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30 September, 2014

Sin's Presence

Arthur PinkFebruary, 1948

There are two sides to a Christian's life: a light side—and a dark one; an elevating side—and a depressing one. His experience is neither all joy—nor all grief; but a commingling of both. It was so with the apostle Paul: "As sorrowful—yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10). When a person is regenerated, he is not there and then taken to heaven—but he is given both a pledge and a foretaste of it. Nor is sin then eradicated from his being, though its dominion over him is broken. It is indwelling corruption which casts its dark shadow over his joy!The varied experiences of the believer are occasioned by Christ's presence—and sin's presence. If, on the one hand, it be blessedly true that Christ is with him all the days, even unto the end; on the other hand, it is solemnly true that sin indwells him all his days, even unto the end of his earthly history! Said Paul, "evil is present with me"; and that, not only occasionally—but sin "dwells in me" (Romans 7:20-21). Thus, as God's people feed upon the Lamb, it is "with bitter herbs they shall eat it" (Exo 12:8).The Christian's consciousness of indwelling sin, his mourning over its defiling influence, his sincere efforts to strive against its solicitations, his penitent confessions to God of his failure to master this inveterate foe—are among the unmistakable evidences that he is a regenerate person. For certain it is, that none who is dead in trespasses and sins realizes there is a sea of iniquity within his heart, defiling his very thoughts and imagination; still less does he make conscience of the same and lament it.Let the believer recall his own case: in the days of his unregeneracy, he was not cast down by what now distresses! We are bidden to "remember" what we were "in time past," and then contrast the "But now" (Eph 2:11-13), that we may be shamed over the former—and rejoice and give thanks for the latter.It is cause for fervent praise if your eyes have been opened to see "the sinfulness of sin," and your heart to feel its obnoxiousness. Since it was not always thus, a great change has taken place—you have been made the subject of a miracle of grace. But the continuance of indwelling sin presents a sore and perplexing problem to the Christian. That nothing is too hard for the Lord—he is full assured. Why then is evil allowed to remain present with him? Why is he not rid of this hideous thing—which he so much loathes and hates? Why should this horrible depravity be allowed to disturb his peace and mar his joy? Why does not the God of all grace rid him of this harassing tyrant?It must ever be remembered that His thoughts and ways are often the very opposite of ours. Yet we must also remember they are infinitely wiser and better than ours. God then must have some valid reason why He leaves sin in His people; and since He loves them with a boundless and unchangeable love—it must be left in them for their benefit. Faith may be fully assured that evil continues to be present with the saint both for the glory of God and for his own good. Thus, there is a bright side to even this dark cloud.We are apt to think it is a most deplorable thing that sin still indwells us and to imagine it would be far better if we were rid of it. But that is our ignorance. Yes, it is something worse: it is a spirit of opposition to God, a rebelling against His dealings with us, an impugning of His wisdom, a casting reflection upon His goodness. Since He has given such abundant proofs that He has our best interests at heart, it must be most reprehensible for any to call into question His ways with them.Rather, may we be fully persuaded that our loving Father would have completely removed "the flesh" from the soul of His children at the moment of their regeneration—had that been for their highest welfare. Since He has not done so, we must confidently conclude that God has a benevolent purpose in allowing sin to indwell them, to the end of their pilgrim journey. But does His Word furnish any hints of His gracious designs therein? Yes—but we must now limit ourselves unto one of them.God leaves sin in His people—to promote their humility. There is nothing which He abominates, so much as pride. In Proverbs 6:16-17, the Holy Spirit has listed seven things which the Lord hates, and they are headed with "A proud look"! God feeds the hungry—but the rich He sends empty away. He "gives grace unto the humble," but "resists the proud" (James 4:6). It is the egotistical and self-satisfied Laodiceans who are so loathsome in His sight—that He spues them out of His mouth (Rev 3:16-17).Now Christian reader, is it really and truly the desire of your heart that God will "hide pride" from you (Job 33:17)? If by grace it is so, then are you willing for Him to use His own means and method in accomplishing your desire, even though it is an unpleasant process, yes, galling to your complacency? If you are willing for your natural religiousness to be blasted and to be stripped of your peacock feathers, then it will be by evil remaining in you and bestirring itself to your grief!Second Timothy 3:2 shows (from its order) that pride springs from inordinate self-love. They who are undue lover of themselves—soon grow proud of themselves; which is odious to God, for it robs Him of His glory. Since God will be glorious unto His saints, as well as glorified by them—He subdues their pride by leaving that in them which humbles their hearts—but makes them admire Him the more for His longsuffering.Divine light exposes filth within, of which they had no previous realization, causing them to cry with the leper, "Unclean, unclean!" (Lev 13:45). They have such painful discoveries of indwelling sin as often makes them lament, "O wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24). But how thankful we should be if God makes us "abhor" ourselves (Job 42:6), and thereby make way for prizing Christ all the more!In this life, holiness, my reader, consists largely of pantings after it—and grievings because we feel ourselves to be so unholy. What would happen to a man still left in this world—if he were full of sin one day and then made absolutely sinless the next? Let our present experience supply the answer. Do we not find it very difficult to keep our proper humble place, both before God and our brethren, when the evil within us is subdued but a little? Is not that evidence we require something to deliver us from self-righteousness? Even the beloved Paul needed "a thorn in the flesh" lest he "be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations" given him (2 Corinthians 12:7).The man after God's own heart prayed, "O Lord, open you my lips; and my mouth shall show forth your praise" (Psalm 51:15): as though he said, "If You, Lord, will help me to speak aright, I shall not proclaim my own worth nor boast of what I have done—but will give You all the glory." As God left some of the Canaanites in the land—to prove Israel (Judges 2:21-22), so He leaves sin in us—to humble us.We shall be sinless in heaven, and the sight of the "Lamb, who was slain" (Rev 5:12) will forever prevent the re-entry of pride into our souls.Our consciousness of sin's presence has, first, an emptying influence: it makes way for a pardoning and cleansing Christ, by convicting the soul of its deep need.Second, it has a continual abasing influence, bringing us to realize more and more our utter insufficiency and complete dependence upon God.Third, it has an evangelical influence, for it serves to make us more conscious of the perfect suitability of the great Physician for such lepers as we feel ourselves to be.Fourth, it has a God-honoring influence, for it brings the renewed soul to marvel increasingly at His "longsuffering to us" (2 Peter 3:9).

