the mainstay of the Christian's day–to–day progress and success. Control of his thoughts, speech, tongue, desires, food, time, and temper.
- Sin will make you dirty.
- The prodigal evidently got down to the muck and mire of the pig sty.
- Like a dog returning to his vomit again and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (II Peter 2:20–22).
- One of the words used means utterly decayed; another means depraved, spoiled, ruined, still another means moral filthiness and pollution. Read I Timothy 6:5; II Timothy 3:8; James 1:21; Jude 10.
- Evil association ruins good character (I Corinthians 15:33).
- Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness (II Corinthians 7:1–2; Romans 1:26–32).
- Sin will separate you from God.
- Separated Adam and Eve from the garden and God.
- The prodigal son (Luke 15:11–14).
- Cannot live in sin and have fellowship with God (Isaiah 50:1–2).
- The one who is born of God does not keep on practicing sin (I John 3:9).
- Sin will make you destitute.
- The prodigal son spent all and wanted to eat the pods on which the pigs foddered and fattened (Luke 15:16).
- Have observed what sin will do to men of promise—destitute, stripped, impoverished, indigent, and penniless. Reduced to want.
- Sin will make a pauper of you—morally, spiritually, intellectually, and even economically.
- Sin will make you miserable. What greater misery than when the prodigal thought of what he once had in his father's house, and now complete destitute—no shoes, robe, or ring and starving to death. Now a beggar and a tramp. Even the day–laborers in his father's house had more.
- The world is filled with people with problems and complexes.
- You cannot think yourself out of these situations.
- It will take the forgiveness of God. One has to be willing to comply with His will so as to receive that forgiveness.
- The appeal is to obey the gospel now and become a Christian.
AND NOW THEY SIN MORE AND MORE
Read Hosea 13:2: “Now they sin more and more.” Sin is one of the most common words in the Bible. Someone has said, “Sin is the most common commodity we possess.” There are many Hebrew and Greek expressions that are translated by that single term. Each of them has a different connotation. For instance, the Greek utterance, hamartia, which means “to miss the mark,” is found with its cognates 272 times in the New Testament. But there are many other words—such as the term that means lawlessness, avomia, and the word which means “to fall or fall away,” paraptoma. There are Hebrew sayings—such as asham, which means “guilt” and chet, which means “error or failure.” And the Hebrew word, chattath, is found 163 times in the Old Testament.
Although sin is often discussed and defined and the dangers of engaging in it are clearly pointed out, God's people, in any age, have not been very disturbed by it. Only a few days after Israel left Egypt accompanied by almost countless miracles performed in their presence by God, they murmured against Him and sought ways they might return to their former state of sin and bondage.
Some of the most egregious and atrocious sins that have stained the garments of God's people were committed by Israel not far removed from divine evidences of His care and deliverance. Twenty–three thousand fell in one day by committing fornication (I Corinthians 10:8). Because of their lusts they were overthrown in the wilderness (I Corinthians 10:4–5). Enormous as this was they did not seem shocked or distressed.
Fifty days away from Egypt and perhaps no more than a week from the most convincing miracle, they worshipped in idolatry before a golden calf they had fashioned with their own hands.
They murmured and complained and criticized and found fault and there never seemed to be any heaviness of heart or wretchedness of spirit for their misdeeds. Only occasionally, when they saw the relation between their affliction and their sin, did they show any signs of grief or regret. In our day, sin, however monstrous, does not seem to upset the guilty or bring anguish to the observer or their misconduct. We are barely discomforted by
murder, rape, torture of one another, or any other grievous, inhumane and brutal act. We are not shocked or distressed by sin.
Does Not Recognize It
In so many instances, people do not recognize sin. They have lived in it and around it all their lives and it has become so common and accepted that they pass it by without noticing it.
An attorney in Johannesburg, South Africa, visiting in my home, asked me the question: “Mr. Caskey, what is sin?” I was taken aback, for I had not idea there was any accountable, responsible adult in the world who did not know what sin is! I have learned that one can tolerate it in his environment, approve it in his life, experience it in his own person, condone it in his conscience, endorse it to his fellows, and even countenance it in his own family, and, as a result, such delinquency blinds one to the reality of infraction of God's law.
There are those who minimize it and consider it insignificant. Some deny it—say it is not true. Or, one may give it another name—like, life–stye. Talk to homosexuals in our day and they declare it to be a legitimate life–style and a viable alternative. One notion is that it is constitutionally inherited. Someone else contends that it is a hormonal imbalance. And still others claim to believe it is a genetic or chromosomal problem. They deny, categorically, that it is sin.
