THE DOMINION OF SIN
- Read I John 5:17–19.
- What sin is:
- Transgression (I John 3:4.
- A stepping aside (I Timothy 2:14).
- Separation (Isaiah 59:2).
- Neglect (James 4:17).
- Evil thinking—murder, adultery, idolatry.
- Inevitable misery and death (Romans 6:23).
- Some of the things sin has done.
- Downfall of our first father. Introduced sin and death.
- Caused Cain to murder his own brother. Hate, jealousy, envy.
- Its magnitude is universal, its power is almost unlimited, and its appeal is constant and strong
- How sin gains power and control:
- Overtakes (Galatians 6:1). The element of surprise. Unexpectedly. To slip upon—to have one's guard down.
- Deceives (Hebrews 3:13; Ephesians 4:22; Romans 7:11).
- Transform into apostles (II Corinthians 11:13). Angel of light and minister of righteousness (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
- Good words and fair speeches (Romans 16:18).
- By thinking we are better than we are (I John 1:8; Galatians 6:3).
- By thinking we have no sin (I John 1:8).
- Do evil that good may come (Romans 3:8, 6:1).
- Need to be enlightened in truth to keep from being deceived.
- Like a lion (I Peter 5:8).
- Like a mighty tyrant (Ephesians 6:12). Conqueror (II Timothy 2:26).
- We need implements with which to fight (Ephesians 6:11–20; II Corinthians 10:4).
- Pleasure (Hebrews 11:24–25; Matthew 4:3).
- Allures (II Peter 2:18).
- Sin is magnetic and attractive.
- Need to turn our faces away and set affections on higher things (Colossians 3:1).
- Ignorance (Ephesians 4:18).
- Killed the Son of God (Acts 3:14–17).
- People destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
- Knowledge of truth to make men free (John 8:32).
- Involved in sin when ignorant (Isaiah 1:3–4).
- Need instruction (John 6:45–46).
- Weakness (Matthew 26:41).
- Not possessed of mastery of self; not the power of self–control. Cannot contain (I Corinthians 7:9). Flee.
- Incontinence. Unruly appetite.
- We need to seek His strength to lean upon.
- Crown of life given to those who endure (James 1:12).
- No truth for the Christian is given more emphasis than his faithfulness.
- “They continued steadfastly” (Acts 2:42).
- “Let us hold fast” (Hebrews 10:23).
- “If we continue in the faith, rooted, grounded” (Colossians 1:23).
- “Let us be diligent to enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4:11).
- And no truth has greater impact on others than the faithfulness of the Christian.
- “Let your light so shine before men” (Matthew 5:16).
- “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles ... they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God” (I Peter 2:12).
- “If some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives” (I Peter 3:1).
THE DOMINION OF SIN
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves to 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 6:12–18).
WHAT SIN IS
From the study of the subject of sin in the word of God and its action in the lives of men, we may deduce by reason these lessons: Sin is prevalent, powerful, progressive, and persistent. It is also devious, destructive, deceitful, and dishonoring. The apostle John, in his discussion of sin, apprises us that it is transgression (I John 3:4). He said that one who practices sin is lawless—that is, he lives without respect or regard for law and refuses to subject himself to it. No one can be a Christian, or in any way please God, who thus holds His law in contempt. Respect for authority is the primary principle in the gospel which he requires before we can obey God acceptably in any thing.
Paul, in his discussion of the subject with Timothy, declared that sin is “a stepping aside.” He said that Eve was “in the transgression.” When she introduced sin into the world, she did it by taking her eyes off the goal and stepping outside the path (I Timothy 2:14, KJV). Although she was beguiled and seduced into error, it was a violation of a prohibition clearly understood; and she stepped aside with God's command and threat on her lips. It denotes the fullest guilt. When one loses respect for God and His word, there is no one to guide him. He loses his sense of direction, and he steps outside of the path. (
Jesus tells us that sin is evil thinking (Matthew 9:4). The sins of murder, adultery, and idolatry had their beginning in the heart. One who hates his brother is a murderer (I John 3:15). Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:28). The inordinate desire for that which belongs to another (covetousness) is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Christians need to be circumspect—give careful attention to their thinking and to the probably consequences of it. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
HOW SIN GAINS CONTROL
Our interest and concern at this time are how sin overcomes one and takes control and dominion over his life. The ways of Satan are devious. He is subtle, shifty, circuitous, and treacherous.
