Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Holiness: Defining Sin, Part Two: Origin and Scope

I won't spend too much time on this one, but I wanted to briefly point out these two very important points concerning sin.


That sin has it's origins within us, not, as some would choose to believe from external forces. Ryle speaks plainly and directly to our own generation when he writes I am afraid that the views of many professing Christians on this point are sadly defective and unsound. ... Let us, then, have it fixed down in our minds that the sinfulness of man does not begin from without, but from within. It is not the result of bad training in early years. It is not picked up from bad companions and bad examples, as some weak Christians are too fond of saying. No! It is a family disease, which we all inherit from our first parents, Adam and Eve, and with which we are born.  And he reminds us that the fairest child, who has entered life this year and become the sunbeam of a family, is not, as his mother perhaps fondly calls him, a little "angel" or a little "innocent," but a little "sinner." Alas! As that infant boy or girl lies smiling and crowing in its cradle, that little creature carries in its heart the seeds of every kind of wickedness! The neglect of this orthodox doctrine has many far reaching implications which has lead us right into the state of affairs that we see ourselves in today as a nation. "Everyone is basically good" is something that we have all heard many times, and it is even more often used to excuse misbehavior, but the Bible never teaches it.


But how deep does this sin penetrate in to us as individuals? If we are all born with this wicked condition, this moral disease, how bad is the diagnosis? ...let us beware that we make no mistake. The only safe ground is that which is laid for us in Scripture. "Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart" is by nature "evil," and that "continually." "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9). Sin is a disease which pervades and runs through every part of our moral constitution and every faculty of our minds. The understanding, the affections, the reasoning powers, the will, are all more or less infected. Even the conscience is so blinded that it cannot be depended on as a sure guide, and is as likely to lead men wrong as right, unless it is enlightened by the Holy Spirit. In short, "from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness" about us (Isa. 1:6). The disease may be veiled under a thin covering of courtesy, politeness, good manners and outward decorum, but it lies deep down in the constitution. And that has many grand and noble faculties left about him, and that in arts and sciences and literature he shows immense capacity. But the fact still remains that in spiritual things he is utterly "dead" and has no natural knowledge, or love, or fear of God.

I quoted Ryle a lot today to keep it short, I have a tendency to ramble if left to my own devices.

Understanding these two points about sin, along with the first, is the initial step we must take in righting our relationship to God. It is only as a sinner that we realize we need a savior. It can also go along way in helping us understand the world around us. We have no need to question "why" if we hold firmly to these truths about sin. No need to ask "why" when there are atrocities all around the world, or terrorist attacks, or broken marriages or abused children. The "why" is plain, because we're sinners. The solution is also just as plain, His name is Jesus.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Holiness: Defining Sin

To determine what Holiness is, you have to start with what it isn't. What ever Holiness may be, we all know for sure that sin isn't it. But what is sin? Can we give a clear definitive answer? The Scripture, in 1 John 3:4, simply says "sin is lawlessness" (ESV).

"...a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity."

Without clearly understanding sin, Christ's sacrifice will mean nothing to us."Why would anyone need to die for my sins, I'm a relatively good person, I make a mistake now and again, but nothing too big, I never hurt anyone else, plus I do a lot of good." This is a very logical position, if we do not understand the nature of sin.

The COE, in part, defines sin, in the Ninth Article of Religion:
"[Sin] is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world..."
As Ryle points out, in short, "the entire human race" regardless of their life position or social class, where they were born or decide to reside, or even what language they speak, everyone is infected with this "vast moral disease." A disease that "from which there never was but one born of woman who was free."

So right off the bat we must understand that we are by our very nature sinners, and that sin nature has pushed us far from any lingering righteousness of our own. But what is "a sin"? "If you call me a sinner tell me what a sin is, so I know what not to do, if I can."

"A sin...consists of doing, saying, thinking, or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God." That is quite a list. One that is insurmountable, to say the least. Too often we neglect those sins that are internal. We simply gloss over them, assuming, perhaps, that because no one else knows that you hate that guy that cut you off, or that you sneaked a peak at some internet pornography, or muttered under your breath something too vile for anyone to hear, that these do not count. As if God did not hear them or see them or feel them on the cross. External sins are ofttimes easy to pass off as "bad habits" that we don't often take part in, because of the embarrassment that comes along with them. But even those, just as with the internal, when they do come separate us from God.

More on this soon.
Thank you for reading!