A man and a woman live together before marriage—or without ever being married. Any conflict that may arise about the relationship is never a dispute about the nature of it. There is not a single discord about the inherent rightness or wrongness of it. No dissension arises about the question of sin. “What Legitimacy does a piece of paper, speaking of a marriage license, give to the relationship,” they ask?
There is no dissidence about the origin of marriage and the home for they attribute none of it to God. It is totally a human institution, thought up and brought to fruition by man alone. There is, therefore, no shame in its perversion
Consequences Are Unpleasant
Because the consequences of sin are harsh and forbidding, men tend to minimize the seriousness. They turn their faces away from it because of the fearfulness of it. They do not want to live under the exposure of a threat. It would be a liability to their happiness. They refuse to be intimidated by the warnings of punishment, so, with a hardened conscience, they go on about their merry way, completely indifferent to it. In no way are they saddened or disquieted by it. Sin, to them, is just not sinful!
Some Features of Sin
In our effort to learn more about the subject as it is discussed in the word of God, the Bible, let us examine some of the elements of it:
1. Its prevalence. Someone has said, “Sin is the commonest commodity among us.” Where can you go and not find it? It prevails in every society, among the elite, the outcast, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, and the learned and the unlearned. In darkest areas of the world it is sovereign. Where men boast of highest civilization, it is both typical and popular. Lying is lying, whether committed in the modern offices of big and sophisticated businesses of New York City or in the jungles Borneo in the East Indies. If a student of mine in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania had decided to take another wife in addition to the one he already had, you can be sure that would have constituted polygamy as much as if the act had taken place in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The apostle is emphasizing the preponderance of wickedness among all men. And Paul concurs with John in these statements: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
It needs to be stated at this point that there are some members of the human race who are not sinners. They are not in any way capable of sinning because they are not responsible. The largest
group in this category are small children and infants. Jesus talked about these in Matthew 18:2–5. Matthew, in recording the incident, and Jesus, in speaking, called the child little, paidion.
He further said to His disciples and, consequently, to us, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven“ (Matthew 18:3). There is no such thing as an infant inheriting the sin of Adam. If men are sinners from birth, having inherited Adamic sin, then we must all become sinners, said Jesus, to enter the kingdom of heaven and that is nonsense! More than that, sin is transgression of God's law, and there is not the slightest possibility of a child who is immature morally, spiritually, and intellectually being answerable before God (I John 3:4). John here speaks of one who is doing lawlessness.
There has to be some understanding, purpose, or design in walking across the law of God. Only responsible, rational, blamable people are liable before the judgment, whether it is man's judgment or God's judgment.
2. Its power. I have grave doubts that any of us can really comprehend the capacity of Satan in influence or strength exercised upon his victims. Peter speaks of him in terms of his strength—his might and muscle, so to speak. “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). His drive is intense and his force almost immeasurable. I remember some years ago when my son, David, who lived and preached in East Africa, had occasion to lead a group of American doctors on a photographic safari. In the course of their trip, they encountered a Cape Buffalo and a large, black maned lion in deadly combat. The large tract of land they covered in their conflict resembled a freshly plowed field. There was some question for a while which one would come out victor. As they drove through the scene, the lion dragged himself into the tall grass, but the buffalo lay dead near the edge of the clearing. The lion weight about 500 pounds; the buffalo weighed nearly 2000 pounds. Don't ever underestimate the incredible strength of sin, the tremendous punch it possesses, the vigor with which it attacks, and the persistence with which it endures.
Look at some of the havoc sin has wrought in history in the lives of our ancestors. It caused Adam and Eve to forfeit paradise,
Cain to slaughter his brother, David to lie and commit adultery, Israel to abandon God, Judas to sell his Lord for thirty measly pieces of silver, and the Jews to crucify the Messiah. Today, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12).
