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Category: Meditations (page 2 of 12)

This is the category that hosts various meditations concerning our Lord, life, and logic

To Make God Known to Man

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us … No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
— John 1:1, 14, 18 —

Man cannot know God apart from God making Himself known. The creation reveals enough to inform man about God, but it does not reveal God Himself to man. Knowing the creation is not the same as knowing the Creator. Creation reveals enough about God to condemn us, rendering the natural man both without excuse and without God. Creation, then, only makes God known as unknown; even the Greeks testify to this (Acts 17:23). And since you cannot love what you do not know, no one truly loves God who does not truly know God. And since sin has separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2), man is now estranged from God in his sin. The gripping reality is that man is utterly incapable of coming to God on his own; God must come to man. This is Christmas—God coming to man.

By His incarnation—which means ‘enfleshment’—God makes visible the invisible God. He assumes human nature to manifest Himself for people to see. “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus responds to Philip’s request to see the Father in staggering terms: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). As Charles Simeon once said, “His incarnation affords the brightest discovery of the Divine perfections.”[1] Christ came to give us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Wuest explains this first reason for the incarnation: “He is the visible revelation of what invisible deity is like. And only deity could clearly manifest forth deity. This manifestation was through a human medium in order that it might be perceptible to human intelligences. And that is the reason for the incarnation.”

“Man could never comprehend the invisible God unless He revealed Himself, as He did in Scripture and the incarnation.”[2] While Scripture alone is sufficient to make God known to man, Scripture is the looking glass to God and not God Himself. No one can say, “If you have seen Scripture you have seen God.” Immediately two important considerations come to mind. First, Christ is explicitly called the Word (John 1:1, 14) or The Word of God (Revelation 19:13). As the written word reveals God, so the incarnate Word reveals God. Christ and Scripture both reveal God, but only in Christ is God Himself revealed. The Scriptures speak of Him and testify to Him; He is the purpose of the Scriptures. Christ is the end; the Scriptures are the means. Second, the Scriptures testify to the supreme significance of the personal revelation of God in Christ as superior: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:1–3). While Scripture is sufficient to make God known to man, they are not sufficient in and of themselves. Apart from Christ in the working of His Spirit, the Scriptures are just words that the natural man is not able to understand (1 Corinthians 2:14). Scripture is not our Savior, Christ is.

Every religion in the world, save Christianity, operates on the fundamental assumption that man can work his way to God or “the gods” or some “better” abode as a reward for his morality, labors, discipline, good deeds, sacrifices, religious rites, knowledge, prayers, or intentions. Christianity alone understands that “no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). Christians are the only people in the world that celebrate a man-seeking God rather than working as a God-seeking man.

Salvation comes through revelation alone. Eternal life is a definitive impossibility apart from the self-revelation of God: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The One whom the Father had sent is coequal (John 1:1)—and one and the same (John 10:30)—with “the only true God.” The deep significance of the little clause, “whom you have sent,” has to do with the only possible means of mankind coming to know “the only true God” and thereby coming to have eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:12).

Why the incarnation? Why did God come to man, assuming our own nature and being found in the likeness of our constitution? The ancient question cries: Why the God-man? One reason is to make God known to man.

—Pastor Manny

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[1] Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae Vol. 19: 2 Timothy to Hebrews (London, 1832-63), 135-36.

[2] John MacArthur, comments on John 4:24.

Gossip

God flatly condemns gossip. Even in its best form, it is an evil work of the tongue that betrays confidence and serves to slander. While it includes the notion of spreading rumors or lies about someone and is often assumed to be with ill-intent, gossip need not be malicious or false. It is the truthful but non-redemptive talk about others that is too often the besetting sin of Christians.

Gossip destroys trust (Pr 11:13), separates close friends (Pr 16:28), brings dishonorable shame and ill-repute (Pr 25:9-10), and inflames quarrels (Pr 26:20).

What is Gossip?

In the English language, we get the word “gossip” from the Old English “godsibb.” Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word was originally used to describe “a person related to one in God;” like the words “godfather” or “godmother.” It is a compound of god and sibb, the source of “sibling.” Its original definition was: “One who has contracted spiritual affinity with another by acting as a sponsor at a baptism” (OED). In medieval times a gossip was “a close friend, a person with whom one gossips” (COED). The history of this word illustrates the nature of what it has come to mean. It represents conversation belonging to a person who is intimately, even spiritually, related. It describes the divulging of private information.

