Message of Grace


APRIL 1978

Understanding Our Sin

"Who can understand his errors?" Psalm 19:12

The true nature of things is never as it appears on the surface. The astronomer who looks through the telescope discovers that a star actually occupies a great deal of space and is not a simple point of sparkling light in the night sky. The biology student who looks through a microscope at a drop of pond water finds to his amazement endless activity of life in what seemed to be just a drop of water. What seemed to be simple, upon examination, was found to be quite involved.

Sin must be seen in the same manner to really know what it is. But you say, sin is a simple matter. Everyone knows that he is a sinner. Is this so? The unconcern that men have over their sin indicates they have little understanding of the nature, character and depth of the sin that is in their hearts. Only upon examination of one's own heart does a person find that he is far more a sinner than he first believed. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. And the sinner who truly comes to Christ for that salvation is one who has seen sin with more than a casual eye. He has seen sin through the searching eye of the Holy Spirit and he is overwhelmed concerning it.

Sins are called "errors" because in general sin is a deviation from God's law, a missing of the mark, a straying from the right path. How true it is that "all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isa. 53:6). We do not know the number, the magnitude, the guilt and the extent of our sin; nor do we want to know. Real self-examination is self-incrimination and how we hate to be the defendant, prosecutor, judge and jury all in one. Dear reader, if you would find yourself to be a sinner in need of salvation, you must have some understanding of the vileness of your sin. To help you; consider the following, and may God grant you sufficient understanding to cause you to flee to Christ for refuge and forgiveness.

  1. The Mystery of the Fall "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" (Job 14:4). The farmer tills his ground in the spring and it is bare of any kind of growth. Before long, however, and without planting a single seed, the ground becomes covered with plants, but they are weeds! What seemed to be clear soil was found to have in it hidden seed. So with sin. A baby comes forth from the womb with the appearance of innocence and purity, but gradually his life becomes a flourishing weed patch of sin.
  2. The Spirituality of God's Law The keeping of God's law extends beyond the act to the intent, the thought and even the motive of the heart. Jesus did not confine breaking the sixth commandment just to killing, but rather included anger in the heart as breaking it as well. Adultery was not simply the physical act, but lust after a woman in the heart equally broke the commandment. Outward disobedience to the law of God is nothing compared with the inward contrariness of the heart to the law's intent and meaning.
  3. The Perfection of God To get a right idea of how black sin is, one must see how bright God is. "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 Jn. 1:5). We think something is white until we put it next to something that is whiter. A sinner mistakenly regards himself to be pure and holy until he compares himself with the absolute purity and holiness of God. Then white becomes black, and sin is really seen for what it is, SIN!
  4. The Mystery of Hell Why must there be a hell? One best measures sin by its punishment. Sin will receive no more punishment than the justice of God requires, for God is just. Hell will be no more than what sin deserves. Oh, how wicked sin must be if it takes an eternity of God's wrath to adequately punish it. Do you believe the guilty sinner deserves hell? One who rightly understands his "errors" will say "yes".
  5. The Cross of Christ The clearest demonstration of the vileness of sin is to be found in the death of Jesus on the cross. There, God's holiness, righteousness, justice and wrath were all seen as He inflicted upon His only begotten Son the full measure of sin's punishment. "For God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32) so that the sinner might be pardoned and set free from the shackles of sin's guilt and dominion. In the garden, sin was the vise that so pressed the head of Christ that He sweat great drops of blood. On the cross it was only after He had drunk the bitter dregs of the cup that He could cry, "It is finished". Sin had been fully dealt with.

In view of things, it should be obvious to any searching heart that sin is indeed an evil that has to be reckoned with, either now or later. In Christ now or in hell later. No one can obtain salvation by his own righteousness or works, for "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6). Take a close look at your own heart and ways. Jesus "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mk. 2:17). It should also be clear that salvation is not to be obtained by reaching a certain point of repentance or having a certain feeling of sorrow or remorse. You can never be sorry enough for your sins, for it is impossible to discover your sin to that extent. Rather, look to Christ and the punishment He bore and you will see enough to cause you to cry for mercy from the hand of a gracious God. Consider that "Christ died for sinners". His merit and righteousness is sufficient for you. God will accept that. Grace is you need, not personal worth. "Repent and believe the gospel" and be saved!

John Lane

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
Tis the Christ by man rejected!
Yes, my soul, 'tis He! 'tis He!

'Tis the long expected Prophet,
David's son, yet David's Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it;
'Tis a true and faithful word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends, through fear, His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress.

Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save,
But the awful stroke that found Him,
Was the stroke that justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.

Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See who bears the awful load!
'Tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of man, and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation;
Here's the refuge of the lost;
Christ's the Rock of our salvation;
His the name of which we boast.

Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrificed to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Thee their hopes have built.
Thomas Kelly (1769-1854)

The Furnace of Affliction

I am sure that some of you reading are distressed upon sick beds, stricken with grief, or otherwise perplexed with difficulties. Often in the midst of our troubles, we wonder why adversity has come our way. The Bible very clearly tells us that the Lord sends trouble to His children for their benefit (1 Pet. 1:7,4;4:12,13). The Good Shepherd loves His sheep so dearly that He often afflicts them so they might not stray and then tenderly holds them in His arms that He may nurture and feed them (Jn. 15:2). He tills the soil and weeds the garden so that the tender young plants may grow and be strong. Ofttimes the plow must run deeply, but it is always to aid the growth of the plants and not to hinder.

Our Refiner (Mal. 3:3) is desirous of pure metal, so the furnace is heated, that the dross may be taken away and that the metal may be made pliable and workable. So, my dear, distressed friend, if you are one who loves the Lord and trembles at the mention of His name, you may be encouraged. This adversity has not fallen upon you out of blind chance. You are not bowed down under the stroke of the Lord's avenging wrath. Rather, your affliction is a token of the great love which the Father has for you. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He recieveth" (Heb. 12:6).

He has not brought trouble upon you that you may be destroyed, but that you may be strengthened. Though your suffering is great, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17). "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

If we can be of any help to you in your hour of need, please do not hesitate to let us know. In the meantime, may you look to that Man of Sorrows who is acquainted with grief, and who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:15,16).

Mike McInnis