29 September, 2014


by Archibald Alexander

All sin takes its origin from false views of things. Our first parents would never have sinned--had they not been deceived by the tempter. Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was beautiful, and she was persuaded also good for food, that is, pleasant to the taste and nutritious. Here was a deception. This fruit was never intended for nourishment, whatever might have been its flavor. It was intended for trial, and not for food.

But the greatest deception practiced on our first mother by the arch deceiver was, that the eating of this food would make her wise to know good and evil, even as it is known to God. The deceitful words of the tempter wrought this unfounded persuasion in her mind. The desire of knowledge is natural, a part of man's original constitution, as well as the appetite for food; but these natural propensities are not to be indulged by every means, and gratified on all occasions, but should be kept under the government of reason and conscience. The brutes were made to be governed by appetite and instinct; but man is the subject of law, and he cannot but feel the binding obligation of law. He is a moral agent, and may properly be subjected to a trial whether he will obey the law of his Creator.

How widely different does sin appear after it is committed--from what it did before. Passion or craving appetite creates a false medium by which the unwary soul is deceived, and led into transgression. After our first parents sinned, "their eyes were opened." A sense of guilt unknown before now seized them, and this was like a new vision—not of beauty, but odious deformity. Innocence was lost. Shame and confusion take the place of peace and purity. 

Unhappy change! The guilty pair are now sensible of their great mistake, of their guilty act, of their disgraceful condition, of their ruined state. Their whole race is ruined! What will they do when their Creator shall make his usual visit—heretofore so delightful and instructive? Hark, he comes—his voice is heard in the garden. The wretched culprits are seized with terror and consternation. Guilt causes them to flee from the presence of the best and kindest of fathers. They try to hide themselves. They run into the densest thickets of the trees of the garden. But they cannot conceal themselves from the eye of Omniscience. They cannot escape from the arm of the Almighty, much less resist his power.

Behold, the Creator not finding his creature man in his proper place, sends forth a voice, which must have been like the most terrible thunder, when the awful sound penetrated his ear, and resounded through his whole soul: "Adam, where are you?" Trembling, the guilty pair come forth to meet the frowns of a displeased and righteous Judge. We need pursue the interesting history no farther at present.

From this first transgression, by which sin entered into the world, we may form some idea of its deceitful nature. This first sin is a sort of example of all other sins. As they flow from this as streams from a fountain, they all partake of the poison of their origin. In all sin there is some bait—some apparent good—some expectation of pleasure or profit from unlawful indulgence. In all sin the mind is under a delusive influence. Right thoughts and motives are for the moment forgotten or overborne; the attention, like the eye of a beguiled bird, is fixed on a point from which it cannot be withdrawn. The enticement prevails, and guilt is contracted.

Hidden Sin!

James Smith, 1859
"The Lord does not see it!" Ezekiel 9:9

"My way is hidden from the Lord!" Isaiah 40:27

"The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record!" Hosea 13:12

The only thing some fear is exposure. They would not be exhibited in their true colors before their fellow-men — for all the world! They wish to live and act in the dark. They do not fear the eye of God — but they dread the eye of man! In public they are one thing — and in private just the opposite! No one really knows them.

There is a vast amount of hypocrisy in the world. Multitudes wear a mask. They are not at all — what they seem to be. This is sad. The consequences will be fearful by and bye.Open sinners offend God and men — secret sinners offend God only! But God is the principal party. Better offend the whole world — than offend God. But who are these secret sinners?

There is the sly drunkard. The man who only gets intoxicated at home, or who manages to drink much, and yet never reel in the street. He robs his family. He introduces disease into his body. He squanders his property. He becomes selfish. He neglects his duties; moral, entirely; domestic, in part. Few, if any suspect him, until at length his bloated countenance begins to tell tales. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

There is the crafty deceiver. He practices deception upon the ignorant and unwary. He talks like an honest man — but he acts like a rogue. Believe his plausible pretensions — and he will be sure to pick your pocket. His words are smooth; his tongue is oily; his professions are fair; his offers appear to be generous — but his aim is to make you his dupe! Few detect him — until they are caught in his net! "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

There are the self-righteous. They appear very devout. They perform many duties. Their views of truth are, perhaps, tolerably sound. Theirexternal deportment is correct. They are sure they are safe for Heaven; they wish everyone to think that they are right. They talk of Christ — but they do not rest alone on his finished work. They speak of the Holy Spirit — but they have never felt his regenerating and renewing operations. They boast of free grace — but in heart they think much more of their own performances. 

They imagine God must love them — because they love themselves. They conclude they must be saved — because if they have not made God their debtor — they have done much that on account, of which he cannot reject them.