In God’s Word, the idea behind the translation of the word “gossip” is always negative.

Gossip is a Species of Slander

The word is often grouped or associated with other sins of the tongue. For instance, it is written in 2 Corinthians 12:20, “For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” Here slander and gossip are closely connected. We find this same connection in the writings of the early church as well. In 1 Clement 30:3, “gossip” is joined with “evil speech” or “slander”: “Let us put on harmony, being humble-minded, exercising self control, keeping ourselves far away from all gossip and evil speech” (also in 1 Clement 35:5).

In Romans 1 it is grouped under the traits of “debased mind” (Rom 1:28) and is in class with “all manner of unrighteousness” (Rom 1:29). Again, “gossips” and “slanderers” are presented side-by-side (Rom 1:29-30); they are cousins in concert playing maladies of the tongue. Gossip is a species of slander, which is overtly prohibited in the Law of God to Israel (Lev 19:16).

Gossip Speaks Secrets

“Gossip” translates the Greek word that comes from the verb “to whisper” (psithurismos) and most literally means “a whispering” with the idea of “a secret slander” (Abbott-Smith). One lexicon describes the Greek word as “providing harmful information about a person, often spoken in whispers or in low voice, with the implication that such information is not widely known and therefore should presumably be kept secret” (Louw-Nida). Another describes it as “derogatory information about someone that is offered in a tone of confidentiality” (BDAG). Luther’s translation of the noun used a German word that means “scandal-mongering.” The sense of the word denotes that which is breathed against another’s character. It need not be malicious, but is always a mark of indiscretion.

People gossip when they go about “saying what they should not” (1 Tim 5:13). Gossip is a form of slandering that reveals secrets. Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” Such an “informer” inflicts injury and does not promote the glory of God in the grace of the gospel. In Proverbs 20:19, he is called “a simple babbler,” which is associated with one who speaks foolishly, indiscreetly.

Love Opposes Gossip

As Christians, we are to act in love toward one another (Rom 12:10; Gal 5:14-15; 1 Thess 4:9). And in the context of information about people, love does not broadcast or whisper the sins or weaknesses of others. Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9). So the one who acts in love, watches over their heart and tongue so as not to uncover that which is private. Charles Bridges insightfully notes, “Another breach of love is reproved here. The Gospel does not shut us up in our own private interests, as if we had no sympathy for our neighbor. It is a universal brotherhood of love. Yet it rebukes a gossip who, having no business of his own, traffics with his neighbor’s name and honor and sells his scandals for gain or wantonness.”

“Let him not see the results of misplaced confidence dropping out of our mouth. It is of great moment to our peace—that those about us should be of a faithful spirit, fully worthy of our confidence; to whom it is not necessary on every occasion to enjoin secrecy; true to our interest as to their own; who would rather refuse a trust than betray it; whose bosom is a cover of concealment, except when the honor of God and the interests of society plainly forbids. Invaluable is such a friend, but rare indeed in this deceitful world. Yet let it never be forgotten, that Christian consistency includes the faithful spirit; and the habitual absence of it under a plausible religion makes it most doubtful, whether the spirit and mind of Christ is not altogether wanting.” (Bridges, 103–104).

A disciplined tongue is a restraining mercy to the Church

Again, we would do well to remember that “mischief might not be intended. But to amuse ourselves with the follies or weakness of our brethren, is sinful trifling, fraught with injury. … A disciplined tongue is a restraining mercy to the Church.” (Bridges, 225). On this, Matthew Henry writes,

“The way to preserve peace among relations and neighbours is to make the best of everything, not to tell others what has been said or done against them when it is not at all necessary to their safety … the ripping up of faults is the ripping out of love, and nothing tends more to the separating of friends, and setting them at variance, than the repeating of matters that have been in variance … the best method of peace is by an amnesty or act of oblivion.” (Henry, 992).

Gossip is the Fruit of Pride

Gossip is the fruit of pride, being motivated by a queer delight in the failings or difficult circumstances of others. It is a shameful sin to find pleasure in the negative news of another. Yet gossip is curiously hard to resist, like a tasty morsel: “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Pr 18:8; 26:22). So even though the tongue is so small a member of our bodies, the perverse cravings for the words of a whisperer (gossip) are great and have tremendous potential for damage like a small spark to a massive wildfire (James 3:5). The happiness of many a life has been tragically scared and burned by thoughtless, to say nothing of ill-intended, gossip.