1. Sin overtakes. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Not every sin is premeditated. This means to be taken by surprise, or unexpectedly.
“It is not the detecting of a person in the act of sin, but his being caught by the trespass, through his being off guard” (W.e. Vine). Sin has slipped upon him through lack of circumspection. It is in contrast with the sins of the previous chapter, such as “envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like,” which were planned and intended. Here, the Christian is caught inadvertently. Through heedlessness, actually through carelessness, sin comes up from behind and unexpectedly overcomes him. He simply did not have his guard up. A Christian can never let his guard down. Jesus gave instruction for us to watch (Matthew 24:42, 44).
2. Sin deceives. “but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrew 3:13). Sin beguiles and misleads. It will not let you tell the truth. It never performs what it promises. Sin promises happiness but brings sadness and regret. Pleasures are assured, but never imparted. Life is offered, but misery and death are the fulfillment.
Paul said, “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me” (Romans 7:11). And to the Ephesian Christians, he said, “That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22).
Satan's approach for the downfall of man is varied and variable. There are times when he assumes plausible appearances. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transformed himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (II Corinthians 11:13–15).
Sin often has the appearance of things that are decent and virtuous and respectable, but this is that it might delude and ensnare the hearts of unsuspecting people. “Such creatures are no servants of Christ our Lord; they are slaves of their own desires. With their plausible and pious talk they beguile [deceive] the hearts of unsuspecting people” (Romans 16:18; Moffatt).
Under the guise of a gospel preacher or the mask of a preacher of the word of God, Satan's representative obtains entrance into many hearts and homes. He puts on a show calculated to produce or strengthen the assumption that this man is a true, godly and dedicated servant of the Lord. Teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men, he is, in reality, an ambassador of the evil one.
Sin deceives us by inducing us to think we are better than we are. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is no in us” (I John 1:8). “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).
Sin is much harder to detect and acknowledge in our own lives than in the lives of others. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). A thing that may seem to be foul and corrupt to another's life may appear innocent and pure and virtuous in our own. Sin blinds and deludes us.
The prince of the power of the air is effective in persuading people to think that they do not have to comply with the will of God to be saved. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). His influence and appeal with this lie is widespread in the church. Many have been led to believe that some of the things upon which God has spoken are not very important, and that they have the prerogative to decide what is and what is not important. Christians absent themselves from the house of God, neglect their public and private duty to Christ, and give priority to personal and secular matters because they have been moved to believe the lie that they are not obligated to do all of the time all that God has decreed.
It is not uncommon, therefore, to find a “faithful and stable” (?) child of God forsaking an assembly of the saints to devote time and talent to a civic enterprise, participate in a favorite sport, entertain a visiting relative, or indulge in an innocent pleasure. No wonder Satan's dominion is so vast! How we need to give priority to spiritual things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
3. Sin overpowers. In the text of our study, Paul counsels: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12). He is saying that sin is like a mighty tyrant, who, with regal authority, will rule and govern your life and control the members of your body, unless you, by the power of Christ and His gospel, resist him. Otherwise, he will be king over you. He has mighty, almost illimitable, power; and we should never underestimate it. We should constantly pray, as did David, for God's help and strength: “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me ...” (Psalm 19:13).
Peter used another figure with which to picture the power of sin. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). He could have used another example of a lion with which to illustrate the deceitfulness of sin, for a lion is certainly deceitful. When the lioness goes our and selects from a herd a choice specimen of zebra or antelope, drives it by a
clump of brush where the male lion is lying in wait well concealed, and he leaps for the animal and throttles it almost without being detected, there is the element of deceit. But his is not the picture Peter is drawing for us. It is one of strength and courage and power. A full-grown male lion, weighing five or six hundred pounds, can leap over a kraal fence ten feet in height, and with sheer strength overpower and break the neck of an ox, flip it upon his back, and leap out again.
In Herman Eckstine Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, is a piece of art eloquently sculptured in bronze of an African lion upon the back of a Cape Buffalo in the process of breaking its neck. It tells the story of the brute and incredible strength of one animal pitted against another. Little doubt is left in the minds of those who stop to see and examine it as to which will come out the victor. So the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ warn us of the overpowering strength of sin in subduing the hearts of men. Paul speaks of those who “having been taken captive by him to do his will” (II Timothy 2:26). It is by downright and absolute strength that sin gains control and dominion over men's lives.
