|Volume 17 Number 7 July 2015||
In one of the weekly broadcasts of “In Search of the Lord’s Way” that was televised in September of 2014, the statement was made that some may have embraced the idea of “I’m cutting back on sin.” Is this mindset somehow thought to appease God and pardon one of accountability before Him? If so, which sins would be cut back? How many sins would be cut back? How often would these sins be cut back? Ultimately what difference, if any, would it make in determining one’s whereabouts in the pending eternity that is before all of us?
From time immemorial, sin has been, is now and will continue to be the loathsome, disgusting, repulsive, abomination as it is depicted in God’s Word! Sin, the very hiss of the word, strikes at its origin. Cutting back on sin does not change the state of disobedience to our Maker one iota. God’s standard is perfection – not almost up to – in some useless attempt to cut back on sin.
We can cut back on eating, drinking, playing, socializing, sleeping, working, and the list is virtually endless. In many aspects of our lives, that would be a good decision. Cutting back on sin has never fit into that category! The only time that works is in the mind that does not have God at its core. The mind that has been blinded by the lies and dupes of Satan would believe such a thing.
We must deal with our fatal sin problem immediately, thoroughly and permanently. We need to understand that every time we sin in thought, word or deed, we sin against God first. King David had the clearest perception of this concept. Nathan, God’s prophet, called David out on his abominable acts of adultery and conspiracy to commit murder. God said to David through Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:9, “Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with sword of the people of Ammon.”
David’s godly sorrow that led to his repentance was the epitome of his deepest desire for grace and mercy. Psalm 51 records David’s timeless plea to be forgiven and restored to God’s favor. Verses 1-4 and 7 express his anguish and humility. “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight… Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
The biblical definition of “iniquity” is “a perversion of that which is right”; “sin” means “missing the mark.” “Transgression” is defined as “absolute revolt and rebellion.” To be purged with hyssop carries the idea of being scoured as being washed with bleach! This is a graphic picture of just how repulsive sin is in God’s sight. His absolute purity and holiness rejects sin ever to dwell in His presence! Sin put Jesus Christ on the cross. Sin separates us from God. Sin is lawlessness. Sin leads to eternal condemnation. When sin becomes habitual, willful and engrained, it stifles any possibility of spiritual knowledge, wisdom and understanding that would lead to obedience.
David said in Psalm 8:4-6, “What is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit [give attention to or care for] him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.”
God is mindful of man because he is the highest of His creation with an immortal soul that will live eternally in either heaven or hell. Jesus asked the question that has yet to be successfully answered in view of eternity. In Matthew 16:26 He asked, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” The salvation of the soul is worth all that it costs, and it cost the blood of Christ to redeem us. The world and all that is in it does not equal the value of one soul!
Jesus healed a man who had been suffering from a medical condition for 38 years. After his healing, he was questioned about his restored health. He had no idea who it was that had healed him. John 5:14 records, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’” Tom Wacaster in his commentary, The Magnificence of Jesus (page 199), wrote; “The greater healing is that of the spiritual man. Failure to repent will bring a ‘worse thing’ than physical impairment.”
On John 5:14 in his book, Studies in the Gospel of John (pages 67-68), Robert R. Taylor, Jr. wrote on the passage: “Do not keep on sinning is the force of this divine directive to him. Implied is a link between past sin and his lengthy affliction. Sickness is not always linked with personal sin but can be as it was in this case. The worse thing that could befall him was physical death while in service to sin which would trigger Hadean torments and Gehenna at last.”
In John 8:1-11, Jesus told the woman who was “caught in the very act” of adultery that He did not condemn her and to go and sin no more. Again in his commentary, Tom Wacaster wrote (page 333), “The Lord did not ignore her sin; nor did He excuse her sin. Instead, He placed Himself between the woman and her sin.” On this passage Robert R. Taylor, Jr. wrote (page 116), “With a graceful mantle of charity and compassion… He sought to lead her to a higher plateau of purity for her future.” Turning away from the practice of sin is an imperative.
Bret Carter wrote God’s Words Perfect, Reliable and True. One chapter is entitled, “The Tactics of the Enemy” (page 107). As this writer read the first paragraph the first time, it caused great mental and physical distress; it still does. He wrote; “We have an enemy. All other villains are pale imitations of him. His very name means ‘adversary.’ It would be nearly impossible to exaggerate the animosity that motivates his every move. His malevolence toward God is demonstrated toward us. Because he cannot harm God Himself, he harms those whom God loves. But Satan is not a suave king of the underworld. He is a mortally wounded animal desperate to lash out and take as many down with him as possible.” He then makes this bone chilling statement: “We have an enemy, and one of the best ways to play into his hands is to underestimate him.” We need to understand that Satan is the second greatest power in the world, and he wields that power with merciless destruction!
What is the message for us? Our attitude toward deliberate, habitual and gleeful sin must be broken! If not, we will be broken and ruined by sin! To say, “I am cutting back on sin” is to give yourself permission to keep sinning. This attitude screams of a very shallow understanding of the treachery of sin and its dreadful consequences. We must remain vigilant all our lives.
[Editor’s Note: Sister Marilyn’s fine article here is both instructive and a motivator, I hope for all who read it, but especially for me, too. Well done! ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]