May we take to heart the words of Charles Spurgeon:

Gossips of both genders, give up the shameful trade of talebearing; don’t be the devil’s bellows any longer to blow up the fire of strife. Leave off setting people by the ears. If you do not cut a bit off your tongues, at least season them with the salt of grace. Praise God more and blame neighbours less. Any goose can cackle, any fly can find out a sore place, any empty barrel can give forth sound, any brier can tear a man’s flesh. No flies will go down your throat if you keep your mouth shut, and no evil-speaking will come up. Think much, but say little: be quick at work and slow at talk; and above all, ask the great Lord to set a watch over your lips.

Gossip is a Besetting Sin

Gossip is a besetting sin of Christians. It involves a non-redemptive conversation about someone else to a person who is not directly involved. If what you have to say reports something negative that (a) does not make much of God, (b) does not bless the person being talked about, and (c) does not sanctify the hearer, then it is likely gossip. If you are sharing a personal sin or weakness about someone else and you are talking to someone not immediately involved in the circumstance (either in the sin or the correction of that sin), then it is likely gossip. Praying for someone is not the same as being involved in the circumstance and should not be equated to ministering in the correction of that sin. Gossip is all too often committed under the guise of a “prayer request” or an effort to help someone “better understand the situation.” In such cases, it remains the whispering of a secret, the unloving uncovering of that which love ought to cover, the intrusion of a bad interest in the language and reasoning of good intentions. It is better to pour your heart out to God rather than spread the sins of others before man.

A Christian Exhortation

May we as Christians think and speak with wisdom and discretion, with grace and love, with humility and sensitivity. May we increasingly seek to glorify God with our tongues, being mindful of God so as to be good stewards of whatever information we might possess. May we be more deliberate with our conversations to make much of Christ and the gospel and less of people and negative news. May our prayers and prayer requests be adorned in the beauty of holiness and meekness, with all contentment in knowing that God knows such needs before we or others do.

Let us be sure to hold one another accountable in love (Gal 6:1-2), expose unrepented sins according to our Lord’s manner (Matt 18:15-17), and report what threatens safety and peace, but let us not gossip. Let us be sure to share what is edifying (Eph 4:31), speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), and bless others with our tongue (Lk 6:28), but let us not gossip.

Oh, may we keep our tongue from evil (Ps 34:13)!

—Pastor Manny

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness has been called the virtue we profess to believe, fail to practice, and neglect to preach. Forgiveness is an overloaded, undervalued, and largely misunderstood grace. Here are ten principles of true forgiveness:

#1 — Forgiveness is ultimately from God

Since sin is first against God, forgiveness is finally from God: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). We find forgiveness not in the things we do or the people we ask, we ultimately find forgiveness from God. This is also true concerning how we forgive others. When we forgive others we extend to others the grace of God that He extended to us in Christ.

#2 — Forgiveness is conditioned on repentance

Conditioned on repentance as an act of faith not works, just as salvation is said to be condition on repentance as an act of faith. As with Esau, who without repentance remained guilty even though he was “sorry” with tears over his choice: “For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears” (Heb 12:17 NASB). That forgiveness is conditioned on repentance is plain in the “if” of Christ’s instructions: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

#3 — Forgiveness is a grace

Forgiveness is not only hard it is impossible in the economy of justice. Forgiveness without atonement is not a virtue, it is injustice. Forgiveness is not a mere overlooking of a crime; it is the promise that the penalty for the crime has been diverted to another on the guilty’s behalf. Forgiveness is never deserved, merited, or earned. Therefore, forgiveness is ultimately the gift of divine grace through Christ. The “forgiveness of our trespasses” are “according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

#4 — Forgiveness is a promise

To forgive is to for + give = “not give” what is due or deserved. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the for prefix (as used in forgive) denotes the notion of passing by, abstaining from, neglecting, or withholding. It is in class with the word “forgo” (to abstain or refrain from) and related to the word “forbid” (to bid not). Thus, to forgive is to give not what is due.