To avert this catastrophe, we need to implements with which to fight. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but might in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4–5). Instead of being overpowered by sin, our thought and all our being are to be taken as captive slaves into the obedience of Christ. “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit of holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:22).
4. Sin entices. Here are some terms to describe sin: pleasure, allure, draw, lust, desire, entice. Moses chose “rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).
There is no doubt that sin offers pleasure, and for a time, one may enjoy gratification of the senses, live in a state of excitement and of sensual relish and delight. The word itself suggests a high degree of enjoyment.
It cannot be denied that sin and self–indulgence are pleasant. It is in this way that Satan gains so many of his followers. But what multitudes fail to see, or refuse to see and believe is the fact that the pleasures and enjoyments of sin are short–lived. They are only temporary.
But often in the midst of this delusion of plenty and pleasure, one is overwhelmed by a poverty and emptiness that fall like a blight upon the soul. Especially is this true where the conscience has not be completely indurated and where the soul is still sensitive and impressionable.
But make no mistake about it, sin is attractive and magnetic. Peter says, “... thy allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness ...” (II Peter 2:18). Through the pull; the drawing and attractive influence of sin, God's people are allured into an intemperate and outrageous behavior of indulgence and licentiousness. They are entrapped and caught with a bait.
Again, in all this, there is the element of deceit. The pygmies of the Ituri Forest of the Belgian Congo are a small, less than five feet in statue, people. They are crude but subtle hunters. The protein in their diet is extremely limited. To provide food for themselves and their families, the dig deep pits and carefully conceal them with branches, tufts of grass, leaves, and soil. Then they induce the great African elephant to pass along the trail, across which the pit has been dug, that he might fall into their trap. Once they have trapped him, the food supply is assured for hundreds of people and for many weeks to come. Be not ignorant of Satan's devices, for he will draw you away and allure you into the pit by the inviting appearance of sin (James 1:14).
Christians need to turn their faces away from the world and its attractions and its proffered pleasures and set their affections on things above (Colossians 3:1–2). They need to renounce it and refuse it as Moses did.
5. Sin makes gains through ignorance. “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). The entire nation of Israel
was brought under the domain of sin through ignorance. “The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; But Israel does not know. My people do not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). He gives a great list of their transgressions: “They have rebelled against Me ... a people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward” (Isaiah 1:2–4). The inspired man of God who was challenging and chastising them knew that they would revolt more and more. Hosea said: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
It was ignorance that crucified the Son of God. “And killed the Prince of life ... Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers (Acts 3:14–17).
Ignorance is a mighty instrument and a deadly weapon by which sin brings into subjection an incalculable number all over the world. It is likely that Satan keeps in bondage and darkness more people through ignorance than any other implement he is able to employ. There are about one billion people who live in the countries of India. Almost all of them are without knowledge of Christ and His saving message.
There are more than a billion people in China, but their political and religious culture have kept them chained in the unfathomable depths of spiritual darkness. Africa, a great, formidable, sleeping giant with seven hundred million people rouses from a profound, if not impenetrable darkness. Muslimism, heathenism, and a perverted Christianity have stifled her life and blinded her eyes. Even in our own country, called a land of Bibles and enlightenment, ignorance of the truth designed to save men's souls reigns supreme.
The solution to this problem of ignorance is knowledge, and darkness can be dispelled by light. “And they shall all be taught by God ...” (John 6:45). “You are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).
6. Sin overcomes through weakness of the flesh. Jesus once said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Paul knew this and made allowance, not by
excusing it or treating it lightly, but by erecting the proper safeguards. “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27). He advised young Timothy to flee youthful lusts. There are times when one should stand courageously and unshakably, but there are other times when one should flee. Aware that the flesh is weak, we should not intentionally subject it to temptations which might effect our downfall. It is then the part of valor to flee.
To preserve the purity of Christian character, “let each have his own wife,and let each woman have her own husband” (I Corinthians 7:2). Even in those unusual circumstances where marriage is not advisable, “it is better to marry than to burn” (I Corinthians 7:9). Satan may tempt us through incontinence, or lack of self–control. Let us recognize the weakness of the flesh, and take the proper precautions—enlist the help of the Lord, and flee when we need to flee, lest Satan gain the advantage of us. Let us keep in our hearts the truth of the song we sing, “I need they strength to lean myself upon.”