Self-love is the root of their profession. Self-esteem is the ground of their confidence. They work for life, not from life. They are under the legal covenant, not the evangelical. They have never been stripped before God's throne. The law has never come home, in its convincing and condemning power, to their consciences. They have never had their mouths stopped, or been brought in guilty before God. Therefore they prefer their own sandy foundation — to the Rock of Ages! And they stumble at the stumbling stone, even Christ, who is the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of his people. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

There are the self-deceivers. These imagine that they are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. They have electedthemselves to everlasting life — and conclude, without any just grounds, that God has done so too. Because they have never thoroughly examined their hearts in the light of God's Law, or carefully compared what they call their experience, with the Biblical evidences of a new birth— they conclude that they are Christians — though they are still in their natural sinful condition.

They take home all the promises — and put from them all the threatenings. They make use of evidences for others — but see not the need of doing so for themselves. They take it for granted that they are right — but are laboring under a most fearful deception. They are in the state which Solomon refers to when he said, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness!" (Proverbs 30:12). "These are those who make themselves rich — yet have nothing!" (Proverbs 13:7).

The blood of Christ is not at the root of their profession;the life of God is not in their souls;the power of the Holy Spirit has never been experienced in their hearts;they deceive themselves — and they deceive others. "My way is hidden from the Lord!"Reader, are you either of these characters? Are you sure that you are not? Search and look. Self-examination never injures a real Christian!

The power of SIN is great. And one of the most fearful things in sin is its power of self-concealment. It hides its own deformity from many — who are actually under its influence.The subtlety of SATAN is great. He is said to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). Suppose he should have deceived you! If you are acting under his influence — you have deceived yourself! Your sin may be hidden from men, it may be hidden from yourself — but it is not hidden from God! His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. He searches the heart and tries the thoughts! He knows exactly what is your state — and it would be well for you to know it; for if it is bad — it may now be changed; or if it is good — you may rejoice and bless God for it.

The revealing day is coming; then if wrong, God will set our iniquities before his face, and our secret sins in the light of his countenance. He willexpose every secret sinner. He will show to the whole world what you have been doing in the dark! Hear his own word, "For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil!" (Eccles. 12:14). The sins that are hidden now — will be hidden no longer! But then shall be brought to pass the fearful prediction written, "The sinners in Zion (God's professing people) shake with fear! Terror seizes the godless! Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14).

Fear now may drive us to the Savior — but there will then be no Savior to flee to! The Judge on the throne will act justly and impartially, and will render to every man according to his deeds. Many will be condemned — who expected to be acquitted! Many will be driven to Hell — who were sure of being invited to Heaven! Every false covering will then be stripped off, every deceitful heart will be laid bare — and no longer will anyone say, "My way is hidden from the Lord!"

But there is another and better sense in which our sins may be hidden, and that is, by obtaining the pardon of them. If we detect our sins, if we confess them before God, if we plead the blood and obedience of Jesus for their pardon — God will blot them out! He will cover them, so as to conceal them forever. Then we shall know what the Psalmist meant when he exclaimed, "Oh, the blessedness of the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Oh, the blessedness of the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit!" (Psalm 32:1,2).

When God forgives the penitent sinner, who stands before the throne of his grace, pleading the merits of his Son — he casts all his sins behind his back — or he throws them into the depths of the sea! They are thus covered, hidden, and concealed forever!

Let us, therefore, conceal our sins no longer; let us confess them before God, and obtain the pardon of them. Let us never profess before our fellow-men — what we do not really possess. Let us make our lives — the index of our hearts


26 September, 2014

Only Through Experience - Henry and Richard Blackaby

Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby in,  "experiencing God"

John 17:25  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.

Scripture is filled with descriptions of God's character. You can read these accounts and believe them to be true about God. Yet God does not merely want you to read about Him, He wants you to know Him.

For the Greek, to know something meant you understood a concept in your mind. It was an academic process. In contrast, for a Hebrew person-like Jesus-knowing something entailed experiencing it. In fact, you could not truly say you knew something unless you had dealt with it personally. So, it is significant that, when Jesus spoke about knowing God, He was speaking as a Hebrew.

When Jesus said eternal life is knowing God-including God the Son, Jesus Christ-He did not mean that eternal life is knowing about God. He was not referring to someone who has read many books and attended numerous seminars about God. He was talking about a firsthand, experiential knowledge. We come to truly know God as we experience Him in and around our lives.

Many people have grown up attending church and hearing about God all their lives, but they do not have a personal, dynamic, growing relationship with God.  They never hear His voice. They have no idea what God's will is. They do not encounter His love firsthand. They have no sense of divine purpose for their lives. They may know a lot about God, but they don't really know Him.

Merely knowing about God will leave you unsatisfied. Truly knowing God comes only through experiencing as He reveals Himself to you through His word and as you relate to Him. Throughout the Bible we can see that God took the initiative to disclose Himself to people through their life events.

Taken from the book  "How Great Is Our God" by NavPress (Discipleship inside out)
Timeless daily readings on the Nature of God

25 September, 2014

Sin - By Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon, “The Smoke of Their Torments”
See the blackness of your sin by the light of hell's fire!Hell is the true harvest of the sowing of iniquity.