Forgiveness is a promise. Not a feeling and not merely an attitude. To forgive a sin is to promise not to use the guilt of that sin against the offender. If I forgive, I resolve to acquit and not accuse. It is a promise to not bring up the charge of that sin to the person I forgive, to others, and to my own mind. This may be why it is often said that it is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. To forgive is to bury in an unmarked grave. The Lord describes how He forgives with this notion: “He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19); “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12); “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions … and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

#5 — Forgiveness is both (a) intrapersonal and (b) interpersonal

Intrapersonal in that it involves the disposition of the heart. It begins within. It fundamentally is a promise of self-denial; a denial of one’s own right to accuse. In this sense, forgiveness is a heart disposition to always be “ready” to forgive. Although not everyone will be forgiven, yet God repeatedly reveals Himself as a “forgiving” God: “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5 NASB). We typically describe this intrapersonal forgiveness, or attitudinal forgiveness, as being “forgiving”—so: “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving” (Psalm 86:5 ESV). Intrapersonal forgiveness is not conditioned on the repentance of the offending party. Therefore, Christ teaches us to pray to have a forgiving heart: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Interpersonal forgiveness is transactional (Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3). Interpersonal forgiveness is conditioned on repentance. This is where the promise of forgiveness is granted. This is where atonement is applied. This realized form of forgiveness is a key feature in the principle of salvation; God saves those who seek His forgiveness through repentant faith in Christ (Acts 5:31; 8:22; Romans 4:7).

#6 — Forgiveness is costly

True forgiveness costs nothing less than the crucifixion of the Son of God (Isaiah 53:5, 11; John 1:29; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). We must remember that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22; cf. Eph 1:7). Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until it costs them deeply to extend it.

#7 — Forgiveness is an act of love

God repeatedly links His gift of forgiveness to His love for sinners: “keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:7); “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you” (Psalm 86:5); “But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them” (Nehemiah 9:17); “the LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Numbers 14:18); “Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now” (Numbers 14:19); “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).

#8 — Forgiveness is relational

Forgiveness is not merely a legal pardon; it is a means of relational restoration and harmony: “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-13). The Lord says to Israel that the purpose for which He “blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist” was so that they would “return” to Him: “return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22; cf. Isaiah 31:6; 55:7; Acts 3:19).

#9 — Forgiveness is uniquely Christian

While we thank God for His common grace that restrains revenge and works in people of all of beliefs to extend a measure of personal pardon for offenses suffered, true forgiveness is uniquely Christian.

Sin is first against God (Psalm 51:4), repentance is first away from sin and to God (Isaiah 55:7), and forgiveness is finally from God (Daniel 9:9). Since forgiveness is based on a concrete transaction and not some whimsical strength to simply overlook a violation, it is uniquely afforded through the substitution of Jesus Christ on the cross. The gospel is the good news of forgiveness for sinners to be restored to a right relationship with God through Christ and Him crucified on their behalf: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). Notice that “forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” Because Christ is the only substitute for sinners, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), in other words, “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

Forgiveness is uniquely Christian because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22) and yet “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4); the only possibility is a perfect human substitute. It is in Christ alone that “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Ephesians 1:7).

#10 — Forgiveness is for the glory of God

Forgiveness makes much of God’s love and grace, His mercy and wisdom, His kindness and forbearance, His compassion and tender-heartedness—forgiveness makes much of God. We must forgive, first, because it glorifies God. Not first because it heals us, or helps us, or even because we were forgiven, but first because it makes much of God. We should forgive in the same priorities that God forgives: “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake” (Isaiah 43:25). May we cry out with David, “For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great” (Psalm 25:11).

—Pastor Manny

True Repentance

Repentance is a Godward awakening from the evil of sin. True repentance is a dynamic of God-centeredness. It is a grace of God whereby a sinner is inwardly awakened and outwardly reformed by the Holy and unto the Holy. In Greek, the word for repentance has reference to a fundamental change of mind or a radical redirection of heart. In Hebrew, it has reference to a turning away from the state or occurrence of sin and toward God. In this sense, it is the gravity of God-centeredness acting in love upon sinners in sin. True repentance is not about self; it is about God. In brokenness, the sinner turns to God for forgiveness and renewal.

Repentance is a necessary component of genuine conversion (Luke 3:3; 13:3, 5). Jesus said that He came to call “sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). The Gospel of Matthew notes that Jesus began His ministry by preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). Similarly, the first words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Repentance is a definite call of the gospel.

Repentance also remains continually necessary after conversion (Psalm 51; Luke 17:3-4). As George Swinnock once said, “A sheep may fall into the ditch and defile himself, but he hastens out of it as soon as he can. But the swine chooses a dirty place and wallows all the day long in the mud and mire. A saint may fall into sin, but he hastens to recover himself by repentance. In contrast, a sinner lives in it day and night (Prov. 4:17)” (Works, 5:379).

