Thursday, March 13, 2008

The guilt, vileness and offensiveness of sin

During the next few weeks, we will continue quoting Bishop Ryle's book on holiness. I consider that a must before we can begin to share our subjective experiences and struggles towards holiness. So, be patient, we will be more personal when this very needful and very long introduction will be completed. Everyone knows that sound theology must precede practical sanctification.

Concerning the guilt, vileness and offensiveness of sin in the sight of God, my words
will be few. I say "few" advisedly. I do not think, in the nature of things, that mortal man can at all realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin in the sight of that holy and perfect One with whom we have to do. On the one hand, God is that eternal Being who "charges His angels with folly" and in whose sight the very "heavens are not clean". He is One who reads thoughts and motives as well as actions and requires "truth in the inward parts" (Job 4:18; 15:15; Ps.51:6). We, on the other hand - poor blind creatures, here today; and gone tomorrow, born in sin, surrounded by sinners, living in a constant atmosphere of weakness, infirmity and imperfection - can form none but the most inadequate conception of the hideousness of evil. We have no line to fathom it and no measure by which to gauge it. The blind man can see no difference between a masterpiece of Titian or Raphael and the queen's head on a village signboard. The deaf man cannot distinguish between a penny whistle and a cathedral organ. The very animals whose smell is most offensive to us have no idea that they are offensive and are not offensive to one another.

Fallen men and women, I believe, can have no just idea what a vile thing sin is in the
sight of that God whose handiwork is absolutely perfect—perfect whether we look
through telescope or microscope; perfect in the formation of a mighty planet like Jupiter, with his satellites, keeping time to a second as he rolls round the sun; perfect in the formation of the smallest insect that crawls over a foot of ground. But let us nevertheless settle it firmly in our minds that sin is "the abominable thing that God hates"; that God "is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look upon that which is evil"; that the least transgression of God's law makes us "guilty of all"; that "the soul that sins shall die"; that "the wages of sin is death"; that God will "judge the secrets of men"; that ther is a worm that never dies and a fire that is not quenched; that "the wicked shall be burned into hell" and "shall go away into everlasting punishment"; and that "nothing that defiles shall in any wise enter" heaven (Jer. 44:4; Hab. 1:13; James 2:10; Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23; Rom.2: 16; Mark 9:44; Ps. 9:17; Matt. 25:46; Rev. 21:27). These are indeed tremendous words, when we consider that they are written in the book of a most merciful God!

No proof of the fullness of sin, after all, is so overwhelming and unanswerable as the
cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and the whole doctrine of His substitution and atonement. Terribly black must that guilt be for which nothing but the blood of the Son of God could make satisfaction. Heavy must that weight of human sin be which made Jesus groan and sweat drops of blood in agony at Gethsemane and cry at Golgotha, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). Nothing, I am convinced, will astonish us so much, when we awake in the resurrection day, as the view we will have of sin and the retrospect we will take of our own countless shortcomings and defects. Never until the hour when Christ comes the second time will we fully realize the "sinfulness of sin". Well might George Whitefield say, "The anthem in heaven will be: What has God wrought!"

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