3. Its progression. The Bible has much to say about the advance of sin in the lives of those who permit its entry into their hearts. Its forward movement and rapid locomotion is found in the life and doings of David as he began with a strong and unlawful desire for a beautiful woman who belonged to another man and ended in the cold blooded murder of the woman's husband. Paul knew the nature and potential of sin when he wrote to Timothy in these words, “But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13). How it flourishes when given the slightest headway: “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer” (II Timothy 2:26–17)
David must have had the development and maturity of sin in mind when he wrote the first Psalm: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly [wicked], nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Its advance is seen in the expressions, “walking, standing,” and “sitting.”. That is how sin takes control of one's life. James was discussing this very subject when he wrote, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full–grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
Here is the order of the progression: (1) man is drawn of his own lusts, (2) he is enticed, (3) lust conceives and brings forth sin, and (4) sin, when finished, brings forth death. Sin has not altered its course; it still uses the same tactics. It was this strategy sin used on our earliest forbears; and the design of its plotting changed little, if any at all, when it approached Jesus. Satan's maneuvers and directions are much the same in practically all cases. “And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And
there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.’ ” In his plotting to bring about the downfall of Achan and reproach into the camp of Israel, Satan's intrigue was well ordered: (1) I saw, (2) I coveted, (3) I took, and (4) I hid.
The word Paul used in his letter to Timothy in II Timothy 2:16 was prokopto and it is a strong word meaning, “to cut a passage forward, to advance, make progress, to grow worse and worse.”
If Satan is unsuccessful in one plan of attack against man, he will proceed to another. He avails himself of every possible scheme to bring about man's downfall. The Christian should constantly be on his guard, walk circumspectly, looking in every direction, and call in help from the Lord and his fellow Christians to secure the relief and support needed against Satan's attacks and prevent his taking control of his life.
It is also interesting to note that sin “will eat [feed] as a gangrene.” The word is gaggraina and means “to eat, gnaw; mortification.” It is localized for awhile, then it spreads and keeps extending and expanding itself until its outstretch has given it control of the life, and results in spiritual mortification.
4. Its pleasure. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin"” (Hebrews 11:25). One of the old translations renders it, “the pleasures of sin for a season.”
Make no mistake about it, sin is pleasant. It is pleasure–causing and pleasure–giving. So often it is welcomed because it is delightful, cordial, and stimulating. Peter talks about it being “alluring,” that is, seductive, exciting, and appealing. Listen carefully to what inspired writers said on the subject: “Though evil is sweet in his mouth, and he hides it under his tongue, though he spares it and does not forsake it, but still keeps it in his mouth, yet his food in his stomach turns sour; it becomes cobra venom with him. He swallows down riches and vomits them up again. God casts them out of his belly. He will suck the poison of cobras; the viper's tongue will slay him” (Job 20:12–16). “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Proverbs 9:17). “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly” (Proverbs 15:21).
“I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’ ” (Ecclesiastes 2:1). “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13).
“Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are chocked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (I Timothy 5:6). “... serving various lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:5). “... as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime” (II Peter 2:13). These passages speak of the immediacy of pleasure. It is instantaneous, and this is where sin gets much of its appeal. The word of God also warns that its pleasures are brief and fleeting. They are like a migrant worker—here today, gone tomorrow. Like a wandering nomad in the desert, you see him one moment, and the new, he has disappeared.
If Christians could understand how impermanent are the pleasures of sin and how soon they vanish, in all likelihood, they would give more forethought to the matter of wrongdoing before they implicated themselves in it.
Sin makes an attractive appearance. Old Satan does not come in dark array with a forked tail, sharp horns, and a terrifying countenance. He would never win anyone this way. But, rather, he makes his product charming, captivating, and even tantalizing, and certainly sweet—all for a brief time. Note that the inspired writer emphasized that it is fleeting, for a season. Its affections and lusts are for the present. It appeals to the now.
It is only temporary and continues for a limited time. “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not see are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18). Things which once were desirable and possessed a great appeal have lost it all!
5. Its persistence. Study the history of sin in the lives of people recorded in the Bible. Satan's approach to Job was one of determination and tenacity. He tempted our early ancestors through the lust of the flesh, i.e., so when the woman saw that the tree was good for food; the lust of the eye, i.e., and it was a delight to the eyes; and the pride, or vainglory, of life, i.e., and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. It is not said how long it took him to bring about their acceptance of his
proposal, but you can be sure he used whatever patience and stamina were required. There are not many good lessons one can learn from Satan, but will power and endurance he has in great abundance; and perseverance is not always the Christian's greatest resource. It is a valuable treasure and the Christian should acquire it, cultivate it, and even cherish it.
Look at the endurance and resolution Satan exercised in his temptation of Jesus in His early ministry. In Matthew 4, he confronted Jesus in a very subtle and challenging way. He said, “If You are the Son of God.” He, in substance, said: “I question that You are, but if You are, command these stones to become bread.”
