Posts Tagged ‘Sin’

When He has come, He will convict the world of sin . . . —John 16:8

Very few of us know anything about conviction of sin. We know the experience of being disturbed because we have done wrong things. But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit blots out every relationship on earth and makes us aware of only one— “Against You, You only, have I sinned . . .” (Psalm 51:4). When a person is convicted of sin in this way, he knows with every bit of his conscience that God would not dare to forgive him. If God did forgive him, then this person would have a stronger sense of justice than God. God does forgive, but it cost the breaking of His heart with grief in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. Once we have been convicted of sin, we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary— nothing less! The love of God is spelled out on the Cross and nowhere else. The only basis for which God can forgive me is the Cross of Christ. It is there that His conscience is satisfied.

Forgiveness doesn’t merely mean that I am saved from hell and have been made ready for heaven (no one would accept forgiveness on that level). Forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a newly created relationship which identifies me with God in Christ. The miracle of redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One. He does this by putting into me a new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.



Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Preface from Mark Roberts: This week’s reflections have been written by my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Leslie Hollon, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Leslie (known also by the nickname Les) is a noted preacher, pastor, professor, and author. He is a gifted biblical teacher who connects the deep truths of Scripture to the realities of daily life. Every time I hear Leslie preach, I am encouraged to consider in new ways how the Word of God speaks to me. I know you will find Leslie’s reflections on temptation to be challenging and encouraging. – Mark

When our daughter, Rachel, became a teenager, she asked me one night, “Dad, tell me a story from the Bible, not a story of good people doing good things.  Tell me a story about when the people messed up.”  She wanted to know how God helps us when we are tempted to do wrong.

Temptation presents the possibility of sin, but it is not sin in itself.  Sin begins when we form plans to put the temptation into play.  Once begun, sin seeks to become a habit in our lives at home, at work, and in our community.

A person healed from his addiction with Internet pornography said to me, “It consumed my time, my energy.  It was destroying my relations with my wife.  I was wasting my life.  Now for three years my life has been freed up from that.” He realized, what we all must realize, sinful pleasure never satisfies for long.

Sin expands one’s appetite for more sin.  David’s sinful trail began when he stood looking out from his fancy corner office and coveted his neighbor’s wife. That led to adultery, lying, and murder.  David’s unraveling did not stop until the prophet Nathan confronted him about his abuse of authority and convinced him of his sins.

Repentance is our only hope to be released from this deadly cycle.  Repentance begins with soulful remorse and ends with soul-filled renewal that extends to every part of life.

David’s attempt to insulate himself from guilt’s stinging indictment meant his sinful actions did not stop with sexually manipulating Bathsheba.  He had to do something about Uriah, her husband.  Sin does not stop on its own power.  Only God’s power is strong enough to stop sin’s destructive force.  Repentance opens us to change when we yield our will into God’s will so our desires can be reshaped.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Where are you most vulnerable to temptation—at home, at work, or in your community? How have you learned to recognize the deceptive nature of temptation? Are you entrusting your desires to God?

PRAYER: O Lord: I need You.  I want You.  I freshly give myself to You.  Please shape the desires of my heart so that I will delight in You and serve you in all that I do.  Please give me the eyes of faith to recognize temptation’s deceptive nature.  Help me to see Your warning signs so I may beware of sin by being aware of You.

God-the eternal God-is Himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ‘s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost”; and to the uttermost He saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”-they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan‘s efforts to harm him avail nothing. This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”-arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.”

My childhood piano teacher was a stickler for memorization. Being able to play a piece without error was not enough. I had to play several pieces flawlessly by memory. Her reasoning was this: She didn’t want her students to say, when asked to play, “I’m sorry, I don’t have my music with me.”

As a child, I also memorized Bible passages, including Psalm 119:11. Due to my limited understanding, I believed that simple memorization would keep me from sin. I worked hard at memorizing verses, and I even won a Moody Bible Story Book as an award.