Below is a simple list of essential elements of true repentance.

  1. Acknowledgment of sin

The first element of repentance is the sinners awakened acknowledgement of the wickedness of his sin. As with the prodigal son, the starting point of repentance was marked by the statement, “But when he came to himself” (Lk 15:17). As Thomas Watson wisely said, “The eye is made both for seeing and weeping. Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for.” God, speaking through the prophet, makes this point very clear: “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:15). Without acknowledgement, there can be no repentance. Without acknowledgement of God and His holiness, of self and its wretchedness, of sin and its wickedness, there can be no true repentance.

  1. Confession of sin

Once a sin is acknowledged by the soul, it must say the same thing as God says about it. This is the meaning of the original. To confess a sin is to say the same thing that God would say about that sin. The Prophet Jeremiah shows that in addition to the acknowledgement of sin, admission and ownership of specific guilt should be demonstrated (Jer 3:13, “that you … and that you”).

Not only are we to call sin, sin—instead of a mistake or some other palatable misnomer—we are to be specific in identifying it as God would identify it. This also involves owning the sin for all that it truly is before God. It is, as Watson said, “self-accusing.” “When we come before God, we must accuse ourselves. … The humble sinner does more than accuse himself; he, as it were, sits in judgment and passes sentence upon himself. He confesses that he has deserved to be bound over to the wrath of God” (Watson, 28-29). Although a man acknowledges his sin to himself, without confession before God there is no true repentance. Without such confession, there will be no mercy nor prospering in the Lord (Prov 28:13). As Christians, we are also called to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).

  1. Sorrow over sin

Sorrow over one’s offense against God is essential to true repentance. The Psalmist shows that a godly confession is one wherein the heart is deeply sorry toward God: “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin” (Ps 38:18). Watson says, “A woman may as well expect to have a child without pangs as one can have repentance without sorrow! … he that can repent without sorrowing, suspect his repentance.” King David described this godly sorrow as “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:17). True repentance involves the call to “rend your hearts” (Joel 2:13) and “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9). As Watson says, “A true penitent labours to work his heart into a sorrowing frame. He blesses God when he can weep; he is glad of a rainy day, for he knows that it is a repentance he will have no cause to repent of” (20). If repentance is true, it will be God-centered. If the heart is God-centered in repentance, it will be shaken in a holy agony.

  1. Shame for sin

To honorably esteem God, one must rightly esteem the dishonor of his sin against God. There can be no acceptable estimation of one’s own sin except that it be accompanied by shame. The Lord instructed the Prophet Ezekiel to preach to Israel in such a way “that they may be ashamed of their iniquities” (Eze 43:10). Ezra cried out, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). In His gracious substitution on our behalf, Christ was greatly shamed for our sin. The cross was a grotesque spectacle of tremendous shame. “Did our sins put Christ to shame, and shall they not put us to shame? Did he wear the purple and shall not our cheeks wear crimson? Who can behold the sun as it were blushing at Christ’s passion, and hiding itself in an eclipse and his face not blush?” (Watson, 40-41). Without shame over our sin, there can hardly be any true acknowledgement of it. Shame over our sin is a basic ingredient in true repentance.

  1. Hatred of sin

If there be any love to God in our hearts then by necessity there will also be hatred of sin. This is not hatred of getting caught, hatred of exposure, or hatred of consequences. No, this is hatred of sin itself supremely because it is such a vile and base offense against our Lord whom we love more than life itself. David demonstrates his Godward hatred of sin when he says, “I hate every false way” (Ps 119:104). Such hatred is not directed to any one matter in particular, except that sin offends God. “So to discover repentance there is no better sign than by a holy antipathy against sin. Sound repentance begins in love to God—and ends in the hatred of sin” (Watson, 45). As Christians, we are daily striving to grow in our love of what God loves and hate of what God hates. Repentance is therefore a vital means of our sanctification. Without hatred of one’s own sin committed against God, there can be no love to God. True repentance includes hatred of the offense causing sin.

  1. Turning away from sin

Repentance means not only a heart broken for sin but from sin. Repentance in its most basic animation is a deliberate turning away from sin. This is portrayed abundantly in Scripture. A few examples will suffice here: “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away” (Job 11:14); “Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Eze 14:6); “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Is 55:7). It has well been said that if God is drawing you to Himself then He is also drawing you away from sin. Without a resolved turning away from sin, any attempt at professing repentance proves untrue.

