Walled Cities: The Sin Question (Continued)
Dealing With Sons
NOW THERE are several matters still dangling, and I hope I will not weary my reader if we pause here long enough to pick them up.
First, why is it God will not forgive His child until that child confesses his sins? If God has assumed all responsibility and has paid for all our sins, does He get offended when we sin against Him? No, God loves to the end. He is the ideal Father. He has been satisfied by the blood about our sins and cannot longer take offence at them. What, then, is the necessity for our confessing them before He forgives? Partly, it is for our benefit.
When I was a little boy we played near some thorn trees at the old school house. When we would stick a thorn in our bare feet, our teacher would insist on picking it out, often much to our displeasure. Why? Because if we left it, it would fester and might poison the whole system. So, if God lets us linger with an offence in our heart, if He fails to break that sin in us and bring us to penitence and humble confession, that sin will poison our whole system and break the fellowship that is so necessary for our growth. God is perfect; the offence will not hurt His character, but it will hurt ours. He loves
us so much that He wants us to yield up anything that would mar our fellowship with Him.
Then, too, we must always keep in mind that God cannot tolerate sin. Either He must put sin out of the sinner, or put the sinner out of His fellowship; for He cannot run around with sin.
Another matter here is important. There is such a thing as a possibility of perpetual fellowship with God. Even though we sin, this fellowship can remain unbroken. The idea is expressed in John 1:7: "But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Now, what is it to walk in the light as He is in the light? Well, that means to have the same viewpoint that He has, the same attitude He has, and the same objective He has. We are to see ourselves as utter sinners, just as He does, and accept that as the final judgment of ourselves. When we do that, we eliminate all class distinctions, and all of us come down to one common base - sinners saved by Grace. Never can we rise from this basis, one above the other. Always it is and ever will be the same. Here is where we find our common fellowship. Anytime anybody looks upon another and thinks himself better than that one, he has broken the fellowship among believers. But if we see it this way, as God sees it, then we have fellowship one with another. This is seeing ourselves as we appear in the light of God, and just as He sees us.
Not only are we to have the same viewpoint that God has, but we are to have the same attitude. We must hate our sin, That is what the Spirit does, and if He be in us we will feel that hatred of our sins, unless we quench Him.
Then, our objective is the same as God's, to rid ourselves of sin and fleshly defilement, and to practice holiness. The old fleshly life, dead and decaying, is ever tied to us and will be so until we die. Its mind is always thinking unholy things, and its lust is ever desiring unholy things, and it produces nothing but defilement. While we tolerate its presence, we must ever be cleansed from it.
So, with God's viewpoint, and God's attitude, and God's objective, we can maintain a constant state of fellowship with Him. For, while we are in this kind of walk with God, "the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, keeps on cleansing us (the verb is present action) from all sin." That is, though there be sin and imperfection and failure, sins of commission and of omission, or whatever of fleshly thoughts or even deeds transpire in our lives, if we have an open-hearted attitude about ourselves and our sins, we can know that the blood is cleansing. It is only when we have the channel blocked with a disposition of unwillingness to judge ourselves with God's judgment that we stop the flow of His cleansing blood.
Self-judgment is that which keeps us in fellowship. For, if we are willing to judge ourselves, we are not judged of God. If we come before the court and plead guilty, our Advocate is constantly handling our case. For always there will be sins to cleanse away, whether we notice them or not. Walking in the light, as He is in the light, will make us more conscious of them, will increase our hatred for them, and unite us in God's objective to overcome them and grow in His grace. With this attitude God can produce the fruit of the Spirit in us.
The sum of what we have said here is that unbroken fellowship with God does not depend on unbroken sinlessness
but upon unbroken willingness to confess and judge our sins. This is walking in the light.
Of course, we must remember that sin, as we speak of it, does not consist only in rash outbreaks of temper, vile language, insult to another, or any other positive act of sin. Neither is it limited to just laziness or general sins of omission. It is a sin to form connections or alliances in this world with those who are unfriendly to God. It is sinful to be where God would not have you be; to have any life which would not be His life shared; to let anything linger in your heart without judgment against it, if it be sinful contemplation. We cannot keep from being defiled by the flesh, but we can keep the cleansing process going on. Sin comes in ten thousand varieties, and there is always some unholy demon knocking at our door. It is not enough to keep him outside, but we should not even stand and chat pleasantly with him. Thus, we see, sin is ever upon us, and walking in the light will so reveal it as to make us cry out with Jonah, "Salvation is of the Lord."
Again, does a believer ever get so he will not confess sin? Certainly. We may grow cold, and starved, and neglectful of our Christian lives. In that state we may fall into temptations which will bring us into heinous sin. It is not likely that one who has crossed Jordan in surrender, who lives in this mature understanding of faith, will refuse to confess sin. But the wilderness wanderers almost universally will do it. What then is the remedy God proposes for that attitude? Just exactly what He did for Israel and what He has done for all His sinning children! Just exactly what any good father would do for a stubborn child. Chastisement! The Lord loves His children so much that He will not let them go beyond the reach of His chastening
rod. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
For what does God chasten His child? Because He is offended and angry? No, because He loves His child. Once my son thought I was rather hard on him. He grew sullen because I would not let him have all the privileges he wanted. One morning as he left for school in a sullen mood, I called him to me and opened the Bible at Hebrews 12:6 and let him read it; He reflected a moment, smiled, and went away with a lighter heart.
Then, does God chasten to make us pay for sin? If my son burns the house down, do I beat him and refuse to forgive him until he has paid for the house? Certainly not! I assumed all such responsibility when he was born. As far as he is concerned the house is paid for. My only reason for chastising him is to improve his character and bring him into more obedient fellowship with me.
