Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back online

Just a word to explain my absence of posts for the last few months. I have been strongly tempted to abandon the practice of blogging for two reasons: the first is because it is time-consuming and second is that I questioned the usefulness of it. Recently, I have been suggested by my pastor to reread Dr. Robert Lescelius book's SPIRIT DIRECTED LIFE-The Spirit Leadership into Christ's life, Service and Warfare. It is a very good book! Here is a phrase that I found in it that made a strong impression on me: "Holiness is the most essential issue in the Christian life. It is the greatest need in the churches today. It stands in priority above soulwinning, missions, service, or any other activity with which the Church finds itself occupied".

That is what has decided me to continue to speak on the subject of holiness.

When I first started the blog, my idea was to share our daily and practical struggles with the pursue of holiness. But I rapidly saw that if we want to share, we need first to remember many things about GOD's infinite holiness and the teachings of the Bible on sanctification. So I have consulted a few books on the subject and my first posts were from these theologians. So I will continue to use quotes of J.C. Ryle's book HOLINESS: ITS NATURE, HINDRANCES, DIFFICULTIES AND ROOTS.

This will preprare us for the more subjective parts of the subject: the sharing of our daily experiences.

Bishop Ryle had the profound conviction (and I agree strongly with him) that the first step towards attaining a higher standard of holiness is to realise more fully the amazing sinfulness of sin. Here is a quote from him:


"Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4)

"He who whishes to attain right views about Christian holiness must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. I make no apology for beginning this volume of messages about holiness by making some plain statements about sin.

The plain truth is that a right understanding of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are "words and names" which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ is to send light into his heart and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with "light", and also does the spiritual creation. God "shines into our hearts" by the work of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual life begins (2 Cor. 4: 6). Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul's disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the contemporary church has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.

1. I will begin the subject by supplying some definition of sin.

We are all, of course, familiar with the terms "sin" and "sinners". We talk frequently of "sin" being in the world and of men committing "sins". But what do we mean by these terms and phrases? Do we really know? I fear there is much mental confusion and haziness on this point. Let my try, as briefly as possible, to supply an answer.

"Sin", speaking generally, is, as the Ninth Article of our church declares, "the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that is naturally 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 lusts always against the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into the world, it deserves God's wrath and damnation". Sin is that vast moral disease which affects the whole human race, of every rank and class athat One was Christ Jesus the Lord?

I saynd name and nation and people and tongue, a disease from which there never was but one born of woman that was free. Nee I say , furthermore, that "a sin", to speak more particularly, consist in doing, saying, thinking or imagining anything that is not in perfect conformity with the mind and law of God. "Sin", in short as the Scripture says, is "the transgression of the law" (1 John 3: 4). The slightest outward or inward departure from absolute mathematical parallelism with God's revealed will and character constitutes a sin, and at one makes us guilty in God's sight.

Of course, I need not tell anyone who reads the Bible with attention that a man may break God's law in heart and thought when there is no overt and visible act of wickedness. Our Lord has settled that point beyond dispute in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5: 21-28). Even a poet of our own has truly said, "A man may smile and smile, and be a villain". Again, I need not tell a careful student of the New Testament, that there are sins of omission as well as commission, and that we sin, as our Prayer Book justly reminds us, by "leaving undone the things we ought to do", as really as by "doing the things we ought not to do". The solemn words of our Master in the Gospel of St.Matthew place this point also beyond dispute. It is written: "Depart..., you cursed, into everlasting fire... for I was hungry, and you gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink" (Matt. 25: 41-42).

I do think it necessary in these times to remind my readers that a man commit sin and yer be ignorant of it and fancy himself innocent when he is guilty. I fail to see any scriptural warrant for the modern assertion that: "Sin is not sin to us until we discern it and are conscious of it". On the contrary, in the fourth and fith chapters of that unduly neglected book, Leviticus, and in the fifteenth of Numbers, I find Israel distinctly taught that there were sins of ignorance which rendered people unclean and needed atonement (Lev. 4: 1-35 ; 5:14-19; Num. 15: 25-29). And I find our Lord expressly teaching that "the servant who knew not his master's will and did it not", was not excused on account of his ignorance but was "beaten" or punished (Luke 12:48). We will do well to remember that, when we make our own miserably imperfect knowledge and consciousness the measure of our sinfullness, we are on very dangerous ground. A deeper study of Leviticus might do us much good.

In the next post, we will continue on the subject of sin with its origin and source. May the Lord bless you and lead you in the beauty of holiness.