Recovering a Right View of Sin
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement
Verse of the Day - Ephesians 5:15-16
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Daily Scripture Reading - Galatians 5
Question #12 - What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?
Answer - When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; (Gal. 3:12) forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. (Gen. 2:17)
Recovering a Right View of Sin
Many today refuse to call sin what it is. They will call it a disease, a sickness, a weakness, a mistake, a character flaw, or even go so far as to call it a good intention gone wrong or simply being in the wrong place and the wrong time. But the truth is that sin is still sin.
We can say this with certainty because the standard for determining what is and is not sin has not changed. The Bible lets us know that we are all sinners, having fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). To miss that mark, the mark of God's perfect, glorious holiness is to sin. We fail to measure up to Him - that is sin.
However, too many today, especially prominent tv preachers, refuse to even use the words sin, repent, conviction, or hell. Those words convey a bad negative vibe! But the truth is, we are ALL sinners, we have ALL sinned, and the wages of sin is still death (Rom 6:23). So why do we refuse to call sin what it is, missing the mark of God's glory? Why do we sugar coat it? Why do we try to make it not as bad as it really is?
Because deep down every man and woman knows that there is a price to be paid for sin. They know this and suppress this knowledge so as to spare themselves guilt feelings. I mean, we can even have a doctor prescribe a pill for us that removes all sense of guilt for any wrongdoing in our life. Why suffer with this God-given mechanism for alerting us that something is wrong? Just pop a pill and FEEL better.
Our answer to conviction is to drown out the messenger (the Holy Spirit or our own conscience) instead of heed the warning. John MacArthur in his book The Vanishing Conscience likens our conscience to a radar on an airplane. According to the data programmed into it, the radar on a plane alerted the crew that they were about to crash. The pilot was sure he knew better, turned the alarm off, and crashed into the side of a mountain killing everyone on board!
While it is true that our conscience is only as good as the data we feed it, it is also true that if we misinform it, excusing sin, we will dampen its ability to warn us effectively until eventually we sear it, we scar it, and it no longer works as God intended. This is the lesson of Romans 1!
So how do we maintain a right view of sin? We must start by realizing that sin, in any form, is a cheap counterfeit that will never satisfy us. As Paul noted in Romans 7, even though his flesh wanted to sin, he in the inner man, did not want to sin, but often failed and gave in, doing what he did not want to do. Sin is false advertisement. It never lives up to the promise. It destroys. It is poison. It will kill us! The wages of sin is still death.
In order to see sin for what it is, we will look today briefly at a passage in Ephesians 5:15-21. Let's look at the text, and then see what Paul and the Holy Spirit have to say to us about sin.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Walk in Wisdom
In order to see sin for what it is, we must learn to walk in wisdom. Remember that wisdom speaks about our perspective. Do we see things as God sees them, or do we blur the lines and try to make good seem bad and bad seem good?
We are commanded here to walk in wisdom, or walk circumspectly, because the days are evil. I surely do not need to spend any time explaining how we live in evil days, do I?
To walk circumspectly is to walk with “great care, accuracy, and precision.” We are to be sure that we do not “step out of ranks” (1 Thess. 5:14). In this verse the word translated “unruly” means just that, to step out of line, or get out of ranks. Those who are unruly in the church are breaking ranks and going their own way. We must walk precisely, in ranks, and work hard to avoid distraction. Rightly dividing (accurately interpreting) the Word of God keeps us on track (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17).
Not only must we walk or live precisely, with attention to detail, but we are also told to walk not as fools, but wise. Who is a “fool” and what does he do? See Psalms 14:1; Rom 1:21,22; Prov 1:7, 22; 14:9; 1 Cor. 2:14; Gal 3:1-3. To be a fool is to refuse to obey the Word of God. The “wise” though have a proper perspective. They have a right view of God (Psalm 111:10) and a right view of themselves (Psalm 8:4).
We are also told to walk in a way that redeems the time. To redeem the time means to “make the most of our time”, to “buy up” and use our time wisely. The word time here refers to the “time of our life, or lifetime.” We have no guarantee of tomorrow, so we are to make the most of today for the glory of God! Let's make a few points here, for to understand sin we have to understand having a right perspective about life in general. What does the Bible tell us about our life?