Although memorizing the Bible is a good habit to develop, it’s not the act of memorizing that keeps us from sin. As I learned soon after my winning efforts, having the words of Scripture in my head made little difference in my behavior. In fact, instead of victory over sin, knowledge alone generated feelings of guilt.

Eventually I realized that the Word of God had to spread through my whole being. I needed to internalize Scripture, to hide it “in my heart” the way a musician does a piece of music. I had to live the Bible as well as I could quote it. As God’s Word spreads from our heads to our hearts, sin loses its power over us.

O Lord, my God, may Your Word become so much a part of me that obedience comes naturally and cheerfully from my heart. Change me andmold me into Your image.
Let God’s Word fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your life.

The Primacy of Self

Selfish personal interest, says the Greek moral philosopher Epictetus, is the motive behind all human conduct. The children of the world, Christ tells us, are often wiser than the children of light. In his discovery of the springs of human conduct Epictetus reveals an understanding of mankind far beyond that of the average Christian; and this in spite of the fact that the Christian claims to possess the Spirit of truth and the Greek did not. If we would be wise in the wisdom of God we must face up to the truth no matter how uncomplimentary it may be to us. It would be more comfortable to shrug off what our eyes behold and loyally declare our belief in the intrinsic goodness of all men; but our eternal welfare forbids that we deal dishonestly with reality. The truth is, men are not basically good; they are basically evil, and the essence of their sin lies in their selfishness. The putting of our own interests before the glory of God is sin in its Godward aspect, and the putting of our own interests before those of our fellow men is sin as it relates to society. We know men are sinners because when they must choose between others and themselves they choose themselves every time. Personal interest sees to that.

The Great Deceiver

The Devil is a master strategist. He varies his attacks as skillfully as an experienced general and always has one more trick to use against the one who imagines he is well experienced in the holy war. By two radically opposite things the devil seeks to destroy us-by our sins and by our virtues. First, he tempts us to sin. This might be called his conventional device. It worked against Adam and Eve and still works after the passing of the centuries. By means of it millions each year are, as Paul said, drowned in destruction and perdition. One would think the human race would learn to resist the blandishments of its sworn enemy, and it probably would except that there is an enemy within the gate-the fallen heart is secretly on the side of the devil. It is, however, Satans wiliest stratagem to use our virtues against us, and this he often does with astonishing success. By means of temptation to sin he strikes at our personal lives; by working through our virtues he gets at the whole community of believers and unfits it for its own defense. A parallel to Satans technique may be seen in the activities of certain subversive political groups who use the Constitution of the United States as a shield while they work to destroy that Constitution. By unctuous pleading for the right of free speech they seek to destroy all freedom of speech. By talking piously about government by law they push our country toward the place where there will be government by dictatorship and all laws will mean what a ruling clique of base, cynical men want them to mean. So diabolical is this method that one can only conclude that those who use it learned it from their father the devil, whose they are and whom they serve.

True Confessions

Posted: October 31, 2012 in Joe Stowell
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“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

I love coconut. I always have! So, after an exhausting day in second grade, I found a bag of shredded coconut in the cupboard and devoured the whole thing. When my mother went into the kitchen later to bake—you guessed it, a coconut cake—I heard, “Who ate the coconut?!”

I knew I was in trouble, but my escape plan was simple—a quick, easy lie: “Not me!”

She continued her inquiry with my sisters, but after they denied it, we all heard the familiar words: “Wait till your Dad comes home!” My cover-up plan was doomed to failure, and later that evening I finally confessed.

No one had to teach me to lie. As the psalmist David admits, “I was brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5). But in his sin David knew where to go—to the God of abundant mercy who will cleanse us from our sin (Psalm 51:1-2).

When we recognize the ongoing reality of sin in our lives, we are reminded of our ongoing need for the presence of God and the power of His Word to keep us safe and spiritually sane. He is waiting for us to confess our faults and embrace the forgiveness and cleansing that He readily offers.

Remember, a refreshing plunge into God’s mercy awaits you on the other side of confessed sin!

Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee. —Sleeper

Own up to your sin and experience the joy of confession.