Come, lost sinner, I charge you to look at hell--
Hell is what sin brings forth.
Hell is the full-grown child.
You have dandled your sin.
You have kissed and fondled it.
But see what sin comes to.
Hell is but sin full-grown, that is all.
You played with that young lion; see how it roars and how
it tears in pieces now that it has come to its strength.
Did you not smile at the azure scales of the serpent?
See its poison; see to what its stings have brought those
who have never looked to the brazen serpent for healing.
Do you account of sin as a peccadillo, a flaw
scarcely to be noticed, a mere joke, a piece of fun?
But see the tree which springs from it.
There is no joke there- no fun in hell.
You did not know that sin was so evil.
Some of you will never know how evil it is until the
sweetness of honey has passed from your mouth,
and the bitterness of death preys at your vitals.
You will count sin harmless until you
are hopelessly stricken with its sting!

My God, from this day forward help me to see through the
thin curtain which covers up sin, and whenever Satan tells
me that such-and-such a thing is for my pleasure, let me
recollect the pain of that penalty wrapped up in it. When
he tells me that such a thing is for my profit, let me know
that it can never profit me to gain the whole world and lose
my own soul. Let me feel it is no sport to sin, for only a
madman would scatter firebrands and death, and say it is sport

24 September, 2014

Confession of Sin

Joseph Caryl, 1645

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts." Psalm 51:1-6
The holiest man on earth has cause to confess that he has sinned. Confession is the duty of the best Christians. While the ship leaks—the pump must not stand still. Confession is a soul-humbling duty, and the best have need of that, for they are in most danger of being lifted up in pride. To preserve us from self-exaltations, the Lord sometimes sends the messenger of Satan to buffet us by temptations, and commands us to buffet ourselves by confessions.
Confession affects the heart with sin, and engages the heart against it. Every confession of the evil we do—is a new obligation not to do it any more. Confession of sin shows us more clearly our need of mercy—and endears God's mercy more to us. How good and sweet is mercy—to a soul that has tasted how evil and bitter a thing it is to sin against the Lord.
Confession of sin advances Christ in our hearts. How does it declare the riches of Christ—when we are not afraid to tell Him what infinite sums ofdebt we are in—which He only, and He easily, can discharge! How it does commend the healing virtue of His blood—when we open to Him such mortal wounds and sicknesses which He only, and He easily, can cure! Woe to be those who commit sin aboundingly, that grace may abound—but it is our duty to confess sin aboundingly, that grace may abound.
Sincere confession of sin makes the soul very active about the remedies of sin. "I have sinned" said Job; his next word is, "What shall I do unto you?" (Job 7:20). Many make confession of sin—who are never troubled about the cure of it; nay, it may be that their next action is to sin over the same sin they have confessed.
When the Jews heard of the foulness of their sin in crucifying Christ and the sadness of their condition, they also asked, "What shall we do?"(Acts 2:37). A soul truly sensible of sin is ready to submit to any terms which God shall put upon him: "What shall I do?"—I am ready to accept them. That was the sense of the Jews' question in Acts 2:37: Show us the way, let it be what it will; we will not pick and chose.
So too when the Jailor found himself in the bonds of iniquity, he was ready to enter into any bonds of duty.
God is to be consulted and inquired after in all doubtful cases, especially in our sin-cases. "I have sinned; what shall I do unto you, O you Watcher of men?" (Job 7:20). He calls upon God to know what course he should take. Though when we have opportunity to speak unto men, that is good and a duty; yet we must not rest in the counsels of men what to do in sin-cases—God must be consulted.
Though to speak a general confession is an easy matter and every man's duty—yet to make a genuine confession is a hard matter and a work beyond man. As no man can say (in a spiritual sense) Jesus is the Lord, "but by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3), so no man can say (in a holy manner) I have sinned—but by the Holy Spirit. Good and bad, believers and unbelievers, speak often the same words—but they cannot speak the same things, nor from the same principles: nature speaks in the one; in the other, grace. One may say very passionately he has sinned, and sometimes almost drown his words in tears; but the other says repentingly, "I have sinned," and floods his heart with godly sorrows.
The general confessions of the saints have these four things in them:
1. Besides the fact of sin—they acknowledge the blot of sin: that there is much defilement and blackness in every sin; that it is the pollution and abasement of the creature.
2. They confess the fault of sin: that they have done very ill in what they have done, and very foolishly, even like a beast that has no understanding.
3. They confess a guilt contracted by what they have done: that their persons might be laid liable to the sentence of the Law for every such act, if Christ had not taken away the curse and condemning power of it. Confession of sin (in the strict nature of it) puts us into the hand of justice; though through the grace of the new covenant, it puts us into the hand of mercy.
4. Hence the saints confess all the punishments threatened in the Word to be due to sin, and are ready to acquit God whatever He has awarded against sinners—see Daniel 9:7.
The manner in which saints confess sin, widens the distance between theirs and the general confessions of wicked men.
The saints confess freely: Acknowledgments of sin are not extorted by the pain and trouble which seizes on them, as in Pharaoh, Saul, Judas. But when God gives them best days—they are ready to speak worst of themselves; when they receive most mercies from God—then He receives most and deepest acknowledgments of sin from them. They are never so humbled in the sight of sin—as when they are most exalted in seeing the salvations of the Lord. The goodness of God leads them to repentance—they are not driven to it by wrath.
The saints confess feelingly: When they say they have sinned—they know what they say. They taste the bitterness of sin, and groan under the burdensomeness of it, as it passes out in confession. A natural man's confessions run through him as water through a pipe, which leaves no impression or scent there, nor do they any more taste what sin is, than the pipe does of what relish water is.
The saints confess sincerely: They mean what they say—see Psalm 32. The natural man casts out his sin—as seamen cast their goods overboard in a storm, which in the calm, they wish for again.
The saints confess believingly: While they have an eye of sorrow upon sin—they have an eye of faith upon Christ. Judas said he had sinned in betraying innocent blood—but instead of washing in that blood, he defiled himself with his own blood. No wicked man ever mixed faith with his sorrows, or believing with confession


