R's Commonplace Book

Tag: sin

Would you say this is a decent statement by Wm. Barclay of what John calls the “sin unto death” in 1Jn 5.16-17?

It is a fact of experience that there are two kinds of sinners. On the one hand, there is the man who may be said to sin against his will; he sins because he is swept away by passion or desire, which at the moment is too strong for him; his sin is not so much a matter of choice as of a compulsion which he is not able to resist. On the other hand, there is the man who sins deliberately, of set purpose taking his own way, although well aware that it is wrong.

Now these two men began by being the same man. It is the experience of every man that the first time that he does a wrong thing, he does it with shrinking and with fear; and, after he has done it, he feels grief and remorse and regret. But, if he allows himself again and again to flirt with temptation and to fall, on each occasion the sin becomes easier; and, if he thinks he escapes the consequences, on each occasion the self-disgust and the remorse and the regret become less and less; and in the end he reaches a state when he can sin without a tremor. It is precisely that which is the sin which is leading to death. So long as a man in his heart of hearts hates sin and hates himself for sinning, so long as he knows that he is sinning, he is never beyond repentance and, therefore, never beyond forgiveness; but once he begins to revel in sin and to make it the deliberate policy of his life, he is on the way to death, for he is on the way to a state where the idea of repentance will not, and cannot, enter his head.

The mortal sin is the state of the man who has listened to sin and refused to listen to God so often, that he loves his sin and regards it as the most profitable thing in the world.

Many today are like the unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus. They were looking for a Messiah to change their circumstances, instead of transform their lives. They wanted rescue from Rome, rather than deliverance from their sins. They wanted freedom from the oppression of foreign armies, instead of freedom from their own desires and from the destiny due to their rebellion.

Many reject what Jesus came to do, and thereby reject him. They are not willing to come to him to have eternal life, Jn 5.40, because he wants to save us all from sin, Jn 5.34.

Today, many want freedom from circumstances, problems, conflicts, illness, and financial constraints. They want to live for themselves. Jesus will not permit it. So they invent Jesus the problem-solver, Jesus the health-and-wealth magician, Jesus the bring of heaven to earth, where there is no pain, no tears, no dying, no suffering.

And because Jesus is none of these, he quickly fades from their view as they remake and remold and twist him into an idol of their own making. They adapt him to their reality and their vision. Scripture becomes a tool, religion a crutch, prayer a heavenly pull chain.

The soul that refuses to be converted converts the Savior into his own image. And it is not a pretty sight.

Are you discouraged by society’s evils?

The request of the righteous. The sin of society sickens the soul of the saints. We are tired of hearing about crime. Where is virtue? Where is truth? Because we yearn for right, we grieve over the presence of wrong. We pray for God to “cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue” Psalms 12:3. We live in a difficult time. We weep over the corruption in the world, Psalms 73:16. Evil people flaunt their wickedness. They claim victory because they think they have a right to say whatever comes to mind, Psalms 12:4. In spite of their brash claims, however, a man does not own his tongue, Psalms 100:3; I Corinthians 6:19,20. Rather, because of the tongue, he possesses “the power of life and death,” Proverbs 18:21. For he will “give account on the day of judgment for every careless word” he has spoken, Matthew 12:36,37.

So writes Ed Mathews in today’s devotional, based on Psa 12.7.

  1. One website lists hundreds of sins mentioned in the Bible. One is refusal to be baptized, Lk 7.29-30. I know some people committing that sin.

  2. When a good deed turns out not so good? Just keep going forward.

  3. The abstract mind struggles to get specific. God’s Word helps greatly with that problem, among so many others.

  4. The brotherhood, in some places, is now into titles and degrees. They are flaunted to impress. Before long, insistence on calling them doctors and reverends will follow.

  5. Ladder to new home office was just installed this morning. Now to move in my books from the old office.

  6. An original verse: Work with joy, and give the task your best; / At day’s end, you can truly rest.

  7. A Bible verse: “The Lord stands aloof from the wicked, but he listens to the prayer of the righteous” Prov 15.29 REB.

The least harm that sin can do to you is disastrous for the kingdom of God, for it will cause you to waste your time. You know you are to make the most of your time. You should take advantage of opportunities. Serving the Lord, your family of faith, and your neighbor is your task in the short span you have on earth. O Soul, there is much destruction in sin, and many ways it will destroy. But consider that, if Satan can get to you do nothing or to occupy yourself with trifles, he has neutralized you for doing good. And the failure to do good is a great evil.

What concerns us most? If you look at church bulletins, it’s physical health. They’re chock full of notices of sicknesses, surgeries, and accidents. Where are the notices about spiritual weaknesses, failures to obey the Lord, prayers of repentance, confessions of weakness?

Why are we squeamish about spiritual needs?

Are we pretending to be a house of sinless saints, rather than a hospital for struggling people? Are we not missing something here? Are we failing to be honest about sin in our midst? Are we accommodating to a culture that refuses to acknowledge sin? Have we lost our mission of getting ourselves and others to heaven, so that sin is taken seriously and its influence duly dealt with?

It’s baffling.

People think they’ll find truth and good things by looking within themselves. Jesus said otherwise. This is what you’ll find.

One writer said one step to happiness is to label our negative feelings. Let’s go one further: one step to the joy of being forgiven is to recognize and confess the evil in our hearts and the sinful practices of the flesh.

Focus question: What things lurk in my life that defile me and prevent me from fellowship with God?

Le Carré wrote of a female character in The Honourable Schoolboy that she “could spot a sin before it was committed.” I know one or two people like that. And I’ve probably been like that once or twice.

I read the devotional yesterday, even though I didn’t get anything posted. And today’s.

In the cause of Christ, profession and practice must go hand in hand. If the mind is twisted and the conscience numbed, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished. The world turns away from the Good News when a believer is no better than an unbeliever.

Ed’s emphasis today is on practicing what we profess to believe, using Tt 1.16 as the leading verse.

A good reminder on my spiritual birthday.

Focus question: Where is the fine line between accepting ourselves with our foibles and weakness and justifying sin in our lives?

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