Now, all children properly cared for have to come, at some time and in some manner, under the chastening rod. For chastening is not only to take something out of us, but also to put holiness into us. (This we cannot discuss here. We have been dealing with the matter of offences and the failure to confess them). It is always "for our profit." I know of no child of God who can hold out against God's chastening. Thus, our loving Father breaks down the rebellion in us and brings us to penitence and confession. He has never yet lost a case.
Another question is, what if I die with a sin unconfessed? This is very important and terribly misunderstood. First, let us remember that forgiveness and cleansing are not necessary to save, but are for the saved, and for them only. Nobody can be forgiven a single sin until he has
a Saviour to take that sin. So, no lost man is ever forgiven. Only when He trusts the Saviour can God take away a single sin. Hence, forgiveness and cleansing are not for the lost, but for the saved. Second, let us remember that forgiveness and cleansing are for the express purpose of bringing about and promoting fellowship between God and His child. Furthermore, fellowship does not save, but is for the definite purpose of bringing joy and fruitfulness to the believer. This is what we mean by growth in grace.
So, sin - unconfessed sin - is all that can break fellowship. This takes away the joy of salvation and mars its fruitfulness. But this sin does not break our relationship to God. So, a sinning believer is God's child but out of fellowship with Him. Suppose he dies in that state?
Suppose my boy rebels against my will and, for the time, becomes stubborn and will not confess his sin? During that time he starts across the street, and a car strikes him and crushes his body there on the street. He is dead. I look out there and see it all happen, but, because he is out of fellowship with me, do you think I refuse to go out and pick up his body and claim him as my child? Of course not! With a heart that loved him in his sin just as in his fellowship, I pick his broken body up and tenderly bring it into the house. Dead though he be in body, we are in fellowship now. Nothing is between us.
And so, if a believer, in a stubborn and rebellious moment, should die, death puts away all the offence - the flesh - and God's child is at once home with his Father, and in eternal fellowship. This is what we are all coming to one day if we belong to Him.
Death brings complete fellowship. Actually, that is what confession is. It is pleading guilty before the court and taking a death sentence on our sin before our Father. We thus submit to death. In Christ our sin is put away, and we are "made nigh by the blood of the cross." So, if I die in a sinful moment, God has me, and that old, troublesome sin question is over forever. What wonders our God has performed for us in Jesus Christ our Saviour!
There is but one more question to which we give attention here. That is the age-old question, "If there is no danger of my ever being lost after I am saved, why can't I just 'turn loose' and sin all I want to?"
The answer is easy. When God saves a man he tears down all the fences around him, removes him from under the law, and controls him wholly by the Spirit. He puts His Holy Spirit in the believer's heart, and that Spirit hates sin. He is there to make the believer conscious of sin and to hate sin. When you find a professing Christian who loves sin, put a question mark there.
I have heard a number of times this old story. A colored preacher had been preaching that when we are once saved we are always saved. One of his hearers said to him: "If I believed like you preaches, I'd jes' go out an' sin all I pleases." The preacher replied, "Brother Jones, don't you sin all you wants to ?" After a moment of reflection, the brother replied, "Yassuh, mo' dan I wants to."
This is the answer. If you are a child of God, no matter what progress you have made in holiness, you sin more than you want to. And that is true of all children of God. The difference between a lost man and a saved man is,
the lost man sins and loves it, but the saved man sins and hates it.
The hog loves mud, and will wallow in it every time it can. The sheep hates mud, and even though it may fall into it, it will get out at once and seek to get the mud off. This is the difference between a lost man and a saved man. Saved men are more conscious of sin than are lost men, because the Spirit is in the saved man making him conscious of sin. But the saved man hates his sin and judges it with his Father, while the lost man loves his sin and hates the Father. Thus the saved man walks in fellowship and receives cleansing, while the lost man piles up offences against himself to await judgment at the last great day.
Yes, most believers sin all they want to, and more. They wish they could sin less. John teaches that in his first letter all along. It is in the tense of his verbs. Translating I John 3:9 literally, we have, "Whosoever is born of God does not continue in the practice of sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot continue in the practice of sin, because he is born of God," Falling into sin and getting out and confessing it is a far different thing from continuing in the practice of sin. When you see a professor continuing in sin you may safely say that he is not a possessor. God's children tend toward godliness. If they do not, God's chastening hand may help out. If these be not evident it is likely that God has nothing to do with the case. This has been a long discussion. I hope my reader is not too weary to go on to the two other realms of strong-holds which we must attack. In this discussion we have shown that God does everything for the believer; that the
believer can no more handle the sin question after being saved than he could before. So, God has considered every need, and has met them all in Christ Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer.
What then is the believer to do? A sentence or two will answer that. The key word is "YIELD" (Romans 6:12, 13). "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." Meaning this, "Do not let yourself be ruled by sin, for you have died as a sinner. There is now a new way of life. You will always have sin, but it need not rule over you. God has provided a way of escape from its rule. Find out the truth about His great provision and step out into the freedom of the Spirit. You will find that you are no longer in bondage to sin, for the sin question has been settled, and there is an answer for every need in Jesus Christ. Therefore, do not yield yourself to sin. Yield yourself to God, and tell the devil that Christ has broken the chain that bound you. You have found freedom in Christ, and you are going to live now like a man who is alive from the dead."
Thus, in utter faith that this is true, trust in God and go on unto maturity. This long explanation is to help you to see the truth just declared - that there is a complete answer to sin. The truth shall make you free.
[Buell H. Kazee, Faith is the Victory, 1951. Used with the permission of Philip R. Kazee. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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