23 September, 2014

Conviction of Sin

Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843)

"He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment!" John 16:8

1. Conviction of sin, by the Holy Spirit, issuing in conversion—is not the mere smiting of the natural conscience. Although man is utterly fallen—yet God has left natural conscience behind in every heart to speak for Him. Some men, by continual sinning, sear even the conscience as with a hot iron, so that it becomes past feeling; but most men have so much natural conscience remaining that they cannot commit heinous sin, without their conscience smiting them. When a man commits murder or theft, no eye may have seen him, and yet conscience makes a coward of him. He trembles, fearing that God will take vengeance. Now that is a natural work which takes place in every heart—but conviction of sin is a supernatural work of the Spirit of God. If you have had nothing more than the ordinary smiting of conscience—then you have never been truly convicted of sin.

2. Conviction of sin, by the Holy Spirit, issuing in conversion—is not any impression upon the imagination. Sometimes, when men have committed great sin, they have awful impressions of God's vengeance made upon their imaginations. In the night-time, they almost imagine that they see the flames of Hell burning beneath them; or they seem to hear doleful cries in their ears telling of coming woe; or they have terrible dreams, when they sleep, of coming vengeance. Now this is not the conviction of sin which the Spirit gives: it is altogether a natural work upon the natural faculties.

3. Conviction of sin, by the Holy Spirit, issuing in conversion—is not a mere head knowledge of what the Bible says against sin. Many unconverted men read their Bibles, and have a clear knowledge that their case is laid down there. They know very well that they are in sin, and they know just as well that the wages of sin is death. One man lives a swearer, and he reads the words, and understands them perfectly: "The Lord will not hold him guiltless—who takes his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7; Deu 5:11). Another man lives in the lusts of the flesh, and he reads the Bible and understands those words perfectly: "No immoral person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephesians 5:5). Another man lives in habitual forgetfulness of God—never thinks of Him, and yet he reads: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17). Now in this way, most men have a head knowledge of their sin and of its wages—yet this is far from true conviction of sin.

What—then, is this conviction of sin?

It is to feel the loathsomeness of sin. A child of God has seen the beauty and excellency of God; and therefore, sin is loathsome in his eyes. But no unconverted person has seen the beauty and excellency of God; and therefore, sin cannot appear dark and loathsome in his eyes.

It is a just sense of the dreadfulness of sin. It is not mere knowledge that we have many sins and that God's anger is revealed against them all; but it is a heart-feeling that we are under sin. It is a sense of the dishonor it does to God, and of the wrath to which it exposes the soul.

Conviction of sin is no slight natural work upon the heart. It is all in vain that you read your Bibles and hear us preach, unless the Spirit uses the words to give feeling to your dead hearts. If we could prove to you with the plainness of arithmetic, that the wrath of God is abiding on you—still, you would sit unmoved. The Spirit alone can impress your heart

22 September, 2014

David's Terrible Sin

Arthur Pink

The question has been asked, "Can a person who has committed such atrocious crimes, and so long remains impenitent, be indeed a child of God, a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and an heir of everlasting glory? Can one spark of Divine life exist unextinguished, in such an ocean of evil?" Were we left to our own unaided judgment to make reply, most probably every last one of us would promptly answer—No, such a thing is unthinkable! Yet in the clear light of Holy Writ, it is plain that such things are possible. Later David made it manifest that he was a truly regenerated person, by the sincerity and depth of his contrition and confession. Yet, let it be said that no man while guilty of such sins, and before he genuinely repents of the same—can have any warrantable evidence to conclude that he is a believer; yes, everything points to the contrary. Though grace is not lost in such an awful case, Divine consolation and assurance is suspended.

But now the question arises, Why did God permit David to fall so low and sin so terribly?The first answer must be, To display His high and awe-inspiring sovereignty. Here we approach ground which is indeed difficult for us to tread, even with unshodden feet. Nevertheless there is no doubt that there is a marvelous and sovereign display of the Lord's grace toward His people in this particular respect, both before their calling and after. Some of the elect are permitted to sin most grievously in their unconverted state, while others of them, even in their unregenerate days, are wondrously preserved. Again; some of the elect after their conversion have been Divinely allowed to awfully fall into the most horrible impieties, while others of them are so preserved as never to sin willfully against their consciences from the first conviction to the very close of their lives (Condensed from S.E. Pierce on Hosea 14:1).

This is a high mystery, which it would be most impious for us to attempt to pry into: rather must we bow our heads before it and say, "Even so, Father, for so it seems good in Your sight." It is a solemn fact, from which there is no getting away, that some sin more before their conversion, and some (especially those saved in early life) sin worse after their conversion. It is also a plain fact that with some saints God most manifests His restraining grace, and with others His pardoning grace. Three things are to be steadily borne in mind, in connection with the sins of the saints.

First, God never regards sin as a trifle: it is ever that "abominable thing which He hates" (Jer. 44:4).

Second, sin is never to be excused or extenuated by us.Third, God's sovereignty therein must be acknowledged: whatever difficulties it may raise before our minds, let us hold fast the fact that God does as He pleases, and "gives no account of any of His matters" (Job 33:13).

second answer to the question, Why did God permit David to fall so fearfully, and sin so grievously? may be: that we might have set before our eyes the more clearly—the awful fact that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9). 