Satan disputed Jesus' deity, objected to His claim of Sonship, and opposed His assertion to such power that would transform a rock into a loaf of bread. When he failed to accomplish his purpose through the strong and natural desire for food, he turned immediately to another avenue, which, evidently, he considered a weaker strand in the character of Jesus, and, with this same questioning technique, he posed another attack on Him. “If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down” from an exceedingly high wing of the temple extending out over the wall of Jerusalem.
To make his proposal more effective and vigorous, he quoted a passage of scripture. This, he thought, would make it more credible and certain. It gave it a spirit of authenticity to support his proposal with the word of God, but it was not very convincing and Jesus again rebuffed him by his refusal to comply. But Satan never gave up.
Some Christians, headed in a certain direction, are easily discouraged and deterred in their purpose, and feel powerless to continue. The tempter of man never, in all of history, seemed feeble or inept in this quality of persistence.
The story continues. Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him the kingdoms of the world. We are not told if this was actual, of which the devil was likely capable, or if it was a dramatic view which he vividly portrayed. No doubt, he had the power to illustrate with clarity the kingdoms and thrones of men.
When his scheme collapsed Satan never gave up. He only left him for a brief while; and then he returned time and again throughout Jesus' personal ministry until the very day He expired on the cross. This was fortitude; and I have opened up this point on the persistence of sin that Christians may be made aware and cautious.
6. Its punishment. This is what we call, in the present generation, the bottom line. It should serve as a warning and a deterrent. “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:1–3).
“... the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (II Thessalonians 1:7–9). The nature of the punishment, the apostle tells us in these three verses, is (1) flaming fire and (2) exclusion from the presence of God. That punishment will be inflicted on those (1) who do not know God and (2) those who do not obey the gospel of Christ.
Those who do not know God are the ones who are not acquainted with Him. This places a tremendous responsibility upon those of us who do know Him and who know about Him.
For only those of us who know Him have the ability to tell others and convey His message to them. But, it may also be that they do not know Him because they choose not to know Him. The passage says that people can be lost for not knowing God, and for not obeying the gospel of Christ.
Paul told the Christians in the church at Rome that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The apostle is not here talking of physical death, for it is a certainty that each one of us is going to die. This is spiritual death. For one to live in sin and to never be forgiven in the blood of Christ, spells separation from God, and the glory of His power.
This is called death in the word of God. It is a very old principle that each one of us is responsible for his own doings. In fact, it was established by the God of heaven in the beginning of man's existence upon the earth. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
This principle is considerably amplified and defined in such verses as Galatians 6:7–8: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
These passages and promises are to the effect that sin will be punished—that means, of course, unless it is forgiven. This is what gives beauty and meaning to Christianity for there is no truth so magnanimous as that of God wiping the slate clean with reference to our character.
Some Things Sin Will Do
1. It will make a slave out of you. “Do you not know that to who you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16)? There are two words in this passage to which we should give special attention. One of them is obedience and it derives from a term which means to hear. The compound word is upo, which means under, subjection, by the agency of.
Another word is akouo which means to hear, to hearken, listen to; to heed, obey, understand, to take in, acceptance. So, the significance as well as the intent of Paul's language is that one who “hears, listens to, gives heed to, accepts, obeys” lust and sin, and, therefore, brings it into his life, has become the servant of sin. The other word is servant, but there are many words for servant in the New Testament, each carrying a little different notation or implication. This particular word is doulos, and means “a male slave, enslaved, subservient, involved in moral or spiritual thralldom.” It can also apply, of course, to a female slave, or a handmaiden.
In the simplest terms, the apostle is saying, “Sin will make a slave out of you.” “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
This same apostle, writing to Titus, used the same word, doulos, translated as slave in Romans 6:16, as serving—“serving various lusts and pleasures” in Titus 3:3 above. But, for disobedient he used another word, peitho, from which we get faith, belief. Paul put a negative (not) on it and said, therefore, to these people, “You will not be persuaded; you are noncompliant, obstinate, and disobedient. Your unbelief has caused you to become slaves to your lusts and pleasures.” That's plain language, isn't it?
We return to the Roman letter where Paul said, “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly” (Romans 16:18). His expression for serve in this passage is the same as the others we have observed. It is the word which means a slave, but, in this instance he charges that people are slaves to their own bellies. While this word, koilia, literally means “a cavity; the belly; the stomach,” its spiritual meaning is “the inner self.”