  1. Turning to God

This is the highest and crowning purpose and goal of repentance: a turning to God. True repentance is not merely moral; it is Godward. It departs from all that offends God in complete betrayal of sin’s adulterous lure so as to return to the gracious Lover of sinners. If God is not your goal in repentance, your repentance is not genuine. This objective purpose of repentance is made plain in several texts: “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20); “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ac 20:21); “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Is 55:7). Repentance is not just a turning away from sin, it is a turning to God—it is fundamentally God-centered. The prodigal son did not merely leave the swine; he specifically turned his unworthy face to return to his father. The Lord Himself grieves over a form of leaving sin without coming to Him: “They return, but not upward; they are like a treacherous bow” (Hos 7:16).

Turning to God is for our benefit. Our repentance is of no benefit to God but to ourselves. If a man drinks of a fountain he benefits himself, not the fountain. If he beholds the light of the sun he himself is refreshed by it, not the sun. If we turn from our sins to God, God is not advantaged by it. It is only we ourselves who reap the benefit. (Watson, 58).

May God be glorified in the delight of our souls to turn away from every distracting lure of lesser glory and destructive lie of sin, to turn to God—our treasure and greatest delight. May we as Christians grow in our view of God, sensitivity and apprehension of sin, and practice of repentance in all humility and reverence.

—Pastor Manny

SIN

With an impoverished view of God comes a tolerant view of sin

No one sees their own sin as God does; it is treated altogether as a light thing with very little consequence. Some mock the unseen consequences of sin in the existentialism of the present. So it follows, some men mock hell. But hell is not a fabrication designed to inflate the importance of sin; hell is the consequence of sin in light of God.

It is true that our view of sin suffers from a gross lack of veritable apprehension, but hell will not do. Though it is a very real consequence for the sinner without a Substitute, it is not the answer to our problem. Contemplating hell will not deliver us from the frivolous views of sin found in the hearts of so many—professing Christians included. Why? It is insufficient. If we are to increasingly reform our view of sin we must look to Christ and Him crucified. Only there will we find the truest view and estimation of sin.

The light in which we ought to see sin is the light of Christ; not man or man’s destiny. Christ and Him crucified is greater than both heaven and hell—God is more ultimate than human destiny. Sin is not seen in the right light because we don’t have enough God in our sight.

Sin is not seen with the right intensity because God is not loved with the right intensity.

Sin is personal; its consequences will ultimately be personal and its forgiveness is emphatically personal. Such is key to our understanding of sin, whether Christian or not. God is fervidly invested against our sin. It is a matter of intense and thoroughly personal concern.

Evil of Evils

As Jeremiah Burroughs has well said, “sin is the evil of evils.” Not Satan. Not natural disasters. Not disease. Not death. Sin—this is the evil of evils.

In an effort to love God more fully and consistently, it is good for us to meditate on the abhorrent nature of sin. These five aspects of sin’s nature are needful to counter our natural tendencies to dilute and diminish the significance of sin’s evil.

  1. Sin is evil—being a willful opposition against God—It is not just the missing of a mark on some moral scale; sin is the exercise of evil. Sin is Godless opposition to God.
  2. Sin has no good in it whatsoever—Some may confuse the nature of sin with God’s dealings over it. The only good that can come as a result of sin is owing to the goodness of God’s rule over it. Even though sin may be used of God to glorify Himself, sin itself has no good in it.
  3. Sin is an offense first against God—As David cried out in his confession: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Ps 51:4).
  4. Sin is a choice—It is not an affliction, disease, or mere mistake; sin is a choice exercised by the will of the creature in direct and immediate rebellion against his Creator.
  5. Sin is a hating of God in the idolatry of self—It is the worship of self in place of God. It is a rebellion against God, a despising of God, and therefore a striking against God Himself.

Concerning this last point, Burroughs insightfully writes:

“Sin is striking at the very life of God. … that they would rather God were not God at all than that they would lose their lusts. … I say as far as sin prevails in your hearts, could you not wish that God were not so holy as to hate those sins you love, and not so just as to be severe against sin as He is? Is not this in your hearts? … [do” you love such a sin, that you could wish God did not hate it as much as He does, that he was not as just, holy, and severe against sin as He is, this is to wish in your heart that God was not God at all, that the life and being of God were gone.”

May we see the nature of sin more clearly for the purpose of loving God more dearly.

Pastor Manny

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