Unmistakably plain as is the meaning of those words, uttered by Him who cannot lie—yet how very slow we all are to really receive them at their face value, and acknowledge that they accurately describe the natural state of every human heart—that of the Man Christ Jesus alone excepted. But God has done more than make this bare statement: He has placed on record in His Word illustrations, exemplifications, demonstrations of its verity—notably so in allowing us to see the unspeakable wickedness that still remained in the heart of David!Third, by allowing David to fall and sin as he did, God has graciously given a most solemn warning to believers in middle life—and elder Christians also. "Many conquerors have been ruined by their carelessness after a victory, and many have been spiritually wounded after great successes against sin. David was so—his great surprisal into sin was after a long profession, manifold experiences of the grace of God, and watchful keeping of himself from iniquity. And hence, in particular, has it come to pass—that the profession of many has declined in their old age or riper time: they have given over the work of mortifying sin—before their work was at an end. There is no way for us to pursue sin in its unsearchable habitation, but by being endless in our pursuit. The command God gives in Colossians 3:5 is as necessary for them to observe who are toward the end of their race, as those who are but at the beginning of it" (John Owen).

Fourth, the fearful fall of David made way for a display of the amazing grace of God, in recovering His fallen people. If we are slow to receive what Scripture teaches concerning the depravity of the human heart and the exceeding sinfulness of sin—we are equally slow to really believe what it reveals about the covenant-faithfulness of God, the efficacy of Christ's blood to cleanse the foulest stain from those for whom it was shed, and the superabounding grace of Him who is "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." Had David never sinned so grievously and sunken so low—he would have never known those infinite depths of mercy which there are in the heart of God!

Also, had his terrible sin, his subsequent broken-hearted confession, and his pardon by God, never been placed in the Divine record—not a few of God's people throughout the centuries would have sunk in abject despair.

Fifth, to furnish a fatal stumbling-block to blatant rebels. It is certain that thousands through succeeding generations have, by this fall of 'the man after God's own heart,' been prejudiced against true religion, hardened in infidelity—or emboldened in blasphemy; while others have thence taken occasion to commit habitual wickedness under a religious profession, and with presumptuous confidence, to the still greater discredit of the Gospel. It should, however, be considered, that all these have been, previously, either open enemies to true religion—or hypocritical pretenders to it: and it is the righteous purpose of God, that stumbling-blocks should be thrown in the way of such men, that they may 'stumble, and fall, and be snared, and taken, and perish.' It is His holy will, thus to detect the secret malignity of their hearts, and to make way for the display of His justice in their condemnation. On the other hand, thousands from age to age, have by this awful example of David's terrible sin, been rendered more suspicious of themselves, more watchful, more afraid of temptation, more dependent on the Lord, and more fervent in prayer; and by means of David's fall—have, themselves, been preserved from falling!

20 September, 2014

The Bitterness of Sin!

by James Smith, 1860

"Your ways and your deeds have procured these things unto you! This is your wickedness — it is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!"Jeremiah 4:18

Sin is the most dark subject that can engage our attention — but we have become so familiar with it, that it scarcely affects us at all. Not so the Lord — he calls it 'that abominable thing which he hates.' Yes, God hates nothing but sin — and no one, but for sin. God never hated a sinless being — and he never can. If we could get rid of sin, we would have nothing to fear; therefore we bless God that deliverance from sin is promised.

But sin is not only dangerous — it is bitter, and is the prodigious source of all bitterness! Hence the language of the prophet, "It is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18. It is called the root of bitterness. It may appear pleasant at present, and may taste sweet to the depraved palate of the sinner; but as Joab said of war, "It will be bitterness in the end!" Let us therefore think of:

The Bitterness of Sin: Sin is bitter in its NATURE, as it is . . .
departure from God, the source of all real happiness;
opposition to God
, the giver of all true pleasure;
rebellion against God
, the righteous ruler, who is pledged to punish it;
the degradation of man, who was made in the image of the holy and happy God.

Sin is bitter in its EFFECTS:

Look over the world — all its divisions, confusions, wars, diseases, bloodshed, and cruelties — are but the effects of sin.
Look into families — all the anger, envy, jealousy, enmity, and lack of love — are but the effects of sin.
Look at individuals — all the sufferings of the body, and all the tortures of the soul; all the sorrows of time, and all the agonies of eternity — are but the fruits of sin.
Look at the seeking soul — all his cutting convictions, bitter reflections, stinging remorse, gloomy despondency, and slavish fears — are but the effects of sin.
Look at the believer — all his terrible conflicts, deep depression, gloomy foreboding, and soul-distressing fears — are all the effects of sin.
Indeed whatever is . . .
  dark and dreary,
  distressing and painful,
  alarming and terrible —
is to be traced up to sin!
Every sigh that ever heaved the bosom,
every groan that ever indicated a breaking heart,
every exclamation produced by violent pain
 — all, all are the fruits of sin!
Think of . . .
the millions who have suffered, and are suffering;
the fearful nature and extent of their sufferings;
the agonies experienced on earth;
the horrors endured in Hell — and say,
must not sin, from which all these proceeded, be a bitter thing! But here is:

A Reason Assigned: "It reaches unto your heart!"
Sin is not a wound in the flesh — but a disease in the heart! There it was conceived, there it is nourished, and from thence it flows.
Sin reaches to the heart — and defiles and pollutes it! Indeed, man's heart is one of the most loathsome and polluted things in God's universe!
There is pollution enough in one human heart, to corrupt and defile the universe!
There is nothing so foul, base, or abominable, in earth or in Hell — but its counterpart is to be found in man's heart!
Sin reaches to the heart — and alienates it from God. It has now . . .
  no sympathy with God,
  no desire to please him,
  no fear of offending him!
Man fears punishment — but he does not fear sin!
Sin reaches to the heart — and distracts it. It has . . .
  no settled peace,
  no holy calm,
  no quiet satisfaction.
The passions are turbulent.
The conscience is defiled.
The will is depraved.
The understanding is darkened.
The memory is a store-house of evil!
Indeed every power and faculty of the soul is injured, perverted, and wrongly influenced — by sin!
Sin reaches to the heart — and damns it! It is condemned already, and if grace does not prevent it — the sentence of condemnation will be executed, and the heart will become the seat of . . .
  the most terrible agony,
  the most torturing pain, and
  the most dreadful despair
 — and that forever!
No lake of fire and brimstone,
no bottomless pit,
no horrible tempest —
can convey to the mind any adequate idea of the horrors of damnation — which are the just desert of sin.
Truly, "it is bitter, and it reaches unto the heart!"
Reader, see how God speaks of sin, your darling sin, that sin which you now value so highly, and enjoy so much: "It is bitter!" Your sin is so bitter, that no tongue or pen can describe it. And what makes it so bitter is that "it reaches to the heart," the seat of life, the source of action, and therefore . . .
  defiles the whole person,
  misdirects the whole life; and
  exposes the whole man to the wrath and curse of God — and to that wrath and curse, forever!
From this bitter root, proceeds . . .
  all the bitter words,
  all the bitter tempers, and
  all the bitter actions —
which make men miserable on earth, and
will make the lost eternally miserable in Hell!
Our one great business therefore, should be to get rid of sin — this root of bitterness! And by faith in the Lord Jesus, which purifies the heart; and by the work of the Holy Spirit, which cleanses and sanctifies the nature — we may get rid of it. Let us therefore seek first, and before anything else — first, and more than everything else — that we may be washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Holy Spirit, convince us of the bitterness of sin! May it . . .
  be bitter to our taste,
  lead us to forsake it in practice, and
  seek to be delivered from its love and power in our experience!

19 September, 2014

God's love-letter

Thomas Brooks

The Scripture is God's love-letter to men. Here the 
lamb may wade—and here the elephant may swim!

The blessed Scriptures are of infinite worth 
and value! Here you may find . . .
  a remedy for every disease,
  balm for every wound,
  a plaster for every sore,
  milk for babes,
  meat for strong men,
  comfort for the afflicted,
  support for the tempted,
  solace for the distressed,
  ease for the wearied,
  a staff to support the feeble,
  a sword to defend the weak.

The holy Scriptures are . . .
  the map of God's mercy—and man's misery,
  the touchstone of truth,
  the shop of remedies against all maladies,
  the hammer of vices,
  the treasury of virtues,
  the exposer of all sensual and worldly vanities,
  the balance of equity,
  the most perfect rule of all justice and honesty.

Ah, friends, no book befits your hands like the Bible!

The Bible is the best preacher. This book,
this preacher will preach to you . . .
  in your shops,
  in your chambers,
  in your closets,
  yes, in your own bosoms!
This book will preach to you at home and abroad;
it will preach to you in all companies; and it will
preach to you in all conditions.

By this book you shall be saved—or
by this book you shall be damned!
By this book you must live.
By this book you must die.
By this book you shall be judged in the great day!

Oh, therefore . . .
  love this book above all other books,
  prize this book above all other books,
  read this book before all other books,
  study this book more than all other books!
For he who reads much—and understands nothing,
is like him who hunts much—and catches nothing.

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all
 day long!" Psalm 119:97

17 September, 2014

Stuffed Christians?

"We are all Christians."

"Why, we belong to a Christian
nation; are we not born Christians?"

"Surely we must be all right; we have
always attended our parish church, is
not that enough?"

"Our parents were always godly; we were
born into the church, were we not? Did
they not take us up in their arms when
we were little, and make us members of
Christ? What more do we lack?"

This is the common talk.

There is no Christian practice, there is
no Christian habit, but what has been,
or will be before long, imitated by people
who have no vital godliness whatever.

A man may appear much like a Christian,
and yet possess no vital godliness!

Walk through the British Museum, and you
will see all the orders of animals standing
in their various places, and exhibiting
themselves with the utmost possible
propriety. The rhinoceros demurely retains
the position in which he was set at first;
the eagle soars not through the window;
the wolf howls not at night; every creature,
whether bird, beast, or fish, remains in
the particular glass case allotted to it.

But you all know well enough that these
are not the living creatures, but only the
outward forms of them. Yet in what do
they differ? Certainly in nothing which you
could readily see, for the well stuffed
animal is precisely like what the living
animal would have been; and that eye
of glass even appears to have more of
brightness in it than the natural eye of
the creature itself.

Yet you know well enough that there is a
secret inward something lacking, which,
when it has once departed, you cannot restore.

So in the churches of Christ, many professors
are not living believers, but stuffed believers,
Stuffed Christians!

There is all the external of religion, everything
that you could desire, and they behave with a
great deal of propriety, too. They all keep their
places, and there is no outward difference
between them and the living, except upon that
vital point; they lack spiritual life. This is the
essential distinction, spiritual life is absent.

