The Mechanics of Forgiveness | Part II


Sin is a debt, a burden, a thief, a sickness, a leprosy, a plague, a poison, a serpent, a sting.  Everything that man hates, sin is.  A load of curses and calamities beneath whose crushing intolerable pressure, the whole creation groans.  Who is the undertaker that digs man a grave?  Who is the painted temptress that steals his virtue?  Who is the murderess that destroys his life?  Who is the sorceress that first deceives and then damns his soul?  Sin.  Who with icy breath blights the fair blossoms of youth?  Who breaks the hearts of parents?  Who brings old men gray hairs with sorrow to the grave?  Sin.  Who changes gentle children into vipers, tender mothers into monsters, and their fathers into worse than Herods, the murderers of their own innocence?  Sin.  Who casts the apple of discord on household hearts?  Who lights the torch of war and bears it blazing over trembling lands?  Who by division in the church rends Christ’s seamless robe?  Sin.  Who is this Delilah that sings the Nazarite asleep and delivers up the strength of God into the hands of the uncircumcised?  Who, winning smile on her face, honeyed flattery on her tongue, stands in the door to offer the sacred rites of hospitality, and when suspicion sleeps, treacherously pierces our temples with a nail?  What fair siren is this who seated on a rock by the deadly pool smiles to deceive, sings to lure, kisses to betray and flings her arms around our neck to leap with us into perdition?  Sin.  Who turns the soft and gentlest heart to stone?  Who hurls reason from her lofty throne and impels sinners mad as Gadarene swine to run down the precipice into a lake of fire?  Sin. (Dr Donald Guthrie quoted by Dr John MacArthur)

Sin makes a man a slave. The Bible speaks of a class who are taken captive by the devil at his will. Many a man is a slave to his appetite or his passions. Mr. Spurgeon once made a parable. He said : “There  was a tyrant who ordered one of his subjects into his presence and commanded him to make a chain. The blacksmith obeyed. When he had finished the chain, he brought it to his ruler, who, upon examination, ordered him to go and make it twice as long. When the chain was brought the second time, the tyrant commanded one of his soldiers to take it and with it bind the man who had made it, hand and foot, and cast him into prison. That is what the devil does for men. ‘ He shall be holden with the cords of his sins. ‘ ” Proverbs 5 : 22. You can bind a man with a spool of thread if you use enough of it . Many men are slaves to so-called little sins. (Without Excuse – A Sympathetic Examination of Some of the Excuses Which Often are Made When the Spirit Beckons Men on to a Christian Life)

What is Sin?

It’s easy to lose track of the toxic characteristic of sin.

Sin puts you and I in hell (Rom 3:23; Rev 20:15), sin put Christ on the cross (1 Pet 3:18), sin is responsible for all the pain and the problems in the world (Gen 2:16-17; Dt 30:15-20; Jn 3:16-21) and sin is the lie that says, “I am my own bottom line (Lk 12:18-21; Phil 3:18-20; Jas 4:13-15).”

You never want to see sin as nothing more than an unavoidable handicap or an inconsequential discrepancy.

James spells it out in chapter four:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (Jas 4:7-10)

It’s not just the sin and the physical consequences of whatever wrongdoing you’re guilty of. It’s Who you’re sinning against that makes it the heinous thing that it is.

Every sin requires you to go up to your Heavenly Father as He’s sitting on His Throne and telling Him to get out of your chair.

The Bible calls that idolary in that you’re replacing Him with another authority of your own making (Ex 32:1-4; 1 Sam 15:23; 1 Cor 10:13-15; [see also “There Are Only Two Options” as part of Central Truth | Part IV]).

The point, here, is that you don’t want to ever lose sight of what Sin is. 1 John 3:4 says sin is “lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4).” You’re casting off whatever guidelines and restrictions God would impose based on His Perfect Love and Wisdom and replacing them with a self-serving agenda. It’s belligerent, it’s nonsensical and, in the end, it’s lethal (Rom 6:23).

Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re cussin’ or you’re killin’. James 2:10 says:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (Jas 2:10 [see also Matt 23:23])

Sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it?

But when you break sin down to the mindset and the motives that have to be in place in order for said behavior to exist, given the Love and the Power of God, you’re looking at a form of rebelliousness that is pure poison. However the physical consequences may differ, the spiritual substance of sin is the same regardless of the form it may take.

You’re Saved

But you’re saved, right?

That means every sin you could ever commit – past, present and future – has been forgiven.

Just before Jesus died, He said, “It is finished. (Jn 19:30)” Meaning that the problem of sin had been solved and the old system of sin and sacrifices had now been replaced with a new arrangement…

 It is finished, that is, the work of man’s redemption and salvation is now completed, at least the hardest part of the undertaking is over; a full satisfaction is made to the justice of God, a fatal blow given to the power of Satan, a fountain of grace opened that shall ever flow, a foundation of peace and happiness laid that shall never fail. Christ had now gone through with his work, and finished it, (Matthew Henry)

You can see the comprehensive nature of Christ’s atonement in verses like Romans 8:1-2:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1-2 [see also 1 Jn 2:2])

You can also see the permanance of our Redemption later on in the same chapter:

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

So, as believers, we are forgiven and blameless in the sight of God because of our identity being defined according to our faith in Christ (Jn 14:20; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 2:20; Col 1:27).

And yet…

We Still Sin

We still sin.

It’s tempting to think that once the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our heart and mind (Acts 1:8; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 6:19; 2 Tim 1:14), we’re suddenly transformed into these morally pristine individuals and we’re no longer prone to sin.

But that’s not the case.

You see that in Romans 7:21-24:

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:21-24 [see also Gal 5:17; Jas 4:1; 1 Pet 2:11])

But here’s the thing: While we’re still having to contend with a default desire to establish ourselves as our own bottom line (Gal 5:17), we are no longer obligated to obey what amounts to a standard that is subjective at best.

Where before we were a “slave” to sin, now we’re a slave of Christ. Click here to read “The Mechanics of Forgiveness | Part III.”

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