The Ugliness of Sin
Recently at New Life Church, we started a new preaching series through the letter of 1 John. My hope and prayer is that we will grow together in holiness and spiritual maturity through this study.
One of my favourite Christian authors; J.C. Ryle once wrote "I am convinced that the first step towards attaining a higher standard of holiness is to realize more fully the amazing sinfulness of sin." The very nature of the gospel clearly defines that we are sinners. One of the most dangerous things to our spiritual lives must surely be self-deception. If we deny that fact, we foolishly deceive ourselves.
The apostle John says in 1 John 1v8 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." John clarifies . . . the claim of sinlessness is simply self deception. Instead of denying our sinfulness, we should confess that it is real and ugly. Verse 9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
In Verse 10, John emphasizes this truth: "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." In other words the claim of sinlessness is not only self-deception; it is also blasphemy.
The Puritan, Thomas Watson said “Till sin is bitter, Christ will not be sweet.” I often wonder how many professing Christians hate their sin. The bible teaches that it is impossible to delight in God if we are walking in the darkness. “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John1:5.
John Piper says “Darkness is the threat of despair and misery.” Perhaps this is the reason why so many professing Christians live with so many troubles and tensions. Perhaps this is the reason why so many “Christians” are addicted to alcohol, pornography and other vises. Perhaps this is why there are so many bad “Christian” marriages, broken homes and affairs going on. Perhaps this is why so many Christians have no joy and no hope in their lives – because they love their sin, and are content walking in darkness.
I remember confronting a friend of mine (who professed to be a believer) about blatant sin in his life. He had disobeyed the Holy Scriptures and had “married” another wife while he was still married to his first wife. His response was astonishing “Well” he said “Christ has allowed this to happen, and has not judged me, so it must be God’s will.” I remember confronting another man about his drunkenness and his excuse was “Christ made wine, so therefore I can drink”, he continued to justify his sin by saying “I am a sinner, therefore I must sin.”
Obviously these men and others like them, love their sin more than they profess to love Christ. They have no understanding of the wrath of God, the gospel, or of the truth that Christ came to save sinners from their sins (Matthew 1:21). According to 1 John 3:8, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." The reason Christ came into the world and suffered was to destroy sin. The Apostle Paul said that Christ died to purify for himself a bride (Ephesians 5:25–27). "He gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). How can anyone call themselves a Christian "..while they walk in darkness?”. John answers that question- “we lie and do not live according to the truth.” (1John1:6)
Whenever we sin, we join those who call the cross foolishness, and insult the suffering and death of Christ. The aim of the cross is victory over our sin and the purity of the Church. Sin says to Christ, "I do not regard your suffering as sufficient motivation to keep me back from this act. You may have died to prevent me from doing this, but I'm going to do it anyway."
I am not suggesting that once you come to faith in Jesus that you become perfect, and neither does the Apostle John say we will no longer sin. But he does suggest in this epistle that once we come to faith in Jesus we will hate our sin, and love Christ. John Piper said “A true believer is not someone who is sinless, but rather someone who has a sin consciousness”. Falling into sin does not condemn us, but living in it does. A believer can never have joyful fellowship with the Lord or even with other believers as long as sin stands between them. There are so many blessings that a Christian forfeits when sin is being entertained. This is why over and over again the bible tells us, who are followers of Christ, that we must “be holy”. Not only for our own blessings and benefit but that through our holy living we may be a testament to the glory of Christ and “may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1Peter 2:9.
Dear reader, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Do you delight in God?” Do you have genuine fellowship with God the Father through the incarnate son of God, Jesus Christ, who came to save you from your sins? Or are you walking in darkness, unaware or even unconcerned about your sin?
Do you have an increasing hatred for your sin, and a desire to please God with your life? If the answer is yes, then you need to be walking in the light (the spirit) and not in the flesh, confessing your sins-daily, because “he is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” Paul said it better in Galatians 5:16-17, “But I say to you walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, for the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh for these are opposed to each other.”
If the answer is no, and you have no desire to leave the lusts of your flesh and follow Christ, then you need to be born again. You are lost in your sin, living a lie and blind in your darkness. If you tend to make excuses for your sins by justifying your sinful behavior and claim that you have a right to do what you please, then you need to be born again. Beg God for mercy, repent and turn to Christ in faith for the forgiveness of your sins that Christ our advocate, who suffered and died for the payment of our sins, may forgive you your sins and give you a new heart.