It is almost painful to watch little children
when some little pet of theirs has died, how
they can hardly realize the difference
between death and life!

Your little boy's bird moped for awhile upon
its perch, and at last dropped down in the cage;
and do not you remember how the little boy
tried to set it up, and gave it seed, and filled
its glass with water, and was quite surprised to
think that birdie would not open his little eye
upon his friend as it did before, and would not
take its seed, nor drink its water!

Ah, you finally had to tell the poor boy that
a mysterious something had gone from his
little birdie, and would not come back again.

There is just such a spiritual difference between
the mere professor, and the genuine Christian.

There is an invisible, but most real, indwelling
of the Holy Spirit, the absence or the presence
of which makes all the difference between the
lost sinner and the saint

16 September, 2014

A Solemn Sham and an Impudent Mockery!

By Charles Spurgeon
"Rend your heart—and not your garments." Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations—for such things are pleasing to their flesh. But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon.

Apart from vital godliness—all religion is utterly vain! When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!

Heart-rending is divinely wrought—and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form—but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of—but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending  distinctly belongs to the elect of God—and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts—but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior's voice rent the rocks once—and it is just as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus—and our hearts shall be rent!

14 September, 2014


Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)
"Do not be over-righteous." Ecclesiastes 7:16
Some of our readers may be surprised to discover that there is such a statement as this in Holy Writ, and at first glance consider it an exhortation we do not need. Yet on second thought they should perceive that their hasty conclusion was wrong, for there can be nothing in the imperishable Word of God which is superfluous, and no precept which we can dispense with without suffering loss. Even in this day of abounding lawlessness, of rapidly increasing moral laxity, when there is such an urgent need for pressing the righteous claims of God upon one another, the Christian requires to give careful heed to this word: "Do not be over-righteous."

It is a question of sound interpretation, of rightly understanding the meaning and application of this Divine injunction. First, let us briefly point out what our text does not mean. "Do not be over-righteous." Those words have often been quoted in the past by empty professors against those children of God whose conscientiousness and piety condemned their looseness. They have said, "I do not feel that such carefulness and preciseness are required of us; you are altogether too punctilious over trifles: why make yourself and all whom you come into contact with, miserable? what need is there for so much denying of self, separation from the world, and acting differently from other people?" They argue, "Christ did everything for us which God requires of us." Anything which made real demands upon them, which called for the mortification of the flesh, for the laying aside of "every weight" which would hinder from running the race God has set before His people, they counted as "fanaticism," "puritanic," being "over-righteous." And their tribe is not extinct! But such is obviously a perversion of our text.

We cannot love God too much, nor keep His precepts too diligently. What, then, is the force of these words, "Do not be over-righteous"? First, let it be duly observed that our text occurs in the Old Testament. The Lord God knew the temper of the Jews, their proneness to lean upon their own works and trust in the sufficiency of them to secure their acceptance before Him; therefore did He place this word on record to warn them against indulging in the spirit of self-destruction, against pretending unto a greater righteousness than they actually had. In this very same chapter, only two or three verses later, He tells them plainly, "There is not a just man upon earth that does good and sins not" (v. 20). Thus the righteousness of Another is absolutely indispensable if any sinner is to find acceptance with the thrice Holy God. Beware, then, of thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to think, and being proud in your own conceits. The need for such a word, and their utter disregard of it, was plainly evidenced by the self-righteous Pharisees of Christ's day, who trusted in their own performances and despised and rejected Him.

But the truly regenerated soul has been delivered from this fatal tendency of the unrenewed heart. He has been supernaturally enlightened and convicted by the Spirit of Truth. He has been shown how impossible it is for him to meet the high requirements of God, and has been made to feel that his best doings are but "filthy rags" in God's sight. What, then, is the legitimate application of this exhortation unto himself: "Do not be over-righteous"?

Answer: by assuming duties to which God has not called us, by undertaking austerities which God has not enjoined. We read of "the commandments and doctrines of men" with their "touch not, taste not, handle not" (Col. 2:21, 22), and to be brought under bondage to them, is being "righteous over much," for it is going beyond what God Himself has prescribed for us. The Jewish Rabbies and scribes invented a vast number of traditions and ceremonies over and above what God commanded, supposing that by observing the same they were holier than others; and even condemned the Lord Jesus because He declined to observe their rules: see Mark 7:2, 5; and let it be duly observed that Christ and His disciples refused to heed their scruples, though He knew they would be "offended" or hurt!

The same principle is operative among the poor Papists, with their invention of religious works: the "celibacy" of their "priests," their "Lenten fasts" etc. are examples. Nor is the same evil absent among Protestants: many of them have invented laws and rules, demanding that Christians totally abstain from some of the "all things" which God has given us richly "to enjoy" (1 Tim. 6:17), though not to abuse; compliance therewith is being "over-righteous!"

"Do not be over-righteous." This word has a manifold application to Christians today. Be not too rigorous in standing up for your "rights," but "in love serve one another." Refuse not to help the animal out of the pit, simply because he falls into one on the Sabbath day! Let your zeal in "service" be regulated by the rules of Holy Writ. Insist not upon your full "pound of flesh": having received mercy of God, exercise mercy towards others. Beware of paying more attention to the outward forms of religion than to the cultivation of the heart. "There may be overdoing in well doing" (Matthew Henry): some have wrecked their constitutions by over-study, over-fasting, and by refusing lawful means. Nothing is required of us but what God has enjoined in His Word.