The time of our life (our lifetime) is a fixed, appointed time from start to finish! (Hebrews 9:27; Ps. 39:4-5; Ps. 139:16)
It can be shortened, but the Bible only has one instance of it being lengthened! (Ps. 89:38-45; 102:23-24; 2 Kings 20:11)
Our lives are full of opportunities for service and obedience to God. (Gal. 6:10; John 9:4)
Our lives will be over before know it – it exists as a vapor of breath on a cold day, here one minute and gone the next. (Ps. 89:47; James 4:14)
Our days are in His hands. (Ps. 21:4; James 4:15)
We have no guarantee of tomorrow. (James 4:14; Matt. 6:34)
We must “buy up” every moment we have an offer it to God in His service. (Eph. 5:16; Rom 12:1)
Walk Not as the Unwise
We must walk in wisdom as we have just seen. But we also must make it a point to not walk as the unwise! Aren't the two mutually exclusive? Sure. But at times we forget to walk in wisdom and begin to walk as the unwise and we need to be rebuked, to be put back on track. We must often be reminded of how serious it is that we "walk worthy of the calling" with which we were called.
So we know what it is to walk in wisdom. How do we know how the unwise walk? The unwise, those without a proper perspective, corrupt themselves with sin and perversion (Deut. 32:5-6), store up iniquity and sin (Hosea 13:12-13), despise godly instruction (Prov 1:7), are proud, thinking themselves to be self-sufficient (Prov 11:2), despise their neighbor instead of loving him (Prov 11:12), scoff at God and His Word (Prov 14:6), think God is wrong (Prov 21:30), fail to discipline or be disciplined (Prov 29:15), are wise in the ways of the world (1 Cor. 1:20), are wise in the power of their own flesh (2 Cor 1:12), and seek wisdom from everyone but God (James 1:5).
Walk Understanding the Will of the Lord
In order to rightly see sin for what it is we must not only walk in wisdom, walk not as the unwise, but we must walk with understanding, specifically as to the will of the Lord. What is God's will? Instead of spending the time necessary to explain the concepts of God's will here I will simply say this, open your Bibles to the back, in the concordance, or go to the Free Online Bible, pick a good solid translation (NKJV, ESV, NASB) and do a word search for God's will or the will of the Lord. And read every verse that tells us about God's will! So many books have been written that make it seem as though finding God's will is some huge time consuming puzzle or mystery, when in fact if we just focused on doing the things that the Bible tells us are in the will of God we would not have time to go chasing some ever elusive "perfect will of God" as if He has not made it as plain as the nose on our face!
Walk in Submission
And finally, in order to walk circumspectly and redeem the time, we must learn to walk in submission. We must be humbly serving one another. Truth is, it is hard to sin against a person we are lovingly and humbly serving! Submitting ourselves to others removes most of the roots of sin. Pride. Envy. Conceit. Self-sufficiency. Bitterness. Hatred. Anger. Lust. All of these things are hard to maintain if we are truly being submissive to one another in the Body of Christ. But even beyond all of this, walking as we ought to walk, how can we truly get a feel for what sin is and what sin does to us? For that we will close by looking at Galatians 5:16-26.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Here we have listed the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. We begin though with this reminder, walk in the Spirit, under His direction and control, yielded to Him as a servant of righteousness, and you have this guarantee - you will not fulfill the lust, the desire of your flesh. Want to combat lust and temptation? Be controlled by the Spirit! Is it difficult? Sure. It is a war! But we have been given the desire and the power to do what is right - it is all at our disposal in the Person of the Holy Spirit!!
But now let's get to the root of what sin is. Sin, at its basest most simple form, is a counterfeit. It is a FAKE. We spend so much time wanting to sin!! Being tempted, desiring, lusting. And yet, it is all a FAKE. You see, God knew what He was doing when He made us. He made us with certain natural desires. And yet our flesh gets it so wrong that we end up wanting what will kill us, that which is a poor substitute for the real things He made us for.