So, men become slaves to sin by serving their own inner self, fulfilling what pleases them, satisfying their own human longings and inclinations. One of the great principles of Christianity is self–control. The sin is not just in the thing which is evil, but lost will, and left behind will–power. Unremembered commitment, forgotten resolve, and preoccupied hearts with the delicacies the world has to offer will reduce one's strength, forfeit self–mastery, and cast restraint to the winds.
The government of one's life is not to the exclusion of God's help. There is nothing we can do alone; no Christian has consummate leverage over himself. God expects us to have some possession and command of our deportment. He does not step in and take over utterly and absolutely. I am involved in control of my thoughts, my temper, and my speech. I can resolve to limit the intake of my food and drink. There can be an exercise of influence upon myself in the direction I take, how my time is spent, and where I go.
Men become addicted to narcotics, alcohol, gambling, nicotine, foul speech, and immorality. These sins can bind you with the iron chains of habit and lead you away as captive slaves into total bondage.
2. Sin makes you dirty. The prodigal son got down into the muck and mire and into the filth and manure of the hog pen (Luke 15:15–16). Engaging in sin—that is, to keep on doing sin—is like a dog returning to his vomit again and like a sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (II Peter 2:20–22). We live so close to sin. It is such a common occurrence and we are so familiar with its every aspect that we fail to grasp its immense dimensions and its enormous depth, and particularly its ravaging and devastating nature. Not many of us believe that sin makes you filthy.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote much in this mood: “Useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds” (I Timothy 6:5). He used a word which means “depraved, spoiled, ruined.” You can understand that, because he went on to tell Timothy that these people were “destitute of the truth.” It literally means in this passage, “utterly perverted.”
In II Timothy 3:8, he used a little different form of the word that means “spoiled, debased, rotten .” there is no doubt that sin makes people dirty! “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness” (James 1:21). This pictures sin as moral filthiness and pollution. And Jude spoke of people who “in these things they corrupt themselves” (Jude 10). And that term means “stain, sully, pollute.” Thus, Paul besought us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (II Corinthians 7:1–2).
3. Sin will sever your relationship to God. It detached Adam and Eve from God and made them as aliens. It was such a rupture that it was never refocused and consolidated until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to reconcile man to God.
There were some temporary merges, such as the offering of animal sacrifices, but the break up had occurred because of sin and there was an isolation and a remoteness that nothing could fix except the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. “But your iniquities [sins] have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:1–2).
We must know that sin is repugnant to God. He cannot associate with it; He will not condone it. “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them, because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters. And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them’ ” (Deuteronomy 32:19-20).
One translation says that God abhorred them. I think we may say that God not only rebuffed them, but when they persisted in sin, He abandoned them. He separated Himself from them. “For all who do such things, and all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 25:16).
Their conduct was blasphemy to God. Their lives were obscene and vulgar in His sight. The lamentable component of such sin is that there is little or no shame in the heart of the sinner. He rather takes pride in what he has done.
David spoke of how God detaches Himself from sin and dissociates Himself from the sinner: “For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight: You hate all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:4–5).
Moses quoted God as saying: “Then my anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and will hide My face from them” (Deuternomy 31:17). Consider and heed what Joshua says on the subject: “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you” (Joshua 7:12). Hosea said, “Woe to them when I depart from them” (Hosea 9:12).
Review and ponder deeply what Amos says: “Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:2). The essence of His statement is that God will not tolerate sin and will not walk with the sinner.
Consider the words of Micah: “Then shall they cry to the Lord, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds” (Micah 3:4). While God is a merciful and forgiving God, He will not endure the continuing practice of evil and He will not abide the man or woman whose heart is set on doing evil. There is another lesson
in the story of the prodigal son that should solicit our solemn attention. It was terribly lonely in that distant land, and, according to the story, it must have been severe in that solitary situation—all alone with the hogs and in the most despicable circumstances! That's what sin will do!
4. Sin will impoverish you. In another lesson we learned that the prodigal son “spent all” he had. This was not just his money. And, more than that, “he began to be in want.” This word means that he was deprived of basic needs. We have some expressions for that circumstance in life in this country, and I think they are rather common in most other countries. He was “down and out,” “dirt poor,” “broke,” and “penniless,” and all because he had wasted his substance with riotous living. When he left his father's house and was away from parental guidance and discipline, he went on a kind of rampage and indulged himself in what gave him pleasure and satisfaction. Under those conditions money doesn't last very long.
I knew a talented sculptor in Kingston, Jamaica, and bought some of his wood carvings. They are outstanding. He was a young man with great promise, but somewhere along the way he began the use of ganga or marijuana as it is called in this country. This drug almost destroyed his brain and left him a tramp and a vagabond. Sin will reduce one to want, leaving him indigent and penniless.
The Lord commissioned His men to write much on this subject. “Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8). “He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow” (Proverbs 22:8). “Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place” (Proverbs 27:8). “By transgression an evil man is snared” (Proverbs 29:6). “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man” (Proverbs 21:17).
Solomon is not here discussing the possession, or the loss of material wealth. He himself had engaged in every pleasure his flesh lusted after and he was immensely wealthy. There is another kind of poverty. There is the loss of character and reputation and there is the deprivation of purity and truth. One can be bereft of conscience and wanting in integrity. Sin will rob him of an honorable name. Such a person is “dead broke,” you can be sure! “You shall lie down in torment” (Isaiah 50:11).
“Whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my god, ‘for the wicked’ ” (Isaiah 57:20–21). The tender and impressionable heart of the child of God knows this truth well—there is no peace.
5. Sin will make one wretched. The apostle John told the church in Laodicea “that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). When one is blind, he is not always aware of the state of his health, but sooner or later it will burst upon him and shatter his vision of his own spiritual fitness.
It may be that someone points out to him his deplorable and woeful state and like a flood it breaks over him and leaves him with a pathetic awareness of his flawed character and what a sorry, shoddy mess he has made of his life.
This is when real misery sets in. His condition is more than unfortunate; it is calamitous. What is more woeful than feeding upon the pods on which hogs fodder and fatten? A dreadful part of it is remembering that in his father's house there was bread enough and to spare and he was perishing with hunger. Grievous also was the fact that he had no shoes and his ring was gone and his robe was filthy and tattered. Even the day laborers in his father's house had plenty and he had nothing.
It is not the impoverishment that makes his condition so lamentable. Most of the world is indigent. Families who survive are often strapped with debt and obligation. It is the nostalgia of what once was and the recollection of how he fared before this poverty set in. It is the recall of what life could have been with its fullness. The true pleasures could have made him incalculably rich. There would have been hope and promise and bright expectancy. Sin strips us of happy anticipation. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “Whatever a man sows that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door” (Genesis 4:7). “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Such prospect will make one miserable.
“How often is the flame of the wicked put out? How often does their destruction come upon them” (Job 21:17)? Wretchedness
is the bonus the sinner receives in due time. His commission is not cut short! Sin's compensation has been justly earned. The fruit of his product may be bounteous. The outlook is disheartening.
People's Guilt Complexes
The world is full of people with problems and guilt complexes. I have seen figures that tell us that 60 percent of the hospital beds in our land are filled with people who have nothing organically wrong with them, but psychologically that are in serious trouble. Morally they are ashamed and filled with remorse. They carry a burden too heavy to bear. Through the years, they have implicated themselves in sin and know they are condemned—have no desire to doubt or deny it. It is a stigma the removal of which promises no prospect or possibility. Nor for a moment do they disallow their guilt. Deep remorse accompanies every waking moment, but they do not know where or how to seek relief.
There is a solution, but they do not know where to seek it and have no idea of the nature of it. For a moment's respite they would be grateful. The abatement of the pain is the most ardent wish they entertain. Like Job, many of them feel: “Even today my complaint is bitter; my hand is listless because of my groaning” (Job 23:2).
Again, “Though I speak, my grief is not relieved; And if I remain silent, how am I eased.” (Job 16:6)? These people do not know the cure or the correction, where help can be found, or where the remedy can be discovered. The solution is at hand, but there is no release! Doctors and human advisors miserably fail to alleviate the hurt and diminish the anguish.
There are those who would tell these sick people that they can think themselves above the distresses of the human frame and above this suffering of the flesh. Some would have the patient appeal to an approach to hypnotism or mesmerism. In some countries, it may be voodooism or the witch doctor. In more advanced societies, it is fortune telling, or it may be called visionary, but no human appeal or fascination will accomplish the task.
No emotional experience will remove the blame or the guilt. To wipe the slate clean and remove the shame and condemnation, it will take forgiveness. “Who can forgive sins but God alone” (Mark 2:7)?
It is the blood of Christ that can cleanse the sinner from his guilty stains. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us” (Ephesians 1:7). This alone will lift us from the pit of despair. “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” (Romans 5:8-9).
The appeal I now make to you is for you to obey the gospel. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17–18).