God made us for love, joy, and peace, etc. Yet we settle for adultery, impurity, and addictions! Is that not how it works? Here, look at this list. These are the works of the flesh, the fruit of sinful desires, our fleshly fallen body unrestrained:
1. Adultery – any sexual conduct unfaithful to the confines of marriage
2. Fornication - porneia – any sexual immorality
3. Uncleanness – akatharsia – impurity in motives, speech, behavior
4. Lewdness – licentiousness, unbridled lust (desire)
5. Idolatry – idolatria – full of idolatry (unfaithfulness); having a false god
6. Sorcery – pharmakia – use of drugs, enhanced trance states for fortunetelling
7. Hatred – enmity, hostile feelings and actions
8. Contentions – strife, wrangling, discord
9. Jealousies – zeal to possess and control
10. Outbursts of wrath – thoomos – heat, rage, outbursts of uncontrolled anger
11. Selfish ambitions – self seeking pursuit (used of a politician seeking office)
12. Dissensions – dixthstasia – to cause division, dissention
13. Heresies – sects, factions, a set of opinions
14. Envy – envy, hold a grudge
15. Murders – to kill unlawfully, to be angry without a cause
16. Drunkenness – intoxication with any substance
17. Revelries – excessive feasting, partying, carousing
Read that list again. That is what the flesh thinks it wants - cheap imitations! Now let us look at the Fruit of the Spirit, the real true qualities we desire and want when we are are living in submission to the Holy Spirit:
1. Love – agape – unconditional love
2. Joy – chara – joy, gladness
3. Peace – tranquility, harmony, free from danger
4. Longsuffering – macrothumia – to suffer much, endurance
5. Kindness – to do what is right, kindness and generosity
6. Goodness – good, healthy, right
7. Faithfulness – full of faith, refers to reliability
8. Gentleness – gentleness, humility, consideration, courtesy
9. Self-control – self discipline, virtue (self controlled by the Spirit)
Now to finish and expose the true face of sin, look at this! If we take each of the works of the flesh and place that list side by side with the Fruit of the Spirit, we get an amazing result. Each work of the flesh is shown to be simply a fleshly, poor substitute for part of the Fruit of the Spirit. What God is producing in us with His Spirit is lasting, satisfying, and pleasurable. What the flesh offers as an alternative is a cheap knock off that promises the world and gets us killed!
The Flesh Offers as a Counterfeit
Jealousies, Outbursts of Wrath
Selfish Ambitions, Dissentions
Just compare the definitions of these terms and see if what I am telling you is true. The works of the flesh, SIN, is nothing more than a cheap sorry substitute for what God wants to give you and produce in you through the Holy Spirit! Which will you take? Will you settle for the momentary thrill of sin, or will you strive for the lasting fruit of walking in the Spirit and finding satisfaction in Christ?
That is why sin is so sinful and horrid. It is a substitute for all that Christ can give you. Why settle? Strive instead to press on faithfully keeping your eyes on Jesus so that you might finish the course to His glory alone!!
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled, A Wise Desire taken from Psalm 47:4.
Having thus spoken upon the extent of the surrender very briefly, I might hint at the wisdom of it, and show you it is not only good for you to offer this prayer, but it is better for you, than to control yourself. I might tell you that it is good for you to give yourself up to God's hands, because he understands your wants, he knows your case and he will so pity your necessities that he will give you the best supplies. It is better for you then if you trusted in yourself, for if you had the choosing of your troubles, or your employments, you would always have this bitter thought, "Now, I chose it myself, and therefore I must blame my own folly."
But now another thought. What was the cause of the Psalmist saying this? How came he to be able to feel it? for there are few Christians who can really affirm it and stand to it: "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me." I think the cause is to be found in this, that he had a true experience of God's wisdom. Poor David could indeed thank God for having chosen his inheritance for him, for he had given him a very goodly one. He had put him in a king's mansion; he had made him conqueror over Goliath, and had raised him to be ruler over a great people. David, by a practical experience, could say, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me." Some of you cannot say it, can you? What is the reason? because you have never witnessed Divine guidance, you have never looked to see the hand that supplies your mercies. Some of us who have seen that hand in a few instances are obliged to say from the very force of circumstances,
"Here I raise my Ebenezer."
"Hither by thy help I've come."
I hope and trust in that same good pleasure which has guided me hitherto, that it will bring me safely home.
Again, it was a true faith that made the Psalmist say he relied upon God. He knew him to be worthy of his trust, so he said, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me." And, again, it was true love, for love can trust—affection can put confidence in the one it loves; and since David loved his God, he took the unwritten roll of his life, and he said, "Write what thou wilt, my Lord." "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me."
I might finish, if I had time, by telling you the good effects that this produced upon the Psalmist's mind, and what it would produce upon yours; how it would bring a holy calm continually if you were always to pray this prayer; and how it would so relieve your mind from anxiety, that you would be better able to walk as a Christian should. For when a man is anxious he cannot pray; when he is troubled about the world he cannot serve his Master, he is serving himself. If you could "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," beloved, "all things would then be added to you." What a noble Christian you would be; how much more honorable you would be to Christ's religion; and how much better you could serve him.
And now you who have been meddling with Christ's business, I have been preaching this to you. You know you sometimes sing—
"Tis mine to obey, 'tis his to provide,"
but then you have been meddling with Christ's business, you have been leaving your own; you have been trying the "providing" part and leaving the "obeying?" to somebody else. Now, you take the obeying part, and let Christ manage the providing. Come then, brethren, doubting and fearful ones, come and see your father's storehouse, and ask whether he will let you starve while he has stored away such plenty in his garner! Come and look at his heart of mercy, see if that will ever fail! Come and look at his inscrutable wisdom and see if that will ever go amiss: Above all, look up there to Jesus Christ your intercessor, and ask yourself, "while he pleads, can my Father forget me?" And if he remembers even sparrows, will he forget one of the least of his poor children? "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he will sustain thee," "He will never suffer the righteous to be moved."
This I have preached to God's children: and now one word to the other portion of this crowded assembly. The other day there was a very singular scene in the House of Commons. There is a certain enclosure there set apart for the members; into this place a gentleman ignorantly strayed. By-and- bye some one raised the cry "A stranger in the house!" The sergeant of the House went up to him, took him by the shoulder and reminded him that he had no business there—not being a member—not one of the elect—not having been elected by the country. The man of course looked very foolish. But, as he had made a mistake, he was let go. Had he wilfully strayed within the enclosure, and taken a seat he might not have got off so easily. When I saw that, I thought, "A stranger in the House!" This morning is there not a stranger in the house? There are some here who are strangers to the subject we have been discussing—strangers to God—strangers to true religion. "There's a stranger in the house." It led me to think of that great "assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven;" and I thought of the people who, last Sabbath night, sat down to the Lord's table to partake of the Sacrament; and the idea struck me, "There's a stranger in the house." Now, in the House of Commons, a stranger cannot sit five minutes without being detected, for all eyes are so soon fixed upon him; but in Christ's Church—in this church—a stranger can sit in the house without being found out. Ah! there are strangers sitting here, looking as religious as other people: some that are not children, some that are not chosen some that are not heirs of God. They are "strangers in the house." Shall I tell you what will happen by-and-bye? Though I cannot detect you under the cloak of you profession; though God's people may not find you out, the grim "sergeant of the house "is coming—Death is coming—and he will discover you! What will be the penalty of your intrusion, as a professor, into Christ's Church? What will be your lot if you have been a stranger in his house below, when you find that, though you may have sat for a little while in this House of Commons below, you cannot sit in the House of Lords above? What will be your lot when it shall be said, "Depart ye accused?" And you may exclaim "Lord! Lord! have we not eaten and drunk in thy presence, and taught in thy streets?" And yet he will say, "Verily, I never knew you!" "You are a stranger in the house!"—" Depart, accursed one!" How can I tell who is a stranger in these pews, and who are strangers upstairs? Some of us are not strangers! "We are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God." To such of you as are strangers, I pray you think of it, and go to Christ's throne, and beg of him that yet you may be his children, and numbered with his people. Then, after that, I will talk with you about my text, but not now. Then I will bid you pray to God, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me."
Bible Reading For Further Study
Recommended Songs for Worship